Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rainy Mondays or Tuesdays or Whatever

During rainy days, instead of sitting back and reading or watching TV, I let that Puritan work ethic define most of the hours as I discover lots of little chores to complete indoors.  These are chores that I put off because they usually offer little reward when they are finished and many of them are tasks that I will have to re-do again and again in the months ahead.  It seems that I have this impracticable goal of getting everything tidy and pristine permanently.  All I need to do is just try hard enough.  I naively think that once things are straightened I just have to use some self-discipline and they will stay straightened indefinitely.  After all, there are no more children or pets to rearrange my life.

But there IS still me, myself and I!   All three of us are like dervishes with a consumer fetish.  I have an endless dyslexic reading habit, leaving small piles of magazines, bits of mail, brochures and maps, to-do lists and various books (even with the Kindle) upon coffee and bedside tables and counters.  The piles grow in height until they start to lean, then slide and then in gay abandon tumble to the floor in a loose fan of spontaneity.  You are about to enter the dark world of Tabor, which guests never see!

I have an endless photography habit and leave my cameras, lenses, filters, binoculars, batteries, chargers and manuals in little corners and on shelves, where I place them out of the way but not out of sight, until the photography bug bites me again with a special angle of the sun or sunset or tweak of bird.  The tripod must not be closed into compaction and stands with legs askew to trip unwary visitors (or burglars) at the front door, because who knows when I might need it?  (That elephant artwork was done by my oldest grandson and will hang in that space until I die.)

My camouflage jacket will hang carelessly over the bannister until warm weather prevents me from using it at all.

My huge, it IS huge, walk-in closet becomes a repository for a small pile of garden garb worn just that morning that is not dirty enough to put into the laundry but it is still too dirty to put away.  (This habit is a hangover from living on a farm where one saved work clothes for just a while longer.)  My closet also has the overnight bag, from a recent visit to my daughter's, that I have not yet unpacked, sitting in the middle of the floor.  Then there is the exercise apparel draped over a chair that sometime in this century I will wear once again for a brief session in the basement in my attempt to remain forever young.

My box of purses sits on the floor under other containers just to the side since the transition to spring causes me to go through a series of selections of ugly bags before I finally settle on something to get me through the summer.  None of these are designer items, and therefore, they are really ugly.  (Not to say that designer bags are always lovely, and not to say that with courage I could throw half of these purses away and never miss them.)

The kitchen always needs tidying up, but we actually eat at home, so that is and always will be a normal endless task.

The garage has a fertility corner where pots reproduce like rabbits and garden tools form a tangled clutter like wall flowers at a Sadie Hawkins dance.  I restack them once again.  For some reason, long after fall has retreated, dried leaves tuck themselves everywhere and must be swept out monthly.  Various plant stakes and wire supports tend to lean away from the wall where they have been carefully hung to grab me with devilish glee as I unload groceries, so on a monthly basis I tuck them flat again and again.

And, one of these days, I will remember to get at all those cobwebs that weave and wave on all the hanging light fixtures hanging nine feet above my head and which I only notice five minutes before company arrives.

Bring on the rain.  Rainy days never ever get me down.  I am too wicked, and anyway, there is no rest for people like me.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Buying Love

Have you ever paid for love?  I think that is what I was doing last night but not consciously.  Really.  I invited my daughter out with her husband for dinner in honor of her 39th birthday.  There is no way I am celebrating her 40th!  I said I would pay for the babysitter and dinner.  (Did you know babysitters get $17.00 an hour where she lives?)  I told her to pick the restaurant (the more expensive was already booked, thank goodness) and she wanted very much to try some new one that had just opened in March on the Harbor in Georgetown in Washington, D.C.  We invited my son and his wife to join us in this birthday celebration of their sister/sister-in-law.

The pre-dinner special cocktails were grand - mine was Stella Credente (rum and lime juice).  The appetizers were marvelous and exotic - mine was blue runner jack sashimi with fried sea beans. The salads we did not try to save room for entrees.  The entrees were small and sophisticated - mine was a half order of smoked potato gnocchi followed by olive poached halibut.  All were delicious and different.  The desserts were good and even some were great.

