Saturday, February 28, 2009


I have always had a love affair with words. Beginning as an early reader at 3, I took my favorite books everywhere with me in place of a security blanket.

I was thinking about all the places that I have read to myself and/or others both silently and out loud.
I have read at the kitchen table (but not when others are there), I have read on the backyard deck, in the living room, in front of the TV, in bed, on the toilet, in the bathtub, on boats, in the canoe, in cars (but not when moving as I get carsick), in a tent, beside rivers, on many beaches, beside many swimming pools, in a number of hotel lobbies, in my grandchildren's beds, in their rocking chair, in front of a classroom, on stage, backstage, in front of the computer (natch), on the dock, in a plane, on a train, in front of a fire (struggling in the dim light to see), under a table, at a park, in my garden, at an ice rink, in a ski lodge (but NOT on the ski lift), in a church, resting on a dog, under a clothes line (much to my mother's dismay---I was supposed to be hanging clothes.), in a stadium, at a bull fight in Spain (avoiding watching the fight), behind a barn, inside a barn, under a tree, in a book store, at a restaurant, at many desks, in many libraries and classrooms, and at the kitchen counter during cooking waiting for the stew to boil. It seems I always have something to read in my hands.

For a number of years now my favorite word has been essence. This may change, but right now it means the hint of the special that is. The potential for the whole, without being overwhelmed by the whole. The intrigue that keeps you searching and wondering.

What is your favorite word? Where is some special/odd place that you read?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Not to Put Too Fine a Point on It

Some people cut a little brush and others cut a lot of deadfall. The tree trimmers came today. We did NOT cut any live trees, only the dead ones that were in the path of the deer fence and that were too large for us to deal with. At $300 an hour we think this is a bargain as the largest logs could not be cut by any chain saw that we own. The photos were taken through the screened window upstairs and like most of my photos can be clicked on for a high resolution. (It took only 2 hours to remove a ton of stuff!)

They shred most of the small limbs into mulch that goes into the ravine and will be good for the rest of the trees and plants and bugs growing down that way. We have removed some food for the woodpeckers, but we have dozens of other trees that are dead or dying.

The work is dangerous and watching them do this gives me tremendous respect for the skills needed in this job. The large logs they are able to cut so that they fit almost exactly as they drop them not too gently into the back of their big truck. This is all done by eye.

It is interesting to see the different colors of the shredded material that comes out of the chipper. Some is rich and red, and other brown. We did not try to save this as mulch because there is so much poison ivy vine mixed in with it. We also sacrificed some of our future firewood because we did not want to interfere with their progress by trying to pick and choose. Everytime you talk to these guys it is money! ;-)

If my dad were still alive he would love watching this. He had worked hard all his life and had a deep appreciation for work that was completed by hand and machine. I miss the guy on days like this.

Now I must go outside and measure the edge of the final flower bed to see how much more landscape brick I have to save for. I need it this month...but probably won't be able to add it to the spring's expenses.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thus It Begins

I awoke at 6:00 from the demands of our Cardinal, Don Quixote, tapping at the window at the bedroom patio door reminding me I can never sleep in again.

I got up, made some coffee, and was blogging away when at 7:00 AM the phone rang and a man with a gravelly voice said, "Tell your husband we will be there to cut the trees tomorrow morning early unless it rains."

"OK." I said and hung up.

Five minutes later the phone rings again.

A young woman's voice, "Are you ready for the top soil today?"

"Uh, sure."

"OK, they are on their way now."

I call to hubby who can sleep through almost anything and he slowly but eagerly rises.

Thus begins the $500.00 broccoli project, followed closely by the $500 tomato adventure. We do love to garden. And thus on a fixed income we continue to support our local businessmen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some Good Omens

'Seth' is a very dignified elder with a carefully groomed handle-bar mustache and a very gentle and gentlemanly demeanor. He did the prayer/chant and painted the various symbols in the air with his hand. His wife 'Dora' was in charge of getting all the elements necessary for the house blessing together. One last element she brought was a green candle which she lit and said was her own personal blessing for us for as long as we lived in the house and we were to keep the candle burning until it went out and therefore at the end we placed what was left of the burning candle into the fireplace.

The house was blessed with a very eclectic blessing ceremony involving some Asian symbols, some Jewish blessings and some pagan symbols and chants. Smoke and light and aromas were involved and every single room was blessed and every entryway and window protected from bad energies.

During the process, which was new and somewhat strange to hubby and I, Seth who was in each room happened to look out one of the upstairs windows to the house across the way and asked about our neighbors. Hubby said they were a very nice retired couple. Our guest then tapped his chest and said he felt something fluttering there. My husband then told him the man had just had quadruple bypass for the second time and our guest said that explains the tingle in his chest!

