Friday, November 30, 2012

Drama Diet

There used to be a lot of drama in my life and I used to believe that drama happened to me.  Turns out, I had a big role in exactly how much drama there was that swirled around me.  So right now I am faced with this whole Valerie and Kendra thing.  Last night, they brought along another woman from the group that they now run with - a group from the country club that both Kendra and her husband and Roy (the guy that Valerie is dating).  These are not my people.  And after giving it some thought, it's not because I'm an outsider to this group, it's because I don't place value on their choices.

I am trying to determine if this makes me judgmental or just making a decision to surround myself with a certain kind of energy?  Do I just sit in it and learn something from it or is the lesson that I get to make choices about whom I spend time with?  I do know that I don't care for Mary (the bring-along friend) at all.  She was giving me some lip about not drinking last night and choosing to drink coffee.  So Valerie pitches in to tell Mary that I'm drinking coffee because we are at a Mexican restaurant and that I always order coffee in order not to eat all the chips, that I have all of the self-discipline, that I used to be really fat, etc.  Lord I know she meant well, but if I wanted to share my particular story with Mary, well, I'd have given her the url to this website ;-).  I'm thinking that these whole deals are getting comedically worse until I decide how/when to pull the plug.  I'm looking how to extricate myself without undue drama and coming off looking like a judgmental drama queen.

Still pegging right along.  Mind, body, spirit and no Diet Coke.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Don't Get On The Drama-Go-Round.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

From The Observation Tower

I've made no secret of my social awkwardness.  It's something that I've been working on for the past couple of years pretty dilligently.  Honest to goodness, the thing that was the most helpful was probably the most fun and that was taking all those improv classes.  They were really nothing more than learning how to communicate and try to stay in the present.  The classes had an added bonus for me in that I'm also weird about personal space issues - a little too weird - and so this allowed me to work on/through that in a safe environment.  I'm telling ya - the best money I ever spent.

I can work a room like Oprah, but the difficulty would come in talking one-on-one.  I'd developed some bad habits and I've been working hard at "being interested not interesting".  Oh, and to stop interrupting.  On the whole interrupting thing, well, I'm doing better.  And I know notice these behaviors more in others than I have before.  Take the holidays, I now know where I learned these habits - we all talk at once and we step all over one another.  That gives me hope that these tendencies are just habit and that I can stem the tide.  In addition to working on changing my behavior, I'm also working on cutting myself a lot of slack.  I try not to spend time beating myself up over what I might have said or what I did say.

All of this to say, when I shut up and listen rather than do all the talking, people tell you who they are.  I think they've always done this, I just never listened.  A conversation with me in the old days was like taking a drink from a firehose.  Once I started, it was hard for me to rein in and I just kept going and going.  Case in point, I'm hosting a surfer for a couple of days, a traveling artist whose work, it turns out, I really like.   He (yes, it's a man of my age and he comes with all sorts of references) is traveling throughout the west doing a photo-book on cowboy culture and I practically live in the mecca of such.  So I got to practice one-on-one communication without pressure last evening.  I practice making and keeping eye contact, listening and asking questions and not having any of it be about me.  I could see/feel the progress I am making in this area.

I was successful yesterday in getting through the day without resorting to inserting the contents of the office vending machine in my veins for energy.  Thankfully.  I slept better last night and am back to myself this morning.  I'm heading off the gym here in a few and tonight I'm going with Valerie and Kendra to dinner.  They've invited another woman friend of theirs, so this will be good.  Another opportunity to practice good communication skills.  Plus, I'll see Valerie on Sunday morning  to go to meditation class.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  People will tell us who they are/where they are if we listen.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Proceed With Caution

Insomnia rears yet another one of it's ugly heads.  I've named it Cerberus.  Usually, I wake up energetic and ready to rock and roll.  Today, I am bleary-eyed and dragging.  This kind of tired is when food cravings hit - merely as a physiological demand for energy to get through the day.  So today is a cautionary day, for sure.  I'm hoping that another cup of coffee and a trip to the gym will perk me right up! (fingers crossed).

Had a lovely phone visit with Meg (Hi! Meg) yesterday.  It was nice to catch up.  This evening, Joan, a good friend is coming over for dinner and to hear about my trip.  I'm fixing just a simple grilled chicken salad with fruit for dessert.  Thankfully, Joan eats like this all of the time, so that won't be an issue.  