This restaurant sits on Washington Harbor and as a good omen, the heavy rain stopped and the sun broke out just as we got there!  We stayed for about an hour and a half and did not leave until dark.  We laughed, told jokes on each other, shared memories of recent trips, bragged and complained about the grandchildren, and in general, had a MAHVELOUS evening.

Kennedy Center in the background.

I could look around the spacious dining room and the main crowd did not even start showing up until 8:00 P.M.  The customers were so high-end that even hubby, who has not a clue about fashion, mentioned to son-in-law, "Did you see those guys in the power suits at that long table?"  (My daughter wore dress jeans, so you realize nothing is formal anymore.)

The Chef's wife who is the "Director of Customer Relations," stopped by to see if we enjoyed our meal, which we most certainly did, and joked with us and talked about her Italian husband.  They also own another high end restaurant in the city.

I sprung for the 6 dinners, drinks and asked S.I.L and son to pick up the tip. Perhaps, most of you would find the amount of the bill a jaw-dropping shocking amount, as did I,  and a few others of you would be pretty passive about such figures if you are in a higher income bracket, but I really wanted to treat them all and I cannot take money with me into the next life.  I do not think I have ever spent this much money for a night out!  And the wine was not $100 a bottle! Young folks as my daughter who take clients to dinner, do not think twice about spending money like this on a dinner, but we are on a fixed income and not that cavalier on a monthly basis.

Maybe I was buying love, but I felt I was throwing a party!  You can't take it with you and there is always the chance that someone will take it away from us in future years the way this world is going.  Anyway, if you are ever in town, get someone to take you there and pick up the tab!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bragging Rights II

While I pay people to work in my yard I also spend time doing hard labor in others' yards.  Last week work was done on the Children's Garden.  Below you can see four raised beds for the vegetables that will get grown this summer and taken to the food pantry.  Hubby in his eagerness overplanted so...

We requested space to expand, double the space, to another four raised beds.

That area above that is mud and packed clay is just waiting for us to add the wood frames, the landscape cloth, the gravel and then fill the beds with soil.

This, of course, took more than one morning to accomplish.  Hubby had to dig drainage ditches below the beds and lay that black pipe in the background once the cloth was tacked down.

Meanwhile I and another much stronger dude shoveled gravel for the paths.

Then the other two worked this gravel over the drain pipes.

I was so exhausted at completion that I failed to get the photos of the final garden...but maybe in the coming weeks once the lettuce and peas are growing, I will share.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Not Really Alone

I wrote that I was alone on Easter, but that was not exactly true.  I had a yardman and his younger brother working on our vast front and back yard.  Here in the photos below, they were moving some very heavy logs.  This man, whom I will call Oscar, has two daughters that are teenagers. They live in Mexico along with the rest of his family and from March until the end of November he lives in our country and works as a supervisor for a landscape company and also brings along a few of his many brothers back with him on work permits.  He and my husband have become friends and so many Sundays he comes and helps us.  Think about living away from those you love for nine months each year so that they can have money to go to college and eat and maintain a nice home!

Below is his youngest brother...sweet and so totally bored with all through his life's view.  He see's this world through those young and complaisant eyes and his life may be somewhat different in this river of the ever-changing.

Oscar is a little stocky in the photo above but by the end of summer he will be lean and mean once again.  He reminds me a little of my dad who was often outside in dusty jeans.

Oscar is a multi-talented person.  He can do construction, is a skilled mason, and can fix almost any small and large engine.  He is honest and pleasant, and yes, we love him.  Totally he could be our son!  We pay him well, I feed him lunch and I tell him when I will be gone on the weekends if I need him, because I have no fear that he or his brothers would ever do anything nefarious to our house.

Only a few people can carry the title "salt of the earth."  It is a most prestigious title in my life book and Oscar definitely wins that award.  I feel lucky to know him.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

This Sunday

Home alone on this Easter morning while hubby is on travel for the week.  Daughter and family are celebrating in Florida and son and DIL perhaps in PA.?  Still I am wishing those of you who are rejoicing the resurrection a good and song filled holiday.

