Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Cute

Those who really know me know that this is too cutesy and little-old-lady for my in-your-face taste, but it will have to do as I have just gotten my computer back in time for the end of the year.  My more ZEN wishes for your best new year ahead can be found here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Raising Teenagers

Me: Anything you want to tell me? Talk about? Reveal about yourself so that I understand exactly what's going on in your mind at all times and so that we bond in a mother-son way, deeply, so that we have a continued good and healthy relationship so that when you eventually leave me to go out and have an life independent from me (despite all the dire warnings I give you beforehand) you'll call me on the phone every now and then and ask my advice on things and tell me how your day is going even when you are 20 and even though doing that is really uncool?

J: What?

Me: Never mind. Tristan how was your day?

(Something I sort of overheard recently.  Been there and done that.)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Brain Drains

I have been in computer hell for a few days.  It seems my download of Windows 10 to this old PC was NOT a good decision.  As a result they (Geek squad) took me back and not to the future by loading Windows 7.  I would like to upgrade to 8 where I was before the disaster, but have not found a way that does not cost money as I seem to have lost registration of discs or whatever.  Reloads of most other software, at least that which I use, was fairly normal.

ANYWAY...this is boring.  So lets talk about the weather.  Days and days of rain or gray sky and not a drop of sun.  Barely saw the rare full moon through foggy clouds on Christmas Eve. Took some night photos of Christmas lights. Well, this is also boring!

Oh, would you like me to list my New Year's resolutions?  ... I didn't think so.

It seems that working on my PC has left my brain empty of thoughts for, I will leave you with a few Christmas shots as we say goodbye to another Christmas Season.

 This lovely house in the grandchildren's neighborhood gets super decorated every year.

 The angel in the window is there every year.

Hubby and daughter checking out Santa and his reindeer on the house.

The three jewels in my family.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Taking a Pause

My last post before Christmas.  This year the  approach to the holidays was the easiest ever.  Daughter wants to do most of  the cooking, gift shopping was fairly easy followed  by two afternoons of wrapping, baked a few cookies, and today deciding on appetizers to make at daughter's house since I will be up there tomorrow.  Hubby and I put up a handful of decorations since we are the only ones to see them.  No  Christmas cards because  my computer was in the shop and I wanted to design the cards myself.  So, it  looks like I am sending out New Year's cards.  Maybe that will be a new tradition?

I spend my time today enjoying the musical links on my small  laptop as that keeps me in the real  spirit of Christmas which is  SUPPOSED to be about the birth of the Prince of Peace.  How easily we forget.  Two  people, a young carpenter and  a young woman, perhaps barely out of  her  teens, in the final stages of pregnancy, seeking shelter and being turned away several times.  This scene has  become common today.

I am truly so personally fortunate this time of year and this becomes more painfully clear
as three of my young friends are fighting serious illnesses and another young friend is struggling  with fertility.   It is normal for us elderly to fight our health battles as we have lived a long life and I can accept that, but it is not fair when it visits the young who should  be focusing on family and future.  So, they will be in my heart even more so this season.

May you find a way to  enjoy the true meaning of the season as the bright colors and laughter of the  season surround you, distract you.   OH, don't eat too much,  because you will have to face all  those horrifically annoying diet commercials in the New Year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Holiday Expectations

They no longer call
But if they did,
And asked how I was,
What would I say?
This morning I saw the pileated 
destroying that old tree.
This afternoon I heard a loon’s lonely call 
across the silver gray river.
Tonight I will spend an hour flipping through channels
Before I find something I watched before
And will watch again.
Tomorrow I have nothing on the list
Of things I used to do.
They never call
But if they did 
What would I say?

(Yes, this is a sad little poem, but it kept forming and reforming and so to get it out of my head I had to write it down.)

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Finally a day that is gray and cold and rainy.  I like this forced coziness.  Maybe a fire in the fireplace tonight?  I have been able to focus on brightly colored ribbon and paper as the soft drizzle wets the ashy tree trunks.  I have all my presents wrapped and waiting for the package delivery of one last minute purchase.  I am done early and telling myself NOT to think of one other item that someone might like or that I would like to give.  I am addicted to giving stuff  to people.  It does give me pleasure, but it sometimes is a burden to others, so am being fair this season.

