Mister Carwash and Other Houstonian Rites of Passage


My car finally arrived after journeying thousands of miles on boat and truck. It desperately needed a bath. 

Over dinner my girlfriend told me about Mister Carwash on Gessner.  It sounded like the perfect Saturday morning plan. She warned me to arrive early because it gets pretty busy and I’m happy I did. Cars were already lined up and it was only a little after 8a.m.

Mister Carwash has over 30 locations, so the nice guy told me, while convincing me to sign up for the monthly car washing service (with the promise I can cancel at any time). No wonder most of the cars here are shiny! 

In Anchorage, cars are dirt encrusted most of the year and no one blinks an eye. Our roads conditions in Alaska are a bit more rough around the edges compared to this bustling Texas city. 


With coffee in hand, I left my car to be vacuumed and washed, wiping away the evidence of the long journey it had just recently traveled. From the comfy waiting room I can watch the cars glide past the wide windows, the hard working employees working their magic. 

I’m impressed!

You have no idea how  happy I am to be reunited with my car. It’s a small chunk falling into place, reminding me how wonderfully blessed I am with this new chapter in my life. I’m so very blessed and grateful for all that God has given me. Good and bad, it’s been a bit of a challenge but through it all I’m treasuring the days as they unfold. 


My mantra for today is “be present”.  

Be present in all the little moments. Even a Carwash. 


Cheers!

❤️

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Mirror, Mirror On The Wall


Third time’s the charm, at least I’m hoping it proves to be true in the case of my house hunting escapades. Like all fairy tale adventures it seems that it takes the mythical number three to get it right. 

This afternoon, after a few signatures and a check,  I committed to buying a brand new house. Why I hadn’t done this when I first arrived to Houston I’ll never know. But it’s better late to the party, than not at all. 

The first house just wasn’t meant to be, a contract was written prior to mine. 

The second house, sad from lack of care and in need of too many repairs, I had to walk away from. 

But the third house, a beautiful gem, that sits on the street of dreams, will be ready to move into at the end of June.  Seriously the street name is El Sueno meaning the dream street. How cool is that? The layout and the location is pretty spot on. 

The best part about a new house is being able to move in and not worry about repairing or replacing things. Just my cup of tea! 

Cheers!

❤️

Wrong Bus


“Honey, never forget you’re awesome… you’re just sitting in the wrong seat, on the wrong bus,” my girlfriend said,  consoling me. 

Wrong bus.

I’m banging on the door, begging the bus driver to stop so I don’t miss my stop. He ignores me and keeps driving. The more I beg to get off, the faster he drives. Stop after stop flies by. Thoughts of jumping flashes through my brain but just as quickly ugly images of bloody gashes and broken bones flashes through my mind, keeping me frozen in my seat.

Fear. An ugly companion.

The bus turns a corner. Slows. My heart leaps. Was now my chance? Can I get off now? Would he let me go now?

A new bus driver steps onboard, sits down and the bus races on ignoring my request to let me get off at my stop. Instead, her hooded eyes sternly staring at me from the rear windshield mirror, tells me I’m on the wrong bus (like I didn’t already know that -ugg). Her words harsh as stones, fire at me, reminding me I don’t belong in the seat assigned and there is no place for me on her bus and there are no stops for the likes of me.

The bus stops.

The doors open – to an empty dirt road.

I get off the bus. It drives away.

Fear greets me.

Sigh.

I look closer. Behind Fear sits Potential.

Stepping around Fear I embrace my Potential.

 Thank you, D., for reminding me that there is always another bus on its way. 

Snow Continues to Fall

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” -Sinclair Lewis

It’s Saturday.

Its snowing again.

I was up early and skated (the only way I can explain driving on ICY roads) very, very carefully to Eagle River to have coffee and yummy omelets with A. I passed rollovers, ditch-divers and emergency vehicles the entire fifteen miles. And promptly got stuck half way up the driveway.

Welcome to Alaska’s winters.

I hiked up the rest of the drive, leaving my car sitting there, knowing I would have to back the thing down. It would wait until after our visit.

Is it spring yet?

I’m already getting itchy to plan another long weekend out. But I promised myself I would stay put until I head to Iowa at the end of March. I have serious doubts that I will make it until then. Pray for me.

