celebrities, lessons learned, music, musings, obits, YouTube

The first day of 2022…

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve 2021. Bill and I had a nice evening, marred only by the news that the great Betty White passed away. A lot of people reacted to the news of Betty’s New Year’s Eve demise with great sadness. She was a remarkable woman who was blessed with so much talent, beauty, and humor. When I think of how many people were touched by her, it almost overwhelms me. This was a lady whose career spanned many decades and generations, and she did it all– singing, dancing, acting, sales pitching, and especially comedy. She was the oldest Golden Girl, and the last one to leave us.

She was such an adorable and hilarious pro! God bless her, wherever she is… I hope she and her beloved husband, Allen Ludden, have finally reunited.

I loved Betty White as an entertainer. I admired her a great deal. However, I don’t feel particularly sad that she died, nor do I think of it as a tragic event. I think, as living and dying go, Betty White did it in grand fashion. As far as I know, she wasn’t seriously ill when she passed. In fact, she was even featured on People magazine’s cover this week, as she planned to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17th. She was still “with it”, and not bed bound. Yes, it would have been wonderful if she could have celebrated one last birthday, but 99 years is still a hell of a good run. What happened to her eventually happens to us all… and she had the good fortune to do it on relatively favorable terms.

I think this one was my favorite! Betty’s dusty muffins could not be matched.

So no, I’m not totally saddened by Betty White’s death. She died the same year as several of her co-stars on the Mary Tyler Moore show, as we also lost Gavin McLeod, Ed Asner, and Cloris Leachman in 2021. And all of them lived to ripe old ages, having been able to work, play, and be in the world pretty much the entire time. We should all be so lucky… and in fact, I think we’re all lucky that we were alive at the same time she was.

*Giggle* She was so funny!

MOVING ON…

A lot of people were also mentioning how much 2021 sucked. I’m sure it really did suck for a lot of folks. COVID-19 has really screwed up normal living for so many. However, one good thing I have noticed about the COVID era is that some people are reprioritizing their lives. Yesterday, I read an awesome Reddit thread called “Twas the night before my resignation”, about a guy who decided some years ago that he no longer wanted to prioritize his career over his family. He started taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In 2021, as usual, he scheduled that week off.

At the end of the year, a work emergency came up. It wasn’t something that should have affected his time off, and he did what he could to warn his employers that he would be taking that week off. But, as it happens, the company dragged its feet and the emergency, quite predictably, became dire as the guy’s week off approached… For best results, you really should read it for yourself. Suffice to say, the guy pretty much told his boss to pound sand, and was richly rewarded for his moxie. And to that, I say, “Kudos, and fuck those people!” I hate it when employers treat their employees like they own them. It’s nice to see that some workers have been able to claim some control over their work environments. I hope this is a trend that lasts, so that working conditions will improve for everyone.

I know… maybe it’s too much to hope for that there will be less greed and corruption in the American workplace. But I can dream, can’t I? Hell… if I were in the USA now, maybe someone would even hire me!

Bill and I actually had a fairly good 2021, in spite of COVID’s suck factor. We finally resolved our lawsuit, and it mostly went in our favor. I know it may seem like a small thing, but holding our former landlady accountable for her egregiously illegal actions, outright lies, and the really crappy way she treated us, was very satisfying. I think we learned a lesson from it, too. Hopefully, that lesson will carry over the next time someone tries to screw with us and shame us into automatically allowing them to have their way.

In 2021, Bill finally started working with a Jungian analyst, which is something he’s been wanting to do for a long time… and something I’ve felt he’s needed to do the whole time I’ve known him. The sessions have been very healing for him, but they’ve also been immensely rewarding and interesting. I didn’t know anything about Carl G. Jung when Bill and I met, despite my background. Social workers do study psychology, but it’s not really the bulk of what we learn, since social work is not psychology, per se. It’s been fascinating to learn more about Jung, and help Bill learn more. He’s been so intrigued by the process that he even started taking classes at the Jung Institute in Zurich. So far, the classes have been online, but we did get a chance to visit Zurich for the first time last summer. If we manage to stay here awhile, he may get to do some serious work.

As for my own successes… I’ve watched my relaunched blog explode. In 2021, I had over 560 times the hits I had in 2020, which was much more successful than 2019, when I moved my blog to WordPress. It really is picking up, and that’s been exciting to see, even though it took some time.