Tomorrow night, I'm having dinner with Valerie and Kendra.  I'm still ambivalent about maintaining this as a weekly thing.  I need to think about this a bit more, but once a month is probably all I'm good for.  I'm going to try to get some bike time in over the weekend.  Pebbles is coming over to stay on Sunday night (her dentist is here and she has an early Monday am appt) and she is helping me hang the rest of my pictures/art and "merchandise" my shelves.  

Still rocking the groove.  Didn't exercise yesterday, as I had a doctor's appointment in the a.m., so I'll make up for it on Friday, a normal rest day for me.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Know when you are vulnerable.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Staying In Today

S.I.T., Roxie, S.I.T.
I believe that I create my own reality - or certainly my perceptions of the events create how they affect me.  I had a situation come up recently that just sent my thoughts wildly out into the future.  I can spend hours going over possible scenarios (engaging in fantasy  or "rehearsing") under the guise of "being prepared".  This "lost in thought" was a form of escape or coping that I developed in my younger life, but it doesn't serve me very well these days.

So while I was mentally spinning plates, I got a telephone call from my friend in Florida.  We chatted for a while about a D.I.Y. project of hers that is going horribly, but comically awry and then I asked her if she had a few minutes to listen to an issue I was having.  So I told her and her suggestion to me led me to my intention for the coming year.  Staying In Today.  S.I.T.

Now, I love me a good motto or slogan and this one has the added bonus of having an even easier and simpler acronym.  But wait, there's more!  Now with a new visual to help remind me!  UBU!  So along with UBU, I've downloaded a mindfulness bell to my way-smarter-than-me-phone.  It's a meditation gong that goes off at fairly random times to remind me to come back to the present, release any tension I'm carrying in my body and take a few cleansing breaths. Staying In Today.  S.I.T.  

My self-care has been on point.  Eating clean, good exercise and still no Diet Coke.  I think this weekend was 6 weeks, if my math is correct.  My caffeine and artificial sweetener intact is way down and my water drinking is way up.  Heaven knows I've done lots to try to up the H20, but to no avail.  I have found, however, that I like to drink out of an Ozarka squeeze sports bottle so I've been re-using that poor thing til I think it's going to decompose right in my hand.  But I've been filling the Ozarka bottle with refrigerated Brita-filtered water several times during the day and EVERY time I leave the house.  So far, so good.

Apropos of Nothing:  I moved out of Reata North three years ago yesterday.  I didn't realize it had been that long until Pebbles said something about her three year wedding anniversary coming up next month.  Her becoming united and me on my way to becoming un-united are inexorably tied together in my memory, unfortunately.

Countdown:  60 Day Til Aruba.  Pebbles bought me this gorgeous, slinky, crocheted maxi dress for my birthday - specifically for Aruba.  I'd prefer not to look like a trussed pork roast while wearing it.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  S.I.T.  


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Post

I am grateful for the small things, such as being on the elliptical yesterday morning and see George Clooney on the Actor's Studio show on cable.  What a lovely way to spend an hour - if the show was a long play, I might still be there.

The large things for which I am grateful, well, while they are "the usual", it doesn't mean they are unimportant.  My crazy-assed family, the intimate one, all five of us, plus one spoiled Beast Of Unusual Size,  gathered last night for our annual pre-kids-to-OK-fest.  There was too much, way too much, food and an equal measure of laughter.  Pebbles loves holidays or at least this one, and she was in rare form.  When she and my sister (only 8 years between them) get to riffing off of one another - well, it's like QuickWit Central.  I'm the queen of the storytellers, but those two vie (hard) for Empress-Of-The-One-Liner.  It's nights like last that makes me glad I had that plumbing work done earlier in the fall ;-).

So while the dishes are washed and dried and (mostly) put away, I've still got to breakdown the buffet table and wash the linens.  Right this second, the GrandBeast is whining because I get up too damn early and to add insult to injury, I shut the bedroom door so that he can't go back to bed!  It's a good life.  It really is.

The weather has been an amazing gift, so I'm going to take advantage of it and ride today.  There's a group forming at 8am for a quick ride and I think I'll at least start out with them.  They are probably too fast for me, but if I end up riding solo, it's a route I'm very familiar with.