We went downstairs and looked out across the river and our guest said he felt the house across the way was troubled and therefore he sent more positive energy to that part of the walls and windows of our house and a stronger block for bad energy from across the way. Interestingly, the people directly across the river had been the ones who had called the permit office on our building project to insure it was being done legally and we had also heard from another neighbor that the wife of the couple was a trouble-maker. Seth and Dora live far from here knew none of this.

Then hubby decided to test our guest and asked him if he had any feelings about the neighbors to the East of our house. Our guest looked across the way and said he felt only joy and happiness. These neighbors are the ones who bought a $100,000 yacht this summer and never got around to using it and who invited their church to hold two church services outside in their front yard this past summer filled with singing and praying, but were polite enough to call me each time to let me know there would be some noise as they were having the service outside.

This analysis of our neighbors seemed to be too much coincidence to think that our guest didn't have something going on with his 'third eye' and therefore we thought he must know what he was doing in blessing and protecting our house. At the end of the blessing a very healthy pair of red shoulder hawks flew to the trees that were very close to the windows in the back yard and rested briefly before heading down the river. These are the first hawks we have seen in our neighborhood in well over a year and I took that as a good omen for strength, love, and new beginnings.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The FB --- 13 Lessons

A colleague asked me to join facebook several weeks ago and as a result I have learned a few things:
  1. I find it a real time sink, because pages take forever to load with my rural connection.
  2. I have discovered 'friends' of friends of distant friends and these are people I rarely see or talk that is kind of interesting and disconcerting at the same time to open these connections and see their photos after decades.
  3. I 'chatted live' for several minutes with my son who was online at the same time at 1:40 in the early morning. Intermittent insomnia is obviously genetic. This was a greater exchange of words than we have had in months as he never rarely answers my emails or phone calls! While the chat was quick and least we connected.
  4. Since on facebook you have dozens (in some cases 100s to 1,000s) of people who can read what you write and know who you have to really avoid "thinking out loud." (i.e. you cannot "write on a friend's 'wall'" about how so-and-so has aged or put on so much weight and you should not post in detail about that rather crazy party you recently attended as the younger members so unwisely do...complete with photos.)
  5. It is kind of like being at a cocktail party with absolutely everyone you know listening to most every word you say and you are getting dizzy from the multiple ongoing tiny conversations since many of the people you overhear are people you barely know and they are not talking to everyone as they are at a different party.
  6. In one session you may see or read brief notes about a sonogram, a drinking party, a political rally, an open invite to the movies and mountain hike depending on the diversity of your "friends."
  7. Some of my kids 30-something friends think I am cool for joining and I must admit that is an ego boost when you are approaching crone-hood. I am kind of glad this technology was not around when I was 20-something as I am sure I have forgotten more embarrassing adventures than I like to admit and I would hate to have had them made available to all my future friends down the road.
  8. I have yet to reach and comment on the page of the colleague who originally asked me to join while I have "written on the wall" of many others!
  9. This must be a demographers and social scientists dream. I hope I am still alive to read the books on the analysis of this phenomena and the analysis of culture.
  10. FB ---as the 'young folks' call it (what an old foggy phrase)---has said they cannot promise that you can permanently delete anything you will always be floating out there somewhere having been captured by someone else...just like those embarrassing incidents in high school that come up at reunions.
  11. If you follow current events regarding these social networking sites you will know that there are still important questions about copyright and ongoing use of material you write and the photos you upload in this venue. ( I have taken a few copyright seminars and this sounds like a nightmare.)
  12. When I eventually load my FB page...after much delay in is kind of like finding myself in a tabloid over which I have some control.
  13. The FB does give the impression that some people spend all their time networking rather than working at work! This is another questionable impression a young person does not want to make.
Some Lagniappe: The new TV series "Trust Me" on TNT had an episode recently where the dad who is an advertising man secretly got the password and logged on to his teenage daughter's FB page and found she had only three friends, one of them her teacher. Being an ad man he was concerned that this represented her lack of popularity. She is portrayed as a bit of a geek in the series. He sent her an electronic message asking to be a 'friend' and she denied him. When he asked about it and about her few friends she said that she was just being very selective. Is FB like being in junior high once again? (Another rant about FB here.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Thoughts #23---Housekeeping

