It’s not all about the food – part one

Peach cobbler in Atlanta? Crab cakes in Baltimore? How about pizza in Naples, or sushi in Tokyo?

High-minded folks may tell you that travel is not about the food. I love to travel. And I agree. There is so much more to travel than the different kinds of foods you can find around the world.

But travel’s not not about the food, either.

If you’re not slathering French Camembert on a fragrant baguette in Lyon, or slurping fresh-cut Hawaiian pineapple at a beach resort on Maui, you’re missing a delightful piece of the travel pie:  Food. And it occurred to me that remembering our experiences relative to the food we ate might be a fun way to tell you about our trip to Belgium and The Netherlands with my buddy, Ginny.

Grand Place Brussels

The Grand Place, Brussels

It started in Brussels . . . .

I can’t sleep on an overnight flight. I just can’t. Turns out Ginny couldn’t, either. So by the time we landed in Brussels on Saturday morning (and after standing in line for forty minutes to go through immigration at the airport), we were beyond tired. Fortunately, our room at the Park Inn by Radisson near the Brussels airport was ready when we arrived (nice room, reasonable cost, great staff – definitely recommend). After collapsing for nearly a four-hour nap, we roused ourselves to walk to the local train station and, after deciphering how to actually buy tickets, rode to the center of Brussels to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Late afternoon in the center of Brussels is – magical. There were people everywhere, and honestly, they mostly looked like locals. Families strolled along eating ice cream cones, and friends enjoyed a beer and conversation sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at the many tables perched outside cafes in the city Centrum. Street musicians played upbeat tunes and shoppers clustered around little tented booths checking out handcrafted jewelry, jars of honey and jam, candles, etc.

We were starving and walked into the closest restaurant, the Brussels Grill. I later learned on line that this is kind of a small chain of steak houses in the area, but I’m pretty sure that the restaurant where we ate was on the rue marché aux Herbes near the city’s magnificent Grand Place.

dinner in BrusselsChain or not, that first dinner turned out to be the very best meal of our entire trip. Belgium is famous for its mussels (moules) and French fries (frites), and that’s what Ginny chose. Her order was perfectly cooked in white wine and Ginny said they were the best mussels she’d ever eaten.

I ordered the steak-frites (a ribeye with French fries) and it, too, was fabulous. The steak was juicy and tender, and the fries were an unlikely combination of being fluffy, but very crisp. I know we were really, really hungry, but seriously? If you find yourself looking for a place to eat in Brussels, the Brussels Grill won’t disappoint. Ginny also ordered a beer that she loved, but sadly, we were too jet-lagged to remember to take a picture of the bottle so she could find it again.

The second fabulous food moment in Belgium took place on the last day of our trip in the tiny village of Sint-Katelijne-Waver.

Our European adventure was nearly over and I’d yet to try a genuine Belgian waffle. I’d promised myself that I couldn’t leave without fulfilling that particular foodie dream.

You may be wondering how we ended up in Sint-Katelijne-Waver. I’m pretty sure the residents wondered the same thing, especially after Ginny entered a roundabout going the wrong direction and had to back out of the town square while traffic patiently waited for us to correct our path.

Allow me back up the story just a bit, too . . .

That morning we had packed the car and closed up the Airbnb house we’d rented in Dordrecht, Netherlands. We planned to stop in Antwerp to see the sites before dropping off the rental car and returning to the Park Inn for our last night in Belgium. By then we’d actually gotten pretty good at driving (Ginny – what a pro!) and navigating (me – interpreting the GPS as needed) in The Netherlands. But as we left Holland and approached Antwerp, the traffic became very heavy and progress slowed to a turtle’s pace. Prudence, our GPS, kept suggesting alternate routes and we finally agreed to follow her advice.

