Taking advantage of freebies on Veterans Day

My day started at 6:00 a.m. when I went to the gym to work out. Then I headed to Bob Evans for a complimentary breakfast since I’m a Veteran.

Later I stopped at Applebee’s…

And finally I went to BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse for dinner and met a potential date there. He’s also a Veteran. We split our entrees. I don’t usually eat at these places but it’s nice to have complimentary meals.

Happy Veterans Day!

Esporta

I decided to join a Fitness club…Esporta is a 12 minute drive for me. I was there at 5:00 a.m. this morning and worked out for about an hour. They have a variety of classes, water aerobics, yoga, boot camp, zumba, spinning and also have a sauna and hot tub. Looking forward to taking some of the classes.

They also have racquetball courts and a basketball court.

I’ve been working out off and on for almost 45 years. I’ll be back in fighting shape before you know it!

Halloween Party

I went to a Halloween party last night. It was at a couple’s home located 30 minutes from my home in a suburb of Cincinnati. Their costumes were quite creative.

I only stayed a couple of hours. People were still arriving when I left. I’m not into large gatherings anymore and am not close to any of these people. I used to live near this area of town and it actually made me sad driving through it. I began missing my son and husband and the life I used to have.

Their home and landscaping is beautiful.

The fire was so hot you couldn’t sit by it. More creative costumes…

I wasn’t going to attend but changed my mind the day of. I’m making more of an effort to get out and do things.

Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Mishaps

A few months ago I decided to have my kitchen and bathrooms remodeled. I was taking a walk in my neighborhood and there was a guy painting a garage, so I asked him if he knew of anyone. He gave me the referral and after a five week wait, they began. During the five weeks, I picked out the tile, faucets, granite, etc. The owner of the remodeling company said he could have it complete in three weeks. They began in the guest bath and one week into the project, a pipe burst. I had been taking a nap (I only average 5 hours sleep a night) and upon awakening, went to check out their progress. They had left for the day about 45 minutes before I woke up.

Approaching the door I heard a noise and when I opened it, water was gushing out from behind the new vanity. I tried turning the water off but realized a pipe had burst. That’s when I noticed the carpet in my foyer was completely soaked and partially in my guest bedroom. After turning the water off at the main line in the laundry room, I frantically called the owner and the guy that did most of the work and left them a voicemail. I called the owner back again, he answered and said they were on their way with fans. While I waited the 45 minutes for their arrival, I began researching water damage and called a water damage restoration company. They told me I would need a lot of “air movers” (a certain type of industrial fan), and an industrial de-humidifier.

Initially upon arrival, they thought they could salvage the carpet but realized they couldn’t. After cutting it into more manageable pieces, they took the screen off of the guest bedroom and threw it outside. Wet carpet is very heavy. They only had two fans with them and I told the owner what the restoration company told me, so the following day he had a company come out to survey the damage and give him an estimate. The following day the baseboards were removed and the equipment was set up. The noise level was off the charts…think jet plane taking off. After moving everything from my office and guest bedroom into the great room, I stayed in my bedroom or on my patio for four days until they removed the equipment. Nine days later new carpet was installed.

The night of the “mishap”…

Before and after photos…

Granite, backsplash, and new sink in the kitchen…

Master bath…

Master bathroom (the shower was enlarged)…

Guest bathroom (the photo isn’t the best…looks like there’s blue stripes on the walls, but there aren’t)…

Guest bathroom (tub removed)…

The middle drawer of the vanity needed to be replaced from the water damage, but it was missing the hardware, so I’m waiting for that to arrive.

I painted both bathrooms. The three weeks turned into 4 ½ weeks, but I’m pleased with the result. The only good thing about the “mishap” was that I now have new carpet in my foyer, guest bedroom, office and steps. Including some new decor, the project cost $22,000.00.

Meetup.com Hike in Ludlow, Kentucky

Yesterday, I led 11 hikers on a wooded 3.6 mile loop trail at Devou Park in Ludlow, Kentucky. The trails are seven minutes from my home. I’ve been a member of Meetup.com for 15 years and am an Assistant Organizer for the Tri-State Hiking Group, one of the meetups. Recently, I’ve been making more of an effort to get out to meet people and do more activities. In the past three years since the death of my husband and son, I’ve tended to isolate and lost my passion for most things in life, except travel, which I’ve used as a form of therapy. It was a great 1 ½ hr. hike with wonderful weather.