Wishing those of you looking for brightly colored orbs and chasing the Easter Bunny, a laugh filled morning and a chance for a nap when the little ones come down from the sugar high.

And for me I will wait for warming in the afternoon and do some more planting in my yard.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Silhouettes

When you move into a new house you find your budget is pretty much depleted.  So, sometimes you put off getting things like drapes or window coverings until you have the money.  My husband has been adamant about not having window coverings in our bedroom.  I have been pushing for them, as I like the coziness of closing off the night, the lack of my neighbors garage light shining in my face, the fact that I can dress and undress in the bedroom, and the way they can reduce heat/cold exchange.

We have lived in this house for six years now. (Oh my.)  AND I finally got my bedroom window coverings last week.  I am not a drape person and so I went with the clean lines of Roman shades. Below you can see why hubby hates to cut off the view of the river.

But there was an interesting aspect of these drapes I had not expected.  They even play nicely against the sunset.  On the window ledge are silhouettes of bottles that I collected off of a reef while living in the South Pacific decades ago.  They are probably hospital medicine bottles with one ink bottle (the largest) from a Japanese hospital that was there in the 1900s.

I am now a happy camper.

Monday, April 14, 2014


I went out today with a group of volunteer ladies that work regularly on the nearby museum grounds.  I had become in involved in this volunteer effort full force last year taking leadership responsibility for the bureaucratic problems in trying to buy plants, getting the mulch scheduled, sending out updates via email, maintaining email lists, coordinating suggestions and editing plant lists and keeping it all on an environmental track.  I discovered that it was a bit like herding cats.  Some of the women were at the museum several days weekly and took it upon themselves to make plant removal decisions or schedule other decisions without letting everyone know.  Their husbands volunteered in other departments at the museum and they were there more often than I.

The hired maintenance staff (two men) while praising us when they saw us, clearly saw their job as sitting on a mower once a week and maintaining stuff indoors.  When they wear white shirts to work, you know they do not see themselves as landscape staff!  They actually seemed to think that 60-year-old and older women could maintain the rather large grounds of the museum on our own.  They made little effort to assist with hose repairs, getting the water unlocked, and keeping wheelbarrows easily available from the storage shed although I must admit they are very, very polite.  Today we actually had to lift the wheelbarrows out and over some new-fangled BBQ machinery that had been slid in right at the door for pulling out.  I also had to help these gals lift 40 pound bags of soil this morning as I was afraid someone was going to injure their back.  I am thankful that I can still do stuff like that at my age, but I also am very careful each time I do lifting anyway. Keeping moving...keeping moving.

As you may remember, at the end of the last season I let the dear ladies know I was resigning as leader and would volunteer as I could, but my relationship to the museum was not as regular as theirs.  (There were also other politics going on that I was not sure of..."he said we should do it this way and she said to do it that way"... and that made me more than irritated some days.)

Well, now I show up when I can squeeze in a morning.  Nothing, of course, has changed.  No one seems to know what is going on.  We had to redo two beds by the front gate and the water had not been turned on, so the plants were transplanted in the hot afternoon waiting for tonight's' rain.  I had been willing to haul plastic buckets of water to the gate...but since no one could find the water key, even that effort was not useful!  One dear lab technician went to his tool kit behind one of the labs and tried a small wrench, but to no avail.  A huge aster that was supposed to be divided and replanted in the fall never got scheduled and so I was told to shovel and pull and dig and tear at this monster with its new spring growth already 4 inches high.

The museum director is a good guy, but he is in the middle of a huge remodel and a grand re-opening in just a few weeks, so I could not even begin to approach him on the issue and his assistant is gone somewhere---wise woman.  They will just have to throw money at brightly colored annual plants the week before and plant then everywhere that is needed.

This is a textbook case in how to NOT treat volunteers that save you thousands of dollars in your budget. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bragging Rights

There is something in my family's genes about getting old that makes us determined to proved we are not.  I remember well the time my 80-something father was up on the roof helping my brother put down shingles on his newly built house.  This was made even more of a concern to us when we drove up and found brother had to run and get nails and dad remained up there waiting!