(They still haven't repaired my PC but it looks like they have to wipe the hard drive and do a complete factory re-load.  They saved my data but it means I have to find/remember what software I had on that PC and try a reload from the manufacturers if I can find the Serial numbers!!  OR buy the software again.  An expensive holiday season.  I am not going to let this stress me, because that is bad for one's health.)

I asked hubby to take me out to an early dinner this evening and then offered we come back and watch a movie on Netflix and pretend it is a Friday date night.  Hopefully seeing something we had missed seeing over the years.  I need that!

I am heading up to the city on my birthday.  Hubby claims he has a Scout meeting with grandson up there and that is why we are going, but that seems strange to me, so I am  thinking they are trying to surprise me for my birthday.  I will act surprised.  It seems to be a Scouting week as we are attending the Eagle Scout ceremony of a friends son on this Saturday.

Tomorrow I have nothing scheduled to do, unless my PC is brought home and then that will be a headache filled day.  If not, my day is precious and free.

Tired of all this rambling and boring thoughtlessness.  I have a story from my trip to Florida and maybe I will write that soon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Cheer Up, It Is Sure to Get Worse

Yes, I admit that our politics has put me in a funk.  Then we have had the gun disasters that  moved me into more of a funk followed by the  ridiculous response of some of our Presidential candidates  to our country's violence and the big joke that many think  of the global climate change meeting, all of it  causing me to research looking for a corner of  the world in which to live where people are not so crazy.  (There are a few areas, but not as many as one would hope.)  

Anyway, my dental appointment as discussed in the prior post ended with a nice long chat and jokes with the technician who always remembers me and whom I like very much.  We both are interested in photography, which is nice.  And my dentist knows my name as I guess  there is  still  hope.

This did not uplift my mood enough to start hauling the  heavy boxes of Christmas decorations nor the heavy tree upstairs after I got back home. Perhaps it is because yesterdays temps reached 70F that I decided I am just not going to do that this year.  I am going to take a break from it all.  Hubby has not asked about decorating nor seems to notice we are not doing  it.  I did purchase a wreath from my granddaughter's Girl Scout troop and that is not even hung because I cannot find the stupid wreath hanger.  I have TWO!  The evergreen circle, which seems to be shedding worse than any house cat, sits in its lovely glory on the top of the wood stack on the porch waiting for me to do something.

Oh, I haven't written about the best news this month that means my funk is more than valid.  My PC crashed two days ago.  Totally started eating its own files.  I had booted it up and while waiting for my photography software to load I click on the trash icon to empty and it started deleting files like crazy.  I saw that it said it was deleting 39,000 files and immediately interrupted that process, but not in time to avoid disaster.

I took it to the Geek squad as we have paid for annual technical support and they studied it for 24 hours and then called to tell me that it was the Windows OS that had crashed.  They said it rarely happens to Windows 10 but it means a back-up of the personal files they can get at their end and reinstall of Windows 10.  No wonder the W10 upgrade was free.  (They may be wrong because my photography software has been giving me a test of  patience, so we will see.)  They insisted the hardware was fine which was a surprise.  Of course for the software reloads I have to find the CDs, DVDs, and serial numbers, etc.  I am writing this at 1:30 A,M. on my tiny laptop and would be doing the searching now, except I do not think hubby wants to hear me rummaging around at this time of night!

Do not worry.  I will dig myself out of  this funk.  My PC fail is far less worrisome than the state of the world I think and I can do only a little for that, so I will lift my chin and carry on.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Few Shades of Gray

We tend to disappear as we age.  Women notice it more  because our culture treats us like eye-candy from a young age.  In my 40's I was beginning the process of becoming more gray in fading glory.  I had to be more aggressive getting a clerk's attention in the store and more bold pulling away from the boring corner at the party and being included in the conversation in the middle of the room.  Families  love grandma, but tend to move in groups around her, rather than include her in the SOME families.  Thus I am becoming gray.  I was a bit miffed this vacation when the 4-year-old didn't want to kiss me good-bye because he only kissed members of  his family!  He looked a little stunned when I had to explain I was his grandma!  His nickname for me is not grandma.   I tend to blame this on my son-n-law who is very, very, close to his family and I am guessing makes it clear to his children who they are and not so much who we are.  I  am assuming he  didn't know my husband was grandpa either.  We do see these kids several times a year!

