Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Creep 'em Out!

Well, I did not lose electricity and am feeling very happy about that.  At least one large tree down in the front yard out by the drive way.  Waiting for sunrise to see the yard, although there will continue to be rain throughout the day.  Sandy is still leaving a trail of life-threatening devastation to the north of me with broken levees flooding entire towns, terrible fires reducing dozens of homes to ash and 3 foot snow blizzards to the west and north.  May we all hope those continuing their watch and wait are safe and may we send some relief to those who are now devastated.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Watching and Waiting

Sitting here in the early morning dark listening to the rain and wind gusts outside move ominously around my house.  It is very different from other storms in that I am hearing the rain pelt BOTH the front and the back side of the house at times.  I am guessing that everything outside is as drenched as a soaked sponge.  No large gusts and no downed trees but the ground is becoming less able to hold roots of those heavy giants.  The worst of this storm will hit us tonight when it is dark again.  Tonight will be the long dark ride of dread with predicted 70 MPH winds along with the hours and hours of rain.  We will sleep in the basement as we usually do because of fear of several large trees falling on our heads!

I am waiting for daylight to see what the water levels at the dock are. 

Yesterday I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Not sure how that helps, but it does!  Hoping my kids and their kids are safe throughout the next 24 hours.  Keeping up as best I can with friends on FB as they work their way through this storm.  Trying to plan for two days of food without electricity.  It is getting colder and we have stocked firewood, but it is on the front porch and may be wet and we may have to move to the garage to dry before we can warm ourselves by its fuel.

As this storm has evolved and I watch the news it appears we are going to be just south of the eye and going to get the worst of the winds which are on the Southwest side of the storm.  

Waiting impatiently for daylight.....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Pasta

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is just off shore from the north part of the state of Florida.  We are getting scary reports about how this will be a 'perfect' storm when it meets up with a strong cold front bearing down from the Northwest even though it has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

We have spent the day moving patio furniture, getting the boat off the lift and on a trailer, and checking what errands we may have to run tomorrow to prepare for any loss of electricity for an extensive time.  We have filled the kiddie pool with water, frozen plastic jugs of water, checked our flashlights, finished all laundry, moved canoes and the kayak to shelter and started to eat lots of food from the fridge.

Hubby also made the first harvest of his oyster mushrooms which he "planted" or whatever it is you do with mushrooms last spring behind the tool shed.  They are sprouting...like... mushrooms.

I checked out the fridge and felt we needed to use up as much cheese as we could in the event we lose electricity next week.  Hubby went to the store for some half and half while I shredded some sharp Provolone, some Fontina and broke up the little bit of some left over blue cheese.  I melted butter along with all the cheese (nice and rich) and when hubby came back I added about two cups of the half and half that he bought..cream would have made thicker sauce, but I do draw the line somewhere.  Then I added salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Once the cheese was melted I discovered that we had a small package of turkey bacon and a leftover package of frozen peas.  I microwaved the bacon and added it along with the frozen peas into the sauce along with the first harvest of the oyster mushrooms which I had cleaned and sliced.


I also had a small bottle of white truffle oil which I drizzled over the top...just to make sure there was enough fat in this meal.

I cooked linguine al dente.  Then poured on the sauce and hubby "roughly" chopped fresh basil as a garnish.  Way too much fat in this soup, but with a hurricane on its way in a few days, I felt justified.   This made up recipe may now become known as hurricane pasta at our house in the future.

If you do not hear from me in a week or more...it must mean there is no electricty here due to the storm.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


It is such a gamble when you agree to meet-up with a blogger that you have never met but have followed for several years.  You may know more about them then you do some members of your family.  They know where you stand on politics, religion, and life, because they have followed you for several years as well. You both know where you can agree to disagree and where you can be so totally in agreement that you can laugh out loud.  I guess the only time it would be of concern is if one of you was not very honest on your blog and portrayed yourself as something other than what you are.  (Then to add to the mix, you bravely bring you husband along who has no idea who you communicate with on blogger or even why you do it.  Throw in that fish out of water and who knows where the day will end.)

