F-Weeks: Field Trips, Facebook Facilitation, and Fun

As we Finalize F-Weeks and I reFlect, I’m Fired up about Fulfilling the goals of my self-assigned Framework. Three Functional Outputs? A Field Trip, Facebook Facilitation, and Finally, a Blog Post Filled with the Focus-Letter. Most importantly, the overall goal is to have Fun.

F-Weeks Field Trips

Free 5K Fun Runs Weekly at 99Bottles in Sarasota, Florida

My F-Weeks Field trip was a Free Five-K Fun Run in downtown Sarasota, Florida. Running a 5K each month is a 2024 Fitness goal, so this Field trip Functioned as a TwoFer, helping me Fulfill two goals at once.

Of course, F-Focused Field trips are inFinite when you’re in Florida, since you can simply count anything. I actually had a Fantastic time with a new Friend, Sue Ellen, seeing a musical perFormed at the freeFall theater in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 3rd.

Seeing Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater at freeFall Theater Company

Technically, I Engaged in this Excursion on the day Ending E-Weeks, so I inwardly Frowned upon it “counting” as my oFFicial F-Week Field Trip. It wouldn’t be Fair to my inner rule-Follower. But Field Trips with Friends are more Fun than those done alone. Because it was the Final day of E-Weeks, I Find in Favor of granting Extra Fine credit For this EFfy EdFenture.

Facebook Facilitation

Since Forming the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group, I have tried to Foster a Feeling of Fáilte. The Focus-letter has helped provide Fodder For prompts For Folly and Fotos.

Whether or not the discussion or posts are Filled with the Focus Letter is irrelevant. Of course, I love any creativity that comes From working in the theme letter. Let me Feature a Few examples.

Heidi posted an “F”emerol Fog Foto and Ron Filled the group with Fotos of Friendship, Flamingos, and Foxes.

John Fakes commented, “F is For Fakes,” to which I pointed out the Fallacy of Fakes News. (John Fakes is Funny and Full of… let’s call it Farts in honor of F-Weeks.)

Kelly posed the riddle:

Can you name an 8 letter word with 4 f’s?

Heidi immediately replied “niff-naff.” That was a new word (or is it a Frase?) For me (I love learning new words!) It reminded me of “riffraff” which Kelly said was the word he had in mind.

“F is for Famous: Who’s the most Famous person you’ve met?” resulted in Fascinating stories! My Favorite was from Elizabethe:

Dan Brown writer of Davinci code was at my Fortieth bday party, gave me a flawless bottle of fermented faber grapes from France. Everyone had to dress as their favorite feminist. I went as Zelda Fitzgerald. After I drank a glass, I fainted and my glass fell on his foot. Not a fabrication!

This Factual story of Feminist Fitzgerald in a Femme Fatale scenario with Famous Fiction-writer, Dan Brown, was Fantastic!

Mike Cohn, who I noted as my Favorite Famous person, worked in a 2nd-hand F-bomb to his answer:

Either Drake in a hotel in London or basketball player Bill Walton in the security line at the airport and then in the United Airlines lounge. I once met Lemmy of Motorhead deplaning in London but he told me to “F*** off” when I said hello.

There were more than a Few other Fabulous stories, most of them totally F’ed up in some creative way.

F-Weeks Fun: Flamingos, Flowers, and Frumples

Flowers Fill my Flamingo Vase

Even a Frugal Female like me can buy myself Flowers. (Duh, Miley!) I especially like to Fill my Flamingo vase with these pink tiger lilies with blooms resembling Flamingo Feathers.

Fruity Flip Flops in a Flamingo container

I’m a bit of a Flamingo Freak, and, as mentioned during E-Weeks, my Friends had the Foresight to gift me with Flamingo niFF-naFF. (HopeFully, I’m using this new word appropriately).

A new discovery: Frumples!

One of the most Fun things about my letter-play is when I Find something unexpected and new. There was a Female at a Farmer’s Market selling these Fanciful Frumples.

Frumple Founder, Paula Knudsen, told me her story and the Frumple story. They are not only a Fun Fashion-statement, but can help your Focus and energy.


I Feel Fortunate to have Friends, Family, Faith, Fitness, and even Flamingos in my life. Despite Flatulence and Foolishness, I have Followers.. OK, maybe not Face to Face Followers. Maybe just a Few Followers.. Forget the Followers. I have Facebook. Farewell Fun F-Weeks!

