Alarm Cat

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I am a night owl.  When I start to yawn at 5pm each afternoon, I have a strong cup of coffee that carries me all the way through happy hour, and then through watching my favorite tv shows until midnight.  So, of course, I love to sleep in.  I wait all school year for those magical summer mornings, when I can loll about lazily in bed.  After Hubby leaves for work, I have the whole bed to myself and can stretch my legs, spread out, and doze as long as I want.  When I was younger I watched my dad get up at 5 each morning, and I thought to myself, I can’t wait to be a grown up when I, too, will be a morning person.  I’m still waiting for that day!

But this summer, for some reason, I’ve been waking up at exactly 5:55 each morning. For weeks I couldn’t figure out what was waking me, until last week when I happened to notice Tilly Cat awaken, sit up from Hubby’s feet, and crow like a rooster, “Meow, Mrreeoow, Mrreeooow!”  Then she immediately went back to sleep.  She does this most mornings, so I am trying to go to bed earlier.  She is very smart and on Sunday, she did not do her rooster imitation. (She got a cat treat.)

Cosmo is our old man cat. At 14 he can barely see and LIVES to lay in the backyard. Well, it’s just too hot! So yesterday, after Tilly did her rooster imitation, Cosmo came up and yowled like only a Siamese cat can for 30 minutes, hoping someone would let him outside.  How on earth Hubby and William slept through it, I will never know.  I am a light sleeper, and Hubby jokes that while asleep I can hear a marshmallow drop on a shag carpet a mile away, lol!

The cats aren’t the only ones giving me grief. Ruby is shedding like the dickens. Today I got up early and did the floors in preparation for the real estate photographer to arrive.  After he arrived, I noticed the fresh layer of spaniel hair all over our floors.  Ruby is upset by all the changes (most of  our furniture is in storage, and her humans are tense and anxious), and barks a lot of the time.  So I would like to advertise that she is available for rental, at least for the rest of July.  Here are her stats:  She is an English Springer Spaniel, 11 years old, and is a Good Dog.  She is very happy and when not sleeping on her back with her feet in the air, she is smiling. She has bad hips so she does not require walks (in fact, she cannot go on a walk). She is a Gemini, 19″ tall, 40 pounds.  She loves cats, puffy Cheetos, chasing shinies, and barking at the vacuum.  Her hobbies are helping her dad mow the lawn, and pooping in the front yard.  Contact me for her availability!

Seriously, we are exhausted from home repairs and shlepping back and forth in this record-breaking heat to the storage unit with more boxes of stuff.  Everything had gone relatively smoothly until yesterday when I paid professional cleaners $250 to clean everything from top to bottom extremely thoroughly. After they left, I noticed they had neither cleaned the inside of cabinets as promised, or even vacuumed my area rugs OR dusted any wooden furniture OR vacuumed any upholstered furniture. I called the next day to complain and was told how could I expect to get rid of that much pet hair when I own four dogs and three cats?  And the owner said, my cleaning crew said they spent 20 minutes on your leather couch, but it was heavily damaged.  My retort was, “We have ONE dog and three cats, and we do not own any leather furniture. I have no interest in playing the game of  he said/she said. I thought you would want the feedback. Have a great day.”

And today I noticed our grass had suddenly died.  How could we have not seen that happening???  The temps in the 110’s all week didn’t help, but I think the sprinklers had forgotten to go . . . and we had not noticed.  The same thing must have happened in the common areas since the landscapers rototilled today, making the lovely greenbelts into large expanses of dirt clods, where we usually have lush green grass.  Lovely moments that restored my sanity were tile shopping with Lois, happy hour with Amy, and all the fun chit-chat time I get with my friend Julie, who is also our realtor.  Send posi energy (and potential buyers) my way this week!

Cheers,

Mary

Scaredy Cats and Dumpster Diving

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I don’t know how the rest of the world manages, but I know as a teacher, I save all my appointments for summertime.  So far I’ve had a haircut, got my blonde back, got a pedicure, saw my waxing girl, and had my eyes tested for new glasses. I have dermatologist, naturopath, and dental appointments on the calendar, and it feels great to be taking care of business.