It seems, to me at least, to be the anomaly of blogging.  People are so straightforward and honest when writing to 'virtual' strangers and more reticent when talking with real live folks each day.  Perhaps it is because we have to live or work with those 'live' folks and cannot dare to trample on feelings or embarrass them.  If it goes awry with a Blogger, we just stop visiting and push the delete key on our blog roll.

I am sure that professional writers who blog have a much different take on these meet-ups because they ARE the writer.

The greatest tension of the day was that we drove up in the new car, the car without a dent, scratch or smudge.  We were going to park near my daughter's house and metro in, but since the cost would be almost the same, we parked downtown.  We found a place to park in the Bowels of Hell.  Behind Union Station and several levels below ground and below the Kaiser health building and the Securities and Exchange Commission is a public parking area, one where you do not have to pay by the month or give up one of your limbs.  It is an enterprise run by a company that parks people every which way and leaves only room to pass by inches in the entry and exit.  $15 for the whole day, which in any city is a steal!  BUT the place is crammed and you have to loan your keys to young men who speak little English and they park your car for you in spaces in underground garages where you never should park a car! It is not without exaggeration that hubby turned over his keys with much trepidation, thinking our little Camry was on her way to a chop shop and never to be seen again.

As luck would have it I suggested that we meet at a restaurant that unknown to me had closed a year ago and I left my cell phone in the car in the Bowels of Hell.  What an auspicious (always wanted to write that word) beginning.

In spite of errors we successfully met up with Mage of Postcards and her husband yesterday for lunch.  She is an aficionado (always wanted to find a reason to write that word as well) of architecture.  So we met up at the beautiful building of Union Station in Washington, DC which is a little more than an hour's drive from my home.   I recognized them holding hands as they walked through the archway toward us.  They were on their last day of a 10-day trip, and I swear, even though confined to a scooter most of the time, Mage hit EVERY SINGLE place of significance in the city.  And she is not the type who 'scoots' through an art museum, for instance.  She reads up before she gets there and then reads all the information while she is there.  She explained why the netting was stretched above our heads in the Union Station lobby.  It seems that debris may still be falling from the earthquake a few months ago.  Then before lunch ended her husband took my point and shoot camera and showed me a feature that I probably read about years ago and yet never used!  Mage (or as I later learned to call her Maggie) has a newer model of my same camera.  I now have even less excuse for blurred photos.

All four of us are talkers which meant there was little in the way of silence during the entire lunch.  We laughed and hugged and people watched and took photos.  An outside observer would think we were long lost relatives who had found each other after decades.  While many bloggers have meetings of each other lots of time, this was only my second meet-up of a Blogger, but I am most satisfied that it turned out much as I optimistically expected and I hope the same for them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chinese Apples and Wine

The world is a better place due to wineries and I am looking forward to the day when they are available on all country trips...well, at least that is my opinion. We stopped at this winery in the photo above in the apple country in Pennsylvania last week. It has only been in existence for about five years.  Yes, my European and South American readers can turn up their noses at this. We are babies in this industry, at least on the east coast, and  I admit, most of the wines reflect that in lack of sophistication.

This winery is called the Hauser Estate Winery and the building itself is brand new. I was told by the visitors center staff in the town when asking for directions to the winery to look for a lovely building on a hill. Well, one person's "lovely building" is another person's new and somewhat boring rock structure.  They do have the catbird's seat on the hill, though.

This view is across an agricultural area known primarily for its apple orchards.  One can purchase a glass of wine and sit out on a very large patio and drink in the scenery along with the fermented grape juice.  They even have shawls and wraps near the door to borrow on cold days.  On our day there was no need for anything but a light sweater.