Carpe Diem: Reframing the Bucket List

Bucket lists and goals are my thing. My alter ego is “Super Carpe Diem Woman” after all! I’m all about Seizing the Day! That’s why it was a bit upsetting for me to see one of my weekly newsletters touting “The Rise of the Anti-Bucket List.”

Super Carpe Diem Woman
Super Carpe Diem Woman Leading the Walk to Defeat ALS in Honor of Craig Dunham

The first trigger was the “Anti-” prefix. I immediately wanted to write a post about how I was “Anti-Anti-Bucket Lists.” Whenever I hear anyone saying they’re Anti-anything, my devil’s advocate pipes right up, ready to argue. (Well, unless we’re talking about watching “Auntie Mame” which just happens to be on my March Bucket List.)

After reading the AARP article that originally describes the case for an Anti-Bucket List, I realized the author’s notion of “bucket list” is totally different from my own.

“My bad year had taught me a lot, and probably chief among those things is that there’s much to be said for ordinary life. So I suggest you put the bucket list in the shredder. Do what I’ve done: Create an anti-bucket list. It’s easy. Plane travel? It’s over. Anything you watch on shows like The Amazing Race or Survivor — forget it. Things that might cause stress or fear or make your back ache? Getting up too early or staying out too late? Why? Really, why?”

Stephen Randall, AARP

While I respect and understand the author’s point of view, I have a different opinion about two of his reasons for promoting an anti-bucket list. In my quite passionate opinion:

  1. An ordinary life is FULL of Bucket List-worthy items!
  2. We’re happier when we focus on what we want to do instead of what we will never do again.

Bucket Lists are not just about lofty adventures

A bucket list is meant to be a list of things you want to do before you die. It absolutely doesn’t need to be about travel or challenging goals. It can be about relationships, health, learning or anything! A bucket list is going to be different for every person. The key is to figure out what YOU want to do in this lifetime. Then, do it! Or move towards it. Enjoy the journey!

I executed a 60 Until 60 List the 60 weeks leading up to my 60th birthday. I treated this kind of like a Bucket List that I wanted to complete by age 60 rather than “before I die”. The whole “before I die” deadline is too uncertain. (As a project manager, I’d never accept that!)

I much prefer Yearly Projects filled with rather trivial goals designed to bring joy and happiness into my life. And when I’m happy, the people I love are happier, too.

In 2022, I had a Year of Microadventures, which turned out to be better than a Bucket List for me. Anything could be a “Microadventure.” My only rules were that I had to do something with someone else and blog about it.

Last year was my Year of Learning, which included my quest to become an AARP Benefits Badass!

My goals and Microadventures include quotidian experiences. I very much enjoy finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Reading a book, walks in the park, indulging in a Netflix series with my son – these are not typical “bucket list items.” However, by being intentional about having an experience, particularly with someone else, and writing about it, I’m creating invaluable memories.

Focus on what you want to do

Stephen Randall’s argument for an anti-bucket list is that it gives us a way to say ‘no more’ to things we don’t want to do. Sure, we shouldn’t let our friends (or our own inner-critics) guilt or pressure us into doing things we don’t really want to do!

I absolutely agree with listening to our gut when we are setting our goals, whether those be on a bucket list or a weekly to-do list. One of the greatest things about being retired is that we have full autonomy of how we choose to spend our time.

As we age, we find there are things we no longer want to do. There may be things on our bucket list that no longer seem realistic.

Randall lists traveling on a plane, things that cause us stress or fear, and getting up early or staying out late as items for his anti-bucket list.

Being self-aware of both what you want to do and what you don’t want to do with your time is awesome. However, I suggest our mood responds much more favorably to anticipating something we want to do, rather than declaring what we won’t be doing.

Rather than declaring we won’t be traveling on a plane, why not have goals to have a staycation, scope out the local farmer’s market, or invite your neighbor out for coffee at that new place on the corner?

Facing Mortality

My passion for a “Carpe Diem” Lifestyle is primarily fueled from my experience in watching Craig Dunham, a friend who died from ALS in 2010.

As he lost his ability to speak, walk or move, he kept adapting, taking pleasure in whatever he could still do. That courage and strength still fills me with such admiration. The day I realized he couldn’t pick up the phone and tell his kids he loved them, was the day I realized how very much I take for granted.

There’s an infinite list of things we will not do in our lifetime, either because we don’t have the time, the money, the ability, or simply don’t want to! Why spend any time thinking about those things?

