Week 37: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties- Snowbirding

O.K. I know I usually post on Mondays and today is Wednesday. In my defense, Wednesday seems a lot like Monday when you are on Florida time. Actually, to be more accurate, every day feels more like a weekend. Anyway, my apologies for the late post. We’ve been so busy getting things accomplished while we are here that I really haven’t even had much time for my bucket list! Snowbirding is busy business! And, yes, I know Snowbirding isn’t actually a verb, I verbalized it though. I know what you’re thinking but yes, I used verbalize correctly here, it’s actually a thing. I looked it up: to turn a word, especially a noun, into a verb.

Onward and upward. I’ll start with French. Despite all the busyness, I haven’t lost my streak in Duolingo. I am currently on Day #895. I’ll have to have a little celebration when I reach day #900! I personally feel like that’s part of enjoying life, celebrating milestones, big and little. I have had two private lessons, one via telephone and one Facetiming. I will be having another one later this afternoon. I am glad I decided to continue pursuing my French while in Florida because I fear I might have other wise lost a lot of ground.

I am currently reading book #9 of 2020. I’m giving Debbie Mcomber a try. She’s a favorite of my mom’s. I am reading Cottage By The Sea. Based on the title, I thought it would be a nice little “beach read” and a break from heavy WWII subject matter. I laugh because the book starts out with the young character’s whole family being wiped out by a landslide. So much for light reading. However, I am 1/4 of the way through and enjoying it very much. I am 3 books ahead of schedule based on my goal of 80 books for 2020. As always, I am ever on the look out for a good book, so feel free to send recommendations my way.

What has been occupying most of my time is working on finishing touches. When we arrived, our pool and hot tub were basically done. Job #1 was finding furniture for the lanai. After asking about patio furniture in our neighborhood Facebook group, we landed on Zing, a frequently mentioned store with two locations near us, one in Fort Myers and another in Naples. I was headed to the pet store to get a kennel for our dog Kobe, and the closest Petco was in Fort Myers so to minimize driving, that is where I headed. Mike and I had looked at another store when we were here last time and it was hard to find everything we wanted that would coordinate. It didn’t have to be from the same manufacturer, as long as it “blended well.” We didn’t have much luck there but Zing had everything with lots to pick from. Mike really wanted something in stock rather than special ordering anything so we could start enjoying our outdoors immediately. It wasn’t difficult. My salesperson Andrew was very helpful. I found 2 basic chaises, on special along with a beautiful dining table and chairs plus 4 club chairs and a firepit. Even though it’s hot here, in the winter the evenings are very cool, so it’s nice to sit out back around the fire. I also had an appointment to select drape fabrics and my friend Kim came along to help out. With the help of our awesome salesperson/designer Janet, I was able to find some great options. The drapes will take about a month to be made and installed, so I should still be here. While Kim and I were out we popped in to the Naples Zing as she might be in the market for a couple more things. That store had a much wider selection and really carries some beautiful and stylish stuff. I don’t know if I would’ve made a different choice if I had gone there first or not, as much of it needs to be ordered and takes a while. I am happy with our choice and ready to start enjoying it all. I have already gotten some cute plastic dinner ware, plastic glasses and stemless wine glasses for the back patio.

Dining poolside

As far as entertaining, we’ve had our friends and neighbors Dave and Kim over for cocktails around the fire pit and we are in the process of organizing a trip down for my parents. Mike’s mom and stepdad are due to stop by this week as well and our daughter Jenna will be coming for a month in a couple weeks.

Mike enjoying the evening as we wait for our friends’ arrival.
There are lights in the pool and various settings to change colors. Pool can switch colors in a program from our phones. Red, orange, green, blue, purple and pink. There’s a setting called “Party” and one called “Romance.” Once I memorize the setting colors, I’ll know exactly what’s on Mike’s mind. Lol.
Perfect place to relax with a good book and a cold drink.

My husband, Mike has been managing to get around quite well despite his casted leg. He mostly uses the knee scooter with a little help from his blinged out crutches. He has an appointment when he gets back to have the cast changed. I think he is really longing for the day when he can swim in the pool and enjoy the hot tub. Maybe he’ll even play a little pickle ball, thought next time I hope he’ll be more aware that he’s not 18 anymore and take it a little easier.

