Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thursday Thoughts #17 for the New Year

Looking back is not something I enjoy doing as the road back is longer than it used to be and the scenery starts to blur as I squint to that far horizon.
  1. 2008 was a big year for me as I retired in so many ways...not just from the daily grind. I began to let go.
  2. 2008 was the year I got better at being a grandma. Instead of staring at how fast they were growing I started to participate in the event.
  3. In 2008 I lost 10 more and no less...but there is yet 2009.
  4. In 2008 I evolved into a much better cook with the time to be creative and invented new dishes with all the herbs from my garden and ideas I gleaned and modified from my many cookbooks. I learned that you can teach an old dog (cook) new tricks.
  5. In 2008, speaking of gourmet cooking, I made S'mores with the grandson and I haven't made S'mores in decades!
  6. I have pretty much taken 2008 as a laid back vacation doing only what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I am so thankful for such luxury.
  7. In 2008 I lost 100's of thousands of dollars (I have lived pretty frugally most of my life) in the stock market and I don't care because I realize I don't need much in this new life I am living.
  8. I do need $1.99 persimmons and I splurged and bought 4 of these beauties yesterday.
  9. In 2008 I did not beat myself up for wanting alone time anymore and accept the fact that this is one of the ways I charge my batteries and restore my soul.
  10. In 2008 I also accepted the fact that just looking at a flower or interesting plant this year can restore my soul for the rest of the day.
  11. In 2008 I also learned how high energy my husband is and I am trying to meet his needs as we walk together into these days ahead.
  12. 2008 was the year my youngest turned 30. That was harder on me in many ways then when I turned 60!
  13. My resolution this year will be to get back on a schedule and try to give more of this precious time I have to others.
I made it to 13 and that must bode well for the New Year, doncha think?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Dinner

The restaurant she had selected was a high-end seafood chain located in the Galleria near the more expensive stores. She had hoped that the empty parking spaces outside were a clue that the restaurant would be quiet inside, but the holiday season had packed both the bar at the front and the tables in the various rooms with festive customers.

She and her husband were led to a room near the far back and that helped reduce the din. Trying to look a little fashionable, she had carefully dressed in a loose fitting black turtle neck sweater and a faux suede skirt cut on the bias that allowed her new tan and dark brown cowboy boots to show. The weather had turned unusually warm which meant the brown tights she had decided to wear instead of a slip were making her a little uncomfortable. Her husband, who spent much of the last few weeks in jeans and sweatshirts, had found it more difficult to dress wanting to wear the new mock turtleneck sweater he had gotten as a gift and finding most of his slacks too dressy for the casual knit. He finally decided on a faded pair of Dockers. They looked like a typical middle class retired couple pushing unsuccessfully for an upper middle class look.

Their waiter arrived almost immediately upon being seated. His head was covered by a thick heavy thatch of dark hair shooting every which way and his face was covered by a dark beard making him look very much like a terrorist rather than a waiter, but his smile was easy as he filled the water glasses. She ordered a holiday cocktail to help her relax and her husband ordered the usual soda water.

They both checked their phones for messages and then made idle conversation hiding the slight tension as they waited for the third party to arrive. She had called him twice during the afternoon and didn't get an answer. Finally she pressed upon her husband to call him once again just before they parked the car, and that was when their son returned the call to say he was finishing the final load of laundry and would be running a little late.

They were in the middle of the 'calamari trio' appetizer when their son showed up dressed casually and with his favorite torn jeans. (Did every pair he owned have torn pockets?) He order a soda and she had mixed feelings about his avoidance of a bottle of beer. It was good because he had to drive out later to his apartment and meet up with friends for the rest of his birthday celebration, but she wondered if this meant he would keep his guard up during the entire meal.

Small talk about the crowds and the holidays and the sales drifted into talk about the Christmas day memories with the little toddlers. She and her husband ordered the special with the recommended glass of wine. By the time they were well into their entrees the conversation had drifted comfortably into politics and religion. The subjects that all were in agreement on and safe in discussing during the rest of the meal.

As the final espresso was ordered her son began a story about a friend of his and the friend's girlfriend at a recent night out. Her son had been scolded by the girlfriend because he had brought another friend of his with two twenty-something sisters who were in town for the holiday. The girlfriend seemed to think he was trying to fix her boyfriend up with one of the sisters and angrily reprimanded him, and the whole event sounded like the Bachelorette or one of those other inane junior high level reality shows of this thirty-something generation where the women are so insecure that only 20k of plastic surgery will calm them down.

At the end of the story, her son smiled and said he felt sorry for his friend and then said he was glad he wasn't dating anyone right now.

They paid the bill and then walked to their cars and exchanged some gifts and Christmas cookies she had made. She hugged and kissed him goodbye and drank in the smell of him under the aftershave, perhaps clinging a little too long as she knew it would probably be months before she could get their paths to cross again. He opened the door to his car and gave them that familiar sideways smile and little wave before he ducked inside.

Well, she thought to herself, that went as well as can be expected.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Notes on "Busy"

Val was so kind to comment on the post below. In answer, my days were filled with a visit to the Botanical Gardens in Washington, D.C. which have the best display of miniature trains interspersed with houses, figures, etc. all made from plant life. It is a magical land and captured both the granddaughter and grandson and it was free.

I also went to the grandson's pre-school holiday program. This included quite a number of songs that they had memorized and a jingle bell ringing as they sang Jingle Bells. As you can probably imagine, the little boys got quite carried away with the bells wringing as they had been standing still for most of the program.

Holiday at the daughter's house was wonderful with Xman understanding the gift part of Christmas for the first time. He was so excited and thrilled to be passing out gifts to everyone. My son came early the night before and I was overjoyed to spend time with him and see that he seemed to be weathering the recent breakup with some balance. I hope to see him tomorrow for dinner.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Been just a little busy and except for the first photo you can see I have been away from the house. The arrow in the first photo is to illustrate the numerous places that busy hands go while you are measuring flour. You may need to click on the photo to understand.

I am now catching up on blog reading.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Life Story #22- The Rest of the Story

As some readers may recall, we left our newly married royal couple in a small cabin in the woods as the night was falling in the tropical forest with what seemed like a not so happy ending. Fortunately, with the resilience of the young they awoke to a much brighter day and after a breakfast of eggs and fried breadfruit and sliced papaya, they packed their chariot to begin the second day of the 'rest of their honeymoon.'

A wedding couple does not have to stay in a 4 star hotel for a beautiful honeymoon on the Big Island, because most of the real tropical beauty is away from the hotel's boring swimming pools and crowded beaches. (Besides if you are graduate students, you barely have two nickels much less $200 for a night in a hotel.)

Hawaii is called the 'orchid isle' and it lives up to this name with orchids growing wild everywhere, even along the roadside, causing the Princess on their second day to ask the Prince to stop the chariot every few minutes so that she could bury her face in their sweet smelling blossoms. A drive down the 'chain of craters' road where they eventually had to come to a complete stop because of the cold lava that merged like frozen molasses across the road, amazed them both.