But this post is more about the conversation that I had with the woman who poured our (my) wine.  (They have apple cider for those who want a less strong drink.)  She is the (one of the?) granddaughter(s) of the man who created Musselmans apple products in America, most famously you may know the applesauce.  Her mother and two aunts have built this winery as their new enterprise and 80% of the grapes they grow are used in their wine.  The daughter went on to say that they were moving into the wine industry because it now was cheaper to import apples from China to make applesauce then to grow them in our own country.  It now is cheaper to import apples from China to make applesauce in this country then to grow the fruit in our own country!  We no longer manufacture most things in this country...we don't even grow fruit economically it seems even with the rising costs of fossil fuels!  What would Johnny Appleseed say?  Or, perhaps, he viewed this on a much smaller more personal scale when he took his trek.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Rolling Stone

 Dear Diary,

We are putting miles on the new car.  Hubby was beside himself with planning for a road trip.  We seem to be moving into this relationship where he is the little kid with all the fun ideas and I am the old mom trying to keep things normal.  It actually has some balance to it, because I am a bit of a stick in the mud.  God forbid I should die tomorrow with my sticks still in the mud, which is hubby's greatest fear!

We took a tour of the new Gettysburg Battlefield and Museum and other stuff in the Pennsylvania area and then did a traditional old folks leaf peeper drive down the West Virginia and Virginia skyline.  Hubby did the driving and I did the photography...no surprise.

He was just beside himself with all the buttons and adjustments on the car.  Every five minutes he was checking how much gas we were saving, how he was charging the battery going down hill, how the cruise control worked, and resetting the trip odometer.  Conversation from his side consisted of, "We are currently getting 66 MPG!"  "I have a range of 400 miles left."  "Look how this engine takes these hills!"  "Isn't this a smooth drive?"  Yes, this is "my" car.

I, on the other hand, fiddled with the radio controls listening to satellite channels of public radio, CNN, smooth jazz, traffic and weather, and the SPA channel.  That last one is the one to listen to while driving past the golden, red, orange, peach and lime yellow trees in the mountains.  It is very Zen although hubby said it was putting him to sleep.  I did get a chance to use the seat warmer one morning which I must say was worth every penny.  Weather was cooperative for the most part and we needed neither heat nor air conditioning as we drove along.  We did open the fancy moon roof for a short time, but the wind going over head is a little noisy...maybe if we were younger with better hearing?

The car is now covered in dusty streaks, the floormats have leaves, and we feel we have broken her in.  We did stop at Harper's Ferry yesterday hoping to walk around, but could not find parking.  Actually, that is not true.  There were two parking spaces left below the train station, but both were over small puddles and hubby refused to bring wet shoes into the car when we would have to get back in!  So we drove on!  (Yes we could have parked down the road and taken the shuttle...!)

Now I am back going through hundreds of emails and deleting every single political request for support.  I am so done with this election!  I now must go through the 300 photos I took and delete most of those.  I hear you sighing with relief on that one.

Meeting up with a blogger next week, although we have not set an exact time or place.  Meeting up with grandkids to check out the Halloween fun on the 31st.  Finishing up on a volunteer gardening committee until next spring.  Time to put up my feet and let you know how I feel about the J.K. Rowling novel next.  Eventually I will get back to reading all your blogs.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seven Sunday Recalls Because It is All I Have

1.  Hubby and I were watching the "Barefoot Contessa" which is a cooking show in the United States.  I have not decided that I watch her because of her good and delicious recipes  or because the intermission is shots of her lovely Connecticut gardens accompanied by some nice jazz.  Anyway this week it was boned leg of lamb.  She lifts out the largest cut of meat I have ever seen and I just had to comment, "That is not a leg of lamb...that is a leg of sheep!" 

2.  During a grocery shopping trip we noticed a grenade decal on the back window of an automobile.  Hubby commented on it.  I explained that it was probably seen by some folks as a tool just as we would look at a decal of a garden spade.  We do live in a military area and that driver may have just returned from Afghanistan where weapons are common and a daily part of life.

3,  I have owned my new car about 5 days and driven only once more since getting it home.  I really like it, but I am not in love with new cars and do not create errands to run just to get it out of the garage.

4,  I learned that  new cars have thick sun visors.  My garage door opener and deer gate opener do not clip over the visor very well. As a matter of fact, my garage door opener fell in my lap while making a turn the other day which was an unexpected startle.  I have to find an auto store to buy a new visor container.

5.  I hate more when I lose a thought than when I lose money!  Losing less money and more thoughts these days.

6.  I invited two Mormon Bishops for an oyster lunch this past week.  One is a very good and old friend, a former Green Beret and parachute jumper now in his early 70's and the kindest most gentle old soul.  No, we did not talk politics or religion.  It never ceases to catch me up short to find the bravest and most dangerous men are very pure old souls deep inside.