We exited the Antwerp ring road to find ourselves immersed in what I’m calling the Bagdad of Antwerp. In addition to pedestrians darting everywhere wearing burkas, head scarves, and assorted caps and turbans, there was construction, buses pulling in and out from the curb, a trolley and tracks running down the middle of the street, and oh, yeah, cars everywhere. There was nothing that felt threatening or uncomfortable about the location; it was just unexpected. At one point we waited for a woman wearing a hijab to park her tiny car in a space roughly the size of the love seat in my living room. I had to lean out the window and give her a thumbs up (I hope that’s understood universally) as we passed around her. I was impressed.

By this time Ginny had been battling this urban free-for-all for about twenty minutes. I turned to her and said, “So, do you still want to search for the center of Antwerp or would you like to explore the countryside?”

With Ginny’s relieved endorsement for Plan B, I quickly gave Prudence a new destination somewhere between Antwerp and the airport and we escaped from the city without incident. When we saw signs for Sint Katelijne, it kind of looked like my full name, Kathleen, so we decided to follow the signs to that sweet little village.

waffleThere we walked around the quiet square and randomly chose to stop for lunch at the Ice Cream Parlor De Joppe. The courtly French-speaking gentleman who directed us to our table outside in the sunshine turned out to be the owner of the restaurant. When I explained that I was soon to leave Belgium but had yet to sample a waffle, he convinced his wife to heat up the waffle iron (there was something I didn’t quite understand about the weather being too warm for waffles) and soon was served a gorgeous, crispy, golden waffle topped with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. It tasted even better than it looks in the photo.

Stay tuned for more stories about food and fun in the Netherlands. I’d try to say goodbye in Dutch, but after more than a week there, the language remained pretty much incomprehensible to us. Dutch makes German look easy and sound melodious. Think about that for a sec.

As my friend Sue would say, a tout a l’heure!

No giggling allowed

I recently started reading a book, but decided last night that I’m not going to finish it. When I was much younger, it was a point of honor to finish every book I started – no matter what. Now I’m old. Life is short. If the writing doesn’t grab me – or worse, it annoys me – I move on. This book annoyed me.

So what’s wrong with it? The writer’s main character, an accomplished Australian woman who’s probably in her early thirties, giggled.

That’s right. Giggled. More than once.

It’s not that I’m opposed to giggling in and of itself. We’ve certainly all giggled on occasion at various points in our lives. But I will not read a story where a grown woman’s conversation goes like this:

“Private Investigator Ryan!” Christie giggled as she inserted the long key and turned it.

and . . .

Christie giggled as she climbed the gate in case she was shot as a trespasser.

Giggle baby

Giggling is only cute when babies and little kids do it.

There were more giggles involving Christie and other women in the story. But not surprisingly, no giggling by the male characters. Giggling usually is presented as a feminine expression of amusement, often accompanied by a hint of shyness or nervousness. Giggling also is something we expect from children, right?

Call me particular (or worse – I don’t care) but I think that coyly substituting “giggled” for “said,” or saying that an adult was giggling at all infers that the character is childish or flighty or in some way just not fully adult. Does anyone else get that?

I have to say, I had no idea that I so heartily disliked giggle until it popped up twice early in this book. It may have backed up the author’s portrayal of a woman who is bright and successful in her work but a kind of insecure door mat in her relationship. I’ll give the writer credit there – if it was intentional. But if she thought giggling made a grown woman sound cute and endearing, I say, oh HELL no.

So, I’m removing giggle from personal my dictionary. Banned from the thesaurus. Screw giggle. It’s never complimentary to anyone past puberty.

Giggle, we’re done.

Are there any words you hate, possibly for no good reason? How do you feel about moist? Pimple? Girdle? I think a number of words ending in “le” are bothersome, although there’s something adorable about puddle.

I encourage you to post your annoying words here. No judgment – and hopefully,  we’ll share a few good laughs.

P.S. I wrote this yesterday and left it to marinate overnight (as I often do). An hour or two later, I went to Facebook and my buddy Judith Podell had posted a meme she’d created with words she hates! We must have been on the same wavelength yesterday, my friend. So here’s the post I mentioned. I hope you and your delightful friends will share the words that make them cringe right here. And I’m off to Belgium! Au revoir!