Instead, let’s fill our days with doing the things we want to do. Whether they are big, lofty goals or simply picking up the phone to say, ‘I love you,’ let’s continue to intentionally live our best lives.

E-Weeks: Elderberries, Escape Room, Ego and Engagement

Even though I initially felt a sense of Ennui about my alphabet-inspired Endeavors, thEEse wEEks have been EEsy. Sure, it’s a bit Embarrassing that it’s such an Elementary Exercise, but without Exception, I Encounter some Enigmatic Energy that I’ll try to Explain.

The Elderberries

Entertaining Elderberries

E-Weeks began on February 26, which was also Carpe Diem Day and my 64th birthday! I Entertained the “Elderberries” (a very Educated, Enthusiastic and Encouraging group of Elders).

They came bearing Edibles (no, not that kind) and Enchanting and Esoteric gifts fitting of my Eccentric and Eclectic tastes.

An Example! (Flamingos and Flip-Flops Fitting For F-Weeks!)

I was Enamored with Everything they brought and Excited by the Eeezy-going Energy of these Erudite women.

Escape Room Experience

Intense Escape

Besides these Exasperating blog posts, my goal has been to Emulate my 2004 Experience and have at least one Excursion related to the celebrated letter.

An Escape Room would be perfect for E-Weeks, but Escape Rooms are not Entertaining when you go alone. I challenged myself to Exit my comfort zone and invite someone.

I got my chance when Steve, who I’d met on the cruise , offered to take me out to Eat. He accepted my invitation to join me Early for an Escape Room Experience.

We picked the “Buried Alive” Experience, which was a bit Eerie because we were Enclosed in adjoining caskets. There was an Emergency button in case we needed to Exit Early, but we Endured and Escaped on our own.

The Enlightened Ego

I was also Excited to buy and start “The Enlightened Ego” by Kelly Beninga.

I bought the E-Book version and I’m listening via the Alexa app on my walks. Enlightenment, Ego, and Emotions are all topics I Embrace.

I don’t know if you’d call it an Existential crisis, but I’ve been Examining my life and this was an Excellent opportunity to Explore these topics.

My Eloquent Elderberry friend writes:

Ego Evolution! Existential Explanations Exhort Everyone to Enjoy Everlasting Equanimity and Eventual Ecstasy.

Elderberry, Becky Burns

Kelly also Emcee’s the “You’re Retiring – Now What?” Events I attend. I Endorse all of his Entrepreneurial Efforts.

Engagement Energy

unEquivocally, the Energy I most Enjoy is the Engagement from others.

Examples from the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook group are Equally Entertaining and Endearing.

The group has talked about the upcoming Eclipse and Eva posted an Extraordinary photo of an Eye of an Enormous Elephant!

I was Elated when VIP contributor, RRG, reminded me that we had yet to mention Easter Eggs!

E is for Easter Eggs

I was Especially Elevated by the Easter Eggs reminder. For one thing, we’re in Easter Season. Easter Eggs are colorful, spiritual treasures and symbols of rebirth and life. And Easter Eggs can also mean hidden puzzles or secret messages.

EGAD – That gave me a burst of the Enigmatic Energy I’ve been trying to Explain.

In the midst of life’s Emotional highs and lows, we’ll Encounter the Easter Eggs that bring us joy. Could this be the Existential Explanation I was searching for? Exalt in the Easter Eggs! They’re Everywhere!

As we End these E’sy Weeks, let’s Envision the next two weeks. F is going to be F’ing Fantastic!

Solo Cruising: The Golden Love Boat!

The Golden Love Boat Experience!

Solo Cruising turned out to be awesome!

I want to pitch a new reality show: The Golden Bachelor/Bachelorette Meets The Love Boat. Or maybe “Love is Old” instead of “Love is Blind”?

Because you know what? Old is “in”! There were lots of attractive, fun people who were older than me on this cruise. I hope to some day be like my friend, Patsy, who’s gorgeous and sexy at age 90.

These days, we are aging like fine wine!

I’m still a young sexagenarian! (Gotta take advantage of that sexy sexagenarian label while it applies.) We’re the babies of the Baby Boomers.

Certainly there were sexy people, both younger and older than me in our solos group. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve redefined what “sexy” means to me.

Finding “Love” while Solo Cruising

Once I stopped looking for a husband, the singles scene became a lot less intimidating. I realized the “sexiest” people were the ones with the sweetest smiles, not the ones with the best bodies.