I felt pretty much forced to relocate the blog from Blogspot, although I had kind of wanted to do it for a long time. It was difficult and a bit depressing to start over in February 2019. I had a decent following on the original blog, even though it was a bit rawer than this one is. Moving the blog meant losing followers, as well as ad revenue. It’s not that I make a lot of money at all through ads, but it was kind of a nice thing to occasionally get paid by Google.

Well… that pretty much ended with a thud when I moved the blog, and for quite some time, I felt really constrained and nervous about writing. I know some people don’t think I have any talent… and some people think writing is a waste of my time, so they think nothing about messing with what I do… and some people just plain don’t like me, and want to cause trouble for me for selfish and dishonest reasons. This blog is NOT my life, but it is something I enjoy creating, and it gives me a purpose. So it was hard for me in 2019, when I experienced the setback that caused me to have to start over.

Two years later, I think my blog is better than it ever was. And I’ve been rewarded with new followers, and yes, more ad revenue. I only monetized the blog a few months ago, but pretty soon, I’ll be eligible to be paid. And I can only expect that this blog will be more successful than the original blog was, in terms of money, and quality content. The travel blog is a bit down in views lately, but hopefully COVID-19 will eventually be tamed enough so we can travel again. And really, I mainly write this stuff for myself, anyway, so anyone who reads and enjoys it is just icing on the cake.

I also found a new person with whom I can do music collaborations. In fact, I even uploaded our latest effort this morning! Music is something I do for fun and relaxation, so this is a rewarding development, too…

He lives in the States. We’ve never met, but we have similar musical tastes.

Another great thing that happened in 2021 was that Bill and I finally got to visit Croatia, and pay another visit to Slovenia. I already knew Slovenia was beautiful, but Croatia was magical. Although we didn’t have an “action packed” vacation in the fall, it was still probably one of my favorite trips yet. Just the sheer beauty of Croatia and Slovenia, as well as the time we spent in Austria (another favorite destination) was so awesome. I guess COVID has also made me a lot more grateful for ANY travel. Thank God for vaccines, too. I will be boosted in a few days, which may cause temporary discomfort, but will likely make my chances of dying from COVID lower.

We got to see a few friends, and make a few new friends… and the old friends who are real friends are still with us. We also didn’t lose any loved ones in 2021. In fact, in 2022, Bill will presumably gain another grandchild. And… our beloved Arran and Noyzi are still alive. Noyzi has even become a real part of the family, right down to loving on me when he wants something and showing up fashionably late to dinner! So that’s a blessing.

I have high hopes for 2022… I hope you do, too. To those of you who have been part of this blog, thank you so much! I especially want to thank my friends who have been here since the beginning. You are all a big part of the success, too!

2021 didn’t suck for us… but I know some people are really struggling right now. I don’t know what words of wisdom or comfort I can share. One friend mentioned how bad 2021 was, and I mentioned that I thought 2016 was worse– at least in terms of lost legends. She responded that she’d had a rough time of it in 2021, and compared 2021 to a few other horrible years she’d experienced.

I knew she’s been having a hard time, so I acknowledged that. And then I remembered one of my worst years ever– 1998. If I’m honest, there were a few times during that year that I seriously contemplated suicide. I was dealing with moderately severe depression, and I didn’t see how I was ever going to escape the situation I was in. It was NOT a hopeless situation by any means– which I clearly proved. But at the time, it felt hopeless… and my perspective was so blurred by depression and anxiety that I couldn’t see beyond the fog of despair and despondency.

But some very good things also happened that year. Yes, I was working in a restaurant job where I was abused daily, and I lived with my parents, who were kind of hostile and disappointed in me. I was young and basically healthy, but felt unattractive and unsuccessful. That year, I backed into some lady’s car in our driveway, because I was so upset… and that accident led me to finally seeing a therapist. Dr. Coe helped me so much, and I was eventually put on antidepressants that changed my life. To this day, I no longer feel as horrible as I did for most of my young life.

I eventually got pretty good at the restaurant job, and was able to make enough money to pay for the therapy and save up for an apartment. I bought a car. I had a terrible setback in November 1998– in fact, that was probably one of the worst months of my life. And yet, two months later, the medication was finally correct, and I started getting my shit together… and by November 1999, I was in a dual degree master’s program, proving to myself that I wasn’t as stupid or worthless as I had felt a year prior. That was also the month I “met” Bill online. By November 2002, we were married! And now, 19 years later, here we are… In 2022, I’ll presumably turn 50, and we will celebrate 20 years married.

