Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Middle class folks such as those of my household do not often ask for help on big projects from our neighbors.   In an agrarian society, barn building is a community event and fixing the old tractor can be done with the help of a neighbor or two.  As we earn more money, we become more isolated and less likely to ask for help.  Big projects we contract out and smaller projects fall by the wayside.  For example, I live in a rather fancy neighborhood where many of my neighbors hire landscape firms to take care of their large lawn and most have housekeepers.  My hubby is certainly not the handy type, and for now, I do my own housekeeping.

Yesterday I went to toast an English muffin in my upper middle class Krups toaster oven and when I removed the muffin, it was only slightly warm.  Hmmm?  I pushed the toaster button once again and after a time when the rods did not turn red, I realized something was wrong with this expensive 3-year-old appliance.  I checked the outlet, the fuse, and the plug.  The toaster itself was sealed like Tutankhamen's tomb and would require a dedicated electrician to disassemble for further investigation.

By mid-morning I had convinced myself we had to purchase a new toaster and headed out to the nearest store for this appliance. We purchased a model that was half the price and a less well known brand.  Once I got the box home and placed it on the counter a belated epiphany hit me.  I turned to my husband and told him that whatever was wrong with this old toaster/ was something minor.  I just knew.  Maybe there was a fuse inside that had burned out?  I looked at the back with its dozen screws and then remembered that we had a neighbor who owned a rental farm and did all the appliance repair for his tenants.  He seemed to enjoy the challenge.  He was a very nice dude and so we decided to ask.

Well, it took him an hour, mostly spent taking it apart and putting it together.   He had guessed the problem even before removing the back and bottom as he had the same toaster/oven.  He said that the connector for the wires was usually flimsy and burned through over time.  He did not have a connector but had some electrical crimps which he used and now I have a perfectly good toaster and am planning a thank you dinner with neighbors sometime soon.  He lives in a very nice house but that does not seem to have made him brain or energy dead even though he is well into his 70's.

I often wish I had a talent that someone could use. I have sent some of my photo files to friends for wall deco, and have advised about plants, but I really wish I could do something more concrete in terms of being a plus in society...maybe some day.  My dad was an excellent handyman and my two brothers who live far away shine in that area as well.  I raise a wine glass to all those handymen who save the lives of us useless folks every day!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


In my last post I mentioned that I had been doing some volunteer work for a local environmental group.  This involved hiking a mile through the woods (at three different places) and then taking a sample of the water from the river at the end of each of the three hikes.  Two of these locations required some down hill and up hill hiking and really got the heart beating and the sweat poring.  The last selection site was just off a highway and required hiking through debris that had either been thrown by cars or washed up by a nearby flood area.  That was the place I showed in the previous post.  Looks idyllic, doesn't it.  I neglected to show the sand bags, bottles and other stuff.

Hubby and I started this project at 1:30 P.M. and did not head back to the "lab" (really an extra room on the back of the museum/house) until 5:00 P.M.  We had to filter the samples for both chlorophyll and suspended solids which meant filtering six times...two for each sample.  Then some of the sample also went into a refractometer for a salinity check...the river was freshwater.  Finally three samples from each site were poured into little vials and labeled and frozen along with the filters placed carefully in foil.  I am just telling you all this to impress you with my technical skills.

I think we must have used a double filter for the first sample because we waited almost 20 minutes for it to filter through.  We reduced our sample from 300 ML to 150 ML and  the next sets took only 5 or 6 minutes to filter completely.  We also had to label the vials and the filters and create a data sheet as well as complete another log.  We were not done until 8:00 and we rushed through our cleanup of the area and headed to the nearby I-HOP for a quick dinner.  It was in the middle of dinner I remembered that I had forgotten to complete two blanks on the 'custody sheet' and so back we drove, retrieved the key from under the log as it got darker, tried to do this so that a nearby family having a picnic did not see we were getting a key, and made our way back into the little back room.

I am clearly not cut out for all the details of environmental work.

On top of all of this I have been tormented by chigger bites which I probably got when sitting on a log near the river's edge while writing in water temp numbers.  I have not had to endure these pests for years and had forgotten how miserable they can make you.  They are a mite, red in color, but too small to be seen by most human eyes, and when they bite you with special mouth parts they liquefy the skin after creating a feed tube called a stylostome of the skin cells.  Don't you just love this info?  This tube they create is the thing that causes the unbearable itching because they fall off when you first scratch and then die.  But the tube stays in for days.  You must NOT scratch because the more you scratch the more it itches!  It can take 10 days for this stylostome to reabsorb.  It is nice to know that their mouths are not very strong, and so, they prefer the tender skin of women and children.  I am now on day 6....ONLY FOUR MORE TO GO!   Eeeeaahh!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is Your Excuse?

I have not posted because:

1.  My band width for which I pay many sheckles in gold has been painfully diminished the last few days.  It returned to normal speed just yesterday.
2.  Blogger will not let me load photos...I have discovered a work around 'cut and paste' but still unhappy.
3.  I have been busy collecting water samples in the river above ( a long story for another post).
4.  I have been on travel followed by company arriving.
4.  I have a more interesting post at my other blog anyway and suggest you go there for now and I hope the photos show up!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Old Stuff

There are people who almost salivate upon entering an antique mall or when given an opportunity to peruse the booths at an antique fair.  They make sure not to miss Antiques Roadshow (either the British or the American versions) on television each week.  And it is very difficult for them to just drive by a garage sale on an errand-filled morning.