The leaves are finally beginning to change color.

Afterwards, a couple of the hikers and I went to The Standard Covington Restaurant in Covington, Kentucky for dinner/drinks. This morning I scheduled the same hike for an upcoming Saturday.

2021 in Review

As usual, to escape the cold in Ohio/No. Kentucky, I traveled to Cape Coral, Florida for 5 weeks in late January/early February.  Because I didn’t qualify for the vaccine yet, I again stayed away from people, except for a short trip to see a friend in Clearwater.  It was quite lonely, but I bicycled, walked, and even jogged some.  Went to the beach a couple of days per week to walk, jog, and read.

In March I received both of my vaccines.  So in April I visited Austin and San Antonio, Texas with a friend.  This is the San Antonio Riverwalk.  I spent my honeymoon here with my late husband back in 1994.

I began renting out my spare bedroom/bath to as an Airbnb.  I met some wonderful people – it was like the United Nations – People with roots from the Philippines, Africa, Poland, Mexico, and Jordan.  Amazon employees, traveling nurses, a med student, etc.

I planned a road trip to North and South Carolina to hike and check out waterfalls and some of the towns I’d never been to, like Greenville, S.C. (which I loved), Hendersonville, N.C., (quaint), Bryson City, N.C., Highland, N.C., and Ashville, N.C. (which I had been to).

Lake Janaluska, N.C.

I planned a trip to Alaska for 10 days in July – 2 nights Glacier Bay, 1 night Fairbanks (didn’t see it – just wanted to take the scenic train starting from there heading South), 4 nights Mt. Denali Nat’l Park, 3 nights Anchorage.  This is the view flying into Juneau.

I took a small boat cruise to see a glacier in Glacier Bay National Park

I took the scenic panoramic train all the way to Seward, stopping for 4 nights in Denali Nat’l Park.  I stayed at a lodge located 92 miles (the farthest you can travel) into the park.  And 3 nights in Anchorage.

On the 7 hr. bus ride back to the lodge, we saw some wildlife (I’m not posting all of it).

The guide told us we were so lucky because for the 4 days I was there, Mt. Denali was either in full view or mostly full.

I went hiking with a small group of people…

I went kayaking as a day trip in Seward from Anchorage on the train. 

In September I went to Ft. Lauderdale for 5 days with a guy I dated for a couple of months.  He made me laugh so much, but I found out he was an addict.  I truly had feelings for him after years of looking, and went through some emotional pain.  But, nothing could ever come close to the pain I experience since losing my son.

In October I went to the Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana with a friend…

A couple of weeks after that overnight trip, I had hip surgery.  I’ve been walking and doing exercises and it’s healing.  I also got my booster shot in November.

In December, I drove 1 ½ hrs. to Richmond, Indiana to see a friend and spend the night.  We went to the Warm Glow Candle Factory.

I took a solo day trip (2 hrs.) to Columbus to the Franklin Park Conservatory.  It was lovely.  They had Chihuly glass art mixed in with flowers and the architecture.

While I was in Columbus, I went to a place called Otherworld.  It has over 40 rooms filled with lights and interesting displays.

I also spent two nights in the Ozarks in Missouri with a friend.  It was a long drive – 8 ½ hrs. each way. We hiked at Ha Ha Tonka State Park (odd name) and had lunch at J.B. Hooks Restaurant, which had a fantastic view and the food was pretty good.

I celebrated Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law, as usual.  New Year’s Eve was spent alone, grieving for my son.  That’s his birthday.  I’m hoping this coming year will be less lonely for me.  I’ve planned a month long trip to Oahu in late January/February and a 3 month trip to 5 European countries in the Spring.

2020 in Review (a little late)

The year started with three weeks in Miami, Florida in February on a solo trip. Most of my time was spent bicycling, walking on the beach, photographing, and exploring.

I was gearing up for a big year with my business, Cincinnati Urban Adventures when the pandemic hit.  Suddenly, I was alone with my grief – no travel – no business – no boyfriend.  I went to a local shelter and brought home Grayson, who has been a comfort.

I had two trips previously planned before the pandemic hit – one in May to Utah and Idaho, and the other in August to various destinations in Oregon.  I ended up cancelling the flights for both and drove 4400 miles round-trip out west to Utah and Idaho.