This also goes for the pets:  Ruby’s check up and summer haircut went smoothly.  Yesterday I took a very cooperative Tilly to the vet for shots and a check up. I’m pretty sure she called me some pretty bad names in the car on the way to the vet, but once there, she enjoyed being fawned over and told how beautiful and soft she was from the staff. Even today she was following me around, asking what adventure we would be having today!  She perched on top of her crate as if to say, “Let’s go back to see those people who adored me!”  Our friendly vet, Dr. Barnard, confided that cats are the only species he’s met who definitely speak profanity!

This morning, William agreed to help me take our other two cats for their shots.  I brought in the crates, and Cosmo vanished. He’s usually so easy and comes to my calls.  At 14, he is docile and sweet. But apparently he was not in the mood for a drive, so he hid away all day, and we could find hide nor hair of him.

Olive was easy to catch, but OMG, she is very sharp.  She gave me two big scratches on the palm of my hand, and William sustained puncture wounds to his arm.  We calmed her a little, then I caught her in a bath towel and attempted to shove her into the larger of the two crates.  She was so strong, and I was afraid to hurt her, and she ended up jumping and running away.  She glared at us from the stairs, and I burst out laughing.  “She’s like Monty Python’s rabbit!” I said to William.  We looked once more for Cosmo, but I finally had to call the vet’s office and admit defeat. They are always so kind.  If you need veterinary services or grooming, check out Dobson Ranch Animal Clinic.

So instead of going to the vet’s office, I started my morning routine of dumpster diving for packing boxes.  It’s been interesting indeed driving behind stores I’ve spent so many hours in, but never saw the backside of.  I found the jackpot at a certain store about five miles away.  I could tell you where this treasure trove of beautiful boxes lies . . . but then I’d have to kill you.  They have soooooo many clean boxes, neatly stacked, and nobody bothers me.  I go every morning with my little stool and Hubby’s SUV, and fill the car to the brim.  It’s a store I like to shop at too, so I feel like it’s a good deal.  In exchange for the boxes, I go in each day and buy a little somethin’.  Good karma and all, you know.

My lovely friend and realtor, Julie, came over about a week ago to discuss our house sale. I really wanted to wait until after my birthday (a few weeks from now), but she convinced me once school starts, people won’t put as much effort into house hunting. So July 18 is our on-the-market date (I’m shaking just thinking about how much I have to do).  Anyway, at first she was very polite, saying things like, “Well, what I would do” and I cut her off and said, “Julie, don’t sugar coat it.  Tell me what needs to happen here.”  So MOST of our furniture will go into a POD I rented which will be filled with my beautiful antiques so that our house will look more spacious.  Our friend Rob is coming to do a little painting.  I hired some deep cleaners who will wash even the light switches AND do our windows (pretty please wait a little on the monsoons, Mother Nature!).

And then the fun part:  Choosing new floor tile.  The new house has all saltillo floors, and I don’t want to offend you all who have saltillo, but I had it in our first house, and it doesn’t match my Traditional Home (granny style) of decorating.  My favorite movie-watching, WWF, napping, and entertaining couch is burgundy for God’s Sake, which does not in any way match orange!  I am excited to select a cream-colored porcelain tile to cover most of our floors in our new home, excepting something wild and crazy in my bathroom and for the facade of the family room fireplace. I wandered into Puckett’s flooring and happened to catch the very knowledgeable owner, so I feel like I am in good hands all around!

So please, everyone of you who reads this, send some love our way.  My friend/realtor Julie says we can’t have the cats here while the house is being shown.  Well.  If I can’t catch them, how can I take them to our son, Patrick’s house each day?  If you know someone who wants a lovely five-bedroom house on a quiet street with a greenbelt, tell them about us.  It has been an excellent house for 18 years.  It’s where we raised our family.  But I feel like it’s done it’s job for us . . .  and our beloved home is ready to embrace a new family.

Cheers,

Mary

Austin, TX

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I am in Austin, Texas, tagging along with Hubby on his business trip.  Neither of us had ever been here before, and we are finding it to be quite charming, at least the small bits of it we’ve seen since arriving yesterday afternoon.