I get three stars today because I did not stuff myself at dinner, didn't eat too much during dinner prep.  I had tablespoons of stuff that I liked, but didn't even have pie.  And, I sent all of the leftovers packing.  I made this stuffing recipe for my sister, as she's low-carbing it these days and it was a huge hit.  People liked it better than the regular-style stuffing. Plus, she was happy to get something that was stuffing-like - or should I say dressing?  

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Gratitude is the Attitude.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's The Word?

I'm kicking around ideas, words, phrases to encapsulate my intention for the upcoming year.  It seems the sentiment is very similar to last year.  I want to stay as present as possible, as relaxed as possibly, in both mind and body.  Since I've become aware of the physical tenseness that I seem to carry in my body so much of the time - I'm working to change that.  And to improve my posture - I've spent 30 plus years staring at a computer screen, slouching.  I need to find a way, a chair, a device, a something to gently straighten me up and get me ergonomically correct.

And when I drive, I find my chin getting closer and closer to the steering wheel, which I hold on to with some sort of death grip.  It's time to move my shoulders back and get my head and neck in alignment with my spine.  And speaking of shoulders, I need to move them down and back, out of my ears and back, but not pulled back in that goose-stepping way, but just gently back and where I need to be to bring relaxation to bear.

I am finding myself in obsessing mode.  Again?  Still?  I can't seem to hit on the right method to put a stop to that mental exercise-in-futility, so I'll keep looking for ways to stop and distract - without the distraction becoming the next problem to solve.

I'll keep looking for the word, the work and the way.

Good self-care yesterday.  And I'm geared up for the gym this morning.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Find a way.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Slow Start Monday

Again with the Sunday.  I just can't seem to find the Sunday groove like I'd like.  I started out just fine - ate appropriately and even had an afternoon ride scheduled with Talia, Wendy, Christine and Janice.  Wendy invited us over to ride and then for homemade pizza in her honest-to-god-I've-never-seen-anything-like-it pizza oven.  OMgee - does that thing cook up some great pies.  I had already planned to have pizza, as I rode HARD for a couple of hours.  There are some serious hills out by her place (at least for this part of the country).  So, yea, I had pizza and I had dessert and I was fine with what I'd eaten.

However, talk about awakening the beast within.  Sheesh.  I had to talk myself down from everysort of drive-thru ledge on the way home.  All manner of trashy carbs were calling my name.  I came home, dodging all the minefields, only to be tripped up by the sugar-free chocolate pudding that I bought to make my sister a dessert-thingy for Thanksgiving.  And it's not even that I ate it (the whole thing), it's that I'm somewhat lactose intolerant and that has me feeling like absolute crap this morning.  Like a hangover, for sure.

On a good note, I did drag my butt out of bed (I was actually still sleeping HARD when the alarm went off) and went to Mr. Beautiful's Spin class.  I have to say, that wasn't my aim.  I just told myself that I was going to the gym.  I didn't have to stay, but I was going and I was going to spend some time on the elliptical.  But I ended up going to class and I'm going to try to go tomorrow, as Mr. Beautiful is subbing for Mr. Too-Tough-A-Class-For-Me-Right-Now.

So, I didn't do it perfectly.  And I feel it physically.  The test is to just keep doing the next right thing.  I've been back to my "groove" except for one slip.  And I'll keep at it.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Get back in the groove.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Recap: Giving Thanks

The word of the week, no, make that a much longer period of time, is grateful.  The grace of not burning down my house, coupled with a week of good self-care has made for a quiet but extremely pleasant and productive seven days.  The weekend promises more of the same - quiet, but productive.  As soon as daylight arrives, I will spend some time in the garden this morning followed by a trip out to ride the trail in Parker county with Talia.  And I think I will take in a movie of some sort.  Ralph or James, I've yet to pick.

Tomorrow, I'll be riding with the group out in Parker county and then have home-made pizza with the bombshells, and we'll share vacation photos.  Until then, I will strive to remain in the now, in the moment and relaxed.  Turns out, I stay physically tensed a great deal of the time - taking a death grip on the steering wheel, sitting at my desk with my shoulders in my ears, brushing my teeth like I'm punishing them - just generally being wound too tight a lot of the time.  It's time to bring my awareness to this - no wonder my arm and neck hurt all the time!  

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Live in the present, not in the past, tense.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday

So how did Thanksgiving get to be a week away?  When did this happen?  My Mom, Sis, Pebbles and Slater will be celebrating together next Wednesday, which means I had to get in my call to Central Market early ;-).  Actually, I just ordered two sides from them and will be preparing a couple of things myself. 