I’d already explored Bryce and Zion Nat’l Parks in Utah years past, so this time I went to Arches and Canyonlands. 

On the drive to Idaho, I spent a couple of nights in Salt Lake City for hiking and also had a masseuse come to my Airbnb for a 1 ½ hr. massage to treat myself on my birthday.  I hiked a 6 mile roundtrip, 3,000 ft. elevation change trail while there.  This was at the top…

Next was Idaho.  This is the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho (where Evil Knievel attempted jumping the mile wide chasm with his rocket, but failed).

Shoshone Falls Park, Twin Falls, Idaho

I visited Sun Valley, Idaho, which I found to be gorgeous.  I rented an e-bike and explored for miles.  I also hiked a lot.  I stayed away from people because of the pandemic.

Then I drove up to Stanley, Idaho in the Sawtooth Mountains and stayed in this cabin on a small river.

There was time spent with friends throughout the remainder of 2020, doing mostly outdoor activities (because of the pandemic). Lots of hiking and also get-togethers at our homes for patio dinner/cocktails.

Madison, Indiana

Rough River Lake, Kentucky for our annual ladies long weekend. I reserved a 5 bedroom/3 bath home on the lake. We rented a pontoon boat and had fun!

Bengals football game

A visit to my cousin’s place in central Ohio. He has built quite the mansion/castle – it has hidden rooms, so many things to look at – very eccentric!

Birds in my backyard…

An outdoor Thanksgiving with family…

My dear friend helped me put up my Christmas tree.  Holidays are rough when you’ve lost your parents, spouse, and only child.

Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law…

All things considered, I was doing pretty well with everything I was going through.   I tried to be grateful for what I had.

2019 in Review (a little late)

2019 was a tragic and heart shattering year.  It began with a trip to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.  I was gone for 18 days with people I didn’t know, on an adventure tour through Intrepid Travel.  After a short introduction to Santiago, Chile…

We took a bus across the Andes

And spent a couple of days at a ranch in Argentina.  I took this time to recuperate from the worst intestinal bug I’d ever experienced.  I had a doctor come to my hotel room because I was so ill and dehydrated.  When you go through the loss of a loved one, it manifests itself physically in addition to emotionally.

We then moved onto Mendoza, Argentina (wine country), which was gorgeous.

Buenos Aires was next on the agenda.  Very vibrant and busy!

Next, we visited the amazing Iguazu Falls, from both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides.

Finally, we arrived in Rio de Janerio, Brazil…

It was an interesting trip, but I didn’t feel like myself.  A week after arriving home, I flew to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the annual Urban Adventures conference, and was ill there also.

In May, I moved to my lovely condo with a beautiful view of the skyline of Cincinnati from the Clubhouse/pool.

I began online dating and was beginning to feel more settled, when my only child, my beautiful boy, Justin passed in July.  If you’re a parent, it’s your worst nightmare.  This is the last photo of he and I taken 3 weeks before his passing.

Unless you’ve lost a child, you can’t fathom the suffering, pain, and grief you go through. He was my universe, my heart. Eleven days later I went on a solo 1,000-mile road trip to Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Toronto.  I was trying to distract myself from the horrific grief.

Detroit, Michigan
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Toronto, Canada

I continued with the travels…next was Three Oaks, Michigan with my girlfriend for a long weekend, where we explored Indiana Dunes State Park.

I climbed Mt. Leconte (3,000 ft. elevation change – 11 miles roundtrip) with a friend

And on the way home, met another friend at Red River Gorge, where I spread my son’s ashes at Whittleton Arch Trail.  He used to love going hiking/camping there.

I led a group on a hike nearby my condo.  I found some solace in the woods.

My next trip was to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, and Death Valley Nat’l Park, California with a friend.

Palm Springs, CA
Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, CA
Death Valley Nat’l Park, CA
Death Valley Nat’l Park, CA

I finished the year with a trip to Cape Coral/Ft. Myers, Florida

I discovered the travel was a temporary shallow distraction, but I continued searching for beauty.

In between the travel, I was working hard continuing to build my company, Cincinnati Urban Adventures. We were having a great year – 2,500 passengers and I now had 7 freelance Tour Guides.