Hours later, the newly-weds danced under the giant tree ferns, picked ginger blossoms for the dashboard of their chariot, visited historic Cook's Monument at Kealakakua Bay, let their fingers trace centuries-old petroglyphs in the volcanic stones nearby, explored dark lava tubes and soon forgot about the prior day's disaster.

But when they stopped for a family-style lunch at Volcano House, they were reminded of the prior day's debacle as they sat at a large, rustic, round table with the other tourists for a family style meal. The initial noise of the restaurant was that of normal conversations among happy tourists, but at their table the conversation among the fellow diners dwindled immediately into uncomfortable silence as people politely passed food and surreptitiously directed side glances toward the Prince with his oddly deformed lip. This deformity also meant his enunciation was muddled and the Princess had to speak for him when he needed food passed. Suddenly the Princess realized what it must be like to be a person with a deformity in a society where everyone else is "normal." This was an eyeopener and gave the Princess a new appreciation for the "commoner".

The Princess explained that they were on their honeymoon and had had an early mis-adventure with a honey-bee. The atmosphere at the table immediately thawed and idle conversation began once again with everyone wishing them a happy future.

The following days were somewhat of a blur visiting Pahoehoe Point, Kamuela, Kohala Road, and Saddle Road, until on the next to the last day the couple reached the end point of a paved road at Pololu Valley. This point is the start of goat trails to five deep and beautiful valleys on this side of the island. The royal couple had brought their rustic backpacks and proceeded to descend into the northern most valley, Pololu, by following a trail down a 420-foot cliff face that zigged and zagged sharply toward the bottom. (Reminder, this team was not very worldly).

When they reached the valley the cool ocean breeze across the crescent beach was very welcoming. They paused for the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch (not exactly gourmet) and then climbed up the next very steep ridge and descended into the next valley. The climbing and descending were so totally exhausting that after crossing a number of streams, the small shelter of Australian pine trees at the base of the valley near the ocean was immediately chosen as the evenings camp spot. The royal team set up a primitive campsite which consisted of two sleeping bags, a plastic drop cloth and some cooking utensils---such luxury.

During the day as they had crossed each river in both valleys, the Princess noticed that the streams were filled with dead or dying, floating, dangerously red centipedes and the evening music that accompanied that night's dinner was the sound of a nearby violently crashing surf against the rocks blending with the sounds of squealing wild pigs up in the valley. The Princess had visions of either drowning in the encroaching surf waters, being attacked by a wild boar, or being bitten by one of the four-inch long centipedes that had washed down the valley and that could seek shelter in her sleeping bag.

The plastic drop cloth that was to be used as protection from the impending rain, became a sail that captured the choking campfire smoke when the wind changed direction from blowing onshore to blowing offshore---as any naturalist would have known. Not much honeymoon lovemaking or much sleep for that matter took place! (Looking back on this beginning it is a wonder that we ever had any children.)

The Royal Couple survived this final night of celebration of their marriage and looking like mud-covered warriors and being given second and third glances by the mainland tourists in the parking area, they returned to their chariot to begin the life of a more normal couple. But that is several other life stories and adventures for a later book.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Window to Past, Present and Future

Looking back at a time when I was a little girl, I can remember the colorful and interesting Christmas cards that my parents would get from across the United States and occasionally across the world. I would look at the photos, read the personal notes and wonder who these people were that had known my parents so well before I was born. What was this life that they had shared with people in another era? They were just old boring parents as I knew them.

This past weekend I was at my daughter's house when she was opening her mail which consisted of at least a dozen holiday greeting cards that were, for the most part, photos of grinning or mugging little children. Who were these dozens of little people? What part were they playing in the lives of my daughter and son-in-law? The cards were a little window into a current social world that was unfamiliar to me.

Last week I got an email from my son's girlfriend letting us know that we would not be seeing her over the holidays as she and my son had recently broken up. It was a mature separation that appears to have left them both in a lot of pain. This was sad news for me as my son is not a social butterfly and being alone over the holidays is not how I wanted to picture him. What we have is a failure to communicate when it comes to this parent son relationship and this gal was my little tiny window into his life of un-returned phone calls and rare email responses. Now that this window has been closed, our worlds are once again drifting apart. I am so sad.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rewarded with Rushing

Hubby and I are heading into the city not to see the lights or go to a fancy holiday party...but to babysit, of course. This activity seems to be the most popular on our social calendar over the winter holidays. We have also been asked to pick a 'few' days during the two weeks that school is closed over the holidays to spend time with (take care of) the grandchildren.

I know the cost of babysitters and know that we would be saving them a fortune, and I love being with my grandchildren, and do not resent this in any way. We are asked and not 'expected'. But I can see how some grandparents would consider this an imposition if they found children exhausting or their own lives more interesting.

I, on the other hand, know how fast life rushes by and how fast these children will want to spend time with friends their own age rather than old people, so do not regret one second. And my holidays do not require much rushing around now that I no longer work.

Having said that, rushing to make and decorate Christmas cookies is not as good an idea. But my problem is that I say "When life gives you lemons, you can try still life art." My reach frequently exceeds my grasp. I also say that cookies that look handmade are far more delicious to eat. (I admit that adding the sprinkles was a bit too much!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Today is December 13. We are only 12 days from Christmas. While we have had one or two feathery dusts of snow, this is what my backyard looks like this morning. The temperature is currently 36F and there is a very slight breeze. Someone needs to tell the new lawn that we put in this fall that winter is now here. The lime green is quite incongruous.

Friday, December 12, 2008

"oh" My Darling Clementines - Part II

There are clementines out there from Morocco as well I found out today. I bought the box and the surface of the rind is not as smooth as those from Spain. They are as sweet and as easy to peel but even though the box says seedless, I got an average of 5 seeds from each Clementine!! Buyer beware. Spanish clementines are expensive but worth the price. Also make sure that someone has not removed a citrus or two from under the netting!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Looking Into the Future

I see the future in this little one's face. Her personality shines through. With this one glance I become putty in her hands.

Monday, December 08, 2008

My Darling Clementines

Every year at this time I pick up a container of clementines from the market. I make sure they are the ones from Spain as I was disappointed one year from a box of 'so-called' clementines from California. Once I get them home I put them in a hand woven basket where they are seen each time we walk by. Since they are seedless and sweet both hubby and I eat them like popcorn!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Blue Christmas

I am sitting here in the early evening after a cold winter wind has rattled the windows all day long. Even the wrapping of presents could not shake the gray loneliness from my shoulders. I was in a pensive and cold mood. I had read Tammy's post where she indicated that her holidays did not necessarily leave her with nice cozy memories. Divorces and children scattered to other geographies left her more pensive than celebratory at this time of year. I put on my old Christmas CD's, and of course, the first to be played was an Andy Williams CD. Talk about nostalgia!

After reading Tammy's post I remembered those Christmases after the children had grown and were living too far away to come home for any holiday. Our house was so quiet and empty. I just could not wait for the weeks to pass and get on with preparation for springtime!

