Monthly Archives: July 2016

Introducing my new space–the rental

You know, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to reveal my space to the world or even if this was the right time.

Originally, I wanted to wait until it was ‘finished’, until I had a fully decorated space. But who are we kidding, my space will never be finished.  I’ll be adding and subtracting things until the day I move out.

Then I decided that I’d like to have a record of the process. I’d like to see how the place as it improves changes over time. [It’s already changed some since I took these photos.]

SO Welcome to my place.

It’s a 3 bedroom/2 bath duplex on a cul-de-sac in one of Greenville’s east side suburban neighborhoods.  I have a patio and a yard, a couple trees, and a one car garage.

In this day and age, privacy can be a tricky thing to figure out.  I’m not famous, nor do I have an intense desire to be famous. But I have had a stalker in the form of an ex-boyfriend, and I did have a dude show up on my doorstep uninvited during my one disasterous attempt at on-line dating.  So, in an effort not to repeat that I have decided to be purposely private about exactly where I live. I’ve also decided to keep what I pay in rent private, but my household expenses are < $1000/month.  Yay for SC.

I love that I live a quiet life. I love that I hear tree frogs singing at night. The area I live in was the hot address 20-30 years ago.  That means established neighborhoods, stabilized rent/mortgage prices, no construction on every corner, and a nice mix of older people, young families, and singles.

I’m convinced that I got a great deal…3 bedrooms/2 baths…dishwasher, washer and dryer, more kitchen cabinets than I can fill, an office, guest room, and living room.  It’s way more space than I need, but it was essentially the same as one bedroom apartments in newer areas.   There’s nothing within walking distance, but I grew up in the country so that’s not a deal breaker for me.

As for living here, it’s been a few months and I am still so thrilled to be here! Moving here was absolutely the right decision, and I’m enjoying being on my on again in a safe, comfortable neighborhood not too far from close friends.

First up:  the entry way/living room/kitchen

Who knows how a person can accumulate so much stuff during the course of a day but I seem to manage. I really wanted to create a ‘landing zone.’  A place where I could hang my keys, and drop my backpack.   A place where I could tame the mail, and keep up with my schedule.

new space 1

I really like the two month calendars side by side.  It really helps me keep an eye on the big picture.  I also like the positive upbeat messages at the top of the wall.

Next up:  the living room

After dropping my stuff and kicking off my shoes, I head into the living room.  It was pretty generic when I moved in but I spent a whole week painting.  First up the red wall, then the gray.  I have two huge windows and a French door so I get plenty of light.  Also I get afternoon sun through the dining room window.

new spae 2

I also have my very first washer and dryer. That red wall is my absolute favorite wall in the whole house…favorite people, favorite travel memories.  My  furniture is old; the coffee table in new…ordered off Amazon.  All the art is either my photographs, something I created, and a few pieces acquired from Hobby Lobby…namely that canvas map. The red wall is 100% travel related.  Even the lamp is in the shape of the Eiffel tower.  And the South Carolina string art–I did it myself.

Meet the Living Room

An interior designer I am not. I’m good with color and painting and such, but furniture placement and such, not so much.

new space 3

My couch is old, but the kitties are glad it’s out of storage.  They’ve actually never had furniture to lounge on other than the bed.   And me, well I spend most of my time sitting there working on homework, or watching my latest TV addiction on my new 40-something inch TV sitting on the hand-me-down stand.  Right now it’s TURN, the Americans, and The Knick.

Meet the Bedroom[s]

I actually have 3!  One for me, one for Christopher, and one for Lucy.  I chose the back bedroom with the attached small bathroom for me.  The other one is small-ish, but has a full sized bed, dresser, TV and DVD player in it.  It’ll be my guest room, you know, if I ever have guests.  The other room I’ve turned into my office/kitty room.  It’s where I keep my desk.  It also has a twin bed for lounging, and the kitties food/water and litter box.

new space 6
Christopher’s room…complete with the big cats as mentors

Meet the Bathroom[s]

I have two.  Two toilets is a little piece of heaven. One full size shower/tub and one shower only.  Both of them ar small, but then again,  is a large bathroom really necessary?


