Thursday, July 31, 2008


To quote a quote..."Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."

A friend who had been having shortness of breath called on Monday telling us that he was heading to the city hospital for recommended open heart surgery. Then he found out on Tuesday that the scar tissue from a prior surgery was going to prevent any new surgery on this old heart of his. He has said that he will just have to adjust to this new twist in his life and slow down. He is very active and very industrious and never appeared compromised if you did not know his health background. This will not be easy for him or for his wife. I can see the dark premonitions in her eyes. I sit out on my deck asking the powers that be to give them some inner peace on this journey ahead.

I pause thankful that I still have reasonably good health.
I pause knowing that there are no guarantees in this life preventing me from being in his shoes in the future.
I pause knowing that there are no guarantees that my husband will not face a similar fate.
I pause knowing how important each day is in this too short life.
I pause knowing that pausing to smell the air is very important for the soul.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Bad Karma--Life Story #15

Fear is a really useful but also dangerous energy in this life. (The most obvious recent example of the bad things fear can do is the 100's of thousand deaths of innocent people caused by this stupid war brought about in fear of a vague enemy.) I have not been truly afraid for a long, long time and so this recent fear came to me as a strong jolt, and in hindsight, I am not all that proud of how I reacted.

Hubby was working down at the dock getting the boat cleaned and I had finished some errands in the house and was heading down to ask him some question. We were going to take some friends out on the boat that afternoon, and since we are all getting older, one of my routines is to pick up all the newly fallen broken sticks and branches in the path to the boat so that no one accidentally falls on the hilly path.

When I reached the dock and hubby emerged from the small boat cabin, I asked how things were going. He looked at me and asked me,

"Didn't you see the dead copperhead on the path?"

I, who had so carefully scanned each and every inch of that path picking up snake-sized sticks did not see anything out of the ordinary, and I told him that. He looked at me in disbelief wondering how I could have missed it. He explained that he had almost stepped on it as a bucket in his hand had blocked the view of the path and he immediately knew he would dispatch it with a large log by smashing the head. (Killing snakes is not nice even if they are poisonous, but he had a grandson who ran willy nilly to the dock recently, and therefore, we would not be able to sleep at night letting this pit viper survive.)

Hubby followed me back up the path to show me the location of the snake with the smashed head. We got there and we peered every which way. There was no snake. Hubby was sure he had crushed the small skull, and therefore, wondered if in the short ten minute span an animal had taken it away to eat. I said it might have been alive enough to crawl under one of the logs lining the path. We poked around another minute or so and then decided it had snuck away to die a slow but peaceful death. I turned to head back up the hill and as I got closer to the top I saw the fat fellow just a foot away. It lay right in the middle of the black sand path as still as a curved stick and looked none the worse for wear. If you have never seen a copperhead, it is truly a beautiful animal. It almost looks as though some artist had painted the coppery and grayish tones of color across its back with a brush.

But, this close encounter caused me to almost swallow my tongue as I leaped back to my husband's side. It had appeared as if by magic out of nowhere. It was fat and healthy and not moving---thank goodness. If it had been scurrying, I would have probably swallowed both my tongue and heart in fear. Hubby quickly grabbed another large piece of wood and pinned its head against the sand once again. I told my husband not to move while I hurried up the path to the garage for the shovel. When I returned he severed the head quickly with the edge of the shovel and we threw the beautiful animal into the river.

I realize that copperheads are not as aggressive as people commonly believe and that the freezing in place was its defence mechanism and that we should have just tossed him by stick into the woods to go on his way or walked widely around him. But neither my husband or I could bring ourselves to be so fair. We were frightened for our grandchildren and that deep primitive urge to protect our own rushed forward bringing with it adrenaline and no immediate regret as we ended the life of this innocent animal.

I am sad that I did this, but I also am honest with myself and mother nature, in that I would certainly do the same again.

(Seems to be an unusual amount of references to snakes, rubber and real, in my blog these days!! What's that all about?)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Big Weekend or A Precautionary Tale

This blog entry is a tale for those future grandmothers/grandfathers wondering if their young adults are ever going to get it on and present them with some grandchildren. Remember, it is said that you sometimes get what you wish for...

Recipe for potential disaster, mix the following carefully:
4 thirty-somethings--two males and two females
2 toddlers--11 months and 12 months
2 preschoolers--3 + years old
2 old farts

If your first-born grandson sleeps in your room because the baby sister is sick with a fever, you will not need an alarm clock. He will present you with a rubber snake before the sun is up.

Fortunately, he can pretty much dress himself. This is very useful as your eyes are not yet open, and, unlike him, you cannot form complete sentences. Thus, you are not much help.