I grieved for my son and sometimes I would feel guilty that I wasn’t grieving for my husband as much. It’s odd that there’s a name for someone who has lost their spouse “widow” and lost their parents “orphan”, but the grief is so heavy and heart-wrenching, there is no word for a parent who has lost their child (only child for me – with no hopes of being a biological Grandmother).

2018 in Review (a little late)

2018 began with a photo shoot for Cincinnati Refined.  This is called Broomball.  Players wear gym shoes instead of skates and use a broom-shaped stick to slap the ball into the opposing goal.

Here are additional shoots I did for them.  This annual event was called the Polar Plunge…burr.

The Benison Event Center in Hamilton, Ohio.  At one time, it was a bank.

The Monkey Bar & Grille in Maineville, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati)

Ludlow Garage, Cincinnati, Ohio

Wine Over Water, held on the Purple People Bridge (a pedestrian only bridge), featuring wine merchants from around the area, live music, and general mingling fun in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The UniverSoul Circus was a quite spectacular!

The annual Flying Pig Marathon.  This was the women’s champion.  I got a little emotional while taking this photo.

The Camargo Hunter Trials in Indian Hill, Ohio was a great event for action shots!

I was very busy growing my business, Cincinnati Urban Adventures.  I had hired two freelance Tour Guides in 2017 and together we took 1000 people on tours (anywhere from 1-12 people per tour unless it was a private tour).  By the end of 2018, I had hired an additional 3 guides and we took 1700 people on tour.  We moved into first place on Trip Advisor!

I did a handful of photo shoots for my business Sherry Lachelle Photography…

A senior photo shoot

For a friend’s new business website…

On June 2nd, my husband of 22 years, passed away from Cardiac Arrest.  I gave him CPR until the medics arrived.  This is the last photo I took of he and our dog, just a few weeks previously.

We lived on 5 acres in the country (only 40 minutes from downtown Cincinnati) and for the following 11 months before selling our home, I had the huge task of selling most everything he/we had accumulated through the years.  Some of the big items were a boat, Harley, hot tub, jeep, truck, car, tractor, log splitter, and so much more…4 bicycles, 3 chain saws, 3 lawn mowers, 3 ladders, snow blower, power washer, welder, hunting, fishing, golfing stuff, so many tools.

I was devastated.  My son was devastated.  He was closer to Randy (his step-dad) than his own father. 

Later that year, my son and his girlfriend announced their engagement.

I went to an outdoor concert with friends and it poured rain the entire time.

Went boating with a girlfriend…

I visited a friend in Dunedin, Florida for a week in December…

I was so happy my son joined me at my brother’s house Christmas Day. His fiance chose to stay at her family’s.

After Randy’s passing, so many things reminded me of him, coming across food items he liked while at the grocery, hearing a Harley’s rumble, and of course Face book gives you reminders.

There were other family and friends get-togethers throughout the year.  I tried my best to cope with the grief and have a happy and full life. 

2017 in Review (a little late)

2017 began with me on assignment at the Casino in Cincinnati for Cincinnati Refined.  A very colorful and loud party to photograph.

I continued finding much joy taking photos in my free time…like the sunrise captured in this church window a couple of minutes from our place in the country.

and Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati at night…

The Licking Riverside Historic District in Covington, Kentucky with a beautiful view of Cincinnati’s skyline.

Get-togethers with friends…

Over-The-Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio

Family time…

My brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece.

I was busy growing my new business, Cincinnati Urban Adventures.  Friends accompanied me on trial runs for some of the tours.

The Carew Tower, Cincinnati, Ohio

My husband, son, and a girlfriend were models on my Over-the-Rhine Sights and Bites tour for my website.

I hired a few models for my Beyond the River tour in Covington, Kentucky.

Here are some of the photos shoots I did for Cincinnati Refined…

Cumberland Falls, Kentucky
Eighteen at the Radisson – a revolving restaurant on top of the Radisson Hotel
Cabana on the River, Cincinnati, Ohio
Diner en Blanc (everyone wears white and brings everything for the party including chairs/tables, decorations, food, drinks)
Taste of Cincinnati, an annual event
The Renaissance Festival
The Circus School, Cincinnati, Ohio
Danger Wheel
The Thanksgiving Day Race – I got up very early to be downtown in time and it was cold!
The La Boheme Opera at the Aronoff Center in Downtown, Cincinnati

I began managing an Airbnb located in Covington, Kentucky…

I had a few photo shoots for my own company, Sherry Lachelle Photography. A senior photo shoot…

A family photo shoot…

I was the Tour Guide and Photographer for a wedding with 40 people.  It was 5 hours long, but everything went smoothly.