The larger of the two bathroom is the hall bath.  It’s the one that others will use so I wanted to make it pretty.  There’s cracked 1970’s green-ish linoleum on the floor, and I painted the walls a fresh, light green.  I also added elephants to the wall to hold towels elephant babies to open drawers.  A sand colored and palm tree shower curtain hides the shower from nosey eyes.


I got these two prints on a visit to Seattle in 2012.  At the time I only had one cat, Kaos, and Kaos was the sweetest, sexiest black cat around.  I’ve never had the space to properly hang them, and now that I do, I think it’s providence that I’ve got both an orange and black cat–just like in the pictures.

new space 4

On Gratitude

I am humbled and grateful every single day that I’m able to live in a wonderful place like this. It took me a long time to get here.  Years of living in basements, attics, and spare rooms. Years of living with roommates that ranged from cool to weird to psychotic. Years of trying to change my reality through various addictions.  Years of alternate living so that I could travel the world and return back to school to change careers.

I practice gratitude on what feels like a minute by minute basis. Just sitting on the couch with Lucy hanging out on the back porch, drinking a glass of lemonade or trying to learn to cook something other than tacos, or even something ridiculous like sitting on my patio in the 90 degree heat watching the kitties chase bugs and roll in the grass — it fills me with so much happiness.

I’m a different person now. Some people say I’m more ‘grown-up’. I disagree,  I’m just different. I’m enjoying stability for the first time ever.   And with that comes nice things, my own space, and kitty cats.

How to travel in any kind of weather

Keeping in contact with the weather Gods

Whenever I plan a trip especially a short one, I always check the weather forecast, and plan accordingly.  However, when traveling longer term and in varying climates what’s a girl to do.  Have a sense of humor of course; the weather gods most certainly do.

I’ve traveled in the rain, snow, heat, and cold, and it’s all been completely wonderful!  I’ve traveled in warm, sunny weather and it’s been awful.  So there’s that.

Varying weather makes the stories and memories from travel even more rich. Sure, unbelievably gorgeous skies are nice and make for fabulous photos [but it’s also hard to photograph sometimes… overcast skies are amazing], but how often do you find yourself recounting your stories tears of laughter a story from a picturesque day where nothing went wrong as opposed to that time you tried to wander a city in a torrential downpour when you’d completely lost your way? 

Despite the fantastic memories that can come from times like these, it’s still better to be a bit more prepared than not, so here’s what you can do to be ready without feeling like you’re hauling your parka, umbrella, bug repellant, and sunscreen with you at all times: 

    • Read up on what the usual weather patterns are for where you’re going. London’s reputation is pretty much a city beneath a giant water spout? Maybe it’s a good idea to pack some waterproof shoes even if meteorologists are predicting a sunny day.

      Look at those blue skies near the tower of London on a beautiful October day.
    • Beautiful snowy days in the French Alps…
    • Keep an eye out for stores carrying what you may need. You don’t have to buy everything at home and carry it with you.  Nearly every location in the world has exactly what you will need. Don’t be a paranoid lunatic glancing with crazed eyes from one shop to the next jotting down addresses for where umbrellas are being sold, but be aware. Make a tiny mental note if you see a place selling basic knit gloves, or ponchos, or sunscreen. That way, if a rumble of thunder shakes the area, you already know of a few places that might have what you need.

      Target and Primark are my favorite stores for travel goods.
    • Layers are your friend. If the place you’re traveling to has varying weather, and really, even if it doesn’t, try planning to layer. It’s easy to shed a button-up or add a light sweater if needed. It’s so much better to roll up a layer and stick it in a bag than to be hot wearing that now-too-warm shirt you’d picked in the cold morning once the afternoon heat has arrived.
    • Embrace rain or snow. It’s a beautiful thing and can add a whole new dimension to the way you see a place  [Paris’ lights reflecting on wet cobblestones, anyone?  Snow covered tombstones?]. Rather than putting the camera dejectedly away, why not embrace the wet and love it too? And what about snow falling softly in a town in the evening? Ahhh, cozy bliss.

      camellia in winter
    • Always have a bag for camera or other sensitive items that is water proof. You just never know and for these kinds of things it’s just not worth the risk.
    • Most importantly: keep an open attitude. You never know what weather your will get on a trip, but don’t ever let something like a gray sky ruin your experience. Roll with it, and try to make it a part of everything by exploring cozy cafes… or searching for shady woods to escape the heat rather than laying on the beach burning all day… or build snowmen when life gives you a blizzard.