Baby sister does not let a little flu bug hold her down. She may have gotten the household up three or four times crying with a stopped up nose and congested lungs, but she still takes her morning crawl right after a breakfast of blueberry pancakes. Note to new had better keep up! Mommy is barely functioning.

Once you pass the test to see if you can get to all the dangerous places in the house before the crawler and retrieve all the bugs you thought you had vacuumed, then it is time to go on the post-breakfast constitutional. This usually results in one or the other being carried on the way back as the morning gets hotter. Do not hold your breath as you will not be the one to be carried.

After lunch it is time for the mid-day swim. Remember to keep your camera dry because you will get wet even though you do not get into the tiny pool.

No one is safe from getting wet including the local wildlife.

The first day begins to wind down with a toe counting exercise. As luck would have it all of them have all of their toes!!

And, as usual, it is the male of the species that crashes just before dinner as the sun is receding behind the trees.

1)The adult males were the only ones who had time to play several games of ping pong, fish from the dock and actually stay up late and watch a movie. How in the hell we let them get away with that I don't know, but we continue to let them think they are the stronger and smarter.

2) This visit 90% of the folks were excellent eaters and praised my meals until I got that warm glow of energy to do it all again the next day.

3) Tabor lost 1.5 pounds!! I have been putting in two miles on the elipitcal many mornings with out budging any fat cells. I just need more weekends like these where I never sit and rarely eat.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It is not even Halloween

While cleaning the storms broken branches and leaves from the driveway, we came across this black jelly-like fungus in the photo above that was curled in the rocks. It is cubist in form and was about fours inches in size. Any ideas anyone? What are the chances of a mycologist reading my blog? And, no, we didn't drop anything chemical in nature...that we can think of.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Glutton for Punishment?

Oh, yes, I guess that is what I am...a glutton for punishment. Sometimes it seems that things happen to me without any pro activeness on my part. Actually I do know that this coming weekend was not even a glimmer of an idea in my mind, because I have been sleeping so well these evenings. Certainly this was actually all my daughter's idea. I do NOT remember initiating this. I do not even remember talking about it at length with anyone...but then, one of the lovely attributes of getting older is that darn forgetting part. Just because you do not have it written on the calender, does not mean it was not scheduled. After all, it WAS on someone else's calendar.

Tabor's B&B is once again opening for weekend business. It seems that my daughter and her husband and her two toddlers are joining us ALONG with her friend and her friend's husband and THEIR TWO TODDLERS. Yes, I will be entertaining four very tired adult parents and four very active tots under the age of 3.5 that are pretty much as mobile and curious as un-housebroken puppy dogs. This may be just the breakthrough I need to lose those last 5...10...alright, 15(!) pounds.

I have planned a menu or two and am cleaning the house, although with four little rugrats being set loose, only God knows why! I have battened down the hatches, even though I have found that little fingers are really experts at hatches. I have stocked the 'larder' with applesauce, microwave mac & cheese, colored goldfish, and frozen juice bars. I will set up the small rubber swimming pool with grandmotherly sprightliness. I will take my vitamins. If I were the religious type, I would pray, but perhaps some of you can do that for me.

OH, this should be so much fun...right? Photos to follow...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The New Blogger

While leaping into the new blogger and using the easier editing features which add the ability to change fonts, background colors, and to some extent, drag and drop various page elements, I also found that adding links to a list such as the blog roll was much easier. To create the blog roll you just have to add the URL into a window menu and it will automatically add the blog name as well as organize it by title or by most recent blog entry! Saves me a lot of time not writing the html code for a bulleted list as I did in the old days. The template that I chose was not as flexible, but maybe I will fiddle with another template in the future and just make it part II while linking back to the old blog...!

Monday, July 21, 2008


Richard in Atwater has mentioned that I could 'stretch' my photo uploads for better viewing. I usually post in low-res for those who do not have great band-width, but thought 'stretching' the photos on the template might be nice.

Unfortunately, you must completely re-load your template and I mis-read thinking it was going to back up the old blog template...which it did not. Then to make my morning more challenging, it does not appear that the template I had chosen allows me to use the blog 'stretch' feature, because I cannot find that option anywhere.

And just to keep me on my toes, I have lost my blogroll in the process. I do have the blogs bookmarked so I will have to reconstruct that all again in the future. I must say, that I usually am the type to look before I leap, but when it comes to computers, I just plunge in!

Anyway, here is one of the looks I settled on after getting sick of changing fonts, colors, etc. I do not know if I can live with...will. see.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tabor Dancing

The weather has been so hot and muggy that hubby and I decided we just had to head to the nearby mountains---nearby being a relative term as it was about a 5 hour drive, carbon footprints be damned. We had visited and even camped in this national park many times, and thus, it was like visiting another home. Some of my blog readers will be able to identify it, I am sure.