And I photographed my first gay wedding – 2 beautiful ladies.

I attended an annual weeklong Urban Adventures meeting in Portugal and arranged a trip to follow for a few friends.  They met me in Lisbon, Portugal, where we saw the sights for a few days before moving on to Seville and Granada, Spain.

The La Alhambra, Granada, Spain
The Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

Cheers – Salud!

My husband and I were able to get away to Florida for a week in December.

As you can see, my year was very busy, filled mostly with photography and growing my business, with a little travel sprinkled in.

The best Mother’s Day Gift

I had the best gift for Mother’s Day…time with my son!  My husband took us to see a movie of my choice…The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Not their cup of tea, but hey…it’s Mother’s Day and they always let me rule the day!  Then we went to the mall shopping for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday gift from me and had a delicious meal at the Cheesecake Factory.  I had the Shrimp Scampi with Steak Diane…sooo yummy!  When my husband asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day, I said “To spend time with you and Justin”!  All of our parents have passed away, so we have a small family now and I’m grateful for them.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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Who Needs Italy when you can make your own Limoncello!

Seriously…who doesn’t like Limoncello?  I tried it for the first time in 2010 when I visited a variety of Cities in Italy and fell in love.  It’s sweet, lemony and delicious!  It’s so easy to make your own…why didn’t I do this years ago!

Here’s the finished product.  It lasts for a year or two, so no need to drink it fast.  And I can always give them as gifts!

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Here’s the recipe…take 7 large lemons…organic is better and a liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of vodka.  I used Sveda Vodka.  It’s good quality and reasonably priced.

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Take a vegetable peeler and peel the zest.  Be careful not to  peel too deeply because you don’t want the bitter white pith of the lemon skin.  Add the zest to the alcohol, cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere cool for a week.

On Day 6, make a simple syrup with 5 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar.  Boil the water and add the sugar to the boiling water.  Stir the sugar until it is fully dissolved in the water and then let it cool over night.

On Day 7, strain the lemon peels from the alcohol,  pour the alcohol into the simple syrup and stir well.

Serve chilled, from the refrigerator or freezer.

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How easy is that!

 

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Declutter your life!

If you’re like most people, you probably put off organizing your home — your closets, your drawers, your garage, etc.  I’d like to encourage you to start this weekend.  It may be overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin.  I say, start with one closet, or one drawer.  When you organize your home, your mind becomes uncluttered and you make room for new and exciting opportunities to come in!  I usually need to tackle my clothing closet at least twice a year and in the last week, I’ve gone through my junk drawer and my office closet.

These photos aren’t related to the post…but I wanted to share them with you.  They’re somewhat abstract…

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Cleaning up your online existence is even more therapeutic!  If you’re like me, your e-mails start to build up.  You’ll keep e-mails thinking you’ll read them later, and before you know it, you’ve got 100 of them!  I also keep folders of important e-mails, so that’s another area to keep in line.  Don’t forget about organizing your bookmarks.  If you’re a photographer, your photographs begin to accumulate and you literally will have thousands and thousands.  It took me a couple of days to whittle mine down!

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I was going to delete this photo, but I changed the color, contrast, exposure, and voila…I like it now!

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A friend is going to pay me next week to help her organize.  I’ve helped her a lot through the years at no cost, but it’s time for me to make some $!  Don’t procrastinate any longer…take control of your life!

70 is the new 60!

We’ve all heard that expression, 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30, etc., well my Aunt Colleen shows that 70 can be the new 60!  I attended her birthday party Saturday evening and my present to her was an enlarged photo of a small scanned photo of my late mother when she was in her 20’s.  When my mother passed away a couple of years ago, I remember my Aunt expressing an interest in this particular photo.  I asked that she open my gift first because I had another party to go to.  This photo is a little blurry, but there wasn’t another one of us.  I know it touched her because I took a couple of photos of her while she was opening it and it looked like she was going to cry.  Anyway, the party was so much fun.  It was held at my Cousin’s friend’s house, which was amazing and I’ll post photos of the house tomorrow.

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This is my Cousin’s wife Courtne with two of their children and my other Cousin’s daughter…

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