My plan had been to explore by foot—all articles I read pre-trip described Austin as a “great walking city.”  I was looking forward to getting some exercise, since my life goals since school finished were to sit on my sofa, read books, and eat lots of cheese.  Imagine my disappointment to find out yes, there ARE interesting places to walk to nearby, however, there are more homeless people than I have ever seen in my life!  I truly am sympathetic to the downtrodden, the mentally ill, and the addicted, but I wouldn’t feel safe wandering by myself.  Last night as we walked to Moonshine Restaurant on Red River Street, there were plenty of tourists walking and I felt safe.  We have homeless people in the Phoenix area, but these in Austin are more aggressive, hands out and all begging for money.

I’m having a great day even though all I’ve done is alternate between our hotel room and the lobby, watching chick flicks, reading an excellent book, and playing Words With Friends. The book is called Mother Ship and is written by Francesca Segal. It’s about a British woman who gave birth to her twins at 29 weeks, and the months that follow. Not my usual cup of tea, but it is so elegantly written I find myself holding back tears and quickly turning the page to find out what happens next.  The book was recommended by Mothers of Daughters whom I follow on Instagram.  Her husband, found at Fathers of Daughters is hilarious. I look forward to looking at their stories every day for fashion, design, words of wisdom, gorgeous photos of England, and giggles.  I will not tell you what dumb movies I watched, so there!

My SIL (who is also one of my besties) has been harassing me by text to go out and get weird in Austin.  Well, I explained to her about the street people problem, and she insisted I get out of the room. I obeyed her wishes and went downstairs to the beautiful lobby, where there is free Starbuck’s all day long (nice touch, Sheraton!).  I plopped into a comfy couch with lovely sky views, got comfy, and opened my book.  Only moments later, the lobby was filled with over 100 people, all of them talking excitedly amongst themselves.  I examined them more closely and observed that all were dressed very businessy, and each one had a small rectangular gold badge pinned to their right hand breast.  I welcomed some good people watching, but soon was alarmed when I became a source of attention, people coming up to me and looking for MY rectangular gold badge.  Awkward.  As I retreated back toward the elevators, I saw the convention sign which read, “Conference of the Society of Classical Learning.”  I googled this back in my room, and this was an event for professors teaching liberal arts in Christian colleges.  My SIL instructed me to go back and find a badge and make new friends, but theology is NOT my area of expertise, though my background in liberal arts could perhaps see me through.  I will wait for Hubby to return, and we will find some good food and some good beer, two of my true areas of expertise.

Cheers,

Mary

Margaritas as Big as Our Heads

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I am in Mexico.

We sure had a full house with seven of us crammed into our tiny condo, yet I think everyone had a great time. Our kids came and brought their significant others, so I brought a ton of food.  We barely made a dent.  I am ridiculous.  I love to feed people—my mother says we get that from our Swedish blood.

It was the first time my daughter-in-law, Samantha had vacationed with us.  She is a lovely person to travel with and never hesitates to jump in and try something new. She flew Hubby’s two-handled kite, and then went on her first banana boat ride. My Patrick is NOT adventurous but she made him go, too.  She said she hasn’t laughed that hard in a long time, and it was funny to watch him fall off, get back on, repeat!  We spent all day on the beach under a large pop up to block the blazing sun.  In late afternoon when everyone had a beer in their hand, we traded jokes. Patrick told Samantha the TERRIBLE HORRIBLE HILARIOUS jokes I had taught him as a child that go like this:

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs hanging on the wall?  Art!

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs in a pot on the stove?  Stew!

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs floating in the water?  Bob!

In front of a door?  Matt!  In a hole?  Doug!

I apologize, but they ARE funny.  The seventies were a really weird time to grow up, and of course, I feel it’s my duty for my children to know what it was like to grow up in a time when one was not required to be politically correct all the time!

But now they have returned to the States, and it is just Hubby and me. I swear on a stack of bibles, we’ve said under 100 words to each other today.  But I am enjoying the two novels I’m re-reading:  These is My Words by Nancy Turner, and In the Woods by Tana French. The Turner is told in the first person by a teenage girl who travels west through Indian territory in the 1880’s and follows her story through getting married and managing a ranch.  Simply an amazing tale of survival.  The Tana French novel is a murder-mystery about a girl’s murder in a small Irish town. The characters are engaging and the banter is witty. I’m excited that school is out, and I will have soooooo much time to read!