We stayed at one of the lodges but I am proud to say that the second day we put in a 10 mile hike. I have not done that type of hiking in years and am glad that I found I still had the stamina.

The initial trails are usually clear and well worn even though you can see the summer has been wet.

The initial signs are usually quite clear for the trails as well even though the Park Service is on tighter and tighter budgets.

As we got farther into the more isolated trails, we found the signs not only less clear but even more telling!

Coming across this on the path gave us pause and also helped us understand the previous sign.

Even though we were above 4,000 feet the mid-day temperatures were pretty warm and we frequently sought shelter under the shade of trees in the high meadows. We were careful when we left the trail, because as you can see from the photo above, the trail can soon disappear. I photo-shopped it with ladybugs to show how camouflaged it could get just a few yards off the beaten path.

This lovely spruce forest floor makes for very quiet walking and that is why I stepped on a 2.5 foot snake without he/she or I being aware in time to avoid each other politely. I had paused to catch my breath when hubby came up behind me and looking at my feet said calmly but sternly, "Keep moving. Keep moving." As I lifted my right foot I glanced down to see the coils and instantly danced to the other side of some rocks skinning my shins nicely. While my legs have some lovely scabs, the poor snake got the worst of it as he seemed to be somewhat lumpy as he scooted away. We had been returning from the day's long hike, and I was being rather heavy footed with fatigue. We, of course, tried to remember what mountain rattlesnakes and copperheads really looked like as we hustled more carefully on down the trail counting our blessings only to see a smooth green snake scoot in the grass ahead and also what we identified as a common water snake just ten minutes further down the trail. We were blessed, I guess. Upon reaching a visitors center we pulled one of the guidebooks and determined that I had stepped on a juvenile rat snake.

In spite of the adrenalin rush the rewards of the hike were many including fresh blueberries for munching and...

...a blanket of wild bee balm.

We stopped at the top of the ridge for a late lunch and had some of the best views above the woods. I don't know of any fancy restaurants that can provide this kind of atmosphere.

Monday, July 14, 2008

That's the Limit

While I was sleeping someone caught his limit and more! So hot and humid here that I think it is time for a two-day trip to the mountains tomorrow. I will let you know if we did it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This Sunday Morning

Although I have been retired for some time, I do not seem to be falling into much of a regular pattern of daytime/nightime activity. Yesterday I slept until 7:30 (after being lightly wakened by hubby at 4:00 who was heading off for a fishing trip with buddies) and this morning I woke up abruptly, looked at the clock and saw that it was only 4:30. I tried to drift back to sleep, but after 40 minutes I admitted defeat and got up.

Sitting here on the stairwell balcony, where I blog, I can smell the coffee that is ready in the kitchen, hear the faint chirp of birds just waking and hear the deep and regular breathing of my husband in the bedroom below. Today, like most days, is a totally free day for me. I can do whatever I want. Yes, I have a project list, compulsive creature that I am, but I also know that 90% of the things on this list do not have emergency status.

I am not yet too full of free time, not yet satiated and ready for something scheduled that forces me to get up and get going. Perhaps this winter I will look for something to do that fulfills that need, but now I am still in wonder at this endless free time given to me each day. I sometimes think of my mother and father and the early years of their retirement. I wonder what thoughts they had about this time in their life with their children grown and involved with their own lives. My parents were busy and hardworking people and idle time did not come easily to their generation. I know that in their last years watching baseball on TV in the afternoons was my father's respite after clearing weeds and working in the garden. My mother would do her flower gardening and some canning in the summer and then look forward to an afternoon nap. Was this enough to fill their day and the all the rest of the days of their lives?

I do know that the nagging concern I had about having too much time with my husband and not enough alone time, which I so desperately need, has not been a reality. He is a self-starter most days and we spend about 50% of our time doing things together and 50% on our own separate projects. He does not need me to be his oxygen and that is a relief. He also continues to let me be the bossy one in structuring many activities and I am trying to be more compromising in that area. Now that I have so much unstructured time I do not feel the need to be so regimented.

Another good thing I have noticed is I am becoming less anxious about this thing called retirement. Eventually, I may more easily accept it as my new way of life!

Friday, July 11, 2008

It is starting

We are now one for one as hubby has retrieved a tomato from the garden and today I get to harvest my patio tomato.

These photos should go on my other blog about the wonderful planet earth...but I am so excited that I have this little bit to share. Everyone from Earth Home Garden to East and West at Every Turn has been posting delicious photos of their bloomers far outshowing my humble efforts. My beginning perennial garden has been a struggle this year. I read somewhere that it takes between 30 and 50 years to get a decent perennial garden established and I do not have that much time! So I will enjoy what I can while I can! The photo above is a healthy achillea (maybe vista?) that adds nice warm color to the end of a flower bed. (The orange flag shows where a soaker hose lies.)