Maybe I will plan a weekend to Alyeska Resort that sits in Girdwood...and take Miss R and her mommy with me. The hotel is absolutely beautiful with a salt water pool and the community is a skier’s paradise. Not that I ski. Did I mention I live in the WRONG state?

I think its time to go check out some travel sites to do some virtual travel dreaming. By the way, here are a few that I tend to go back to, just in case you are curious:

  1. TravelPirates
  2. Kyak
  3. Hopper
  4. Google Flights
  5. VactionsToGo

 

Cheers!

 

 

Good Morning Las Vegas!

Day 2


Hello! After my long nap – ok, all night, I was slowly waking up to a beautiful Las Vegas morning. Coffee is the  one and only thing missing in my cozy room.

Just so happens there is a diner downstairs called the Coffee Shop. It’s reminiscent of an old fashion neighborhood 24 hour diner. Think Denny’s or a Village Inn and go back a decade or two. The lady’s uniform consists of a brown dress, apron and comfy walking shoes. She serves up coffee in carafes and plates full of eggs and pancakes and bacon and, I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

I ordered coffee and an English muffin. I can see your eyebrow raise. The matronly waitress had the same look that said “is that all?” Hey, I’m petite and not a huge eater. I was in search of coffee and a place to slowly wake to the city before I headed outside for a walk down the strip and this, in my very own good opinion, was perfect.

The Venetian

 

The Venetian is across the street from Treasure Island. It houses my favorite bakery, Bouchon. With an order of raspberry beignets and a small cup of coffee yo go, I began the familiar trek towards Bellagio.


Early mornings are absolutely the best time to take in some vitamin D and the scenery without a crush of people.The last few trips I have been blessed with beautiful weather and today was no exception.

 

 

Here’s a 15 second zen moment – don’t forget to breathe….

 

 

Once upon a time ago, like last year, there was a restaurant called Serendipity that sat out front of Caesars. I’ve had several nice brunches there over the years. Today it’s Stripside Cafe & Bar. Whatever the name, there is a great patio area with tables that is a great stop on the way to Bellagio. Take a seat and enjoy some people watching.

But before you do say a prayer at the Brahma Shrine.


I sat down to enjoy my raspberry beignets and breathe in the sunshine. Be prepared to be tickled watching the little birds prance about hunting for treats. Enjoy the comedy.


Bellagio

I love walking through the high end shops on your way into the Bellagio casino. I have a dream that someday I will be able to go shopping here. I’d stop at Fendi for a bag. Then into Tiffany’s for something shiny. And for fun I’d buy a beautiful Chanel jacket and pair it with a silk Hermes scarf. It’s a lovely dream.


But since I’m on a budget I window shop on my way to see my most favorite place in Vegas – The Bellagio’s Conservatory. It’s a stunning display of flowers and art. The theme on display in vibrant color is the Fire Rooster for the Chinese New Year. I wrote a post on this year’s New Year and just let’s say, “bring it on!”


Tip: It is FREE!

 

Valley of Fire State Park

 

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Tip: Get Off The Strip

When we were in New York a few weeks ago I mentioned that we needed to get off the beaten path and do something we had never done before. And we did.

About an hours drive out of Las Vegas sits 40,000 acres of brilliant red sandstone outcrops waiting to be explored – The Valley of Fire. Be prepared to be amazed at nature’s majestic colors.  The park offers visitors hiking trails, picnic areas and even camping opportunities. Go early in the day if you can to catch the sun. By the time we got there it was already nearing sunset and the hills were falling into shadows. But where the sun hit the sandstone it turned into the color of soft sherbet – a feast for the eyes and rest for the soul.

The beauty of being in the natural world was striking after being in the chaos of the city. It reminded me that we are so small compared to the larger world. The vast ocean of painted rock and desert resonated deep in my soul. I breathed it in and let the stress melt away. It was almost better than the massage from the day before.

 

Tip: Day use entrance fee: $10.00 per vehicle. Camping: $20.00 per night + $10.00 for sites with utility hook ups.

 

Lawry’s Prime Rib Dinner

After a full day we dressed for dinner and headed to Lawry’s, a few minutes off the strip that specializes in prime rib. According to the restaurant, doggie bags and valet service originated with Lawry’s…who knew! With a flash of silver carts and spinning salad bowls, a delicious meal appeared and was un-apologetically devoured.