7,  I see Halloween and Christmas decorations in the stores everywhere.  Both have become such terribly commercial holidays.  While I am having fun creating photographic Halloween cards, my favorite holiday is still Thanksgiving which is so often overlooked, but has a message that resonates with me.

(The photo has nothing to do with this post.  Just wanted to show how rich people can grandfather in stuff and then totally rebuild it.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My First Time

Do you remember one of your first times?  Probably only the very first?  You look a little confused by that statement.  Let me explain.

Yesterday I drove my brand new car home for the first time.  I purchased a Toyota Camry hybrid XLE.  It has 90% of the bells and whistles but none of the post production add-ons.  I paid about $1,000 more than the lowest target price recommended on the various web sites I visited and close to other prices given on other sites.  I might have gotten the seller down another $400/$600, but I admit I just wanted to get out of there.  I did discover after I got home that I also got the floor mats which I had not asked for, so I am happy.

Earlier in the week I could not get the seller to provide me with some negotiating enthusiasm until I started searching on-line and his dealership got my name and information via the Internet and emailed me.  He suddenly wanted my business once again. He asked if I was shopping around and I said, of course!

Well, we went to the dealer after working on the museum grounds today and the deal ended up taking half as long as I thought.  Learning how the navigation system, radio, heated seats, gas saving systems, etc. worked took much longer.  The dealer linked up hubby's phone via Bluetooth to the car and now I have dozens of stupid names to sort through in making a call.  Hubby adds EVERYONE to his phone.  (During this week I am going to learn how to delete contacts from the car's database!)   I was encouraged by the salesman to get my own "Smart" phone.  I am not sure why I want a phone smarter than me...it hasn't helped hubby much that I have noticed.

Anyway, after much training I was finally able to kick both of them out of the car so that I could drive this little beauty home.  I get 60 (90?) days of free Satellite XM radio so I selected a nice jazz station and put the car in drive and enjoyed the ride back to my house.

By the time hubby brought home the "old' car that had been a love only 15 years ago, I had decided we needed to celebrate by eating out.  We headed to my favorite Italian restaurant with him driving so that I could have fun with all the buttons and displays as we headed there.  We had a delicious Italian seafood dinner with several glasses of wine -- me only as hubby does not drink. and is therefore, always the designated driver.

We got into the car and both noticed weather had turned colder.  I turned on the heated seats with such decadent pleasure.  I no longer had to wait until my butt warmed where I sat!  On the way home it started to drizzle and in the dark there was some quick discussion on how to turn on the wipers.  Hubby fiddled without success and I directed without solace.  Finally we admitted it was too hard to read buttons on the lever and other symbols in the dark and I looked for the cabin light.  There were a lot of buttons to select overhead.  I pushed a few randomly waiting for light.  Soon I realized as my face was becoming damp that I had pushed open the moon roof in the rain!  I had had enough wine that I got the giggles and it took me some time to find the button to close the roof of the car once again.  We finally got the wipers going and the right station on the radio and began to enjoy our ride home once again.

Now for the part of the story that brought us back to earth.  We approached the bridge over the river and noticed traffic was very slow up ahead.  Once we got to the other side of the bridge we saw lots flashing lights and a detour sign.  As we left the bridge to detour from the main highway we were able to see across the median a good sized truck in the ditch sitting cross ways and just a few feet away was a sedan with a crushed roof and covered with white fabric to prevent those of us driving by from seeing the scene beneath the crushed roof as our headlights made the turn.  We slowly passed as two ambulances arrived and the rain started in earnest.

We came back to earth with a jolt and hoped those involved would be safe as we were reminded the real reason for automobiles, getting easily but safely from one point to another.