Now once again I am blest with family that is close and even new little ones to bring back the old memories. But Tammy's post reminded me that not everyone is feeling so warm and friendly this time of year.

I will keep this thought close and remember to smile more when I go out, say nice things to strangers that I may encounter and to keep my wallet close to the top of my purse for those charities that need help. I will also remind myself to gulp every day as if it was golden honey, because the times will come when each day is not this way.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday Thoughts # 16 ---Categories

  • Under the category of way too much time on one's hands I was in a Michael's craft store looking for gift boxes for some clothing I had purchased when I overheard another customer ask a saleswoman if the kits for homemade Christmas cards had arrived(!).

  • Under the category of way too much stuff and not enough time I had told my kids I didn't want anything for Christmas and when they protested, I said, "Alright, give me a gift certificate of your time." "That's hard.' was the response.

  • Under the category of being married too long hubby indicated he only wanted to get me something I really wanted and not needed. So, I found the coolest pair of cowboy boots in the Coldwater Creek catalog and he immediately went into the next room and called an ordered them.

  • Under the category of missing fashion opportunities what I really need is something that is comfy to wear, something I can clean house and cook in, but something that is stylish enough that I can still answer the door without looking like a couch potato. How does Diane Keaton do it?

  • Under the category of Rome is burning falls the headline about the poor soul who was trampled to death by a bunch of brain dead consumers---may their holidays be filled with no electricity. (Isn't this holiday supposed to be about the birth of the 'Prince of Peace'?)

  • Under the category of dichotomies we saw once again a black domestic cat cruising our woods this morning and had found evidence of a dead bird on the dock the day before. Hubby actually briefly wondered if we should shoot the cat. (Sorry cat lovers...but these guys can be very destructive.)

  • Under the category of mission accomplished all of my holiday shopping is done except for one person and a birthday gift.

  • Under the category of what did you expect? our winter maintenance heating visit revealed that the reason we were feeling a little cold was because the valve to the heater was not working and we were depending on the heating pump alone...cost to fix (as it is under only 1 year warranty): $500.

  • Under the category of reality bites is the news hubby is once again going to Hawaii in Jan or Feb for this project start-up and in order to save money he will be staying with distant friends (very conservative in both their eating habits and their activities) on the side of a hill in the suburbs. While invited, I would not be near a beach or shops or beautiful probably will not go as I envision fixing PB and J for lunch and wandering around in their back yard for a week!

  • Under the category of enlightened or unenlightened it wasn't until I saw Obama's acceptance speech that I realized the first lady was black and both her children were black. In all honesty I did not see this in my mind's eye until then!

  • Under the category of getting too old, I had a loosening of something (particles) in my inner ear that gave me nausea and vertigo for about a week up and through Thanksgiving until all was reabsorbed. The first 'attack' was when I got off the elliptical and I, at first, thought I was having a stroke.

  • And finally, under the category of pleasantly surprised it took less than 10 minutes to both change our health care status and change my auto deposit of my retirement check to a different bank with only two phone calls.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Advice for the Family Holidays--thursday thougths #15

(Tabor really wanted to decorate the tree with her lovely gold and red globes and red glitter birds from last year...but the traditional 'safe' ornaments were the necessity of the day. Someday, Tabor will get a grown-up tree.)

If you are looking forward to having the family visit and you have become accustomed to the retirement lifestyle for some time I have some helpful ideas for you:

1. Once you are retired you become blase about having time to yourself and having quiet afternoons and having more than 3 minutes to complete a task and more than 1 minute to complete a thought. You must accept the fact that this is a ridiculous and abnormal lifestyle in the real world.

2. I have a more normal scenario. Start the water in the microwave for a well-deserved cup of tea and the second you finish pressing the last button, run to the other end of the kitchen to catch the toddler before she falls into the plants by the far window, and as you navigate this route, trip over the dog's water bowl (which you forgot was there because you don't have a dog), and finally, as you try to prevent yourself from doing the splits, grab the tablecloth so that the bowls of salsa can topple to the floor just missing the little dog who is anticipating another "food fall" of the day.

3. Another typical event: If you roast a 20 pound turkey and hubby volunteers to cut everything up at the end of the meal so that you can have slices for freezing, sandwiches, etc., and if you notice that it seems to be taking him more than an hour to complete this task, you need to interrupt the activity immediately. If you don't, fatigue is going to win over and he is going to carve with one hand and push the platter across the counter with the other resulting in a free fall of your tall containers of olive oil and canola oil on the very same counter and as they crash to the floor...well you know the rest, just read #2.

4. If you notice a strange expression on a small dog's face or a small child's face this means you need to provide access to the outside for the dog and access to the guest bathroom for the toddler ASAP.

5. You will become something of a scatological expert over the visit as parents will inquire about the ease of delivery, consistency, and color of the toddler's product. The pet owner just wants to know if the dog did both #1 and #2 when he/she got outside.

6. Breakfast works for the old folks, the younger ones do not get up until 11:00 as there was probably 9 hours of football well into the evening of the day before. If, like me, you are not crazy about football, do not expect this time to catch up on your are toddler watching. Toddler watching involves very little sitting time, you will burn off all the calories from any substantial meals recently eaten.

7. You will notice that educational toys are used very differently based on the gender of the child. The three and a half year old male will bang and bang on the buttons frequently while totally ignoring the directions given by the talking toy while he tries to make as much noise as possible. The 14-month-old female will hit the button for the cat when the machine says 'cat' and then giggle. (You will agree that this gender relationship to following directions and being goal-oriented continues in later life.)

8. Remember the board games that you used to play with the older kids over the holidays? Well, you can still do that if you are still awake with a functioning brain after the toddlers are finally asleep at 9:00 P.M. No one at our house had reached that goal.

9. If you decided to make a family activity of decorating the Christmas tree while all the loved ones are around, as I in a moment of insanity decided to do, be prepared for more undecorating than decorating.

10. And finally, accept the fact that not everyone will be happy at the end of the day.

Post Script: While it may sound like I did most of the work (and perhaps I did) I loved the entire exhausting weekend and each moment will be my treasured memory in years to come.

Post Post Script: Stock up on paper towels, napkins, toilet paper and will need a LOT!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Keeping Busy

Yesterday I made stuffing, washed and dried the turkey, made strawberry apple pie, printed out the thankfulness memory cards, cooked a chile dinner for everyone at night, kept toddlers away from fireplace, redecorated the house,

took pictures of family jumping in the leaves outside and cleaned-up kitchen and watched The Kite Runner and then to bed.

Today thus far, made cinnamon rolls for breakfast while I let everyone sleep in late, turkey was stuffed and is now in oven, daughter made a green bean casserole, made sweet potato casserole, I set table, washed the toddlers clothes, tended the fire (AGAIN), adults kept kids entertained and safe.

Now waiting for son and his gal to get here along with a pumpkin dessert (Yum!). Hubby has a breather while the kids have driven off to a nearby playground and he is mowing (!) the front yard so that it looks nice for the holiday.