I am not one of those people. I own way too much stuff and dusting is not my favorite thing to do.  While I find old stuff interesting and find a discussion of its creation or history interesting, it is only as an idle diversion.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have gone into an antique store and in most of those cases I was looking for garden ornaments rather than items to dust.
On a recent trip with my daughter we explored a large antique mall.  She was looking at antique jewelry and has a new interest in antique watches.  While I had fun looking at the items from my youth, antique lady that I am, it wasn't until I saw this vase below that I got motivated.  Most of my vases are generic from flower shops or previous interesting food containers and barely useful in holding flowers.
I saw this green glass charmer in a glass case and immediately bought it.  It is only about 5 inches high and perfect for flowers with broken stems.  I then spent the rest of the time looking at other vases throughout the store and found one more.  This is a tall art deco and I noticed after I purchased it that it was not truly vertical!

I have decided my new mission when I am bored wandering in an antique shop is to look for vases to replace my generic clear glass collection. (I have been having trouble with Internet band width and not able to do any blogging the last few days and while it has been good for my soul, it has kept me from posting.)

Monday, June 13, 2011


Sometimes too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. All of the days in my life are now Saturdays with only an errand or two on the agenda and the rest of the day to play.  No one thinks about being in such a situation some day when they are working a 50-hour workweek.  Let me give you a glimpse of the future so that you will not wander around with that deer in the headlights expression when you get WILL someday.  What can happen is that, first, you lose total track of time.  You head off to your Thursday haircut and are surprised that everyone looks a little too directly at you when you walk in the door.  Then you find out that today is actually Wednesday and you hairdresser doesn't come in until Thursday...tomorrow!   Congrats, you just gained one whole day to your week of playtime.

I gain days and lose days with abandon.  They melt like snowflakes on the desert floor and I sigh with guilt when I lay my head against the pillow each evening realizing that one more jeweled snowflake has melted away and will never be seen again.  This also leads one to become a stranger to that feeling called motivation.  One does what one wants to do, NOT what one should do or needs to do or must do or even has to do.

I wander around my yard with either a camera or a garden trowel in hand until the angle of the sun reminds me that I should be thinking about dinner or calling a family member or getting the details together for that trip that is coming up.  It is like I was released from some time travel machine in a fantasy land and then the machine starts blinking reminding me I am back on the clock.

I used to work with lazy people like me.  I hated how they got the same pay check as I when all they did was show up to work and then wander from one office conversation to the next until the afternoon sun told them they had to do a few things at their desk before they headed home.  Retirement will not seem strange to them.

I, on the other hand, was full of motivation.  This motivation got me nowhere, but it certainly was overflowing in my spirit and probably irritated the hell out of other people around me at my work and certainly made my family roll their eyes on the weekends.  I could cram more items on a Saturday to-do list than anyone I knew, and just like the energizer bunny, get the majority of them done before the sun set.  I once painted an entire new 3,000 square foot house - primer, trim and stain - on just a few weekends.

Now my motivation is hiding somewhere.  I have a bedroom that has had spackle spots and faded paint for several years, I have floors with carpets that need cleaning, I have a fall car trip to plan, and I really, really, really should clean out a closet or two since I can no longer tightly close the doors!  But it looks like we just might get a nice sunset this evening down at the I will follow hubby who is checking on the crabs and then a couple of hours later my hunger will eventually make me walk back up and start dinner.  (THAT's where my motivation is, in my stomach.  Who knew?)

(And of course I went to here  to read Moannie's version of aging after finishing writing this!  We are both so cheerful these days!)

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Taking a break from blogging.  My brain is a little fried and I have weeks of activity ahead.  Won't be gone too long.  You cannot get rid of me that easily.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

My Virtual Love Letter

I could not have imagined a drift or even catching a tsunamic (yes I made a new word) wave into this community called Bloggers.  Who knew so many people wanted to put their thoughts into words and share those thoughts with strangers?  Each of my bloggers has at least one or two (if not hundreds) of lightning strokes of genius as they share deeply personal thoughts and parts of their recent days or years long ago and mold them carefully into phrases that reflect the humanity of man and in some cases true poetry.  They share their lunches, decorating efforts, cleaning processes, broken marriages, conversations with crazy folks and their unique as well as common thoughts.  While held up to the light individually, they may not have much substance, but when woven into the light of years of blogging they are the stitches of a tapestry of a unique and complicated human life.  They are the snare of the jazz piece.  They are the rare spice in the soup of mankind.  They are the laugh of that old joke told in an unusual light. 

If we had met at a wine or ice cream bar our outspoken ideas may have halted the minute we found our differences.  But with blogging we slowly learn that we are all so VERY much alike in spite of our politics, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, and taste in cooking.  My bloggers are patient with me.  They chuckle at my desire to really get their opinion on my photographs...a free lesson from the audience...and they sigh at my own efforts to try to write prose or poetry, but do not discourage me.  They cannot believe that I value honesty (with a spoonful of sugar) above all else.

That is the key.  NEVER discourage someone from trying to express their opinion but be willing to also express an opinion gently in a different light.  This world is changing at impossible speeds these days and we barely have time to sift the false from the true.  One thing I think I have learned is that truth is rarely exciting or shiny like a diamond (or winks at you).  Truth is gray and solid like a bridge to the future,  Truth always is in the distant light, and if we disagree, it is because we have not changed our rose colored glasses, quite yet.