Yes, I am cheating, by including some annual container plants below.

Here is a small chaste bush/tree that seems to be deer resistant. When left in a clear space in full sun they become big and lovely like the butterfly bush and the bees love them.

These lantana are in a container on my deck where I had a lovely crowded cover of yellow pansies. These are now suffering from summer heat and therefore lantana will replace that.

This lovely fellow bloomed last week and the rabbit ate the stem and left it on the ground with about three other potential blooms! The plant now sits behind a wire cage and is allowed to bloom once again.

Moss Rose are always perfect on the south facing heat of the back deck as are the lovely purple petunias and sage below.

The guara, below, I planted last year and although it is now in the wrong place blocking the path,(covered with bumble bees which is not good for the insect phobic relatives) it will be moved and do very well in a few other places I have planned.

My tempermental hybrid tea rose gave me a lovely first bloom in the early spring. Later I battled with thousands of Japanese beetles in early summer and lost a half dozen other blooms (but now seem to have won the war this year with a beetle trap on the back of the house) and now it is giving a lovely full bloom.

Well, it isn't much but it does warm the cockles of my heart these days.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Tobacco Barn

On the side of the entrance to the county park just before the posted map of the trails, we saw this old tobacco barn. The last public tobacco auction for the county was held a few years ago and this part of American agriculture is now history. The countryside is dotted with these aging gray barns that are no longer used due to a buyout for tobacco farmers that was successful, and even though there is some small effort at preservation, these historic structures are not being preserved in most cases. If this barn had been used for drying tobacco I would have readily been able to see the rust colored leaves hanging down inside. Unfortunately, the structure and shape of these barns doesn't easily lend itself to reuse. There were varied shapes to the barns in parts of the South but this traditional barn shape is the most common for our area.

There was a sign on the outside of the structure saying KEEP OUT which of course motivated me immediately to walk through to the cooler inviting shade. It was being used for keeping straw bales dry. I aged this photo as homage to those farmers who built this country with honest sweat and determination. The tobacco industry may have been an unhealthy crop, but at the time the money it brought in to farmers was significant as it was a 'mainstay' crop for the area.

I could not smell the tobacco as some say you can inside these old buildings, but the daylight peaking through the slats was quite romantic. This, along with hinged openings, insured the tobacco would cure correctly. If you click on the photo above you will be able to see the saw marks left from the circular saw that was used to cut the wood at the saw mill. This circular saw was probably powered by a late 18th Century water powered saw. Do you remember Little House on the Prairie when Laura's dad worked at the water powered sawmill in town? The time when people did the work that had to be done to feed their families...not just for that big screen TV.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Stuck in the Craw

Breath in and breath out and then go for a long walk:
  • While watching Wimbledon over the weekend someone looked at me and said, "Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Billie Jean King?"
  • Someone cannot make it down for the holiday weekend event until the last day and then spends the better part of the day either sleeping or watching sports on television--fortunately this is NOT a blood relative.
  • When asking a guest to make salad she takes out all the avocado and puts it in a separate bowl because she doesn't like avocado.
  • After doing all the planning and shopping for the meal, marinating the hamburgers, slicing the hot dog buns, setting out all the condiments, slicing the vegetables, making homemade potato salad, making cucumber fennel salad, making dessert and then taking out everything to the deck all by myself, someone compliments hubby on the great BBQ since he did the grilling!
  • While backing the car out between two nearby cars on the way to the fireworks the driver nearly has an accident trying to dodge a tiny moth inside the car and then yells at the spouse because driving and having a phobic reaction to tiny insects is not a big deal.
Oh well, there is always next year!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Independence Day for America

It seems that my husband and I have spent our 4th of July by ourselves these past few years. So, I have asked Daughter and her family and her in-laws down for the weekend this year for a little celebration. This will be the first time Xman gets to stay up to see the fireworks.

Thus far I have made a pasta sauce, a fruit bowl, banana muffins, choco-chunk cookies, potato salad and lemonade. The rest has been food shopping, and more food shopping for the BBQ.

I also rewashed the front windows and got ride of several wasps nests around the house (after one nasty sting), finished putting in the underground drip system and mulch for the two flowers beds, and completely cleaned the house.

We have washed off the deck and scrubbed the outside grill. We also scrubbed down the fiberglass and chrome on the boat...which took about two days alone!

I now remember why I usually don't have company for the holidays. Hopefully I will feel like doing some real writing after the long weekend.

HAPPY 4th to those of you smart enough to sit back with a cool drink and watch the fireworks!