Back to Mexico: We had a delicious dinner with fantastic views up at Casa de Capitain on Whale Hill a few nights ago.  I warned my children to only order ONE margarita.  They are almost as big as your head and very strong, and I didn’t want anyone to overdue it.  Well, the views were so spectacular and the company so good, that all except Hubby (our DD) had another one.  We ended up back at the condo, giggly and dancing in the kitchen, then lined up on the beach, laughing and drinking tequila until 2 a.m.

But today?  I see only two groups of tourists as far as the eye can reach. The sea is completely flat, and the air is still.  Sounds are carrying far, and I enjoyed listening to the ten-year-old boys plan and build their sand castle.  The ocean is warm, and I’ve sat for hours at the edge of the tide up to my waist, watching crabs crawl by (one pinched me—ouch!), small fish swim around me, and larger fish jumping in front of me.  Two Osprey hunt for fish, swooping and cawing.  The clouds are moving in with portends a colorful sunset.  I am trying to remember when I last bathed.  I am finely crusted with sea salt and sand and can’t remember the last time I felt this happy.

Cheers,

Mary

A New View

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Anybody who knows me well has heard me say, “I just need a new view!” This has been going on for years—my desire to move to a new house, so I have a new view out my kitchen window.  A new view when driving home from work, and a new view driving to a new grocery store!  I’ve been shopping at Fry’s Marketplace at Rural and Ray for 23 years!

Sooooo . . . it’s finally happening!!!  It’s a long story, but basically my good friend Julie who is a realtor told us about a friend of hers who was selling a unique property backing up to South mountain.  We went and looked . . . and fell in love!  It has a beautiful back yard, complete with a pool!  We’ve never had a pool.  The beauty of this deal is they don’t want to move out until August, which gives us time to dig out stuff we’ve accumulated in the 18 years we’ve been in this house.  If you look in the bedrooms, it looks like we still have three teenagers living here!  It will be good to get rid of lots of stuff. I’m planning an awesome garage sale in June!

I’d have to be heartless if I didn’t admit I’m going to miss this old house.  We raised our family here!  We had birthday parties, and Christmas, and Thanksgivings and so many adventures—–so many memories I will treasure always. But I feel like our neighborhood has slowly turned into a retirement community.  Original owners (1986) have raised their families, yet stayed put. And the smaller, single level homes are being bought up by retired folks.  When I’m trying to get to work in the morning, I swear it’s like the Walking Dead—elderly people walking so slowly with their dogs, taking five minutes to cross the street in front of my car.  Seriously—they must notice the impatient look on my face, when in my head I’m screaming, “Let me get to work!  You’ve got nowhere to be!”

When we first moved in, our house had been a rental for many years. We bought it for $250 K in 2001. We got it for a song because the carpet was disgusting,  there were pink walls downstairs, blue walls upstairs, and the cupboards smelled strongly of Indian spices since the renters were from India.  Steel wool was shoved into all the windows (to impede scorpions) and countless other problems. The only landscaping was a huge Brazilian Mesquite in the backyard that had 3″ thorns all over it. Slowly over the years, we renovated inside and out.  Now our yard is lush with so many plants and trees, and the inside is fresh and cozy.

We had such great neighbors when we first moved in. Judy next door was like an instant auntie—ready to fill me in on the latest neighborhood gossip, come feed our cats when we went away, and worry with me when one of my children was sick.  I remember the first time I met her:  I was in my pajamas loading the kids in the minivan to take them to school. My pink flannel PJ’s had cats all over them, lol.  Judy approached me cautiously in the side yard, introducing herself, and I said something to the affect of, “Now is NOT a good time, but I would love to meet you soon.”  We’ve laughed over that so many times over the years, and about how my youngest, William, wet his pants during Judy’s and my first “date” down in the greenbelt.  I was so embarrassed (he was four and had regressed), but the giggled like it was the funniest thing ever.  I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without her!  I don’t see her often enough (Note to self:  set up a dinner date!)

I love to host friends, so I started the tradition of “wine night” on our front patio. I decorated the Sissoo tree with pretty white lights, and the six older neighbor ladies on the cul de sac would bring a chair and something yummy to snack on, and we’d enjoy an hour or two of giggling together and “whining” (Whine Night?) about our children or husbands.  But most of those dear ladies moved away, and with the two that are left, we are busy and just don’t take the time anymore.  Recently one neighbor lost her husband, and she will probably be moving, too.