I’ve found so many loving friendships once I stopped focusing on romantic attraction. Everyone has a story. Whatever their age or gender, their race, religion or sexual orientation, who cares? If they’re different from me, they’re someone who can teach me a different perspective.

But I have to admit, it’s a special kind of fun to be around good-looking single men. I have so much baggage around “dating” that I’d pretty much given up on it. But definitely there’s an exciting energy when that spark of romantic interest hits.

Loving Lika

Yes, it was nice to have that “Wow! You’re super sexy!” feeling. Our young, female Solo coordinator, Lika, was sexy in every definition of the word. I think everyone was in love with her!

We all love Lika!

I was especially envious of Lika’s dance moves and tried to talk the group into doing a private song to the tune of “Moves Like Jagger.” I thought it would be fun for us all to try and do our “sexy moves” while we were singing:

I got the moves like Lika

I got the moo-oo-ooves like Lika

Loving the Solos

There also was a feeling of ‘group love’ for the new friendships, and an admiration for all who got out living life fully, regardless of any limitations! (That’s my whole “Carpe Diem” thing, ya know.)

I appreciated the younger solos, particularly Trish and Zach, who treated those of us who were much older, as peers, including on the dance floor.

Young Zach dances “When I’m 64” for my birthday

Trish shot this video of Zach dancing with me to my birthday song, “When I’m 64.” I was happily surprised at her “Carpe Diem” Birthday shout out to me as she was shooting this video.

As much as I loved dancing and the group dinners, I especially liked talking one-on-one and learning more about people. I heard a lot of “Carpe Diem Hero” stories – People who have been through huge hardships, but don’t let that stop them from smiling and living life fully.

Not all “solos” were “single.” Some had partners at home who couldn’t travel with them. That was another reason that the “solos” group was not nearly as awkward as the “singles” scene.

I knew I was hoping just to find people to sit with at meals….people to look out at the ocean with and say, “Isn’t that beautiful?”…People to laugh with, play with, and dance with.

There was no expectations for future communication, but I was happy that there was a sheet that was passed around on the last day for us to share contact information.

And (even though I really don’t like to share information about my dating life on this blog), I will let inquiring minds know that my favorite solo lives in Orlando and is taking me out for a birthday dinner on Saturday!

Loving the Locals and the Sloths!

Another “love story” I’ve been having fun with is my love of this adorable sloth.

Sloth Love
Sloth Love

In this blog post, I tell the story of Charlene Dilbert, a local tour guide who helped me with Spanish and gave me a little taste of how the locals live in Roatan, and introduced me to this sweet sloth.

It was such a fun experience to practice Spanish, hug a sloth, and make a new friend from Honduras!

Solo Cruising Summary

Cruising isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot of eating, drinking, and sunshine – all things I love, but should avoid in excess. Some friends think cruising is too inactive. That hasn’t been a problem for me. I get plenty of exercise dancing!

However, for me, the best thing about any trip or vacation is sharing it with people I love. That’s why it was so stressful for me to think about doing this vacation alone.

I’m not saying it’s easy to find romantic love from solo cruising, but if you are intentional about reaching out, you will find people to love. Not to mention, adorable sloths!

Best Roatan Experience Ever: Spanish and Sloths!

Sloth Love
Sloth Love

If you’re learning Spanish and like cute, cuddly animals, I highly recommend adding this Roatan experience to your bucket list!

Speaking Spanish with a Local

For the past 5 years, I’ve been learning Spanish and wanting to practice in a Spanish-speaking country by taking an annual winter trip. Even though I feel very empowered and independent when I go alone, I’m lonely… and also scared about venturing out by myself. I’m clueless and very directionally challenged even in the States, so… I thought this year I’d get my “speak Spanish with natives” goal accomplished via a cruise excursion.

When I checked the cruise ship options for excursions in Honduras, none of them included “speak Spanish with locals.” They also were very “touristy” and high-priced.

I decided to see if I could find an option myself and asked a port-side vendor (Victor Bodden Tours) if a driver could help me with my Spanish while giving me a driving tour of the “real” Roatan. He told me it would cost $80 and the driver would take me wherever I wanted to go for as long as I wanted.

“I’ll take it!” I said. A private tour and Spanish tutor for $80 for as long as I want? That’s better than any of those high-priced excursions from the ship!

Mi Maestra y Amiga Nueva: Charlene Dilbert

CD - Charlene Dilbert
Ask for Charlene Dilbert for a personal driver and Spanish tutor.