I have been trying to keep up with Noom, though I have not been stellar. I’ve gotten a lot of walks in and have taken Kobe to the dog park several times. I’ve easily exceeded my 10,000 step goal every day. The seafood here is plentiful and delicious so I have been taking advantage of that. I am not back to my goal weight, still about 1 1/2 pound over. But I am working on it. I have made it to the gym once this week, and want to step up attendance there. There have just been so many appointments and workers (pool people, electricians, landscapers). Now that the pool is in, we need our landscaping re-done, so Mike’s been working on getting that scheduled. I’ve spent some time getting drawer and pantry organizers and figuring out where is the best place to store everything. There is still a bit to do as far as decorating. We have no artwork on the walls, and almost no decorative items. Looking forward to taking my time here and enjoying the process.

And with that, I will leave you as I’ve yet more errands to run. The sun is shining and life is good and I wish the same for you, my friends.

Week 36: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties- The Achilles Incident

My bucket list quest has been a bit side-stepped this week in order to help care for my husband post-operatively. Here is the link to my original bucket list for anyone interested. For those that have been following the saga of my husband Mike’s ruptured Achilles tendon, he had a successful surgery on Tuesday afternoon. He does indeed have a non-weight-bearing cast and it looks like he will be hobbling about in it for quite some time. He has a scooter, crutches and a “peg leg” that allow him several options for getting around. The peg leg was loaned from a friend who had the same surgery a while back. Mike likes the scooter and the peg leg as it gives him use of his arms. He finds the crutches to be a bit cumbersome and restricting. I will say he has some of the fanciest crutches around though as one of our artistic team members decorated them with the office logo and colors. He relies on them usually if we are going out to a restaurant because he can sit without worrying about the scooter or taking off any equipment. He will have to have his cast changed periodically, as they progressively take the foot from slightly pointed to flat to avoid putting too much pressure on the tendon. Despite the fact that he is an excellent patient, taking care of Mike has occupied a lot of my time early in the week. But now that his wound is healing and he is off of pain meds, he doesn’t really relish being fussed over. As the week has progressed, he’s become increasingly independent and things are getting back to our new normal. He’ll still let me run grab something from another room for him as a matter of convenience, but other than that he is like a two year old, “Me do it myself.”

Blinged out crutches
Knee Scooter
Mike and the Peg leg. I will say this thing sounds a little scary when Mike comes thumping along. It reminds me of Poe’s Tell-tale Heart. Thump-thump, thump thump!

Another thing that has bumped my bucket list off of my priority list this week is the fact that we celebrated my oldest daughter Jenna’s birthday. Her birthday is actually at the end of the month, but as we will be in Florida then, we asked to celebrate it early. We had a yummy lunch at Crispelli’s Bakery and Pizza. My daughter Sammi, her boyfriend Andrew, Jenna and her husband Kristianth were all there. We ordered 3 pizzas as well as cheese bread. Apparently cheese bread is from a “secret menu” that my daughter is familiar with as it’s not on the menu. My daughter Sammi’s boyfriend had a yummy rueben sandwich and my husband supplemented the pizza with a bowl of Minestrone. Everything was delicious and I would definitely recommend this place. We all agreed the pizza was just the way we like it, thin crust with just the right balance of sauce, toppings and cheese! We ended with ice cream cake at Jenna’s house, admiring her new office space and watching her pets play with one another. It was wonderful just being together! She will be going to Spain for a wedding and taking a side-trip to Paris this summer, not to see the Eiffel Tower but for a trip to Disneyland, Paris. Anyone that knows her knows that she is a Disneyphile! So for her birthday, we got them 2 day, 2 park Disneyland Paris tickets. One of her life-time goals is to visit every Disney park in the world so we were happy to oblige in her personal bucket-list adventure.

The Birthday girl.
Sparkler candles and ice cream cake!

Workouts have slipped a bit as doctor appointments and post-op recovery interfered with bootcamp. I did discover a 20 minute NordicTrack HIT (high intensity interval) workout that I loved. This is going to be helpful on those days when I am running non-stop. Surely I can find 20 minutes somewhere! Between that and the abbreviated core yoga class, I will have a few options.