Yesterday I had a dentist appointment.  I have been going to this dentist for almost a decade since I moved down here.  He has two receptionists.  One is the smallest of little elder ladies with short cut dishwater brown hair and a tentative smile.  The other is a very large elderly woman with blonde hair who  has a small jewelry display on the counter in front of her which she sells.  The large woman was behind the counter when I entered.  She was dealing with making an appointment for another woman.  The reception area  is small and so I sat on the nearby wooden loveseat. and waited.

As I was waiting an elderly woman came in and very slowly made her way through the door.  Her movements were careful and tentative.

The receptionist finished with the other patient and looked over at me and said "Name?"  I gave her my name wondering why she never knew me?  "You DO have an appointment?"  she then asked.  I made some comment about just loving dentists and dropping by anyway over the holidays...snark!  We both laughed and she input my arrival into the computer.  She looked up at the elder woman and said hello to her by name and entered her into the computer.  A few minutes later another woman came in and sat down and the receptionist greeted her by name and then logged her in.  I sat and read my new book on poetry and still was a little miffed that she did not know my name, but I barely remembered hers----names are a big failing on my part as I age.

A man came in next and she greeted him by name.  I was beginning to wonder what was wrong with my personality, demeanor, appearance that I was  the only stranger in this reception room.  I  was in a bit of a funk now because I was remembering that people usually remember my husband when we go somewhere, yet if I am alone, they often do not remember me!

And I as I thought about this,  I realized it was NOT an elder thing.  It was not because I was  a lovely shade of  camouflage gray.  This anonymous thing has been  true most of my life.  I  would just brush it off during those busy years.  I remember once being introduced to someone who had actually been to my house for dinner but was a passing acquaintance over the years.  I was younger then and remembered him!

I guess  we all like to be memorable to people.  We like to be known as the "humorous " one  or the "charming" one or the "intelligent" one.  (I am sometimes remembered as "hubby's" wife.)

Yes, of course I have people who know me on sight, thank goodness.  But it is most disheartening to be the gray person in the room at various times.  I mean I WAS the Prom Queen in  high school and the editor of the school annual---it was a very small  school.  How far the great have fallen!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Season of Peace

This is the season of peace in our country.  We claim to be a Judaeo-Christian culture, but I am not sure anything from that religious history supports the violent rhetoric spewing from our leaders right now.  Above are two of my three grandchildren at a very peaceful location wondering at the vastness of our planet and the lovely way their days of fun come to an end.  I am trying hard to get out of this cloud of bitter, angry, sadness that follows me from room to room now that I am home.  I am trying hard to think positive about the future for these children as we slide into war.  So, I retreat into my photography to paint pictures of fantasy to share with you.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

You Cannot Get Away

Our first days south we stopped in Savannah, Georgia.  It is one of our favorite cities in that it maintains romantic southern charm mixed with decadence, indolence, history, beauty, and something exotic that I cannot quite put my finger on and that few cities have.  Above is the square, one of many, of that famous French revolutionary hero that fought for our revolution, Marquis de Lafayette.  The flowers are because of the tragedy in Paris.  Seems even on vacation the war follows us.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

This First Morning

It was a long ten plus hours in the car yesterday on our last leg toward home.  I am always surprised to find the house is just as we left it when I open that front door.  If I left a mess, the mess is still there.  If I left it clean, then I admire my good work.  Even though  on this trip I realized my bed is not as comfortable as the many hotel beds and the mattress is now ready for  replacement, I was into a deep sleep soon after my head hit the pillow.

Beyond afternoon canoe paddles in the mangroves, evening walks on beaches with sunsets,  and high calorie delicious meals of seafood which I wisely never finished (except once, but I had not eaten lunch that day), it is now re-entry time.  Always a bit of an odd feeling liking waking from a dream.

Early this morning, I look out my windows at the deck and see that the gnarly branches of the trees are bare of leaves, the frost is on the lawn and there is that pale pink sunrise painted fog that looks as if wood smoke hangs in the air over the silver quiet river.  Sipping my first cup of coffee I am avoiding making the long list of things that need to be done after weeks away.  I see the spiders in the corners have filled their larders with bugs that must be dusted out the door, the fan above me is covered in dust and must be wiped clean before I turn it on, one of the kitchen lights has burned out, there is almost three weeks of mail waiting at the post office, and the pantry and fridge need replenishing.

But for now, I can watch the pinks and purples of  dawn kiss this very still morning with both man and animal still snuggled warmly in their beds.  I do not think there is a God, but I pray for peace anyway, always someone who keeps her doors open and does not disregard any opportunity for help from a wiser and higher power.  Everyday, I pray for peace before I begin my jumble of stuff to do.