So it’s good that I didn’t give in to my urges to off myself back in 1998. That would have meant missing out on some really wonderful things. That “abusive” job also led to meeting some truly great friends and learning valuable life and survival skills. In the long run, that turned out to be a good thing, too, despite the suffering that happened when I was still in that situation.

My point is, sometimes what seems like the shittiest times can lead to some pretty wonderful recoveries. So if you are struggling right now, I urge you to hang on as best you can. It can, and probably will, get better. But I also know that those words ring hollow when a person is really suffering. So just know, there are people who really do care, and have been through it, too… You’re probably more like them than you know… unless, of course, you’re Josh Duggar or Ghislaine Maxwell. Those two probably won’t be enjoying life for awhile.

And, with that bit of “wisdom”, I’m signing off for today… Got a few chores to take care of, and then it’s time to watch movies and concerts.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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travel

Now in Slovenia…

We have moved on from Croatia and into Slovenia, where it’s very rainy and grey. We are staying in a large house affiliated with a small hotel near Lake Bohinj. It’s totally deserted here…. We seem to have the whole lake to ourselves.

Even though it’s grey and wet, I think we’ll see some beautiful sights. Or, at least, some different ones. Today’s featured photo is of Lake Bled as we passed it. We were last here in May 2016, but that time, we stayed in Bled. Bohinj is definitely different… and less touristy.

Hopefully, we’ll have some dry time. But if we don’t, I’ll probably start writing blog posts… and rants again.

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musings, travel

Feeling like the Tin Man this morning…

Anyone got a can of oil for my joints and muscles? Yesterday, Bill and I walked about seven miles at the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. It was a beautiful, but exhausting, experience. The trails seemed to go on forever and I wondered when they would finally end, even though the lakes are incredibly colorful and mesmerizing to look at. It wasn’t the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done, but I’m not exactly super fit. Still, I am very proud of myself for making it… because I know that I won’t always be able to do this kind of stuff with relative ease.

Today is our last full day in Croatia. Tomorrow, we will pack up the car and go to Slovenia for a few days. Hopefully, COVID-19 won’t be a problem there, although I have to say that here in Croatia, a lot of the precautions against the pandemic seem to be very much an afterthought. I did read that the virus is on the rise, though, so I’m glad we are in a house and doing things that don’t require being close to others. We’ve also been blessed with good weather, once the fog burns off.

So pretty! Worth the trip and the muscle pain.

I posted a few photos on my travel blog yesterday. I didn’t write much, because I was just too tired and cranky. I don’t have a lot of patience for people anymore, either… especially when I’m tired and hungry, like I was yesterday.

We’re going to go back to the lakes today, but we will probably not stay very long. I think we’ll look for a place to have a nice meal and take in some more of the beautiful scenery. Maybe we’ll even use the hot tub. The time changed in Europe overnight, so we have more sunlight and less fog today.

Happy Halloween, if you celebrate…

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travel

Croatian colors…

We slept really well last night after enjoying the fireplace all evening. I ended up turning on The Crown, which I’ve already seen in its entirety. Bill hasn’t seen all of it, and it’s a very entertaining series. Makes me glad I didn’t cancel Netflix.

I was hoping to visit the lakes today, but you have to buy tickets a day in advance. So Bill ordered the tickets. Then I learned about Krka National Park, which is about 90 minutes away by car. Unfortunately, the tickets for that park were sold out for Sunday. I guess we have a reason to come back for another visit!

We ended up having a really nice lunch at a local restaurant– fresh trout for me and pork skewers for Bill. Then we took a drive and I got some photos of the magnificent fall foliage. The trees are in full autumn glory right now. As long as the weather is good tomorrow, I think we will have a great visit. And since the Krka Park is sold out on Sunday, maybe we’ll visit the Plitvice Lakes again on Sunday. The caretaker of our accommodations says that two days is a good idea. I believe him, since there are so many lakes to see.

Speaking of the caretaker. He and his wife of 56 years live across the lane and have been there since 1968. Bill went over to ask about firewood and ended up being invited to drink brandy. Bill called me, and I went over and joined them. We visited for awhile, drinking homemade plum brandy and Turkish coffee. We also had cookies.

The guy used to be a pilot for the Yugoslavian Army… or whatever branch flew planes. He said he’s been all over the place. Bill, of course, bonded with him over the military. We talked about our travels and our families… all of it done in halting English and a smattering of German and Croatian. It was really nice… I love it when we have authentic travel experiences and bond with locals when we travel. Somehow, we always manage to meet people when we go places… and oftentimes, I end up with a story to tell or write. I also enjoy talking to elderly people. They always have amazing stories to share.