I had my first french class via telephone on Friday. It went surprisingly well. I thought it would be difficult to speak for an hour, but we just talked about what was going on in our lives. My instructor, David would correct me as necessary but both he and I were pleased with the outcome. I am really excited about this because speaking has been my weak link. I can read French and write it somewhat better than conversing and this forces the issue. I hope to go back to regular classes once I am back in Michigan. We set up another telephone conversation for next Saturday. I am still doing Duolingo. They added new content not too long ago and I just finished it and am now back to reviewing. I am on day #886. I’ve really surprised myself on my ability to keep the streak intact. I guess when you’re motivated enough, anything is possible.

As far as item #18, I am currently reading “A Dangerous Act of Kindness” and am about 1/4 way through. This is book #7 of my 80 book goal for 2020. We are heading to Florida at the end of the week, and I am looking forward to having a lot more reading time there! It is definitely my preferred way of enjoying my free time. I’m not much for TV but I will say I enjoy picking a series and watching it with Mike. Our current series are: YOU. This show is on Netflix and we are really enjoying it. Great dialogue, clever characters, though the storyline is a bit disconcerting. We binged season 1 and are currently in the middle of season 2. The other series that we’ve been watching lately is The Politician (Netflix). Our daughter recommended it and we binged our way through season 1.

Well, as I said earlier, we are driving to Florida later this week. Mike got the all-clear from his doctor as long as he’s back in time for his re-cast. I will remain in Florida with Kobe and Mike will fly back after a short stay. He plans to fly down a few times while Kobe and I are down there. My daughter Jenna and her 2 pups plan to come down for a long visit too. As she works from home, she can work from anywhere, so why not pool-side? Speaking of pools, our salt-water pool should be done and filled by the time we get down there. I feel awful for Mike though as he has really been looking forward to the pool and hot tub and since he has a cast, this is going to prove difficult for him. He’s a clever guy though, so I’m sure he’ll figure something out.

The last few things for our Florida house include finishing the paint on the newly installed trim around the foyer mirror and selecting furniture for the lanai. We are thinking we want a round dining table with 6 chairs, 2 chaises, 4 chairs as a conversational area and possibly a fire pit table. We are expecting delivery of our barstools shortly after our arrival and I have an appointment to select curtains for the bedrooms and valances for 2 of the bathrooms. We hope to do some decor shopping for artwork and accessories while we are down there too.

I am happy to report that my remaining bucket list items are dwindling but I have selected a few items to work on while I am in Florida. I hope to get a little more accomplished with my family tree(#37), to teach my dog Kobe a few more tricks(#31), to practice random acts of kindness with regularity(#3), to get better at practicing weekly yoga(#50), and daily meditation(#13) and visualization(#29). I will definitely be staying in contact with friends and family(#28) and work on my reading goal for 2020(#18). I’ll continue learning French (#6, #10) and start learning sign language(#15). I also look forward to putting some finishing touches on decorating the Florida house(#16) as well as hosting friends and family there(#20). I will work on re-capturing and maintaining my 10 pound weight-loss (#7). I will work on strengthening my left hip flexor and calf muscle in hopes of being able to do a 5K(#5). I also hope to take advantage of the pilates and yoga classes offered at our clubhouse and I am excited that Jenna has already volunteered to come along. I hope I can convince my good friend Kim to join us too! I can’t wait to explore the Naples, Fort Myers, and Bonita Springs areas. New cities, new adventures! Of course my list has a few remaining things that can only be done in Michigan, so those items will be waiting for me when I return.

Until next week, I hope you all have plenty to keep you busy and that all of your Achilles tendons remain intact. Seriously, that is a monkey wrench you really don’t want to deal with. Have a wonderful week.

Week 29: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Detroit Edition

The Christmas season is upon us with it all of the busyness and social commitments that come along with it! Unfortunately for me, it means I don’t have a lot of time to concentrate on tackling my list so this week’s post will be short and sweet! For those who might want a refresher, here is my original bucket-list.