The taxi-driver’s name was Charlene Dilbert with a CD on her business card! Is that a Carpe Diem sign or what? I’m all about the CD!

Charlene (“Charlie”) was an excellent Spanish teacher. She spoke slowly and didn’t constantly correct my many mistakes. Instead she made sure I understood and if I didn’t, she repeated slowly or used easier vocabulary.

She also gently encouraged me to speak in Spanish. If I lapsed into English, she’d say, “En Español?” with a smile on her face.

Charlie with her Aunt
Tia y Charlie

Charlie told me about herself and her family as we drove. She introduced me to her Aunt and showed me the oldest school in Roatan.

She showed me the houses that were up in the hills that Americans and expats lived in as well as where the locals lived.

Charlie is a single mother and I asked her about the economy, tourism, and her job. She admitted that she had a long commute and some days she didn’t get any work.

I told her that some of the people on the cruise ship warned against taking anything but the cruise excursions, saying they might be dangerous for a single woman. She was frustrated by that, telling me that while some parts of the country are dangerous, tourists are safe. The tourism business is extremely important to the economy, so they don’t need to worry when using a reputable vendor like Victor Bodden Tours.

I asked her if the locals ever did the tourist activities.

Charlie: “Oh no. Those activities are way too expensive.”

Me: “Do locals want to do any of the tourist activities?”

Charlie: “Well, it would be a dream to show my son the dolphins, but that costs $100 and there are more important things to spend $100 on.”

Me (very excited): “Oh, if you take me to an ATM, I can give you a $100 tip and then you can take your son to see the dolphins!”

Charlie (visibly surprised): “Are you sure? You would do that?”

Me: “Yes! This private tutoring session and tour is absolutely worth it. You’re a very high-value teacher!”

So, our next stop was the ATM, which was a bit of an adventure in itself. It was a good thing Charlie was with me or else I think I would have been stuck with much more Honduran Lempira than I wanted. I also couldn’t figure out how to get out of the ATM booth! Embarrassing!

Charlie said she wanted to wait until it was off-season to see the dolphins, and, of course, I don’t mind how she spends the money. It felt so good to make her happy.

I told her I’d spread the word about her wonderful service. If you’re reading this, help me pass it on. Charlene Dilbert is the taxi-driver to ask for!

Victor’s Monkey and Sloth Sanctuary!

We still had plenty of time before I needed to be back on the cruise ship, and Charlie asked if I wanted to go to a park where I could see the sloths and monkeys.

I’d been to a park in Costa Rica where there were monkeys, so I imagined it would be like that. It ended up being much better! These were animals we could actually interact with!

Monkeying around

I love this cuddly sloth!

I asked Charlie to join me in the park and she, once again, was pleased, telling me no other clients had ever invited her to join them. “Necesito mi maestra!” I assured her!

I’d never realized how adorable and cuddly sloths are! It’s like they have a permanent smile on their faces. I was instantly in love with this baby.

(I wanted to take him home, but my friends warned me the interspecies relationship would never be accepted. So true.)

Bucket List-Worthy Goals

Even though I’ve pretty much done everything I’d planned on my bucket-list, I did two unplanned things that I’d encourage anyone one to consider:

  1. Hug a Sloth
  2. Make Friends with a Local When Visiting a Foreign Country

Carpe Diem!

D-Weeks: Dollar Tree, Death, and Dance

My Carpe Diem Logo

It’s D-Weeks so let’s Carpe ‘D’em!

It’s a Coincidental Delight that in this Alphabet Inspired Year, C and D-Weeks fall in February when we celebrate Carpe Diem Day. I was going to try and have this whole blog post be full of CD stuff, like Corn Dogs, Carbon Dioxide, Compact Discs and Cognitive Decline. But those were the only CD phrases I Could Drum up, so I Decided to Double Down on D’s which is this week’s Designated letter after all.

D-Weeks: Dollar Tree


Since this week was Valentine’s Day, I Deliberately Drove to Dollar Tree, where I had no Doubt that there’d be Dozens of Deals. The Decorations were Dizzying.

DIY Supplies

Next I visited the DIY aisle where I believe I might have Drooled at all the DooDads on Display. Just Dreaming about the Dates I’d get after Delivering my DIY Valentines filled me with Desire. (Do you Detect Delusion?)

Delicious Deals

Delicious Deals were on Display, tempting me like the Devil! Delectable Desserts and Delicacies just waiting to be Devoured.