  • Company is coming to stay overnight this weekend to visit and perform a house blessing Hawaiian style. ( I wonder if I need to get out that grass skirt and do I dare wear it?) I MUST patch the ceiling in the guest bedroom before that time. Bad Karma to sleep with cracks above your head. The hardest part is finding the can of matching paint.
  • Need to plan a nice menu for them as they have entertained us numerous times. They cannot visit easily as they have goats, chickens, etc. that are pregnant this time of year.
  • Babysitting for kids completed this past weekend. Check that off the list. (Daughter did not have to travel to New York over the Valentine's weekend...good news...but may have to fly out this week.)
  • Must finish the magnetic photo hanging project that I started. Too many small magnets lying around waiting to accidentally erase PC stuff. In order to save money, I tried to do it myself and have ended up purchasing and re-purchasing parts thus costing even more than the pre-made kit would have cost. (I never learn.)
  • Considering planning a March trip somewhere...again just considering...craving a change of scenery. Must do some Internet surfing.
  • It is really hard to get 50 brand new one dollar bills from your bank...I know I have tried for days! These days banks only have dirty money. (A belated birthday addition for my baby brother.)
  • Planning a budget for the deer fence installation. One determined deer caught his/her head in the wire cage I had placed so carefully around the new smoke bush and dragged the cage into the yard before freeing themselves. They had pruned the smoke bush cleanly insuring I will get no smokey blossoms this year!
  • Finished The Time Traveler's Wife but found this love story very heavy and too depressing to pass on to hubby to read. Don't know what to do with the book now. Ditto feelings on Revolutionary Road, but for some reason liked it much more.
  • Must drag out all my 8 to 10 swimsuits, many over a decade old, and decide if indeed I should purchase new suits for the "Cruise." (I have decided to focus on photography during this cruise and therefore won't feel so anxious...I have other reasons for anxiety that have nothing to do with my looks in a being confined with members of 5 different families on a boat and being encouraged to play competitive games. I am like Oprah and would like to hide in the closet at the Kennedy compound.)
  • Caulk all the trim work where it is separating--5 rooms. Done! See, I am not a total procrastinating couch potato.
  • Post process all the Valentine's weekend photos. That was fun.
  • Off to 'cut brush' and pull weeds this of the very few things I have in common with our prior president.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009


I always thought that over-sugered, obnoxious kids would not be my cup of tea. BUT, it looks like Valentine's Day breaks all the rules. Anyone want to label or caption this? Click to enlarge if you need more creative angst. (Please help me with a caption.)

I would post a photo of the flowers or candy or romantic dinner that I got for Valentine's Day...but I didn't get any of those! But this man has dived into waters to save a drunk stranger, work long hours without pay for environmental causes, and is cooking dinner tonight (if he remembers) so I have to accept my lot in life. Romantic, not. Good and honest, definately.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Back Seat Valentines

I started this blog to track the important times and thoughts in my life and maybe to help me build a road map as to where I am (or should be) going in these later and important years of my life. I also wanted to build a history for any grandchild or great grandchild that needed to understand how and why they got to be so quirky and slightly crazy (blame it on granny). Little did I know that I would acquire backseat drivers (my blog readers) along the way who would challenge, agree, suggest new paths, and map my way in directions I had not planned. If I was down they would reason and cajol and if I was up I would find balance by reading how they were facing the big challenges in their lives. This depth of relationships with and among bloggers was not something I expected. Thus I thank you and wish a Happy Valentine's Day to all of you and those you love.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Recent Email Received From Daughter

"Did I tell you how thankful I am that you are coming. My life in insane right now. Xman still needs to make two more valentines by Friday...all the parents are volunteering (not my idea but I didn't want to be rude and be the only to not help out) to throw a surprise breakfast and lunch for the teachers at CHMS (read below). I volunteered to make a breakfast sometime tonight i have to throw that together..then get up at 6:15 am to put it in the oven ...and then it has to be dropped off on Friday morning at 7:30am for bfast. Then Xman needs to be dropped off by 8:50am. So we will have to talk and see what make sense. I think I might be on an 8 or 9am flight to NY and then on a 3 or 4 pm flight home."

I think I remember those days...she is a Type A like me...but I don't ever remember trying to squeeze in a business trip to NY!

Honest Abe

"Perhaps a man's character was like a tree, and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing." Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln compiled and edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher and Virginia Fehrenbacher (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1996), p. 43.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Distinguished Looking---NOT!

I stopped dying my hair in December of this year. I saw no point in trying to look younger than I am since I no longer worked in an office. My real hair color is a very dark brown but in anticipation of the grow-out I began highlighting it last fall. The dark brown and gray can be seen in the top and back but the sides and front still have the blond highlight thing going on.