This week, I’ve maintained my Duolingo streak of 837 days. I’m still attending French classes at Alliance de Francais of Detroit. Because I am planning to spend a lot of February and part of March in Florida, my instructor suggested I take a private class with him remotely so I can advance more quickly. I think that will be an excellent idea and may even afford me a bit more flexibility. I will miss the classroom setting and my classmates though.

I just finished Isaac Mizrahi’s book “I.M. A memoir.” He is just one year younger than I am and hearing about his ascension through the 70’s and 80’s was a stroll down memory lane. He mentions Studio 54 and celebrities from that era. As a Jewish gay man, he had a lot to share about the difficulties he faced when there was far less tolerance of those with a different sexual orientation and his fear through the height of the AIDS epidemic. It was an interesting read and I topped it off with listening to his interview on one of my favorite author’s podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Ruben.” If you are interested, here is his interview. Now I want to watch the documentary on him, “Unzipped” filmed as he put together his 1994 runway collection. I have unwittingly been doing a deep dive into the business of fashion lately and the book was a nice complement to the Masterclass with Ann Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue and artistic director of Conde Naste. I am still really enjoying the Masterclass series. I finished Anna Wintour’s class and have now started watching Bobbi Brown’s masterclass on make-up.

In regard to reading, I’ve finished I.M. and am currently reading “The Oysterville Sewing Circle” book #68 of of my new goal of reading 75 books before the year ends, which may be overly ambitious. I am using the app Overdrive for this one and will need to complete it in a timely manner to prevent it from disappearing before I’m finished with it.

We didn’t visit any new restaurants this week but I have to give a shout out to The Shinola Hotel. We stayed there the evening before Thanksgiving and it really was wonderful. The evening didn’t start out awesome as the roads were mostly closed in anticipation of the Turkey Trot the next morning and the Thanksgiving Day parade. The evening rapidly got better when our room was upgraded to a suite. It had a distinct mid century vibe and even had a beautiful Shinola turntable in the room with several albums, including The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and John Coltrane. I loved the robes that were hanging in the closet. They looked like a boxing robe with Detroit written on the back! After dropping off our luggage, we had dinner at Parc. It was a short walk from our hotel and it’s my favorite restaurant in Detroit which is even more magical this time of year. It sits in the shadow of the beautiful Christmas tree which glimmers through the restaurant windows. You can also see the skating rink and the trees all aglow in white lights. The food is amazing and they also carry my original favorite wine, Grand Traverse Riesling. The evening was perfect! In the morning, we ordered room service and sat and watched the runners go by dressed as everything from Santa Claus to the Grinch and everything in between. Once the race was over, the parade began. It was cozy sitting at the window with a wool blanket on my lap and a hot cup of coffee in my hand. This just might be the start of a lovely tradition. The best part is it was just a short walk to Ford Field to watch my girls cheer on the sidelines at the Lions football game and perform in the half time show. Then on to my parents where we all enjoyed a yummy Thanksgiving meal lovingly prepared by my mom, just as she has every year for as long as I can remember. One difference is that now my young nieces are grown with children of their own. It’s a tradition I wouldn’t change for the world!

Check out that awesome turntable!
Love the robes!
Dining and “bar area”
I somehow didn’t grab a photo with the running Santas or the dinosaur or any of the other crazy costumes that were out there! It made the race very entertaining!
Room service!

I also have to give a shout out to The Caucus Club, where I brought my husband and family to celebrate an early birthday for my husband Mike this past weekend. The Caucus Club is really a throw back to the rat pack era, complete with a piano player and fun fact, which I may have mentioned before, it’s reportedly where Barbra Streisand got her start! It was so nice to have our Samantha, Jenna and Kristianth all together to celebrate Mike’s 60th birthday. He is an amazing husband, father and human being and I am lucky that I’m the one he’s sharing his life with. It’s been an eventful week and my heart is full to bursting.

Birthday Celebration at the Caucus Club
The crew at dinner
Our girls at Campus Martius
Love Detroit’s holiday vibe!

But my heart isn’t the only thing that’s bursting. As I’m sure you can surmise, with all these eating opportunities I’ve not managed to make it to my goal. However, I am happy to report that I am holding my own. I still use Noom daily, though I may have missed logging a meal or two here and there. I am back on track and determined not to gain any weight over the holidays. Wish me luck! I have done a few more workouts on the NordicTrack. I am at workout #59 of my 50 work out goal. I did the core yoga workout and a walk through the Balkans as well as an interval incline walk through Lake Tahoe.