 

Dreaming of chocolate and cheese

And waffles. Big honking Belgian waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream.

house-hunters-international-drinking-game

Okay, so I remember the show that this woman was on! This comes from Helene’s blog, www.heleneinbetween.com. (Helene added the drinking game element – which cracks me up.)

As you know, I am a House Hunters International junkie. I’m flying with my buddy Ginny to Brussels this weekend, so I was excited to find an episode in my cache of recorded shows about a young family searching for a home in Belgium’s capital city.

(I automatically record every episode of this program so I can vicariously experience looking for a place to live in Amsterdam or Puerto Vallarta or whatever exotic location appeals to me at the moment.)

My son says I’m delusional. I don’t care.

So, on this show the husband and wife took a little break from inspecting houses and apartments to stroll up to a waffle truck in Brussels. These plate-sized confections look too amazing to simply be called waffles. It looked like the husband may have ordered his with chocolate or Nutella drizzled under the fluffy mound of cream. Whatever the topping, you can bet that I will be gobbling down one of my very own on Saturday afternoon. I also plan to taste-test a few of the Belgian chocolates on display in shops of acclaimed local chocolatiers. Perhaps we’ll finish the day in a cafe sampling pommes frites and a light Belgian ale. It’s a good thing we’ll be doing lots of walking that day.

On Sunday Ginny and I will pick up our rental car and drive to the Airbnb apartment we’re renting in Dordrecht.  Located about halfway between Brussels and Amsterdam (roughly an hour’s drive in either direction), Dordrecht claims to be the oldest city in the Netherlands and will be our home base while exploring a bit of both beautiful countries.

We have requested a GPS in the car to help us get around. I am hoping that it won’t yell at us in Dutch or German.

Holland and Belgium 229

This is how they treat an order for a cup of coffee in Middleburg, Netherlands. So pretty, right?

Next Thursday we’re going to drive to Gouda for the weekly cheese market. Look for photos of that when we get back, for sure. I hope at some point we’ll also find a place to enjoy poffertjes – puffy little Dutch pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar and a choice of other toppings. Missed that the last time I was in Amsterdam with my friend, Sue.

Now that I’ve gotten the food porn out of my system, in truth, there are so many fascinating places to see in these lowland countries. My first river cruise years ago (try Viking’s Tulip Time cruise – fabulous!) took us to many of the places I want to visit again next week – Antwerp, Bruges, Holland’s Keukenhopf Gardens, Delft, charming Gouda, etc. A great thing about these compact countries is that the area is so small, it’s easy to jump in the car and explore many places without having to drive for hours.

Holland and Belgium 297

I didn’t know so many varieties of tulips even existed before visiting the amazing Keukenhopf Gardens in 2009.

When you go on vacation, do you like to experience a new destination each time? Or do you most enjoy returning to one treasured spot year after year? The argument for either choice is impossible to refute. It seems to me, in a perfect world with plenty of time and money, at least two vacations a year might fit the bill. Perhaps a week every summer at your favorite beach retreat, plus a spring or fall exploration of new territory. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I’m looking forward to enjoying a combination of old and new places in the days ahead. Best of all, I’ll be sharing this time laughing and creating memories with a dear friend.

On another note . . .

looking for Chris

My killer dogs, guarding the door.

I would not necessarily recommend announcing travel plans online before you go on vacation.  I feel safe doing so today because in my case, the house will be occupied with some big, burly people I’ve hired to dog-sit The Boys. Not only are the sitters armed and certified in numerous martial arts, but they will be training Mick and Rich to take down intruders and bite them until they cry for their mothers. Fair warning.

If you are still contemplating burgling my home, I’ll just tell you now that the reward will not match the risk. I don’t have nice jewelry or cash hidden anywhere. My TV is big-ish, but you can get the same one new in Walmart for less than $400 these days. The laptop needs to be replaced soon and isn’t even an apple. But if you take my dogs, I will hunt you down and kill you with my bare hands. Again – fair warning.