My hair grows fast, but this seems to be taking forever! I was hoping I wouldn't look this way on the April cruise but my hair stylist doesn't think the brown will be gone by then unless I cut my hair very short.

The good thing is that I will no longer be paying to have my hair dyed or dying it myself in between times in the future...what a pain!

Why in this Western culture are men considered distinguished with gray hair and women are thought of as cronish or witchy?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Settling In !

Our house was completed (mostly) in June of 2007.

Within the past month I have noticed two doors in this house that are sticking at the top of the frame when I try to open and close them. Really sticking so that I have to tug quite hard to get them open or closed. One is an inside door and one and outside door on opposite sides of the house. I have checked door hardware and it appears that settling has caused this instead of loose hinges. In one case the hairline crack runs from the corner trim through the sheet rock right up to the ceiling. (All photos can be clicked to enlarge.)

I have also noticed that many of the window trims have started to separate at the top corners and baseboard corners. I am guessing over time this can happen to a house as it ages, but I do not remember seeing so many trim corner cracks in the first house we built.

So, I did a walk around inspection and find also that the window frames in a very few instances are pulling from the sheetrock and therefore the paint is chipping.

I also found a nasty case where the ceiling tape is pulling loose as can be seen in the photo above.

While much of this can be repaired with spackling or caulk and paint, is this much settling normal as a house settles? Is this because of green wood? Should we be more concerned? On days when there are big changes in temperature this house will let out an amazing creak or two in the evening as the air cools down. There are no foundation or cement floor cracks, thank goodness.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Isn't It Romantic?

When you have been married as long as I have, and I have been married a lot longer than I ever thought people could tolerate each other, it is hard to buy an original romantic something for that certain someone. Since we were heading up to the city to babysit last week, I had planned a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant in the city for the following night and then taking in Casablanca on the big screen at a theater. My idea of real romance...probably not my husband's...but as much as I love him, he is no where close to being a romantic, so I took the lead on setting this up.

Anyway, as is well-known, he got the flu big time last week and all had to be cancelled including the theater with the resulting loss of the pre-paid
theater tickets.

So, not to be stymied, I had a fall-back idea. I had ordered something for him that I knew he was going to love. It was very expensive and I didn't
realize how heavy it was until it arrived, and over three days, continued to arrive in various boxes! Thus, hubby had to find out ahead of time about the gift to help me lift and put the thing together.

I am sure any nosy neighbors across the river were wondering what kind of sex toy this enormous frame with chains, etc. represented since we put everything together in the bay window of the master bedroom. The directions said that it could be put together in about an hour. Well, that is assuming your husband reads directions and lays out all the parts ahead of time. He started pushing in plastic parts and it wasn't until we reached an impasse that I pointed out that the plastic parts were supposed to go elsewhere. (No you cannot comment on our sex life here.) This was about an hour into the project and we sighed in exhaustion and gave up until the next day. This morning hubby was determined to pull out the plastic end pieces and with some drilling and pulling and sweat he succeeded. We once again started the project. In about an hour the project was finished and looked pretty good.

Boy are the lights bright on this baby! Now we will worry about whether the neighbors think we are growing medicinal plants in the bedroom. We also will have to watch the timer as that might indeed have an impact on our sex life.

This unit has three long shelves that he gets to fill with spring seedlings and he is so excited he even said I could have some of the space. Cool huh?

Post Script: No I do not have shades or drapes for the bedroom. We are saving up for that, although with this recession that may be a long time coming. If anyone wants to watch two old farts walking around naked in their bedroom, here' s to em!

Post Post Script: I think this little project with its hundreds of pieces should count for good elder brain exercise. I haven't done something like this in a while.

PPPS: Yes we once had a homemade seeding unit (quite ugly), but we no longer have the patience to try to build something like that again. We are the kind of people that keep the gardening catalogs going.

Friday, February 06, 2009

City Mouse versus Country Mouse

Bob Brady at PureLandMountain featured this article about the human brain in a recent post. Since my blogfriend at One Woman's Journey has been dealing with this issue---as have many of us retirees--- I found the article most fascinating. (After you read it, you can talk among yourselves.)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thursday Thoughts #22 You Have to Keep Your Sense of Humor--

1. A recent quote by Thomas L. Friedman in an Op-Ed column of the New York Times regarding the recent work of Congress in approaching the financial crisis... "I’ve always believed that America’s government was a unique political system — one designed by geniuses so that it could be run by idiots. I was wrong. No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it."

2. Hubby came home from his dental appointment and said they wanted to watch him more closely with follow-up appointments because of his deep pockets. Are you sure they were talking about the condition of your gums? I asked.