I have no idea what they were doing yesterday in this photo below....

I am so thankful that, thus far, everything is on schedule and no one has killed anyone! HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all who read my blog!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shop Until You Drop

I had to drive my husband to the airport and also was asked to babysit the two grandchildren over the weekend. This left me 1.5 free days in between to myself to spend in the 'magic mall.' The 'magic mall' has one of those tremendously large consumption arenas where you can walk for almost a mile before getting to each store and can spend as much money as you want on stuff, things, junk and treasures which will eventually fill a landfill across the ocean.

I only go to the mall when I absolutely have to shop for something, and since my retirement, that is maybe once every three or four months. The holidays are fast approaching and as somethings abhor a vacuum, I abhor volumes of people rummaging through piles of crap looking for that one good bargain. Thus this time before Thanksgiving and "Black Friday" as it is know in the U.S.---the shoppers best sales day---I decided to enter the arena and purchase a few items and browse for some ideas.

If you have never been in a major city mall, the decadence of variety and the stupidity of junk will amaze you. You can buy any tiny crystal thing to spend your life dusting, any exotic lacy boulder holder to truly reveal your age or recent surgery, any latest facial cream to pretend that you do not have wrinkles, any number of fuzzy wuzzies to keep your feet and hands warm long before the first snowfall, any number of electronic devices that vibrate (not that kind!), beep, blink and talk to you, and any number of ball gowns, if perhaps, you are attending one or more of the Presidential Balls. There was an entire store devoted to ties, another devoted to cell phones and a third walk-in store that sold only pictures...really ugly those of Elvis singing. In addition there are pretzel palaces and coffee corners to satiate your hunger and thirst needs forever. Interestingly enough, there are very few clothing stores for anyone over the age of 25.

It is not unusual to forget where you entered the mall and where you parked at the end of the day---I now write this location down when I leave my car.

Some new things that I noticed were an abundance of very helpful sales people. I had one woman offer to give me a free make-up session OR a free facial at least three times while in one store. She accosted me in the sweater section, the shoe section and the men's pajama section---this last a little unnerving. Another 18-year-old male offered me a paper cup of face cream as I passed his kiosk. I clearly do not have a memorable face, or on the other hand, perhaps I really need some help with my face!

This mall is in a rich area of the city and had quite a few shoppers who did not appear to be affected by this recession or the pouring rain. BUT the prices were being slashed almost everywhere. Some stores had 20% to 30% off on everything in the store while others had racks with 50% to 75% off on items. It is sort of sad that in this time of my life when I don't need anything and want even less, there are so many bargains. Such is life.

I did manage to get a few gifts purchased, downed a latte and croissant, and did some people watching which is a favorite sport AND found my car at the end of the day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life Story #21---The Wedding and the Honeymoon and the Horror of It All

A long time ago (38 years) in a land far, far away (Hawaii) a young prince of a man and a young princess of a woman met and fell in love. The prince and princess were from poorer kingdoms but the paradise of the land in which they found themselves made everything seem possible. When they could remove their noses from thick textbooks, they spent mornings on the white sand beaches, afternoons hiking in the flower-filled rain forests and evenings eating ice cream cones at the edge of posh hotel patios. The world was a magical place in those days before the mortgage witch and the health demons had found them. They had known each other only three months, but knew they were soul mates for the rest of their lives. Throwing caution to the ocean breezes, as only the young can do, they made plans to marry.

Their marriage ceremony was held in a small local church and the wedding guests, none from their bloodlines unfortunately, ranged in age from the late 70's down to 10 years of age. This was certainly a good omen. The ceremony was smooth except for the slight loss of voice on the part of the Prince when he had to say "I do" which he managed to squeak out eventually. The Princess was slightly dismayed, but told herself it was just nervousness.

The celebration, held in a nearby hotel lanai at the edge of the ocean, went on late into the evening filled with fresh seafood and fresh fruits. One hundred flower leis, that had been made by hand by the determined couple, filled the air with a tropical fragrance that could not be described. You may ask how can a poor couple afford 100 leis? (Cemeteries in Hawaii are filled with plumaria trees.) You may also ask how can a poor couple store 100 leis until their wedding day? (The University of Hawaii has a walk-in refrigerator in the biology department!)

Late in the evening, the celebration finally came to an end and the couple retreated to a nearby motel to sleep a few hours before their early morning flight to the Big Island for a rustic (camping) honeymoon.

The prince had made reservations at the rustic but charming Pohakuloa cabins in Mauna Kea State Park and after renting a chariot at the airport they made plans to stop in the small village for food to take to the cabin.

This chariot was a luxurious Volkswagen Bug...the premium choice of transportation among the young of that generation. It did not have air-conditioning as very few chariots did on those days, but the moderate climate of the Big Island was very comfortable. With the windows open and the little "wing" window (this design did not survive the 70's) pushed out to bring air directly inside to the driver, the happy couple were off quite speedily.

The drive was pleasantly uneventful for the first 20 minutes or so. Then, as happens in real life, without warning everything changed. The prince violently started pumping the brakes, placed both hands over his face, jerked violently forward and backward, and cried out as if in agony. The princess froze in confusion and dismay as the car bumped dangerously to the side of the road and then came to a complete stop. In the immediate silence except for the cries of the prince, the thought crossed her mind that she had known this prince only three months. What had she been thinking? What did she really know about him? What did she know about his bloodline? Was he having some seizure? Did he have some family illness that she had not known?

Eventually a semi-calm returned to the prince and with water-filled eyes he turned to the princess and said, "I have been bit by something!" The left side of his upper lip was red with a small pin mark, and after some discussion, the couple determined that a bee had hit the "wing" window and had been impaled on his face.

Then the discussion turned to allergies, the tenderness of the lip tissue and the dangers of that. The Prince did not think he was allergic to bee stings, but he was beginning to feel strange and weak. There were no royal physicians for miles but they determined that a military encampment was not far ahead, and perhaps, they could persuade a medic to take a look at the damages. They reached a nurse who checked all vital signs, gave the Prince a shot, and also wrote a prescription for some allergy medicine.

The royal couple hurried to the nearby store with curatives and purchased the potent brew. The prince took a hearty dose and immediately fell asleep in the back of the chariot. The responsibility for navigating through the forests to the small cabin then fell on the delicate but not timid shoulders of the princess. She held back her tears and concerns as she made her way up the side of the volcano to the primitive--hardly palatial--honeymoon cabin.
Upon finally reaching their destination, the royal couple unpacked their food and minuscule belongings and entered the rustic cabin. Two sleeping bags were placed on the floor and both collapsed into the reality of marriage. The princess tried to gently kiss the prince good night, but even that proved too painful an exercise. As the prince drifted into a deep sleep, the princess counted both her tears and the ants crossing in a line on the floor toward her sleeping bag.