D-Weeks: Death

I Don’t know if it’s too Dark to Drag Death into this D-Post. I admit, I’ve been Down in the Dumps at the Death of a Dear friend. It feels Disrespectful to Disregard the Depth of Depression that comes with such loss, Dallying with D’s.

Though it’s a bit Dotty, it’s also Distracting to Do this Drill. My Carpe Diem Superhero friend, would Discourage me from Denying the Dork Deep within. “Don’t ‘Delay! Do the ‘Dee’d for D-Weeks,” she’d Declare!

D-Weeks: Dance

Disco Dancing

We have one more week to Demonstrate Dedication to the letter D. I will be Departing on Sunday for a 7-Day Cruise. It’s Disappointing that none of the Designated ports start with the letter ‘D’ (On second thought, who would want to get D-ported?)

We Don’t need to Decry Defeat, because I plan to Dance to Demonstrate my Devotion to the letter D! In fact, I’m posting a Disco Dance vi’Dee’o that I made During CoviD. In fact, I’d like to Declare it a CoviDeo.

I’ll Depart with one of my favorite Carpe Diem songs: Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance… I hope you dance.

Carpe Diem Superhero: Ursula Dahnelt

Carpe Diem Superhero: Ursula Dahnelt

This year, Ursula Dahnelt wins my Carpe Diem Superhero award for her incredible strength and perseverance in her battle with ovarian cancer.

I learned yesterday of Ursula’s passing. Though I’ve known for several years about her cancer, it still is such a sad shock to know she’s no longer with us.

She certainly didn’t look like what we’d all imagine the stereotypical cancer patient would look like. During the summer, she and I had a weekly hiking date. She lived in Boulder, walking distance to the beautiful trails around NCAR, so we’d meet at her house, and she’d play ‘trail guide’ leading us through a variety of different trails. Sometimes we’d take the car and venture further out. There are no shortage of trails to explore in Colorado.

Weekly hiking date with Ursula

Superhero Strength!

I was always amazed that despite being 5 years older than me and undergoing chemotherapy, she still was incredibly strong and fit, usually leading the way up hills at a fast clip as I tried to keep up. She had a strength-building coach who she met with twice a week and she allowed me a selfie on each hike to share with her coach.

Ursula was incredibly independent and proud of how much she could do, in spite of the cancer. She took control of her care, doing research on treatments around the world. She often would talk about the need for patients to be their own advocates and to recognize that each body is unique and going to respond differently, so not to trust any ‘one-size-fits-all’ regimens.

Past Carpe Diem Superheros

The original “Carpe Diem Superhero,” the man who inspired “Carpe Diem Day” was Craig Dunham, my friend who died in 2010 from ALS. Last year was my friend, Dee O’Malley (who lives on at age 91!), and before that it was Lee MacIvor, who honored the memory of her late husband.

As I wrote last year:

Each of these three Carpe Diem Superheroes have earned admiration from me, not just because of living life fully, but because they do so (or did so), despite challenge, grief, and hardships.

Now, I’m adding Ursula to my list as a Carpe Diem Superhero.

Ursula didn’t think of herself as a “Superhero.” She certainly didn’t want any special treatment or even mention of her cancer diagnosis. She absolutely did not want pity or sympathy.

There were times, of course, when she was sick and struggled. I don’t mean to imply that anyone who is diagnosed with cancer would be able to hike or maintain the fitness and attitude that Ursula managed.

She outlived all the other women in her ovarian cancer support group. She beat the odds with long periods of healthy living, often by discovering treatments on her own.

Ursula’s strength and courage will inspire me, alongside the other Superheroes I’m meeting on this emotional journey called life. I’m grateful to have had her as a friend and honored to have been part of her own journey.

Carpe Diem Experience: Solomon’s Castle

Solomon’s Castle exterior is made from aluminum printing plates.

Solomon's Castle
Solomon’s Castle is the perfect Carpe Diem experience

The Humor of Howard Solomon

“A visit to Solomon’s Castle may be the most unique experience of your life,” touts the brochure. The visit didn’t disappoint. I’m a lover of Whimsy and puns, and visiting Solomon’s Castle provided both in spades… and hearts, clubs, and diamonds. Yes, I know. I’m such a card.

You know who was a bigger Joker? Howard Solomon! The King of this unusual castle.

Howard Solomon had more than a sense of humor. He was a very talented artist. He made his dreams a reality by building his fantasy workshop and home and sharing it with the world.

