Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tentative Itinerary 2015: Day One

Today and through the 28th, I will be sharing our tentative itinerary for our trip to London.  We cannot anticipate the weather so, if we plan a day of being outside a lot on a day when the weather will be raining a lot, we will probably shuffle things around a bit.  Right now, the day I am typing this, the weather is predicting fog on the day we arrive.  I would love that!

Anyway, without further ado, here are the things we have planned, aware that with mice and men such things are bound to go awry.

Our flight leaves at 6:17pm on Friday and we land at 7:40am on Saturday.  This is an image of a 767-400 which is the type of Boeing jet we'll be taking.  This is my first time flying for so many hours so I am not sure how I'll handle it so this will be a grand experiment.

Because we land so early, I am not expecting our room to be ready for us.  But this is where we'll be staying:  the Taj at 51 Buckingham Gate.  When we went to New York, I didn't get a "before" picture of our room because Rob had food poisoning and had to lie down upon our arrival.  Hopefully this time I'll have an opportunity to get a pretty picture or two before we start unpacking.

Even if our room is ready, we'll probably dash over to Buckingham Palace to see The Changing of the Guard.  (Or we may decide it's not worth the bother.  I think a lot will depend on how much we want to walk around or how very tired we feel because, if our room is ready, we may prefer to just take a quick nap.)

Assuming we are eager to walk around a bit, about a mile away from Buckingham Palace is the oldest Irish pub in London.  Rumor has it, they serve wonderful bangers and mash so we hope to head over there for a little bite to eat before wandering back to our hotel and settling in for the evening.  No specific plans for dinner at the moment.  But with all the walking around we'll probably do and such, we are bound to spot a tempting eatery somewhere along the way. 

And if we do go to the pub, here is what we'll pass along the way there and back:
As you can see, if we do feel like walking, we'll see a lot on our first day. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weekly Update: Not Enough Days in My Week

Can someone please give me another week of days so I can get everything accomplished?  Please?

Bit-by-bit, the pieces are all falling into place and it’s a good thing because we leave for London on Friday!  I plan on sharing our “tentative itinerary” just as I did last year when we went to New York.  Now, you may recall that our “tentative itinerary” didn’t even last 48 hours because Rob had food poisoning the day we landed and the next day we spent shopping for a jacket and hat for him instead of going to a museum or something similarly more enjoyable. 

(Have I mentioned I hate shopping?) 

Anyway, I’ll create another series of Tentative Itinerary posts yet; you can expect new posts every day from the 19th through the 28th, which is the day we land.  It will take me a few days to get posts organized upon my return.  But I also plan on getting a few book reviews queued up in my book review blog.  Hopefully, you will hardly feel my absence. 

Our friend Chris will be house-sitting and dog-sitting which, we hope, will keep the dogs from missing us too much.  I’ve created a “Survival Guide” which gives him all sorts of insight into the many quirks that Snowdoll and Holly have and what their routine is like.  He comes over often enough that they should be okay. 

As you can see, my mind is focused on our impending trip, but that didn’t keep me from having a full week.  Perhaps too full, frankly.  Remember how I’ve managed to lose 2.5 lbs since the beginning of the month?  Well, I regained all 2.5 lbs back again.  I still haven’t decided what to do differently upon my return from London but, in October, I will be recommitting myself to a few things.  Part of that recommitment will include one of the following for tracking things:

  • Utilizing My Fitness Pal again
  • Resurrecting my Body Blog
  • Moving back to either SparkPeople or Livestrong

In the meantime, to the best of my abilities, I am going to pretend that I am not 20 lbs over my target weight for this year’s weight loss goal.  Not making the progress I had hoped to make is discouraging and, somehow, I have to motivate myself to try again when I return from our trip.

On Thursday, Joe and I went out for lunch, just the two of us, and we had a fantabulous time.  He had discovered a good place for pizza and I have to say I agree with him.  (And yes, I have no doubt that this is part of the reason I regained the weight.)  It was so good, we’ve agreed to try to have a similar date once a season.  In fact, I talked with Shira about doing the same thing.  And with Marc’s and my having our twice a month video chats, I feel like the children and I are on a good path to keep up with one another while not overwhelming ourselves trying to do too much.  Shira has her conventions, Joe his family, and Marc his graduate studies. 

And I?  Well, I should have something, shouldn’t I?  And that’s part of what I plan on exploring more fully when I get home.  Kanika has a start-up business she would like to get up and started.  She’s invited me to work on a project to help her.  I’ve been trying to get the project started but I confess to being utterly uninspired and creatively blocked.  (Or maybe I just need a vacation.)  I also have another project I’d like to begin, one that would not actually manifest until January but will require a lot of work on my part.  I plan on ending the year with positive goals and projects in place, including my resuming my weight loss (finger’s crossed). 

This week . . .