(The rest of the honeymoon ?...Well, that is another long story for another day.)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Blog Roll #4

Since commenters have been so generous to visit this blog I must add some new names to my blog roll. (This is Blog Roll #4 and will go to the list that resides at the bottom in the right hand column--once again thanks to Old Hoss who started this honor listing idea.)

Four new bloggers to read. I have more to add, but can only manage a little at a time.

First there is Grammie—Awaiting Buddha. The name for this blog came while she was waiting for that first grandchild. She is a potter (something I always thought I would take up....someday!) She started her blog for the same reasons the I did...that many of us chart our life experiences as we enter this last stage in our lives.

Brenda---Plus Brenda is one of those fascinating citizens of the Commonwealth having lived many parts of the world and now in Australia. She acts in and writes melodramas. I never knew anyone who did that. How she found me I do not know, but I am most flattered! Of course grandchildren and the shortness of some of her entries encourages me to visit more often.

Bad Aunt---Present Simple A New Zealander teaching in Japan...always rewarding reading such life adventures on a blog. She has been blogging a long time, since 2004. I have not had a chance to read many of these older entries. Since she teaches English to Asians, she probably has something in common with my recent house guest Mary Lee.

Whoops, forgot to add Darlene at her "Hodgepodge" in Arizona. She is 83 and one of those bloggers who reassures me that life does go on and it is rich and full. She is smart and sassy and reading her blog makes me feel good and even sometimes brings a tear to my eyes. Please stop by and say hello.

Welcome dear bloggers to my little blogroll!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing--Again

(Photo above I took from the deck yesterday evening as the sun was setting across the river and my weary body was screaming for rest. Click on photo to see the details of the last of our fall beauty.)

I have taken dozens and dozens of pictures in the yard this fall as the season peaks. The variety of tree species complimented by the diverse fall colors have been most obvious this fall, and the peak beauty has been more exciting than I have noticed in the past.

Since all good things must come to an end, the prior night's wet winds brought millions of leaves to carpet everywhere. The weather yesterday was in the 70's and we knew we had to get the leaves off of the the driveway and the lawn before the coming front that would bring more leaves and more rain. We had to use our non-environmental leaf blower because the new lawn was still too wet and soft to walk on and rake and the gravel driveway does not lend itself to raking.

I created large snake-like drifts of leaves in places down the long winding driveway and these we captured and put into a metal garbage can. They were broken down with the weed eater into a wonderful rich nutrition that was added to the newly created raised garden beds that now await the birth of spring. Hubby is so excited about this humus rich black gold that we have created that he cannot walk down the driveway without stopping to enjoy the results of his many days of labor.

Since the ticks are dormant we can wade into the 'jungle' and clear the non-indigenous wild rose that strangles everything in its way climbing high into 30 foot trees. Even though I covered my body in loose clothing and wore jeans, the tiny tenacious thorns at the ends of the branches would fly over my head and bite me in the butt, pull off my cap, and tangle my hair as I pulled them away into the open areas. I also fought with the green briar (such a lovely name for such a nasty plant). I now look as though I had fought with a wild cat---so glad I do not care about that stuff.

The day before, we had created a large and very warm brush fire with all the downed limbs and weeds we had cleared. Yesterday flew by too fast for us to start on that project once again, but now the holly, dogwood, linden trees and other plants are free to breathe once again and we have space to put in our plastic net deer fence around the perimeter. The deer have mowed the mums and trimmed my pyracantha hedge and the low growth of the new hybrid dogwood. While I spray deer repellent it has become a careful dance between them and us as their fall food cache diminishes.

I awoke this morning to another carpet of leaves almost as dense as the one we cleared yesterday! Some times I think mother nature is too rich for me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday Thoughts #15

1. It is odd that newspapers trumped by technology are once again front and center and in demand and some issues are selling for over $100 on the Internet due to this election.

2. I was talking with hubby about the successful cloning of the frozen mouse and how creepy it was to think they could possibly clone a mastadon. Hubby (ever the scientist) thought that sounded 'cool' no pun intended. I responded with my concern about some virus for which we have no immunity that might come along with that frozen mastadon tissue. His face fell and he said, "Yeah, there are always hitchhikers in biology."

3. I am seeing more roadkill (deer) these days. Hubby explained it was probably due to mating season. "The hormones rise and the deer get crazy, unlike male humans whose hormones are always up and therefore, they are always a little crazy."

4. I got tired of spreading the composted soil that hubby was dumping in each of the raised beds with the wheelbarrow. Wiping the sweat from my forehead, I complained and hubby (who has a Ph.D.) said he was the one that got to pile higher and deeper and since I had only a Masters...I had to do the spreading.

5. While I was in the nearby larger town last week for my mammogram (OUCH!) I saw a sign above the door as I entered that said Medical Arts Building. My immediate thought was that I wanted the Medical Science building not some artsy-fartsy place.

6. Hubby was reading our latest retirement financial report and sighing audibly. I glanced over his shoulder and looked briefly at the bar graph and the line graph at the top of the report. Since nothing was above the baseline on the bar graph I immediately said he was holding the report upside down. He glared at me and said NO...he was right!

7. I cannot keep thinking that Condolezza Rice would be a good Secretary of State for Obama...but with Kerry in the running and being owed for all those emails I kept getting from him during this campaign, it will never happen.

8. I thought it odd that McCain drove away all by himself out of the garage at the hotel in Arizona the following morning. Where was his wife?

9. I learned this month that it takes almost a year for birds**t to wash away by weather from the roof shingles...just a little trivia for your information.

10. Speaking of birds**t, the cardinal is back and hanging out on the inside edge of the lantana pot. He was eating the bugs, pooping into the pot and then tapping at the bottom of the deck window at his image. Now I know why my lantana is so healthy.

Hang in there, Colleen, I will try to make it to thirteen... some Thursday...but don't hold me to a theme ;-)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Morning After

The lines at the voting booth yesterday morning were somewhat long but it only took me 30 minutes waiting time before I did my duty as a citizen. Everyone in line was calm and friendly and the polling staff were super friendly...almost as if anticipating frustrated citizens.

I came home and spent the better part of the day watching the election coverage while doing laundry, small cleaning and nursing hubby through a cold he caught from his precious granddaughter.

As the rainy day progressed and the tension built I tried to keep my mind on busy activities. I channel surfed through a dozen news channels to make sure I didn't miss anything. In the P.M. I ran outside and took some pictures of the fall which has peaked in my yard but was drawn to the TV each time I came back inside. I knew and told my husband that we were not going to get any resolution on this until at least 11:00 P.M. and so we prepared for a long evening.

Late in the evening after dinner, as the network I was watching ran the final vote of Virginia across the screen; we turned to each other and high-fived each other realizing that at last our hope for this country to get back on track was now very possible.

I was so impressed by John McCain's speech and wondered why he had let the party base transform him into that very erratic and angry man that we had seen over the months. Yes, he was talking about losing to my candidate, but the real man came through and I realized the election could have changed on a dime if he had been his true self.