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but my sis has been following low-carb/paleo/whatever and has dropped about 70 pounds and looks fantastic.  She has struggled with her weight her entire life, having dropped a hundred pounds about 15 years ago, but gained it back and then some. She has requested something on the menu that she can eat.  I'm going to try to eat in solidarity with her (bless her heart, she does all the cooking AND runs her own little baking business on the side - I am NOT that strong) so I'm adding a few appropriate choices for us amongst the carbfest that is the Holiday Season around these parts. 

Other than that, there's nothing much shaking around here.  I'm taking Talia to dinner tonight to celebrate her birthday (belatedly).  I picked up several darling little pen and ink drawings in VN of a group of women riding bicycles and I had one framed for her (and one for me).  They turned out really cute.  She has a gallery wall in her home, so I think she will appreciate it.  I may have another one framed so that I have one at home and one in the office. 

Three stars for me yesterday.  I practiced good self-care and generally behaved myself all day long :-).

For those of you who low-carb/paleo/clean-eat, what's your favorite desserty thing that fits into your eating program?

Random trip tidbit:  I finished the paperback I was reading while on the beach in Hoi An.  I went to the resort library and there I found (and read)  The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--a Love Story.  Just about the last book I'd expect to find there. 

Trip photos - completed

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  If at first you don't succeed, keep swimming.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I can be a ring-tailed bitch.  In fact, I was such a beast for years.  What I've come to learn, only within the last few months, is at my core,  I do not deal with frustration very well.  Not well at all, as a matter of fact.  When faced with frustration, I go into "fight, flight, or freeze" mode.  Or some rapid deployment of all three strategies - it's almost like an out-of-body experience.  Mostly, I freeze, then say something bitchy and then I flee.  Or flounce.  Or some other equally unproductive strategy.

But the awareness that it is my ability/inability/unwillingness to sit the the uncomfortableness of frustration has been very helpful.  It allows me to tell myself, sometimes outloud - "Oh, this is frustration I'm dealing with" and if I repeat it enough, I can sometimes, mostly, bring myself back into the present and deal with the situation appropriately.

Yesterday, I had what Mr. Sponsor Pants (google him up - today's entry is profound) calls a "pinched attitude".  I didn't wake up with it, in fact, I was/am still extremely grateful and humbled by the whole "burning down the house" situation.  The attitude developed when during the course of the day, everything (or so it seemed) didn't go right.  I could go into the laundry list of stuff, but really, why give it the time and energy?  So yesterday, I was given the wonderful opportunity to practice staying in the here and now and feeling and dealing with frustration appropriately.  And to put these frustrations in their proper perspective.  I am grateful for the grace AND the opportunity.  And for the fact that I behaved like an adult.  No flouncing.

What strategies do you employ to bring yourself "off the ledge"?

I get three gold stars for yesterday.  I went to the gym, spent time on the elliptical.  I ate well.  Still no Diet Coke.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others. Don't get pinched.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nearly Catastrophic

After spending the day feeling really good about how the day turned out, I came home to find out two things:  1.  That I am a distracted idiot and 2.  That I am incredibly, incredibly fortunate.

I had been rocking and rolling on all cylinders (so I thought) and went to the gym, then ran by the grocery store to pick up a few things, including eggs for my usual boiled egg breakfast.  I was really whipping and spurring, as I needed to get to work on time - boss is out and I'm Alexander Haig.   I came home from the gym/store, threw the eggs in the saucepan to take to work for breakfast and hopped in the shower.  I got out of the shower, hair dryed, make-up thrown on  and came into the kitchen to find that I'd turned on the OTHER burner.  Not the one that I'd put the eggs on.  Oh, well.  I didn't have time for them to cook, so I just turned off the burner - I'd have to have one of the Atkins bars I'd just bought for my breakfast at the office later in the morning.  I laughingly told the story at work about what a doofus I was.  Ha!  Ha!

Except that's not what happened.  When I got home from work and errands and such, it was 12 hours later. The moment I stepped into the house, I could smell that something was WAY.WRONG.  Instead of turning the burner off, evidently I'd just moved the eggs to the burner that was on and walked away.  How in the world did my idiocy not burn my house down?  How does a pan sit on the stove for 12 hours and not do something horrible except stink?  I am humbled by the grace I was granted.