So, bye for now – see you when I get home.

Grammar Nerd turns Grammar Scold . . . sorry, not sorry

The purpose of today’s post is to blow the whistle on all the self-professed Grammar Nerds who persist in publishing their work without the benefit of a good proofreader.

You know who you are. And if you don’t, consider taking my advice, anyway. Think of it as an insurance policy you might buy before enrolling in an underwater first aid class in shark-infested waters.

Apostrophe book

Punctuation can be amusing. Thank you, Sue Brooks, for this fun and helpful book.

I recently sent a Facebook message to a friend (who probably unfriended me minutes later) who I met at an Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop a couple of years ago. I was laughing out loud and thoroughly enjoying her book . . . but trying to ignore a puzzling tendency to place apostrophes and commas where they weren’t needed.

Then, in an essay talking about this very subject, there was a homophone in the very first paragraph. I won’t even use the actual words, but it would be as apparent to you (and to the writer) if someone were to use the word “died” instead of “dyed.” Yeah. It was glaringly obvious.

How did this intelligent, witty, excellent writer miss such a mistake? She likely overlooked it because she was excited about getting her story down, tapping away on the keyboard maniacally. That’s often a sign that we’re doing some of our best writing, right? She missed it because even when she went back to proof her story, her mind was focused on the tale itself. She was evaluating the content, not the WORDS. She missed it because it is damn near impossible to proofread your own work. That takes fresh eyes determined to focus on the words and structure – not the content.

Years ago I was an assistant, then associate editor on a trade magazine called “Beverage Industry.” Oh. My. Goodness. Best job ever! I worked with three incredibly talented guys and we laughed as hard as we worked. If the pay hadn’t been peanuts, I never would have moved on to the next phase of my life. Man. Do you sometimes wonder what might have happened if you’d zigged instead of zagged?

Anyhoo, so the guys I worked with taught me so much and were far better journalists than I. But . . . they sucked at proofreading. These were the days before spell check (which gives writers a false sense of security – do NOT rely on spell check) and every article we wrote for the monthly magazine had to be proofread by two other people before it could be submitted to print.

 

Tolstoy chess

Tolstoy didn’t need to proofread his work. He had publishing houses and typesetters doing that. He could sit around in the yard and play chess with his kids instead.

We all discovered that I had a talent for catching errors (more about that in a second). I’d proof my little heart out and the guys’ copy would be as clean as the proverbial whistle. But guess whose work tended to have mistakes? Yeah. Mine. For two reasons:  as mentioned, it’s very, very hard to see your own mistakes. And second, the guys got used to me finding our bloopers, stopped trying quite so hard, and my own stories suffered from the lack of careful attention. I scolded them. They got better. Life was good.

This sounds like I’m bragging about my proofreading prowess, right? Well, here’s the funny thing. My paternal grandmother was a proofreader! Marie only had a high school education, but the nuns thought she was smart and recommended her for a secretarial program (we’re talking about 1915, folks).  Eventually her proofreading abilities came to light and before she retired, she had been employed for some years by a publishing firm in that position. This has led me to believe (and the past tense of lead is led – always – otherwise you’re talking about the filling in a pencil) that being able to proofread is possibly some sort of genetic gift.

Grammar Nazi from Imgflip

What do you think? I mean, it seems like we all know someone intelligent who can’t spell worth a damn, right? There you go. You can be a great writer but a lousy proofreader, or vice versa.

So, what I’d like to say to everyone who is thinking about self-publishing a book, or submitting an article to a publication, or in any way putting their precious writing out there for others to see, for God’s sake, pay or barter for a proofreader to review your work before you go to print.

You are not immune to the problem. Neither am I. I have a book idea and I promise you here and now, I will not send it out to anyone before I’ve paid someone to proof my work. That’s not the same as an editor, by the way. That’s another ball of wax, right?