Then we watched the faces of all the people in times square as Obama made his dignified and statesman-like speech. No bragging, grinning or fist pumping. He knows the huge challenges that lie ahead and that is why I voted for him. He knows that this is about turning the Democracy around as the world watches--and the international newspaper headline this morning confirm my view. I had tears in my eyes and was so elated that it took quite a while to fall asleep after watching the happy black and white families on the podium wave to the citizens.

Now this morning I realize that wasn't just a romantic dream and feel so honest once again.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Tomorrow, as early as I can muster, I will go to my polling place to vote. I am "dreading" the possible rainy weather and the possible long lines since I did not decide to vote by absentee ballot. If I had lived in this small town for longer, perhaps I would see this as an opportunity to visit with townfolk that I had not seen in a long time. It would be an opportunity to catch up on the activities of children and grandchildren. If I had volunteered, as I was asked a few weeks ago, to work at the polling place, I would be so busy that I would not have time to dread a long line. Instead I would be dreading the long day! But I passed this effort this time and actually hope to volunteer in some way in the coming years.

In all honesty I am not totally dreading the voting lines or the slowness of process. I am excited as I always have been every time I voted over the years. I am romantic and passionate about my country and the beauty of this process whereby we select those who will lead us. Sure, sometimes my candidate doesn't get in and once or twice we even get a duffus who hasn't a clue about the constitution and the significance of the job ( like the last two presidential elections). I only missed one vote since I turned 18 and that was when I was living overseas and failed to get an absentee ballot on time. Early years that I have gone to cast my vote I took my small children with me so that they could see this important process. I talked to them about how powerful it was and when they grew up, they all could be a participant in this process.

I disagree with Sara Palin and honestly believe that every single person in line with me tomorrow will be pro-American. Every person will be from the "Real" part of the States in America. And I am proud to stand with them no matter how they vote. And if you have not already voted or are not going to vote better have a d**n good reason!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Room With Walls or the Wren House

Due to the cooler evenings and my craving for a substantial dinner, I decided to roast a 4 pound chicken for our meal two nights ago. I marinated the fat bird in the early afternoon and started to preheat the oven. I stuffed the bird with onions and sliced apples and it took several hours to roast making the kitchen cozy and warm. Adding some cheese potatoes and a nice salad made the meal complete. When all was ready, hubby and I sat down to a perfect late October dinner. We threw our healthy caution to the wind and proceeded to stuff our little stomachs to the brim. With my last swallow of wine, I pushed myself back from the table and wondered if I would regret my piggyness.

Hubby graciously offered to clean up after dinner and I slowly burped my way upstairs to read some blogs. I heard him banging the roasting pan lid trying to get it clean. He called up to me asking what he should do with the drippings at the bottom of the pan. I did not want all that tempting but unhealthy fatty salty broth sitting around and suggested he may want to dump it in the woods outside.

I heard him open the front door and then I heard him bang the pan on the stoop and I heard a whuffet sound and my husband swearing softly under his breath.

When I called down asking about the commotion, he said that the new porch resident, a wren, flew into his face. We have a little wren that has tried to set up tenancy in my autumn door decoration and with the addition of the bug-filled split wood for the fire now added to the porch, she has a grocery store just beneath her new home.

I could hear the door was still open.

"She didn't get in, did she?" I asked.

"I am afraid she did." hubby sighed.

Well the next hour (or what seemed like an hour) of our leisure evening with stomachs full of food was spent trying to encourage a small wren to leave the house. We closed all the doors and cupboards and turned off the ceiling fans. I had to get out the very, very long light-bulb changing pole to make her leave her perch on the chains of our hanging foyer lights in the second story. Hubby almost destroyed the geranium I had recently brought inside and placed on a corner near the window as she tried to hide behind that plant several times.

After depositing bird doo on various walls, she eventually tucked in behind some decorative basket ware that we have on the shelf above the foyer. Hubby was determined to get out and balance on that shelf and try to catch her, but I was adamant that I was not willing to add a visit to the emergency room to this evening's adventures and insisted that we try alternatives.

We don't have a butterfly net, but in desperation, got out the fish net to see if we could capture her. Of course, the weave is too big and although we swooped it over her several times, she acrobatically made it through the holes. Once hubby and I almost bumped heads as we dived for her, temporarily caught beneath the net on the kitchen floor.

Eventually she became tired and we were able to catch her in our hands. We very gently and carefully took her out the front door where she instantly dive bombed into the shelter of the wood on the porch. I sw her hopping around the porch today, appearing none the worse for wear, but chiding me in her whistling fashion. (The photo above is of another wren, perhaps a juvenile relative, that was on our deck this summer.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Full Fathom Five

According to a search that I completed on the Internet, 101 submarine movies have been made and viewed by American audiences over the years.

I have, oddly enough, been attracted to submarine movies and I am guessing that is because I would be terrified to be out on a submarine. My fear of being beneath the surface of the ocean and being cramped in a metal machine probably allowed me to enjoy vicariously the challenges by watching the adventures of submariners much the same way that people watch horror movies. Therefore, as I perused the Internet list, I have seen approximately 30 of these movies. I do not read books about submariners and their adventures or the history of the Navy.

But, I had been reading Mary Lee Coe Fowler's blog about living in Maine for over a year and when she published her book, I decided to give it a try.

ML's book is introduced this way on the cover:

"Mary Lee Coe Fowler was a posthumous child, born after her father, a submarine skipper in the Pacific, was lost at sea in 1943. Her mother quickly remarried into a difficult and troubled relationship, and Mary Lee’s biological father was never mentioned. It was not until her mother died and Mary Lee was a middle-aged adult that she set out to learn not only who her father was, but what happened to him and his crew, and why—and also to confront why she had shied away from asking these questions until it was nearly too late."

The book is filled with the extensive and dedicated research that she did to find all of the puzzle pieces to put this compelling story together. It was a rush against time as many of the people she talked to and corresponded with were quite elderly. But it is not written like a research treatise. I found it easy to identify with the little girl in search of her father, her mother who finds romance with a young Navy man, and the young seamen whose lives depend on the leadership of this man, her father. Having traveled throughout Hawaii and the South Pacific and having seen the remains of the war with the Japanese on some of these Pacific Islands, I was very familiar with the setting of the latter part of this book.

I learned about the bureaucracy of the Navy Department, and how back then, much like today, a bureaucratic and career protectionist leadership can hinder the safety and success of the missions we give to our sailors (military). I was inspired by the tremendous dedication these Navy men gave to their jobs under very difficult conditions.

This is a well-written and also compelling story. ML is able to step back and give the story the balance it needs as she searches for the truth about her father. It is one that is, perhaps, enjoyed more by readers with the perspective that comes with age and experience. So, if you are looking for some good reading as the seasons change and you must remain indoors for longer times, I can certainly recommend this book by the fireside.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Meeting the Spirit of Blogging

The ghost of Mary Lee

Many bloggers, especially those who have been posting for a number of years, have had an opportunity to meet and greet an actual person that has a blog that they have been reading. While I was fascinated by this social activity, as I would read about the event in the many other blogs, I often felt that it must be something like a blind date... exciting in the beginning but usually somewhat disappointing at the end. We all have images and expectations of these bloggers that we think we know from regular reading of their blog, but to put these expectations to the test I felt would only result in somewhat of a failure. What we see through the blog can be revealing, but we are complicated individuals and I think we only see a ghost of that person since we are not able to read any body language or hear a tone of voice in the sometimes superficial ongoing digital conversations that we have.