Before returning home, I'd been thinking about what a great day it was (and it turned out to be GREATER than I'd ever imagined), how I'd gone to the gym, remembered it was Mr. Beautiful's spin class day and popped in there.  And it was all 70's music day AND at the end of class, he gave us all (5) a quick neck massage.  Talk about bonus points for trying to walk the path of righteousness!  So there's a star for exercise and lifestyle and I earned one for eating in a what-works-for-me-way.

MalibuKen's malfunction light came on yesterday and after last night's revelation, I don't even care.  I hope to use this incredible, but humbling, good fortune as a reminder to be aware and be in the moment.  Not mentally sitting at my desk, not mentally writing this blog, but here and now and aware.  The risks are too high not to be.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Acknowledge all great kindnesses done to you.


Monday, November 12, 2012


We all need 'em, right?

So, it's accountability Monday.  I need to start tracking again.  Start plotting my way back to the way of life (exercise and meditation) and way of eating (mostly low-car/paleo/may-own-thing) that has worked so well for me in the past.

I'm not beating myself up for any of this - but I don't physically feel good - emotionally, I'm just fine - but it's time.  I was back on track until Sunday when I got out into the weeds.  Sundays are always the most difficult for me, as they are the most unstructured, so to hit the EASY button, I need to figure out a way to put some structure in there.  Meditation class would be a good start.  I just wish it started earlier.  Hmmm.  I'll figure it out.

Goals for the week:  What's-good-for-me eating and gym four mornings this week.  I'm already wearing my gym clothes and ready to go today.  Plus, one exercise activity on the weekend.  Cycling preferred, but if weather doesn't permit, then to the gym it will have to be.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Premature Evacuation

There were three such events this weekend.

1.  Friday night, I got up and walked out of the movie Flight.  Up until I was in my mid-thirties, had a debilitating fear of heights and of flying.  I have gotten over both of those things, but the first thirty minutes of that movie were horrific (to me), so I got up and walked out. I wasn't too fond of the addict storyline either. I'd seen the trailer, but the movie that I saw (part of) was not at all what I expected.  I'll know better next time to read some reviews before going to the movies with friends.  Good thing I drove my own car.  There are no lasting effects or anything, I just don't like to take in that negative energy.

2.  After pulling together a group of women to ride on Saturday morning, I had a flat in the parking lot, followed by an exploding tube (my only spare).  Had to quit those plans to come home for more supplies.  Luckily for me, Talia and Angela hung with me, and thanks to Angela's great tire seating skills, we were back on the trail in no time.  Different trail, but we still got a nice (but OMGEE windy) ride in.

3.  Saturday afternoon, I went a little pruner happy and cut back large swathes of the garden.  All of the things that would turn to mush come freeze time?  I cut them right off at the ground.  At least in the back yard.  I'll let the lantana go in the front until it freezes, but the backyard looks pretty nekkid right now.

An unintended consequence and benefit of my trip to Vietnam.  I've been Diet Coke free for a month.  There is no such thing as Diet Coke in Vietnam - there is Coca Cola Light, which is NOT.THE.SAME.THING, so I didn't drink it.  Just drank water and coffee.  Didn't think anything of it.  About ten days in, Pebbles asked me if I was going to give it up, since I'd done this much.  And then she pushed a couple of EASY BUTTONS - "Mom, just think about how much more travel you could afford if you weren't buying so much Diet Coke?"  Seriously?  Probably another big trip every two years.  My rate of consumption was at least a 6pack and as much as a 12pack a day.  Yea, I KNOW.  I did forget a couple of times and order them in restaurants, but that is not nearly the same thing as my usual continual IV-feed.  I'd pretty much decided that I could have them "out", but just not keep a supply at home.  I bought one Saturday morning at the 7eleven and took one drink and poured it out.  Couldn't STAND the taste....never thought that would happen.  So, I'm going to try to hang with it.  Don't know that I've ever gone this long.  In the interest of full disclosure, I do have 2 liter bottles of diet Sprite in the fridge and I'll have a glass with dinner, but I'm not constantly slugging it down.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Self-care can take many forms.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Scary Pants, Scary Pants, what are they feeding you?

Jumping Ahead:  Breakfast at a market in the Mekong Delta
That was an amazing breakfast, as was the whole market/floating market experience.  What wasn't in the picture was the pure sugar cane juice (with a splash of lime) that we had to go with it.