The romance and wonder of travel comes from embracing whatever comes your way. Quirks and kinks are how you know your on adventure! Don’t shy away from having an epic story to tell when you get home.

Chichen Itza

I have always kept a record of my travels.  It used to be with a pen and paper and 35 mm film.  Now it’s all digital. Occasionally I reflect back on some of my past travels and travel mishaps before I started this blog.

Chichen Itza is located in the Yucatan region of Mexico not too far from the Gulf.  It was a major economic and political power from 600 to 1000 A.D. Chichen  Itza is a mix of many of Maya and (Central Mexican) Toltec styles; who influenced whom? so much of pre-Columbian history is still being debated.  But I’ll do my best to summarize.

The Castillo (or castle in English) is the monument that most people think of when they think of Chichén Itzá. It is mostly Toltec construction, and it probably dates to the period of the first combination of cultures in the 9th century AD at Chichén. El Castillo is centrally located on the south edge of the Great Plaza. The pyramid is 30 meters high and 55 meters on a side, and it was built with nine succeeding platforms with four staircases. The staircases have balustrades with carved feathered serpents, the open-jawed head at the foot and the rattle held high at the top. The last remodel of this monument included one of the fanciest jaguar thrones known from such sites, with red paint and jade insets for eyes and spots on the coat, and flaked chert fangs. The principal stairway and entrance is on the north side, and the central sanctuary is surrounded by a gallery with the main portico.

Kukulkan, or feathered serpent, is the name of a Maya snake deity that also serves to designate historical persons. The cult of Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl was the first Mesoamerican religion to transcend the old Classic Period linguistic and ethnic divisions and facilitated communication and peaceful trade among peoples of many different social and ethnic backgrounds. Although the cult was originally centered in the ancient city of Chichén Itzá, it spread as far as the Guatemalan highlands so you’ll see this guy as far south as Tikal.

The Mayans loved sport and were quite serious about the games played. They built huge ball courts to contest these matches. It’s often said that the captain of the losing team would offer his head as payment for losing while the captain of the winning team would be allowed to ascend directly into heaven. The Great Ball court of Chichen Itza is 225 feet wide and 545 feet long overall. It has no top, no discontinuity between the walls and is totally open to the blue sky. Each end has a raised to the temple area.
One of the mysteries of Chichen Itza, is the acoustic dynamics of the great ball court. A whisper from end can be heard clearly enough at the other end 500 feet far away and through the length and breath of the court. The sound waves are unaffected by wind direction or time of day and also night. To this day, no one has been able to figure why or how the Mayans achieved this feat.

The goal was to get a ball through this ring. The rings are about 25 feet off of the ground.

The particular sport is not like any one sport being contested today. It has elements of soccer, but the ball used is much more like a weighted basketball. Of the hundreds of images of the game, very few show that the ball was touched with the hands, so archaeologists have deduced that the ball could not be caught. The ball itself was a little larger than a basketball and was made of solid rubber, so it was quite heavy. Players wore protective padding around their hips and were richly dressed and decorated during play.  Personally I think JK Rowling saw images of the ball court and had this in mind when she developed Quidditch.

Information about the solar, Toltec, and Maya calendars is carefully built into el Castillo. Each stairway has exactly 91 steps, times four is 364 plus the top platform equals 365, the days in the solar calendar. The pyramid has 52 panels in the nine terraces; 52 is the number of years in the Toltec cycle. Each of the nine terraced steps are divided in two: 18 for the months in the yearly Maya calendar. Most impressively, though, is not the numbers game, but the fact that on the autumnal and vernal equinoxes, the sun shining on the platform edges forms shadows on the balustrades of the north face that look like a writhing rattle snake.