I’m mostly already packed, although my carry-on is not yet done. But my clothes are all picked (black, grey, creamy white, with the occasional pop of red) and my books gathered—one physical and the rest are stored on my kindle.  Chris and Joe & Co are dropping by at various times on Tuesday.  So excited to see them all before we leave.  And Friday afternoon we leave for London.  Rob has never left the country; I have never left the continent.  You know we’ll have a wonderful time and, upon our return, I’ll tell you all about it.  In the meantime, cross your fingers for me.  I seem to be coming down with a cold. *sniff* *sniffle* *snuff* 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekly Quotations Part 31

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”  (203)

Self-image is inseparable from the culture that creates it.  (204)

A rigid ethical system also blinds us to unattractive parts of ourselves, such as lust, envy, greed, hatred, and selfishness, which makes them less manageable.  We’re repeatedly assailed by news reports of holier-than-thou politicians who get caught in sexual imbroglios.  When we learn to recognize these all-too-human tendencies in ourselves, without shame and denial, we have a chance to steer them in more beneficial directions. (205-206)

Once you understand your personality style, you can also benefit from knowing the five mental “hindrances” that everyone encounters on the road to self-compassion:  grasping, aversion, weariness, agitation, and doubt.  (207)

Quoting Ajahn Brahm
When you visit someone in the hospital, talk to the person and leave the doctors and nurses to talk to the sickness.  (222)

The key question is “Am I meeting more and more of my life experience with kindness and understanding?”  That is, how consistently do you respond to yourself in a kindly way when things go wrong?  (222)

Religious faith—faith that there is a God who cares what name He is called, faith that Jesus is coming back to earth, faith that Muslim martyrs go straight to Paradise—is on the wrong side of an escalating war of ideas.  (80)
It does nothing to merely declare that “we all worship the same God.”  We do not all worship the same God, and nothing attests to this fact more eloquently than our history of religious bloodshed. Within Islam, the Shi’a and the Sunni can’t even agree to worship the same God in the same way, and over this they have been killing one another for centuries.  (86)

[B]illions of other human being, in every time and place, have had similar experiences—but they had them while thinking about Krishna, or Allah, or the Buddha, while making art or music, or while contemplating the beauty of Nature.  There is no question that it is possible for people to have profoundly transformative experiences.  And there is no question that it is possible for them to misinterpret these experiences, to further delude themselves about the nature of reality.  You are, of course, right to believe that there is more to life than simply understanding the structure and contents of the universe.  But this does not make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about its structure and contents any more respectable.  (89)

The Lady and the Peacock by Peter Popham
And if she had not been out at work, perhaps the second tragedy in Suu’s young life might have been avoided.  (169)

Quoting Aung San Suu Kyi:  Buddhism . . . places the greatest value on man . . . Each man has in him the potential to realize the truth through his own will and endeavor and to help others to realize it. . . .  (264)

Quoting Aung San Suu Kyi:  We want a better democracy, a fuller democracy with compassion and loving kindness. . . . We should not be ashamed about talking about loving kindness and compassion in political terms.  Values like love and compassion should be part of politics because justice must always be tempered by mercy.  We prefer the word ‘compassion.’  That is warmer and more tender than ‘mercy.’  (296)

. . . the 2006 film about informers in communist East Germany, The Lives of Others, gives a good idea of the Burmese situation.  (321)

According to the teachings of Buddhism, a good friend is one who gives things hard to give, does what is hard, bears hard words, tells you his secrets, guards your secrets assiduously, does not forsake you in times of want and does not condemn you when you are ruined.  With such friends, one can travel the roughest road.  (328)

Before I say Goodbye by Ruth Picardie

Went to see Evita the movie, starring Madonna. . . .  Eva Peron died of breast cancer and guess what:  the c-word isn’t mentioned once.  The great unmentionable.  (6)

It feels good to have a friend who is sick too.  God knows, I wish you weren’t, but there’s a level of connection that even the most supportive friends can’t achieve.  (9)

From a letter from a reader (Susan Davis):  I hope that you are surrounded by people who love you, and who can support and hold your hostile and despairing feelings, and also be with you when a little bit of joy comes creeping in, against all the odds.  (48)

From a letter from a reader (Gabrielle Page):  So often reality is a let down. (55)

From a letter from a reader :  [M]ost of all he was a selfless family man who was loved and respected by all that met him.  He adored us, the kids and my mother.  At the same time, he never suffered fools and was intolerant of superficiality.  He would never pretend to like people that he despised.  (93)

Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter

[H]er life was whole, and not any of it, not one jot, could be removed for the rest to exist.  For her to exist—which is what she wanted now, to be here on this earth, right where she was, walking through the cold shallows.  How much time had she wasted trying to throw her life away?  (275)

You make a choice you think is right, you move in a direction and before you know it, you’re treading water in some mad effort to stay afloat.  (277)