I'm struggling to get back in the groove - to drop the travel weight/bloat/water (I'm thinking it's just pure fat :-().  It always amazes me how I can go from "thin" just four weeks ago to "too big for my britches", as I am right now.  Ah, well, I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything, but I am finding that the extra carbs/gluten whatever are causing inflammation throughout my body and I am aching all over - most prominately in my arthritic areas - my "boxing" shoulder and my "hours of horseback riding" neck.

I did get to the gym yesterday morning and I did get back to my way of eating yesterday, except for one thing -  I'd been invited to attend a cooking class at CM given by this woman .  Oh my it was spectacular - lovely green salad to start, followed by pumpkin  risotto, then turkey breast over pureed carrot, onion and celery (all with saffrom- they raise it on their farm) and a potato dish that would make you hurt someone.  Followed by an apple cake that I was prepared to turn up my nose at because I'm a cake snob - but it was fabulou.  I did my best to stick to half-portions, but by the time I came home, my fat jeans looked downright indecdent.  Oh and there was the wine, too :-).  I wouldn't have necessarily Oh, well, it was an amazing experience and now the biking "babes" as one husband calls us - want our next big outing to be cycling through the Italian countryside.

Tonight, I'm going to see Flight with another off-shoot of the biking babes and tomorrow, four of us are doing another easy ride.  I am affirming that my schedule will settle back into the groove.  Yes, yes, it will.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Are yoga pants work-safe?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Otherwordly: The Photos

We came home with 2700 photos and a hundred videos.  It will take me until forever to curate this exhibition.  In the meantime, here are a few photos from the Bay.  And a link to what I've put together so far.  I'm crazy behind and off schedule and just returned from several days away at a business conference.  Normal feels like half a world away.    

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How Did The Hillbillies Cross The Road?

Slater's Fancy Camera Work
Hanoi is gritty.  And I mean that in the best possible way.  It pulsates with energy and drive and chaos and commerce.  It was an eye-opening experience for me, for sure.  Life is lived right there on the street, at least in the old quarter.  I'm sure other, newer areas take on a generic newness (see HCMC), but the old quarter of Hanoi is, well, old.

Once we got used to the hoards of motorbikes, scooters and bicycles, we just rolled with it.  But it took a bit of getting used to!  I came to love the activity, the constant stream of people and things.  The things - there was really no telling what things you would see strapped to a motorbike going down the street.  The laws of physics rarely apply in old Hanoi.

We stayed in a charming little hotel, on the corner of chicken and bamboo streets.  The names of the streets in the old quarter are derived from what used to be sold on them.  There are no superstores in old Hanoi.  Each building/home/shop/garage is just a few meters wide (taxation rates are based upon the width of the property on the street front) and specialized in selling just one thing.  Now I didn't see too many chickens being sold, but I know where you can get a freshly-made bamboo ladder.

View of the street from hotel lobby

Our first morning in Hanoi, I was up early and came down to the lobby to watch the city wake up.  Ha!  I was already too late.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me at the time.  The shot to the left was taken by Slater later in the day.

So, I was sitting there and this motorbike drove up, carrying this huge (about 4 feet by 4 feet) stack of what I know know to be sugar cane.  The driver gets off the motorbike, unloads a green scale (also ubiquitous to Vietnam - I assume since production was/is tightly controlled, it's the only scale in town)  Oh, and speaking of scales!  There is a scale in bathroom of this hotel!  Ever been in a hotel with a SCALE?  Anyway, guy gets off the bike, unloads the scale, measures out some amount of sugarcane, leaves it against the wall, directly across the street and then just takes off - I assume to make other deliveries.

Same thing happens with the cleaning supply "store" which is what you see across the street.  When I got down to the lobby that morning, there was nothing in that spot, but motorbikes began to appear and would just drop off random jugs of stuff. I asked the night clerk if that was something to drink (miming a drinking motion) and he laughed and told me it was cleaner!  Pretty soon enough supplies showed up and a woman soon followed to set up shop for the day.  What you can't see is that she also brought with her gasoline in about a five gallon container, so she was also a gas station!

So that's the morning activity from the hotel view.  The evening commerce includes an all-night pho stand.  The proprieter of that establishment doesn't show up until about 8pm at night and she takes the place of the cleaning stand (which disappears about 6:30pm) and serves pho until about 3am (from what I'm told).

This was our first morning in Hanoi.  We would leave Hanoi about 8:30am and  travel to Ha Long Bay for an experience of a lifetime.