Well I got a little of that gene. Yesterday we helped son level his lawn to his newly purchased home.  The side lawn was full of dog holes and tree root veins that had collapsed.  It was a great place for spraining an ankle or twisting a back in a fall.  We had agreed to help him with this (which I failed to mention in the prior post) and thus stuck by our word.  We had just not been good about getting a time solidified and that was why it was a bit of a surprise.

In the photo below are 12 bags of top soil and compost...each weighing a ton.  He had to have them delivered this way because he does not have a driveway or garage and companies would only deliver like this.  The four of us moved all 12 tons, spread it on the lawn in two layers, pulled a 250 pound roller after each layer, then seeded with lawn seed, and raked it in.  Today, if son makes it out of bed, he is going to cover the area with peat moss (could not get straw/hay bales) and then spend the next two weeks watering it carefully twice a day.  My bragging rights are that I can now say I helped move 12 tons of soil in one day.

I do know about lawns, and reminded him that the real fun starts when the grass begins growing like weeds and involves LOTS of mowing! 

My joints ache just a little today, so I guess my body is admitting defeat in fighting me on this journey.  Today I work on my herb garden and planting those annuals that I have been trying to get into seedling pots.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


This time in the early spring morning the world is in a waking dream.  The birds sing gently.  The surface of the river is like a clear, perfect mirror.  In the tranquil air, the few dead leaves remaining on the trees hang placid as if forgetting they are hanging by a thread.  Everything lies still waiting for the surprising warmth that is sure to come.  But right now the temperature is perfect.  It is light sweater weather.  It is morning coffee weather.  I check the porch of the big bird house to see if the meal worms I left yesterday are still scattered there.  Blue birds have come and taken them all when I was busy cleaning house. I had company last night and all the dishes were washed in the dishwasher.  This should be my reward time.  A day to plant some annual seeds such as zinnias and sunflowers.  A day to watch birds build nests and dance with their mates.

But I have other obligations yet and again!  My son called last night to tell us he has ordered a truckload of soil and if we could bring up our shovels and the wheelbarrow he plans to level and reseed his back yard on this find Saturday spring day!

Somewhere in Isaiah is written "There is no rest for the wicked," although the word rest is replaced with peace.  My Lord I have plenty of peace in my heart...but I must be very very wicked, because I am still waiting for some rest.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Speaking of Joints

While pot smoking is being legalized, and where not legal, legal consequences are being reduced across the United States, I went to a pot party this afternoon.  Okay...I will wait for you to close you mouths.

The party was being held at the extension office and in attendance were master gardeners and it was called a pot party.  We potted about 700 plants for our plant sale.  None of the plants were cannabis.  I am guessing that is one of the few Latin plant names that most people recognize

I am still running in circles with yard work, spring cleaning and volunteer gardening and hope to get back to real blogging someday soon.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Where is Tabor?

Lots of them all over the place.
Some are even new to me.

They do not move.  They ache.
Yes, THOSE joints.  I have washed dock benches, washed patio chairs, washed all the bird poop from the deck railings, moved all (well, 90%) of the leaves hiding in the corners of the patio and under the stairs and around the container pots and behind the air conditioner back into the woods. 

I have pruned the pomegranate tree.  One sucker was 6 feet high!

I have weeded two flower beds and pruned back shrubs and roses in those beds.  Now I wait to see what survived this difficult winter.  I lost my large rosemary plant and perhaps the four new shrubs I planted this fall on the retaining wall and certainly a rose or two.

I have taken away the firewood rack and replaced it with the metal bench for the front porch.

Hubby and I took down two bird houses that had rotted and put up three new ones.

I have bleached the bird bath and removed the covers on the outside tables.  I put up all the hoses and found those hiding hose nozzles.

My indoor plants (some) are now outside and I cleaned out the plant corner in the kitchen that was covered in millions of white petals from the citrus trees.

I ache.   I can barely move.  Just turning my head is an effort.  My hands are dried prunes even though I wore gloves.  I am lying like a melted gumby on the couch as I write this.  (I still have lots of stuff to do in the coming days...if I am still here.)

Oh...and there were two birthday parties and a concert by Keb Mo that were squeezed in last week!    Ehhhh!  That is where Tabor has been hiding.