And here’s what I’m offering to anyone who took the time to read this far. If you’re writing something small-ish and want someone to proofread (not edit) it, I’ll do it at no charge if all the stars align and our timing syncs. I’m not offering to proof an entire book. You need to pay a professional for that. But I’ll be glad to read your short story or magazine article. I’m not a pro, but I’m pretty passionate about clean copy.

Stephen King guitar

Stephen King doesn’t have to proofread, either. Maybe if we get rich and famous we can play in a band instead of doing the grunt work, too.

So there you go. There are people who will say that the message is all that matters. I’ve heard of English teachers telling students that, for crying out loud!

I say bullshit.

If you’re going to write your heart out, don’t let yourself down with little errors that you’d easily catch if you were reading someone else’s work.

Believe you’re worth it. I do.

Sometimes I can write

While I was scrub-a-dub-dubbing in the shower this morning, at least a dozen topics for blogging flew through my mind. The ideas seemed to be at least marginally interesting or entertaining, but my monkey brain quickly jumped along from one nugget of an idea to the next.

Now, a few of hours later, I’d be hard pressed to recount even one of those inspirations.

I’m thinking maybe I should move Alexa into the bathroom to record my random thoughts. The poor, neglected dear does need a job. Right now she is perched on the desk behind my laptop, gathering dust. She mostly just hears my dogs barking, and they never woof, “Alexa!” so she probably (who knows?) isn’t paying attention. If I don’t move her to the bathroom, the next step may be seeing if she’d be happier keeping my treadmill company in the basement.

Last week most of the funny writers I know personally (sadly, I don’t know David Sedaris or Tina Fey, but they weren’t there, anyway) converged on Dayton, Ohio, for the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. I’ve had the pleasure of attending two of these workshops, which are held every other year at the University of Dayton, Erma’s alma mater.

write mugI bought this mug when I was there two years ago. The legend is that when Erma submitted her first essay to the priest teaching her English class at UD, he noted “You can write!” on the paper. The rest, as they say, was history.

In my case, adding the post-it note is a disclaimer (excuse?) to the encouraging message. Maybe I can write. But being able and then actually doing so are two different things. In fact, I may stop this very minute and come back later because I’m distracted by the guys servicing the air conditioning unit in preparation for summer (it’s snowing at the moment, by the way).

Okay. I’m back.

And now I remember one of my shower inspirations:  last week some of my work friends and friend-friends and (directing the festivities long distance) my adorable son threw a surprise retirement party for me in Las Vegas. I was there working on my seventeenth annual Rite Aid Foundation Charity Golf outing. I helped the company create the first event nearly eighteen years ago and it’s been a long and satisfying relationship with some wonderful people. I sometimes had to deal with difficult and cranky people, too, but I will focus on the positive (even if the cranky stories are funnier).

I could write volumes on this event and the people I’ve worked with to produce it, but I’m an “in the moment” kind of gal and my thoughts are more focused on the RETIREMENT element of the story.

retirement partyThey surprised me with champagne and a cake and I truly was flabbergasted. Never saw it coming at all. Here’s a picture of some of us in the bar afterward with our cake and copper mugs full of yummy Moscow Mules. Such fun!

But retired? Me?

In the spirit of my new status in life, I decided to visit the local Senior Center, which I actually joined a few years ago. I’ve been a card-carrying (actually, card-on-a-lanyard-wearing) member since I moved to Willoughby, but I’ve not yet been active there. I bought a pie from their Thanksgiving fundraiser once, but that’s about it.  I figured I really should take advantage of some of the exercise classes (rather than pie sales), if nothing else.

But here’s the thing: although I am years beyond old enough to join, on the few occasions I’ve visited the facility, everyone else sure seems to be a lot closer to my mother’s age than to mine.

Where are the “seniors” that are my age? Why is there a Henry Mancini album on the table of stuff people are giving away instead of Led Zeppelin? (Yes, there is a table with stuff you can help yourself to, or where you can drop off your own junk in case someone else might want it. I always have junk I could get rid of, but I didn’t see anything remotely worth bringing home to add to my own stash of crappola.)

Mother's Day 2016

Mom won the corsage in church on Mother’s Day last year for having the oldest CHILD — me.