I know this move will be so good for us, but send positive thoughts my way because the job of purging belongings is going to be painful for me.  I am extremely sentimental and truly need to donate/sell so much stuff.  For example, I have two huge bins of clothes my children wore when they were little.  I have tons of clothes of my own that I loved but no longer fit . . . but I don’t want to get rid of.  I have the dress I wore to my brother’s wedding and got so many compliments on (two sizes too small now), and an orange mini dress with a zipper down the back (super sexy) that I totally rocked when I weighed 125 pounds at age 22.  What’s a girl to do???  And do not EVEN tell me to try that Marie Kondo shit.  I own probably 30 hats (yikes).  I own probably 50 scarves!  (Those are small—I can keep those, right?)

Cheers,

Mary

A Perfect Spring

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Our weather this past week has been beyond perfect.  Unlike many years when we go from cold winter temps straight to hot summer weather, the high temp has hovered around 80 for two weeks. I kid you not that we have had years when we are using the heat at night, then seven days later we are using the A/C.

Yesterday Hubby and I explored a new hiking trail, just ten minutes from our house.  The trail is off of Ray Road at Rock Wren in Ahwatukee.  Continue on Rock Wren until it dead ends at the mountain, and you will see a cul de sac where you can park.  I have not done any cardio work in months, so I needed several breaks to catch my breath as we ascended the almost vertical trail.  But once we reached the top, the views were fantastic!  We veered to the left, and after a short time, found a small creek.  A CREEK????  On South Mountain??  It must be a spring, but anyway, we were quite pleased with ourselves that we found something so unusual.  Nearby grew a humongous palm tree, something else atypical to the area.  We hiked for over an hour and decided instead of retracing our steps, we would find a different trail which led into the neighborhood below us where we had parked. We did find a path which followed around the back yards, where dogs barked at us ferociously and we felt like Peeping Toms.  We reached the end of the path and OH NO, there was a steel fence running over concrete.  Since there was no gate and we did not want to do a 90-minute back track, we shimmied on our stomachs under the fence.  We felt quite ridiculous walking through this very upscale neighborhood, our hiking pants totally dusty!  I need to look at an aerial view before we do this one again.

For many hours today I read a novel on the back patio.  A cool breeze ruffled the blooming Lady Banks rose bush, sending its delicate scent to my nose.  Hummingbirds took turns drinking from the nearby feeder.  A carpenter bee announced his presence with a loud buzzing, allowing me to escape from it bumping into me (they are so weird).  I was excited to see a Gila Woodpecker attach itself (upside down, of course) and try to drink the sweet water from the hummingbird feeder.  As he turned toward the sun, I could see the bright red crest on his head.  I held my breath (they are very shy), but Ruby decided to chase a fence lizard, and the wood pecker quickly flew away.  Our orange tree is in bloom, so every once I awhile I could not help but bury my nose in the tree, soaking up that heavenly smell.  Seriously, I think I would put the smell of orange blossoms in the top ten list of favorite scents.

It was almost a perfect weekend, but today I had to run the saddest errand ever:  I went to the vet’s office to pick up Maisie’s ashes.  I can’t recall if I wrote about this or not, but several weeks ago, our four-year-old sweet girl became ill almost overnight, and we could not save her.  I thought I was managing my grief quite well, but driving home with a bag of her ashes instead of her sweet fluffy gray self, her button eyes always full of mischief, I cried a river.  It’s just not fair.  She had been our daughter’s cat first, but Eve had asked if one of us could pick up the ashes for her.  I was happy to do it for her; I think it would have been much harder on her young, tender heart.  I try to focus on the joy Maisie gave us and be grateful for the time we had with her.

Yours,

Mary

 

 

Maui Continued: The Parts of the Trip When I was a Weenie

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We just returned home from Spring Break on Maui.

This was our first time on this island, and we are in love with it. Breathtaking ocean views, lush vegetation, majestic mountains, wonderful restaurants, and extremely friendly people.  I’m still deciding if I like the extreme friendliness—everywhere we go, people ask where are you from?  What do you do there? Most people have come from cold climes.  I am not kidding when I tell you that one night sitting at the bar at Kimo’s, instead of enjoying the sunset I gave advice to a young couple from Minneapolis about whether or not their four year old should go to Kindergarten even though the child had a summer birthday.  ACCCKKKK!  I am such a sucker. (Note to self:  practice your RBF before you return to Maui.)  Even the servers are so genuinely friendly . . . Hubby commented, “They live in Paradise—of course they’re happy!”