Photos weren’t allowed within the castle. That was lucky! I would’ve wanted to photograph everything and I would’ve been too busy taking photos rather than just enjoying the art, along with the funny tour script.

This must be a newer rule, though, since I found this blog post from 2017 which includes pictures of several of the quirky art pieces and their titles.

Betsy Ford, our tour guide, told us that before Howard died, he’d written the long script, riddled with one-liners and Dad jokes. While the barrage of puns might be groan-worthy in a comedy club, the timing and delivery from Ms. Ford was perfect. She proudly (with a hint of apology?) told us that Howard had written and requested all the tour guides learn the script and that we should “imagine an 80-something-year-old man” giving the tour.

I, of course, loved every joke, and felt an immediate bond with Howard Solomon. As a pun-lover myself, I found his script clever and endearing.

“Fencing” around the castle

The Art of Solomon’s Castle

Of course, his art was his true genius. Every piece was amazingly creative and unique. Art pieces were made from recycled or scrapped materials which added to their charm. For example there were animal sculptures made entirely out of coat hangers.

The outside of the castle is made with aluminum printing plates. There are more than 80 stained glass windows, many in thematic sets. As we passed through the studios into the living quarters, the lights streaming from above through one of the stained glass windows created a ethereal brilliant glow.

The Castle exterior is made from aluminum printing plates

Just beyond the castle, guests can enjoy a restaurant called “The Boat on the Moat” with indoor and outdoor seating. There’s a Light House, a Pavilion, a Gift Shop and even the opportunity to sleep at the castle!

The Boat in the Moat

Whimsical and unique, Solomon’s Castle, in Ona, FL. is right up my alley. It was the perfect Carpe Diem adventure that I wouldn’t have even known about, had I not met a new thoughtful friend last week, Sue Ellen. But that’s a story for another blog post.

Bottom line? GO!

*Notice that in the spirit of an artistic representation of the final sentence above, I’m including a green “Bottom line” to this blog post. Though this may not seem like “art,” it took me much longer than I thought it would to figure out how to do this.

C-Weeks: Connections and Companionship

C’zing the Day with Costumes at Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy in Sarasota.

Carpe C’em!

There are plenty of C-Words to Celebrate C-Weeks and two of my favorites are Connections and Companionship. This week I had the opportunity to C’s the Days Completely!

Last week, on our weekend Call, Scotty told me he was going to be in Cape Canaveral on a business trip on the upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s only a 3-hour drive from Bradenton, so I was able to meet him out there Wednesday night and spend the rest of the week with him! What a fun, unexpected visit with my up-for-anything youngest Child!

Cape Canaveral

Connect Four and Chai at Cape Canaveral Cafe

Scotty was my original Companion 20 years ago when I had my year of Alphabet Adventures, now resurrected in 2024. I’ve been Considering whether or not I want to Continue, but with Scotty being in Cape Canaveral during C-Weeks… Well, that’s no Coincidence. It was the Universe telling me to Commit to an alphabet inspired C-quel.

Cape Canaveral Space Force Museum

Scotty serves as a Guardian in the newest military branch, the US Space Force. He’s an engineer working with satellites. The Sands Space History Museum (part of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Museum) provided the history, artifacts and displays of each Launch Complex.

C-inspired Cuisine

Chicken Curry with Carrots and Cauliflower Rice

One of Scotty’s favorite things to do is to eat! We’re both trying to avoid sugar so that meant Candy and Chocolate were out. (Usually, we both over-indulge when we’re Celebrating but we resisted.)

We had plenty of healthy Choices, and settled on Curry Chicken with Carrots and Cauliflower rice with Cashews on the side. Creating Clever Cuisine using the Celebrated letter is part of the game.


CluedUpp Alice in Wonderland in Sarasota

Last September, Scotty and I, along with my daughter, Megan, won the best group Costume award for our participation in the Beauty and the Beast CluedUpp game. The prize was a free membership to another game. We decided to take advantage of this play any time City Quest: Alice in Wonderland Sarasota game.

This was my third CluedUpp game and I’m enjoying them more each time I play one. You solve riddles and get Clues that are given to you by Characters. For example, in this game, the Cheshire Cat gave us many Clues that were meant to help us solve an overall mystery of finding where the Queen had hidden Alice.

We wandered through downtown Sarasota where virtual Characters would show up in the mobile app. Even though the app didn’t give us any kind of tour of the iconic sites of downtown Sarasota, sometimes the riddle might be related to our physical location.