I had an opportunity to meet a 'blogmate' recently and was filled with a little dread in the beginning...would they like they really know m I know them?! I mean this wasn't just a lunch date, I actually invited her to spend the night. I live in an out-of-the-way place and when someone visits it means they have an hour and half drive to the activity that brought them to this area in the first place if they decide stop by my house as part of their travels.

I wrote Tammy about this potential meet-up
to voice my concerns because she meets bloggers fairly often, many of them involved in her mission in life. She encouraged me to go for it and insisted that I would not be unhappy with the meet-up at all. While I realized I should take her advice I also took it with a grain of salt knowing that Tammy is a really nice person and I cannot imagine her meeting anyone that she would not be able to adapt to or like.

So when Mary Lee Fowler emailed me that she was coming to give several book talks in my area and wanted to see if we could meet and also asking how close I was to several nearby cities and towns where she would be, I offered to drive up for a coffee or lunch. Then I threw caution to the wind and also asked if
she would like to come down my way. I explained that it was a lengthy trip and she should plan on spending the night if that could be worked into her schedule. She accepted! Of course, the closer we got to the day, I became a 'little' nervous wondering about her expectations and mine. Some of the few readers of my blog may be wondering about my maturity right now...but I am a little anal and want things to go fairly well or not at all. (ML is probably smiling at this revelation as she reads this.)

Well, of course, the meet-up went very well. We were in sync on politics and religion and didn't have any tension in talking about the things for
which we feel great passion. We also both love the out-of-doors and worked in a long morning wooded walk to a small beach, which is a great activity for someone who has been sitting in a car for over 10 hours. She had to leave by early afternoon which gave us just enough time to not get tired of each other. I cannot help but think how brave she is to drive alone almost 600 miles to meet a stranger and spend the night in their house! I don't know that I would have that fearlessness. I certainly hope she sold a lot of books.


Next post I will write about her book which I read.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Madness--Feeling "Blue" and Needing a Nap

1. I am very very tired of hearing how getting an ivy league education makes you an elitist. It makes you (or means your already were) smart and/or rich...and only, perhaps if lucky or hardworking, you can become a member of the elite. Was our last Ivy League educated president an elitist? (Def. elite: being an expert in an area.)

I am very very tired of class warfare. Some rich citizens are greedy crooks and/or lazy and some poor citizens are greedy crooks and/or lazy. Making everyone a black or white peg is even more lazy and cannot help solve our problems. Most of us are hard working and honest.

3. I am very very tired of all the hoopla about the price of gas. We in American are not having any effect on its rise or fall in price anymore...other countries are. We have lost our strong economic lead in the world...get over it.

4. I am very very tired of hearing how the "bailout/rescue" package will work. Anything it does is temporary. The economy will be forced to correct itself when the value of everything from stocks to housing prices to jobs reaches true values once again and this will be months and months from now. There will be more death and destruction along the way. (Most of the rich will be impacted only in the amount of caviar they can consume.)

5. I am very very tired of hearing talking heads on TV discuss the stupid issues and refuse to delve into the more complicated issues because we are a nation of channel surfers and want our news microwaved not baked. (ACORN is a primary example.)

6. I am very very tired of Barack Obama being touted as the first Black American candidate who has gotten close to being elected. Our culture is so prejudiced that his mother's heritage is trumped by any tinge of 'other.' I've got news, if elected he will be our first Bi-racial President.

7. I am very very tired of the lack of statesmanship and honesty that this election has been reduced to. Both sides have gotten mud all over themselves and it isn't even solid enough to make good pottery. Where are the great leaders?

8. I am very very tired of the argument that 'experience' trumps intelligence when we are looking for leadership. A President will have access to great advice. So if an intelligent candidate seems inexperienced look at the advisers that he/she selects. And of course the counter argument put out is that being an insider and having lots of experience is bad. Just look at the their record.

9. I am very very tired of the lack of transparency in our Republican candidates. John McCain's wife said that Sarah Palin was vetted very carefully and she was ready for prime time and to "Bring it on." OK, when is this babe ready for taking on the "liberal press?" As Tina Fey comments, she gets lost in a corn maze when talking about important issues. (I remember Bush's restriction of access by the press and lack of press conferences. The free press may be mostly liberal because it constantly questions, but truth trumps all.)

10. I am very very tired of the fact that this Presidential election has taken the focus off of our Congressional and State elections. This is where much important work will be done in this economy. Thus, I am all for shorter campaign trails with more restricted spending on them. (Disclosure: Since I have recently moved to this local part of the state I need to get my game on in this area.)

Now I will go take a nap and not rant about this election anymore because whomever inherits this mess deserves a medal, it is a promise!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Thoughts #13

1. Yesterday we put in a three-foot high retaining wall and moved about 15 wheelbarrows full of dirt to the area. I said to my husband that my mother would be greatly dismayed to learn, after my expensive college education, I had become a 'ditch digger' in my old age. His response: "At least it's your own ditch!"

2. I do not know which I hated most yesterday as I sat on a small stool in the dirt and wound large bolts into the posts of the retaining wall...the smell of the deer repellent I had just sprayed throughout the yard or the smell of the Deet that I had sprayed on my legs due to the mosquitoes.

3. We are approaching what is called 'open season' in the health care world and my husband and I will be changing health insurance carriers. Why do I think this is going to be a maze from which I will probably need hospital care?

4. I have been married 38 years yet I keep forgetting that when my husband asks if I want to go for a boat ride, he really means do I want to spend 4 hours fishing up and down the bay---NOT a lovely sunset ride with a glass of wine in hand?

5. My kitchen floor is frequently covered with bits of food after cooking which is a very good reason I need to get a dog. My floors were clean when I had a dog. Even the one-year-old granddaughter cannot keep my floors clean these days.

6. I am thinking about letting my hair go gray...yep...Oddly, Hubby is more shocked about this thought than I am.

7. #6 above means I am probably letting myself go in retirement, but I still put on mascara and lipstick before I head to the Post Office. All of my vanity is not totally gone.

8. The whole family sat around the metal fireplace that we put out on the new patio last weekend. I noticed that sitting around fires keeps the 20 and 30-somethings and even the little ones subdued long enough to have great conversations.

9. Loving this 80 degree weather but I know that the colder fall air is jet-streaming over the trees this week.

10. I have been using the elliptical machine fairly regularly (running 2.5 miles about 3 times a week) and after much sweat---real, honest, disgusting sweat---I have finally lost 10 pounds. 15 to go...I hate the the free weights and the yoga and most especially the stretching at the end when I get to lie down.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who is to Blame?