3. I got an email from the online retail marketing company called Overstock in which they said that they now are offering a real estate section of their Internet catalog. My husband said "Of course, it fits. Real estate is certainly an overstocked item these days."

4. Late last night as my hubby and I fell into bed after a particularly full day of house work and errand running I said " Is it Tuesday ALL READY! What happened to Monday?" My husband looked up at the ceiling and pulled the covers snug under his chin and then said, "Monday came and went pretty fast. Oh my God, we ARE actually going to die."

5. I don't know if you have seen the "Twilight Zone" television ads from the Corn Refiners Association where they claim in their new campaign that sugar, honey, and high-fructose corn syrup are, "nutritionally ... all the same." This isn't funny, but I had to add it to my Thursday thoughts because it makes me smirk.

6. I learned that we laugh because "When people laugh a lot, those endorphins get running around up there in the brain and interject into the hypothalamus and all that stuff, and the humor just comes out, and that is beneficial," says Kurt Kilpatrick. Sounds good to me.

7. How to tell a joke..."Only tell a joke to people who have expressed interest in hearing a joke. If people laugh at the joke, leave the room immediately. That way you look cool." — Tina Fey, creator and star of NBC's 30 Rock

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Sixth Photo Meme

Kenju has a meme going on her blog. She encouraged her readers to follow it. Since I am brain dead this morning but felt like posting something I have decided to go to the sixth folder of my photos on my PC and post the sixth photo. Lovely ladies in Korea visiting a garden. They looked so elegant I had to take their photo. They look like students with a teacher.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Lifestory #25 --- WE WILL ROCK YOU

I am listening to the Superbowl theme music as I sit at the computer and write this entry. I am not a football fan and I have no intention of watching this game tonight, but it does remind me of a life story that is related.

Those of us who have lived overseas and been regarded as expatriates for any length of time are familiar with losing touch with our culture fairly easily as we get wrapped up in the culture of the country in which we are living. In one instance, I remember answering a phone call at 2:00 A.M. Indonesia time one January when I lived in Indonesia sans TV and listening to some excited guy talk in detail about some Super Bowl game that had just ended while I wiped the sleepy dirt from my eyes and then gained enough sense to ask him why he had originally called. It was about some embassy thing that had nothing to do with the Super Bowl!

But this story is about another time and place. It was January 1971 and we were living and working in Palau, Micronesia before we had children. We were on a month's leave and had just returned to the United States for some R & R after two years of being away. One of our stops was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where my husband's parents lived. Hubby's parents were typical of many American parents of that time a la Madmen. Elderly, back slapping, cocktail drinking and proud of their son's accomplishments. It was a bit intense for me as I grew up on a quiet farm in Colorado. But I took deep breaths and did my best to be a good daughter-in-law.

During the time there was much reminiscing and my father-in law mentioned an old friend of his that really wanted to see my husband. He explained that the guy had done very well in business and actually owned several race tracks and a Jai Alai stadium in the area. He insisted that we take an afternoon and stop by the friend's office. My husband didn't remember this man very well, but to appease his father he agreed.

We drove somewhere outside of Fort Lauderdale to a rather simple but large, white, cinder block building in an area of town that looked much like the type of places disreputable people hang out in those Miami Vice episodes. When we told the secretary we had an appointment with her boss she showed us into his office. The first thing I saw was stuff and more stuff. Piles of papers, boxes, the entire room was filled with stuff and crap and not at all what one expects in visiting a millionaire's office. The working desk was piled high with even more stuff. The man, whom we will call Mr. X to avoid any lawsuit from remaining relatives, sat behind this desk and would have been easy to miss if we had been standing further away. He was short but weighed at least 300 pounds and his age was hard to determine from my inexperience as a 25-year-old.

I don't remember much of the meeting as it was mostly about hubby's youth and the good old days. The meeting lasted maybe 20 minutes, and as we got up to leave, Mr. X reached into a drawer and handed hubby a small envelope. It was a gift, he said, hoping we would enjoy our stay in Florida. Hubby took the envelope and shook his hand and we returned to the car.

As we sat in hubby's parents car which we had borrowed, we opened the envelope and inside were two tickets on the 50-yard line to the 1971 Super Bowl in Miami. This was Super Bowl #5 for those of you who know your football history. Neither my husband or I were the best recipients for this gift as during that time we were not big football fans although hubby has become a bigger fan over the years. We went to the game, enjoyed the game, but all I really remember is crying when they played the National Anthem as I had not heard it in a long time.

I think this is what they call looking a gift horse in the mouth even though we did not question his generosity. Today, of course, we would know better.