Saturday, October 06, 2012


I am in the process of buying a car and want to warn others who might be entering this dark period in your life.  Make sure your health is at its peak.  Make sure your finances have no surprises.  Make sure your marriage is rock solid.  (When we went looking for a 2012 model at a Ford dealership last week, hubby took the side of the salesmen encouraging me to look at the 2013's and compare because they didn't have any 2012's of the model currently on the lot!  It is not polite to argue in front of the salesman and gives him an advantage.  Fortunately this salesmen was about 18 and didn't know quite how to handle a domestic dispute.)

I remember when I went out to purchase my very first car after landing my first real job. I was on cloud 29.  My Dad went with me and I had total faith in his ability to cover my back.  I knew absolutely nothing about buying a car, and perhaps, my father did not know much more.  I had the down payment and took over the monthly costs with no help from my parents.  But I got this beauty and loved it totally, even though it proved not to be the guy-magnate that I thought it might be.  Hard to believe that is not a toy car, isn't it?  (What might be harder for you to believe is I still wear the same style, not the same actual clothes, as in this photo!  And I only weigh about 40 pounds more.)

Car purchasing is such an agonizing experience for most people because the industry hires people to sell you a product based on their commission and not a fair salary.  The price on the car is a huge secret fudge figure.  They give salespeople a bag of tricks and then they begin to wear you down to a nub by stalling on everything from whether they really have the model they told you they had to adding tons of stuff to the total cost.  Can someone explain to me why floor mats cost as much as carpeting for a house?

I know that the first rule is to NEVER fall in love with anything you test drive.  Be able to walk away.  That is not a problem with me.  I have no ego tied to any vehicle I purchase these days.  It is about comfort, convenience, safety and cost.  I test drove a "luxury" Toyota Avalon and in all honesty did not feel much different (except for space) when compared to the Camry that I drove immediately after.  It has been 15 years since I purchased a car, and as a result, the bells and whistles that impress me are standard features on cars these days.

I have been saving money for several years to be able to pay cash because I cannot make much by investing the money and then applying it to car payments and paying the increased cost that is worked into that deal.  Others tell me that is not true, but I do not see it on my statements and numbers.  I also have a serious psychological aversion to paying for anything on time, so that is pre-paid therapy in my mind.  I will put as much of this purchase as I can on a credit card to get the points.

I am hoping by next week to have this whole thing finished.  I emailed the Toyota salesman yesterday, but he is taking his time to respond.  Hubby wants me to push it, but I kindly explained that there is more than one 2012 Camry in this state that has one of the 4 colors I like and all the features.  I do not want the salesmen to think I am in any hurry...and in reality, I am not.  My old car got an oil change this week, a $37 fix on the AC and the mechanic told me it is fine and should run for quite a while longer.  (It is going to my son who spent more than the cost of this model on a ring, if you will remember.)

If you are interested I will keep you posted.  If you have advice, I'll certainly listen.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Discussion for the Masses

I am sitting here in my bed with laptop at hand.  Hubby is waiting for the United States Presidential debates to start in just minutes.  I cannot watch them in real time before I go to bed.  It will start my mind like a squirrel in a cage or a hamster on a wheel and I will be up all night!  Thus I am recording the debate and will watch it tomorrow with breakfast.  I will play the DVD quickly to make sure the talking heads on the news shows do not skew what I am seeing before I see it.

The moderator, Jim Leher, is a great old man who has provided many, many years of great news for me.  He gets criticized because he is not aggressive enough.  It appears that many people do not know what the role of a moderator is.  I also think that attitude means too many people think politics is about fighting and the presidential debate is about war.   They just don't get that it is about enlightenment and elaboration, as much as is possible in this powerful environment.

Everything is so fine tuned, as I think they had to agree to 25 items regarding the debate.  I doubt it will reveal much that I don't know about either candidate, but maybe they will surprise me.  I also doubt that it will change anyone's mind except for the rare independents who are still undecided.  Got an email from the President stating that he was getting ready for tonight's debate but he would still like me to kick in a couple of hundred dollars to help him win.  That sure warmed the cockles of my heart. 

How many millions of dollars of negative ads do they think citizens can watch before they totally tune out everything?  It is wasted money.

Anyway, below this graph from an artist on that famous Mad Magazine is being passed around on Facebook and I thought it was humorous enough to post regarding the debates.

For those who are not U.S. citizens, please forgive us.