The nice lady who showed me around recommended signing up for a monthly Mystery Lunch where you show up, get on the senior bus, and go to an unidentified location for lunch. She said sometimes they go as far away as Lorain or Geneva, which I suppose could be exciting, depending on the restaurant and how you feel about riding in a bus. In January they went to Friday’s in Mentor, which pissed people off because they can go there themselves any old time. Given the unpredictability of January weather, having lunch down the street seemed like a better choice than possibly having to cancel due to bad weather and treacherous roads. But I get it. I’m not piling on a bus to go to Friday’s, for sure.

There’s also a Red Hat club for ladies of a certain age. I think they do a lot of lunching, too, but at least they don’t pour off a bus into a Cracker Barrell parking lot en masse. However, I’m not up for wearing a red hat and purple boa to eat a chef salad at Applebee’s, either.

I don’t mean to make fun. At least not in a nasty way.

It’s just that my brand of Old may know who Henry Mancini was, but only because our parents used to play his music on the hi-fi when their friends came over to smoke a gazillion cigarettes and guzzle highballs while we gently coughed ourselves to sleep upstairs.

I may feel more comfortable about embracing Senior Center activities when the background music is the Stones or the Temptations and the jeans-wearing members wonder when Ohio is going to get around to legalizing recreational marijuana.

And now I’m going to circle back to Erma’s message on my You Can Write mug and how that relates to being retired.

While I’m a little foggy on what retirement is going to look like for me, I do know that writing will continue to play a major role in the next chapter of my life.

Writing has been a part of every job I’ve ever had. The ability to communicate effectively in print has played a significant role in what I’d call a satisfying career. I’ve written ad copy and speeches, lesson plans and magazine articles, marketing materials and press releases, humorous stories and even a training manual some years ago.

I started blogging after my first Erma conference six years ago and that has evolved in a couple of different directions over the years, as well.

I started a novel last year that has been languishing on my external hard drive for months. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it. I’ve always said that writing fiction isn’t my “thing,” and I’m not sure now why I even started it. We’ll see. But never say never, right?

I do have an idea for a nonfiction book that I will begin fleshing out soon. It’s a topic that is fascinating to me so I’m really looking forward to researching and writing about it. The key here is that the topic interests ME. The objective is to have fun working on it. And if anyone actually wants to publish it one day, well . . . that will just be the bacon on my cheeseburger.

So today is a start. I didn’t make it to Dayton this year to join that fabulous crowd of talented, funny writers. But I’m writing. I Can Write. And “retirement” is going to be a great time to do it. Sometimes.

It’s hard to forgive a bully

I saw this cartoon on Facebook this morning. My good friend Tina Milano posted it, and I borrowed it to share here:

Rudolph and reindeer heads

Credit to the artist whose name is scribbled in the corner. Thank you!

The funny thing is that I was thinking about Rudolph and the gang just the other day. I wondered how little kids who are bullied (or are bullies, for that matter) relate to the song’s message.

As you’ll recall, because of his nose, Rudolph’s friends laughed at him and called him names. They shunned him and wouldn’t let him play their games. Pretty harsh stuff, right?

But, wait. The weather stinks, poor visibility – and Santa decides to use Rudolph’s shiny, red honker as the guide light for his Christmas eve toy run. A logical choice, but I always wondered, did Santa know the other reindeer were giving Rudolph a hard time prior to that evening? Did he care? And if he did, why didn’t he step in sooner and tell them to cut that crap out? Hardly seems like behavior that Santa would condone.

Rudolph, of course, is happy to help out but was possibly thinking something like, “Hey, suckahs – how do you like my nose NOW?”

But what pisses me off the most is that then, all those two-faced critters do an about-face.

“Oh, Rudolph, we LOVE YOU! You are so amazing! Honey, you’re going to go down in HISTORY! OMG, Rudy!”

Talk about sucking up.