We arrived late Saturday night to torrential winds.  Sunday we hiked to see the rock formations at the ocean’s edge called Dragon’s Teeth at Kapalua.  I had serious concerns about being pitched into the sea by the 30 mph gusting winds.  It’s a dramatic scenic area created by lava flows.  It’s a strange juxtaposition that only a paved path separates this lava beach from the very fancy Kapalua golf course.  I like to be a rule breaker, but did NOT take the short cut across the greens like I wanted to, even though the wind was making my eyes tear and my nose run and made a haystack out of my hair!

Our guide book, Maui Revealed, has been a life saver for choosing good places to snorkel.  As I said yesterday, I was surprised at how cold the Hawaiian ocean was, but then again, I’m used to the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez.  Hubby didn’t mind the cold as much as I did.  He found a sea turtle at Nipili Bay, and while he was swimming next to his new friend, I was nearly drowned by a huge wave. I was minding my own business and admiring a puffer fish, when an unsuspecting wave filled my snorkel (and lungs) with sea water.  Hubby helped me to shore, and I felt embarrassed and ridiculous . . . but I rallied and snorkeled most days . . . with no near death experiences!  I love the feel of the salt water on my body and love breathing in the rich fishy smells of the sea.  Swimming in an ocean is one of my favorite things!

One day we drove up to the Iao Valley and did a little hiking. The guide book indicated that the trail continued past the large DO NOT ENTER sign, so of course Hubby insisted we climb over the gate to continue our hike.  The drop off was quite steep and my fear of heights kicked in, so I sat on a rock, clutching a tree, trying not to whimper while he explored further. I took a photo of the sticks in front of me, the only things separating me from a sheer drop off to Certain Death.  Again, I lived to tell. The Ioa Valley is in the middle of majestic green mountains covered in jungle fauna and blooming flowers . . . and is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

I’d been told by many friends that it was a must to drive up Haleakala, the dormant volcano in the middle of the island.  The most popular thing to do is drive up the mountain at 4 am to see the sun rise over the clouds, then ride a bike down (you don’t even have to pedal and you go really fast, a friend told me).  Well . . .  I do not like getting up early, I do not like heights, and I do not like going fast.  So we chose to drive up in the afternoon.  HOLY SHIT, the road terrified me with soaring views and sheer drop offs and switchback after switchback. I hid my head under my jacket, whimpering and trying to remain calm while my crazy brain convinced the rest of my body that we were soon going to be flying over the side of the road, broken into a million little pieces. Hubby laughed at me, but he was ever so kind and turned around right before we got to the gate where you pay $25 to be tortured by an even scarier road.

The charming town of Lahaina was a 15-minute drive from our hotel in Napili.  So many great restaurants (my favorites were Kimo’s and Captain Jacks, the latter where I had a crab cake that knocked my socks off), historical buildings, and ART GALLERIES!!!!  Who knew??? OMG, there were originals by Chagall, Picasso, Miro, Erte, and ALBRECHT freaking DURER!  Okay, I promise I wouldn’t just jump right in and pay $10K to a guy who looks straight of of Goodfellas without due diligence, but it was amazing to me to just be in the presence of such greatness. And to know they could be mine with a credit card totally blew my mind.  It was all just so CASUAL.  I imagined yelling, “Hey, look over there!” at the gangster-looking sales guy, then running away with the art.  I mean, it was just sitting there with nobody watching!  Not that I would, of course.  I’m just sayin’.  And, wait for it:  There was a store called Vintage European Posters. They had four originals by the grandfather of advertising, my total favorite, Leonetto Capiello.  I decorated our house with his colorful posters five years ago, and I’m still not tired of the bold colors and vivid characters on these large posters.  I swooned over this store with so many Art Deco posters!

I think that’s enough for today. Stay tuned for Maui Part III, in which I am brought a thimble of white wine on an all-inclusive dinner cruise.

Cheers,

Mary