But Chichen Itza is more, a whole lot more.  Some plazas have thousands of columns. Some have observatories. There are several temples at each site, each serving a different purpose.

Wandering about Holyhead

I have always kept a record of my travels.  It used to be with a pen and paper and 35 mm film.  Now it’s all digital. Occasionally, I reflect back on some of my past travels and travel mishaps before I started this blog.

Holyhead, located on the Island of Anglesey and Irish Sea, is the jumping off point for Ireland and for nearly 4000 years people have been making the journey from the Welsh outpost to Ireland and vice-versa.  The town is the largest town on the Isle of Anglesey with a population of around 11,000.  It’s a mere hour from Bewts-y-Coed that I featured previously in my post about Snowdonia.  Holyhead is a cute little town located on the Irish sea.  It has been continuously occupied for over 1000 years.  The town center is built around St. Cybi’s Church, which is built inside one of Europe’s few three-walled Roman forts (the fourth wall being the sea, which used to come up to the fort).  There are only three remaining three walled cities in all of Europe.

The church of St. Cybi was sacked by the Vikings in the 10th century, damaged by Henry IV’s army in the 15th century in an assault on the holdings of a Welsh prince and much of the interior destroyed by Cromwell’s army in the 17th century. Despite this, most of the church remain intact.

If you’ve ever been to or seen the Cliff of Moher in Ireland, then you might have an idea of what Holyhead Mountain is.  It is not, as I thought, a mountain with subtle gains of elevation.  It is, however, a giant rock formation surround by water.

If rock climbing is your groove, this is the place for you.  We all know that that would be an excellent way for me to injure myself, but I do think it’s an awesome sport.

Today Holyhead and Anglesey are famous as the former home of Prince William and Duchess Kate… they’ve relocated to London with the kids, but for a few years, Anglesey was their home.  I can certainly see why…  It’s beautiful.


Liverpool is lovely

I have always kept a record of my travels.  It used to be with a pen and paper and 35 mm film.  Now it’s all digital. On Flashback Fridays I reflect back on some of my past travels and travel mishaps before I started this blog.

We are back in Merry Old England for today’s installation of Flashback Friday. 

Let me preface this with the following statement:  I am not a Beetles fan.  I am not a hater, but given the choice, I would almost always choose to listen to someone else.  I do appreciated their contributions to music though.  But here I am, in England, and not all that far from Liverpool [1.5 hours away] so it would be wrong of me to NOT visit the city that brought the world the first Rock and Roll superstars…so off to Liverpool I go to spend the day…and night and take in another awesome English football match [Liverpool FC vs Leicester City anyone?] and see if there is more to this city of >400,000 than just the Beetles.

You know what?  There is…The Albert Dock, a very cool hang-out spot for tourist and locals alike.  There is even a yellow submarine floating in the harbour which I thought was pretty cool, but odd, until I realized that the Beetles sang the Yellow Submarine song.

Let’s all sing along now…”We all live in a yellow submarine…”

Albert Dock–Welcome

Liverpool also has some amazing church architecture.  From England’s largest Anglican Cathedral to a beautiful bombed out building to a futuristic catholic church–church architecture in Liverpool is quite grand.

Anglican church exterior

Metropolitan Catholic Church [which looks like a spaceship to me]

the inside of Metropolitan Catholic Church

St. Luke’s Church…bombed out during WWII

Continuing on my Liverpool walkabout, I discover the Cavern.  Since I am not a Beetles fan, I did not know that this was the club that the Beetles first performed as a group.  Several other bands have played here too, and I wish I could have seen some of them.

Little known facts about Liverpool [2 of them]:  It has the oldest Chinese community in Europe and  Liverpool not only gave us the Beetles but also Edward Elgar–without whom no high school graduation ceremony would be complete. [Pomp and Circumstance anyone?]

Liverpool’s Chinatown

The view from the cheap seats at historic Anfield–home of Liverpool FC…my second favorite team in England.