For example the riddle: “I’m the same at the beginning and at the end and you are in the middle. Look around to find me.” In front of us stood the answer: CHURCH.

Community 5K

I Heart My Community 5K
Palmetto HS Key Club and Girl’s Cross Country Team Host a local 5K
February 5K in Palmetto: I Heart Community

Our next activity was to participate in the Palmetto HS I Heart Community 5K Fun Run! One of my other “repeat projects” is to participate in a costumed 5K each month.

This was the perfect local 5K to participate in! Scotty is still recovering from knee surgery, but is at a point in his physical therapy where he can walk fast and jog a little, so that was the perfect non-Competitive pace for me.

I loved the Camaraderie and effort that that went into Coordinating the Community event. It was also very Cool that the event supported the Palmetto High School’s girls Cross Country team and Key Club!


Costumes at Marietta Museum of Whimsy

One of my favorite places in Sarasota is the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy. Oh my goodness, there are so many Creative and Cool Collections in this museum.

The Costume booth, Complete with plenty of props and a volunteer photographer is a Carpe Diem opportunity!

Connections and Companionship

“Caddy Corner” Collectable jigsaw puzzle

Continuing our C-Week Celebration, we visited the local Good Will to find a jigsaw puzzle we Could Complete during Scotty’s visit. This 500-piece Collectable Called “Caddy Corner” with a Cadillac Convertible was Classic.

We also play the New York Times game, Connections, daily and share results over a group Chat with Matt, my other son, and his wife, Stella. That’s a good way of staying Connected, even when we’re not physically together.

I’m so grateful for the Companionship and Connection I have with Scotty. The book we listened to during the Car ride between Cape Canaveral and Bradenton was Called: “How to Know A Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen” by David Brooks. It’s an excellent book.

I’m so lucky that I got to ‘C’ and Connect with my Comical, Cool, and Clever son, Scotty.

Clearly a Carpe C’em Celebration!

B-Weeks: Bradenton Beach, Belonging and Being

To B or not to B: that is the question:

Whether ’tis Bolder of the Brain to Blog

And Brag of Beauty with Bountiful Beat

Or to Break free from this Bewildering Banter

That Bothers readers with Boring Buzz?

But were the Bard here to Bewitch and Blend

Blues with Brights, Bonds with Braids

Bitter made Benevolent, Bear made Bull

Being is Beautiful, Bard or Blab

Let us B

Today marks the final day of B-Weeks as we end Week 4 of 2024. I have mixed feelings about whether or not to continue with an Alphabet Inspired Year. I know it Borders on Babyish, But since I’m in Bradenton, it Behooves me to not Back out yet.

Bradenton Beach

One of the Best things about my Bradenton condo is it’s just a 10-minute drive to the Beach. I love to take early morning walks By the Beach, watch the Birds and gaze out at the ocean’s vast Beauty. Colorful shops line historic Bridge Street where Breakfast or Brunch Bistros are Bountiful. Back Alley is one of my favorite places, Both for a Bite and to Browse or Buy.

Beach Birds and a Blue, Blue Sky at Bradenton Beach
Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach
Back Alley is one of my favorite Bistros
Browsing the whimsical clocks in Back Alley. Can you guess which one I Bought?


At the Beginning of the year, I was a Bit Bummed, feeling lonely and Blue. But now, I’ve Begun to make more local area Buddies. Even though I’m only here for the winter season, I’m starting to feel a sense of Belonging. I even got invited to play DJ Bingo with a neighbor and had a Blast!

DJ Bingo Card

My Best Buddy, Becky Burns, has Been very Busy. But tonight, she made the time to Bring herself and her doggies over for a wonderful visit.

Beautiful BB, Yogi and Meditator, is an expert in “Being”

Besides BB and other Bradenton Buddies, I also feel Blessed by my Big virtual network.

The Carpe Diem Connections FaceBook group has posted some Beautiful pictures of Birds and Beaches and talk about Books and Best Buddies. I love the creativity and variety of posts and pictures.

Being OK with Being

Self-help literature talks about “Being” vs. “Doing.” I think the idea is that we often can Be so Busy with our task lists and Being productive, that we forget to just BE. To savor the precious moments of life.

I admit, I feel more comfortable with checking items off of my “to do lists” than I do with simply “Being.” I tried to honor B-weeks By Being more present and, of course, By obsessing over all things B. You can’t get more Be-ing than that!

Bye-Bye B-Weeks! C you next week!