After our visit, the caretaker’s wife came over and got us some more wood. Then she built a huge fire for us!

I’m already looking forward to writing the travel blog for this trip. I may have to start before we go home, since this is a long journey. I have noticed this area is loaded with vacation homes and apartments, as well as hotels and restaurants But right now, a lot of things are closed, including a lot of restaurants. There are caves nearby that I wouldn’t mind visiting, but I think they will close for the season on November 1. I’ll bet in the spring and summer, this area is full of tourists.

Makes me glad we came in late October… it’s a lot quieter right now. I also wish I was a lot thinner. Maybe I’d go on one of the riding excursions and relive my adolescence. Ah hell, I wish I was a lot thinner just because… but I also would love to ride a horse again. I probably could, but I have too much empathy for the poor horse. Anyway, I guess I just want to say that I recommend Croatia in the fall. Especially, if your holiday digs have a fireplace and firewood.

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News, politicians, politics, travel

Do letters to the editor ever sway your vote?

Well, we’re now in Croatia. Our hosts had a nice fire ready for us, but the house is still a bit chilly. I think we’re going to like it here, though… it’s in the middle of the country, with lots of beautiful views and plenty of peace and quiet. It took us about seven hours total to get here from Wels, because we were stuck at the Croatian border for a short while. We had to stamp out of Slovenia and into Croatia. They didn’t seem too concerned about our vaccines, but they did want to see passports.

We had lunch at a truck stop. The food was very good… in fact, I was delighted by how tasty it was. I am full enough now that I think we’ll just stay in and watch Netflix by the roaring fireplace.

On our way over the mountain to the house where we’re staying, I decided to read the letters to the editor in my hometown’s newspaper. As Election Day is approaching, the letters were all about the people running for local office. Since Gloucester, Virginia is a conservative town, most of the letters were bitching about how awful Joe Biden is and how Virginia needs to vote for Glenn Youngkin for governor and for all of the conservative candidates. I think I saw one letter for the lefties…

As I was reading, I wondered how many people rely on letters to the editor to help them choose the person they wish to cast a vote for on Election Day. I will admit, there are often local candidates I don’t know anything about, especially since I now vote in Texas absentee. But when it comes to the governor, or the president, or other higher ranking folks, I usually have a good idea of who my choice will be before I hit the polls (or by the time I get my ballot). I figure anyone who is going to take the time to read letters to the editor are probably not the ones who are undecided. It’s the ones who don’t read who may need assistance. But really, even those people should be allowed to choose without too much harassment.

The people of Gloucester are, by and large, pretty good people. They’re salt of the Earth types… especially the ones who have lived there for many years. Unfortunately, a lot of them vote for parties over people. From what I’ve heard about Glenn Youngkin, he has very conservative values, but is trying to suppress them. If he is elected governor, he’s going to do everything he can to overturn everything Ralph Northam has done. I think Northam has done some really amazing things. But I am no longer a Virginia resident, so all I can do is watch from the sidelines.

Anyway… I just wonder why people bother writing letters to the editor in newspapers. How many people even bother to read newspapers anymore? I get a kick out of the Gazette Journal, because that was my HOMETOWN paper, when I was growing up. It only comes out once a week, but it has all the local news. And since I still know a lot of people in Gloucester, it’s fun to read. But I do have to sigh when I read some of the conservative and extremely religious views… even as I also find them interesting and kind of entertaining.

I didn’t like Gloucester when I was a kid, but I can see now why people stay there. It does have a lot going for it. And once you’re accepted, as I finally was after a year or two, the people can be very good. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can go “home” again. I do have a lot of memories, there, though. Many of them are good… and some are not so good.

Well, this is our first time staying in Croatia, so this should be an interesting trip. On Monday, we’ll move on to Slovenia, which is one place we’ve been to a couple of times. Unlike a lot of people, we didn’t come to Croatia for the coastal towns. We’re here to see Plitvice Lakes, which I’ve been wanting to visit for years. The fall colors are beautiful, so I expect I will have some gorgeous photos… as long as the weather holds.

Hopefully, the good people of Gloucester… and the Commonwealth of Virginia… will get the best leaders on Election Day. I hope they don’t get dragged back to 1950, though. I’m sure most of the people I still know in Virginia know who will be getting their votes by now.

The fireplace in this house rocks.

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