I am still neck deep in organizing our photos but the end is at least in sight. I am strongly leaning towards removing photos from their photo albums and filing them all away using this storage system. I think I’ll need to run out and get a few more storage containers though.

Mike and I are heading to Florida sometime this week and I will update you then on our Florida house. On the plus side our pool is finally underway! However there is still no couch and one does not appear to be on the horizon. Surprisingly, they didn’t have enough fabric and had to order more. In fact, none of the remaining furniture is in yet. This is a lesson in patience. At least this time we will have dining room chairs and a couch in the den. I ordered a few lamps on Black Friday from Wayfair as they were very much on sale. They should be arriving while we are there. Our new backsplash is in and our wine refrigerator has been ordered. I will be so happy when it is all complete. We still need curtains for a few of the bedrooms, and we need to select art work and accessories which Mike and I hope to shop for while we are down there (fun!) I was hopeful it would be completely decorated and furnished before the end December, but sadly, it’s not looking like that will be the case.

That’s where I will leave you for now. I hope to have a little more to share about our Florida place next week. Until then, may you enjoy every minute of this busy, messy beautiful season!

Week 14: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Bonjour mes amis (my friends) and welcome to week 14 of my quest to check off fifty items before I turn 60 next year. (Have I said YIKES! already?) I really am curious as to whether I will be able to complete them all. The clock is ticking towards summer’s final days and I still have a few warm weather items left to complete, all for the sweet reward of a simple check mark.

Well let’s see how I did this week. I would say, all in all, I am well satisfied! In continuing items, Mike and I made it to a new restaurant for the month of August. For my Belleville friends, we tried out Shakers Bar and Grill on Canton Center road, very near Antonio’s Cuccina Italiana. I was surprised at the extensive and creative cocktail menu and draft selections. They offered various labels of rum, tequilas, cognacs or vodkas. I opted for a glass of a German Urban Reisling. The menu was varied and Mike and I both enjoyed our selections, his being a pepperoni flatbread and mine, California grilled chicken breast, with bacon, Swiss , avocado, poppyseed honey mustard over greens with savory coconut ginger rice and roasted vegetables. They offered quite a few gluten free options, such as lemon butter grilled North Atlantic salmon or sweet chili chicken breast and a nice selection of steaks. They also have pizza! Portion size was good and service was very good as well. You can dine inside or outside on the patio. Cheers to finding another nearby restaurant to add to our list of favorites.

Outdoor seating area with space heaters for those cooler evenings.
Cheers to new places!

Moving on to French. French class for the summer semester continues but is ending at the end of August. I have already enrolled for the Fall semester. Summer classes start and end later and have been 2 hours long (7:30-9:30). I much prefer the earlier start of Fall classes and the shorter duration (7:00-8:30pm). I am also very grateful to our teacher David, who is from France and helps us in a friendly way that keeps us laughing together at mistakes and helps us to not take everything so seriously. As we progress, he moves along with the class as our teacher. I will say classes make all the difference because there is a certain immediacy to having to formulate a verbal response to a question that just doesn’t happen while listening to Pimsleur language learning CDs or using Duolingo. Speaking of Duolingo, I achieved my 2 year streak! For anyone unfamiliar with Duolingo, it is a free language learning app. They offer several languages. I have it set to a medium setting, primarily because I intended to go for a long streak. The medium setting allows for a moderately short time commitment which allows me to complete it even when traveling. Otherwise, on an average day, I usually exceed it by a little or a lot. For those familiar with Duolingo, I am at a crown level of 947. I have completed the entire tree as well as all of the stories and listened to all of their podcasts. I still review several categories each day using their Practice option to stay sharp. I’ve also continued to supplement my learning by re-listening to Pimsleur French V CDs in my car. To cap off achieving my two year streak, I watched a movie in French (item #45) and now that I’ve discovered Netflix offers a menu of French speaking films, I believe I will be taking advantage of this much more often. Merci to Amber, a friend of my daughter Samantha, for that little nugget! Much appreciated! The movie I watched was C├Ęzanne et Moi (Cezanne and Me). I enjoyed it though I certainly didn’t pick up on all of the dialogue, catching a few words and phrases at best without looking at the closed captions. It was great to hear the language spoken with passion and the appropriate inflections that language learners sometimes lack. The film was an historical drama released in 2017, which at times resembled the beautiful paintings of the Provence countryside the artist was so well-known for. I would recommend this film even if you aren’t studying French. It was a visual treat!