To be perfectly fair, this is not a budget friendly restaurant. In life and in Vegas you sometimes have to splurge a little. This was worth it and A was very happy and that’s all that counts!

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Gilley’s Saloon

Tip: FREE Line Dancing Lessons @7pm

Who loves to country dance?

We missed the free line dancing lessons. Time gets away and it’s hard to fit everything in that we want to do. We got there for the just in time for the live band so we paid the $10 cover charge. No surprise, the cover was worth it.

The band was amazing. Unfortunately I never did find out the name of the band but their performance was exactly what you come to expect from most Las Vegas entertainers – supremely talented. The lead performer was a petite young woman with a giant voice that filled the huge hall.  They seamlessly played a mix of country, tossed in some good old rock and even some pop to keep everyone happy.

Drinks flowed, delivered by beautiful cowgirls dressed in chaps. I’m sure they had every man in that place ordering non stop just to see the pretty cowgirls.

I have to share the one mischievous-late-night-saloon-thingy that A taught me. I’m a very slow learner so we started it at dinner and took half the night before I could repeat the following phrase with out stuttering or just fall out laughing:

Dirty rotten, lying, no good, son of a bitching bastard!

My mother would be so proud…LoL!

If you like good music and the opportunity to dance the night away then Gilley’s Saloon is the place to be.

 

Cheers!

A New Day, A New Month and the Theme is LOVE

It’s All About Love
The days are getting longer. The weather is warming just enough to turn the snow to slush during the day and cold enough at night to turn the streets to ice making for a fun commute in the morning – kind of like ice skating except in cars (not recommended) – and the stores are blooming with pink and red hearts.

Welcome to February!

Love is in the air.

Did you know that for every language there is a word for love? But the meaning of love crosses so many boundaries and morphs depending on who said it, the context it was said in, even the enunciation can change the meaning. There are feelings to consider (so many FEELINGS). There are relationships to consider (commit/don’t commit/somewhere in the middle). Let’s just agree there is a lot to consider to this very simple word L O V E.

Before sitting down to write I popped online researching pages and pages. There is a minefield of information all on the meaning of love. Wow. I encourage you to check it out yourselves. For those of you with a very analytical mind love may not be a riddle easily solved. However, many have tried. My personal favorite happens to be the Greek’s 6 words described here at Yes Magazine.

1. Eros – sexual passion

2. Philia – deep friendship

3. Ludus – playful love

4. Agape – love for everyone

5. Pragma – longstanding love

6. Philautia – love of the self

My Very Personal Opinion:

No matter how you slice or dice it love begins internally with each of us. Love is an ember of warmth that, if nurtured, flares to a glowing fire warming all who nears its presence. Love begins with me. It begins with you. Love connects us. Love grows us. Love excites us. Love is the adventure of a lifetime. Like the Beatles’ song goes “all you need is love”.

Here’s to L O V E!

Cheers!

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Answering Brene Brown’s 4 Questions. 



  1. What do I want MORE of in my life?
  2. How do I let go of what’s no longer serving me?
  3. What will make me feel more alive? More brave?
  4. At the end of every day and at the end of every year, I need to know that I contributed more than I criticized. How have I contributed and what will that look like moving forward?

Brene Brown’s email arrived in my inbox and, like most things; it arrived at the perfect time. In her email she stated that she asks herself those four questions at the end of the year. I re-read them and then I re-read her answers. And, once again, her wisdom struck a chord deep inside of me. And then I wondered how would I answer them? Could I answer them? Would it make sense? And then my thoughts finally landed on “why the hell not try?”

When I read question one my mind instantly races to LESS. What I want less of. What does that say about me? I take a deep breath. I retype MORE in capital letters. And then bold the letters to highlight it even MORE. And then I begin.

1. I want MORE… more peace, more safety, more security, and more sunshine in my life.

2. I let GO of pushing, of trying too hard. Instead I am embracing the FLOW…and letting that be ok.

3.  Step out of my comfort zone! It’s so easy for me to sink into routine. It’s time to shake it up and find the courage to step out. Explore. Get lost. Find love.

4. This is a tough one. I think that for a long time I’ve been living on auto pilot. I’ve been getting by but have I contributed? I’m not sure. I think this will be a work in progress.

How about you? Take a stab at answering the questions. Don’t forget to share them with me.

Cheers!