If I were Rudolph, I’d tell Blitzen to kiss my furry ass. Suggest that Comet stuff his congratulations where the sun don’t shine. You get the idea. Freaking bullies. Now everything is just hunky dory? I don’t think so.

We’ll never know what happened after that foggy night of same-day deliveries. If I were Rudolph, I’d do something to those assholes who gave him a hard time, but being nonviolent, I wouldn’t resort to turning them into mounted heads on the wall. That seems extreme.

But here’s a 21st century twist to this old song.

While reindeer apparently are too tricky and devious for commercial use, Amazon is trying its best to match Santa’s feat. I think they even make some deliveries on Christmas day.

They have wisely steered clear of magic reindeer, but if Amazon’s soon-to-be-introduced drones are adorned with little red lights, I think we’ll all know where the inspiration came from. Right? At least drones are unlikely to pick on each other.

On that note, I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

It’s okay to have a change of heart

Here’s the deal. I had what I thought was a great idea to keep me occupied in my retirement. I started my web page, Where My Girlfriends Go.  Take a look, if you haven’t visited. I’ll wait right here for you.

So, although I’m not actually retired yet, I thought I should get a plan in motion, rather than waste a minute of actual retirement time being bored.  Heaven forbid that I’d risk finding myself at loose ends, which I’ve always pictured as sitting forlornly on the floor contemplating a frayed rug.

What was I afraid of?

Was there a serious risk that I’d be looking for trouble if I had spare time? Take up smoking again and hang out on street corners with the dogs? Fall in with a gang of other bored retirees seeking thrills, like maybe dine-and-dash during the geriatric coffee hour at Panera or take turns distracting the stock boy while somebody swipes Glucosamine gel tabs from the shelves at Discount Drug Mart?

old people with coffee

Oh, yeah. It’s all fun and games at Panera until you break a hip trying to run to the car without paying the bill. They’ll only trace you back to your Panera Club frequent coffee-drinker-and-cinnamon-roll-eater card, anyway. (I’d like to credit the photographer but I “borrowed” this from Google Images where it appeared in some medical pamphlet and these people may actually be yucking it up over the joys of Viagra, for all I know.)

Without a plan, I’m thinking the worst thing that could happen to me is that I’ll hang around with the dogs in the house in my bathrobe for a few days (or weeks) until I decide that sucks and I want to do something else.

So I changed my mind. I decided, well, fuck that. I don’t need to have a plan. And if I don’t have the entire next glorious stage of my life mapped out by the time I actually retire next May or so – big deal.

I read recently on Facebook that a very successful woman I admire is leaving the publishing company she’s been with for years and is taking a long sabbatical to see what she wants to do next. Cindy obviously is far wiser than I am and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Step back and think about things for a while.

Huh. I like it.

I don’t know what I want to do next, either. I certainly want to keep writing. But do I want to drum up a following on “Where My Girlfriends Go” and write at least one story a week and post on the WMGG Facebook page regularly and maybe Tweet and put photos on Instagram and . . . ?

I don’t think so. It makes me a little tired just thinking about it. I don’t want to make that commitment. Or, at least I don’t want to make that commitment NOW. And that’s okay.

So, I just moved the photo banner-thing over here to my blog site. I figure sometimes I can write about things I do with my friends, but not exclusively. Or reliably. I do think my buddy Carol and I should check out more donut shops. I’ll tell you some stories about my trip to Italy with Sue, too. I just started working on a photo book – before I forget where in Italy I actually took half those pictures.

I don’t know what I’ll do with the WMGG Facebook page. Like Scarlet O’Hara, I’ll think about that tomorrow. (And I mean “tomorrow” figuratively, not literally.)

And that’s it for now. I’m thinking sabbatical next year, guys. Just stop and smell the roses and think about what might be fun to do. Maybe learn about and plant roses? Nah. I don’t like dirt or bugs. Fortunately, the possibilities are endless. I’m not even going to rule out the possibility (dare I say, likelihood?) of scheduling a guilt-free period spent reading lots of books and wearing my bathrobe all day.

I’ll keep you posted.