I enjoyed this historical drama. If you are an art lover or love foreign films, this one is for you!

In other good news, our house Florida is well underway! The windows are in and the drywall has been delivered. We are a few steps closer to furnishing it and have scheduled a Florida visit in September with great thanks to our dear friends Dave and Kim. They are our neighbors both here in Michigan and soon in Florida. We fell in love with this area when they invited us down for a visit. With their help and encouragement our vacation home will soon be a short walk away from theirs!

Who is this male model demonstrating that our new window is in?
View from the back.

And the big thing we accomplished this week was bucket list item #32, riding our bikes from Lower Huron Metro Park all the way to Lake Erie Metropark and back, a 40 mile round trip. We left at 8:30, later than we’d hoped but early enough to beat most of the crowd. We saw lots of wildlife along the way. The trip involves primarily bike trails spanning three metro parks, but there is a stretch, and really, a rather dangerous one along surface streets, which sometimes lacked shoulders or had very poorly maintained shoulders requiring a quick dart out into the well-traveled road (after looking carefully of course) due to a pothole, loose gravel, or enormous puddles.

Ready to head out!

Along the park trails, we saw plenty of wildlife: bunnies, birds, herons and assorted water fowl. Here’s a link to some awesome footage of what I believe to be a heron sitting along the shoreline of Lake Erie. We suspect there was a nest nearby because she was reluctant to leave at first, allowing Mike to creep pretty close to her before she headed out in flight only to alight a few feet further down the shoreline. https://youtu.be/HvqfK85lQ7c And despite earlier forecasts, the weather was perfect! With a mile to go before completing the trip, we made a pit stop for lunch by taking the trail that leads in to Flat Rock. We went for a late breakfast at Tony’s Coney. The ride itself took just short of 4 hours. I thought I would have back issues because I injured myself doing an Ab challenge earlier in the week (don’t ask). But no, my back is fine. What I did do was injure my hip flexor. As a matter of fact, I am writing this with an ice pack in place. Maybe these injuries are my body’s way of saying, “Sit the f*** down. You’re old now.” Nevertheless, however stupidly, I persist. One thing for sure, getting older is not for sissies. I have to give credit to my husband for being such a good sport. He’s not only been an enthusiastic supporter of mine, but a willing participant and even more remarkably, he never seems to get injured while participating in these bucket list tasks. As an extra perk for me, he is an excellent photographer and allows me to use a few of his photos or videos if I ask very nicely. He’s also a proof-reader extraordinaire! I’m a pretty lucky girl. He’s also handsome. hehe (hmmm…looks like someone’s been busy “proofreading” here.)

View from a small park we drove through in Flat Rock.
Mike at the bridge, about 1/3 of the way in on our journey.
We made it all the way to Lake Erie!
Tony’s a great little breakfast spot for a biking break.

In a further update, all of the ongoing things I said I would do, I’ve done: meditation, affirmation, yoga, reading a book, among other things. I am currently reading The Devil in the White City, by Eric Lawson, book # 47 for me. I am about 1/2 way through and really enjoying it. By the way, I have been loving Overdrive, the library app that lets you borrow books. I am saving a bundle and it’s enabled me to already be rounding home on my 50 book goal goal! I’m 31 work outs in on my 50 work out goal on the Nordic Track. My new favorite is Walk The World, taking on the beaches and forests of Costa Rica, a lovely country with the “Pura Vida” philosophy. I’d love to get back there one day, but for now, virtually will have to do!

Enjoying this excellent read so far!

This post has gotten rather long so I’ll end here. I am very excited for my next post because by then my daughter and I will have jumped out of a perfectly good plane. I look forward to telling you all about what I hope will be a thrilling experience! Ah, the things I’ll do for a checkmark. Until next week, friends!