The media seems to be ignoring the statistics and facts on the demographics of the subprime crises perhaps because they are not sexy. But, by paying attention to these demographics we can perhaps craft a better fix so that it does not happen again.

"The problem with portraying the foreclosure crisis as a minority and low-income problem is that it affects how solutions will be approached. If, on one hand, it is believed that subprime rate loans were predominately made to marginal segments of society (Black, Hispanic or low-income) housing policymakers may approach solutions with bias assumptions about minorities and minority qualifications (low education, bad credit, and low-paying jobs, etc.). Thus, there may a tendency to write-off the subprime lending debacle as a type of affirmative action gone bad. On the other hand, if it is believed that the foreclosure crisis affects broader and more
demographically diverse segments of society then a more politically responsible approach is likely, thereby changing the tone, climate and context of how solutions are crafted.

Not enough research and media attention has been devoted to other causes of the subprime crisis that may have race and gender effects. Issues of steering, weak underwriting, fraud, and discrimination have not been aggressively investigated. Despite the presence of federal regulation and periodic examinations for safety and soundness, Community Reinvestment Act compliance and fair lending compliance, efforts to uncover whether subprime rate loans can be explained by legitimate business justifications will be impaired based on erroneous assumptions about the
demographic distribution of subprime rate loans.

Last, if it is believed that subprime rate lending is predominately an urban minority problem, officials will fail to see that in 2006 non-Hispanic Whites had 1,108,676 subprime rate loans of which 868,806 or 78.36% were in census tracts <30% minority. The subprime lending meltdown is better described as a mainstream white suburbia problem with aspects that affect minorities and urban communities. Erroneous assumptions about the demographics of subprime rate lending will only lead to poor decisions that result in ineffective solutions." The whole report is here:

In addition, note that the primary areas for defaults on subprimes are in the states of Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada and a substantial number of these defaults are for NON_OWNER occupied homes.

We can't fix this if we don't fully understand the details and try to determine the causes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing

If you look closely you will see two trees (actually two sprouts from an older cherry tree that is growing straight up right next to these two widow-makers) that are going to fall anytime soon across the path to the dock. The last tree fell without a wind, heavy rain or anything else that would give one pause.

This is the wood from the most recent tree which we have put at the back of the wood pile to dry.

This is the first tree (another cherry) that fell that we still have to move to the wood pile!

This is the pile of old logs (perhaps you remember from my "build that house blog") that my husband asked the builder to leave so that he could use them for firewood. Yeah, right! Here they sit sheltering snakes and creating food for termites. He did say he would split the wood this year...we will see. The orange tarp to the back shelters a LOT of wood that has been split and cut for the fireplace. Enough to keep us warm for this winter and perhaps next!

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Down, Three Thousand to Go

This is the second time in a month that our contractor has been blocked from exiting (first time was entering) the lot to work on the patio due to a fallen tree across the road. This happened just 30 minutes after he return from an errand! Please bring your trailer by if you need any firewood this winter. We have two widow makers over the path to the dock and no cash to deal with them at this time!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fall Projects

We had saved up a sum of money to put in a patio under our deck this fall and we now realize that was better than leaving it in the market! For the past week or so we have been doing our little bit for the economy by employing almost 4 men full time to clear grass, put in drains, set paver stone, aerate the lawn and seed the destroyed areas. It was supposed to take a little less than 4 days, but I think that with economy slowing down the landscape firm was in no rush to have staff return to the store and sit waiting for another assignment and so the crew was actually here for 7 days which did not increase the cost of the contract.

During that time my husband and I began clearing the garden and moving ALL of the soil (he did most of the work as I have been fighting some illness) and now we will level the whole area and put in a series of raised container beds. We spent the last of the wad of money on cedar boards--the worst grade they had which is stunningly beautiful even so---for the walls of the beds. Hopefully with landscape cloth and mulch on the paths between the beds, we will get some control over the weeds next year.

They had to tear up the lawn with the little bulldozer, but also aerated and reseeded the areas and now we wait for the lawn to come up once again. We also had them take down some dead trees on the edge of the lawn in the front yard, and now, guess what? I get to put in ANOTHER flower bed. (I still haven't gotten the deer fence up but I tend to be more optimistic than realistic!) The far side of this bed will be for cut flowers. I love cutting flowers and bringing them inside the house to enjoy as I do my chores.

The new patio provides a rather large sitting area beneath the deck that will be handy during the hottest part of summer and also nice for fall when we want to sit around a small fire pit. Right now a fine layer of dust and dirt is everywhere --- on the window sills, the deck chairs, the potted plants and the brick. Thus the project today, if the weather stays warm enough, is to wash all of the outside before the grandchildren show up on the weekend. S'mores anyone?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Walk the Walk

Sunday, an absolutely perfect fall day, was our reward for going to watch our son's band play for the Humane Society Walk for the Animals. This first photo was before most of the crowd showed with their dogs. His band played off and on for FIVE HOURS---10:00 to 3:00. He was fighting a head cold and had to be there at 6:30 that morning for early set up as they were closing Constitution Ave. in the A.M. It was a good cause, but I am glad he still has his day job.

The location, Constitution Gardens, was perfect for both dogs and their owners.

And my little Xman had a good time listening and dancing to his Uncle's beat. We all were afraid he would fall into that "E. coli" lake, but he kept his coordination together.

They were supposed to have a tent with potential animals to adopt and I was worried my husband would lock eyes with a mutt and fall in love from across the room (tent). But this was put on hold for another day, because we were so busy visiting, listening to the music, and watching the toddlers that we didn't make it back up the hill. We ARE going to get a dog, probably sometime this year, but we have escaped mutt love for the time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Good Life

Yesterday I went to a wine festival. I haven't attended one of these in a decade and discovered in my old age that my palate can get quite tired of the swishing and not swallowing as much as it got tired of the actual drinking. There is only so much wine an old palate can survey before it all starts tasting the same. I decided I was going to just compare the cabernet sauvignons, pinot grigios and maybe a chardonnay or two...but I also came across a new wine called a traminette. Some of you may be familiar with this white wine, which used to be NY65.533.13 and has only recently been given the name Traminette. It was developed at Cornell---those aggies have a grape breeding program. If you go to the link you can see that the wine grows best in a climate such as the mid-Atlantic and thus the one I tasted was both fruity/spicy and also smooth without being sweet. So with a 15% discount I had to pick up 6 bottles of this and then 6 of another wine they had, the Viognier. This is an old grape but also one with which I am not familiar.. Its buttery flavor on the tongue was what won me over.

I now have a mixed case of white wines to get me through the crisp fall days. I also bought a small basket of fuji apples that are so crunchy sweet we may eat them all before I get around to making another pie. I sliced (too lazy to peel) them and fried them in butter, brown sugar, threw in some cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg, black walnuts and some dried sweet cranberries...a dessert that was so quick and easy last night and put the perfect ending on our dinner of fresh corn on the cob, tomato salad and crab from the dock. I have died and gone to heaven.