Now I will go blog reading and begin an hour of catching up with all of you, knowing I have missed huge chunks of your lives.

Thursday, December 03, 2015


33,000 people killed annually in this country by gun violence.  If more specific gun control is not the solution, what is?  We own two guns, so don't assume I am against owning a gun for hunting or even  self-defense.  If you do not have an idea for a solution you are  accepting the status that we live in a very violent country and it cannot be changed. Yes, people will be killed  by knives,  etc. but I do not accept that the long slog toward greater gun control is bad.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Downwinding

Thanksgiving week was very nontraditional as we headed with children and their families to Marco Island, Florida for the week.  I will post a "few" photos later that show warm sunny days when our coldest days up north start driving me nuts.  We ate out at a very nice restaurant for a TG dinner which was better than many homemade I have eaten.  Only $40 a head for adults and $20 for kids and a huge buffet, so not as expensive as it could have been.

Said "Goodbye" to them yesterday (hiding my tears) as they boarded the plane and then we drove to Hollywood Beach on the other side of the state.  I slept 10 hours straight last night and hubby slept 11.  We must have been more exhausted enjoying the grands than we thought.  In and out of pools playing shuffle board, pool, boccie ball, putt putt golf, beach walking and shell collecting.  Yes, it was one of those perfect family holidays with as little tension as can be expected with six adults and 3 kids.

Today we drive out to visit my husband's parents' grave site in Fort Lauderdale and then probably we will find a nearby park to explore.

We are in Hollywood Florida now which is surprisingly very Cuban in mood.  Not the rich Cubans, but middle class and other Cuban families enjoying a vacation with the grandparents and kids on the beach and brickwalk on the Atlantic Ocean.  Lovers holding hands, children trying to kill us with  wheeled little trikes, and adults helping an elderly aunt down the promenade.   Almost like an Atlantic City without the gambling.  We do not hear much English, although there are some white heads like us.  Photos to follow.

Almost ready to go home, but hubby is not, so we will be on travel another five or six days.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bright Ideas

Years ago, when I lived on a tropical island just north of the great continent of Australia, I would run into the lone or pair of Australian tourists enjoying the moderate Muslim culture in which I lived daily.  I think it was at an ex-patriot dinner party where the length of the evening found many had slid into more than moderate drinking and comfortably into politically incorrect talks, that an Australian fellow on his fourth (or fifth) bottle of beer said he would never want to live in America.  What a bunch of wussies we were.  Rules and more rules.  "My God you cannot spit on the sidewalk without some Jack telling you to hold your spit." 

Of course, most of us who live in the U.S. do not see that kind of  petty rule enforcement and we are probably the first to take a somewhat dim view of police officers wasting their time on such.  Unlike Singapore we CAN chew gum in public.

Still many Americans think we are a land of too many regulations which put a stranglehold on business and growth.  This may be true, but I have been unable to get a small business owner to give me an actual example of some ridiculous/unnecessary rule that brought his business to a standstill or cost an unreasonable fee as a follow-up to his statement. They are there, but we cannot protest against them if we do not publicize them.

BUT I can think of rules that I want kept in place that protect citizens from highway robbery.  For instance we now have more homeowners using solar and wind power to reduce their consumption of energy.  This costs them money up front in setup, but over time the effort reduces the size of the bill from the power company.  Every dollar saved by a homeowner reduces revenue for power companies.  The power company may attempt to tack on fees if you install a renewable system, and they may try to charge you for sending power back to them by a process fee.  Currently we have regulations that do not allow utilities to raise the cost of energy just because they are selling us less and they want to improve their profits!  I like this rule because heating our homes is a necessity, unlike other things we may buy. 

Other consumers are buying more efficient appliances that reduce their consumption of power from the grid. Replacing light bulbs with high efficiency LEDS means you use up to 80% less electricity. Smart thermostats cut back on use of heat or air-conditioning when no one is at home.  All of these are cutting into the bottom line of your utility company.  I can guarantee you if we did not have consumer protection regulations, you would be using less energy from utility companies and paying just as much if not more for that.

This is just one of the many, many regulations I support.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thinking, thinking.....

The news of the world that has ramped down my mood with its dystopian stories has cut me low and lost.  I keep searching for a post that is worth both your and my time.  I find that any ideas are like die rattling in my head and I am rolling no numbers.  I am leaving Wednesday early for travel and have a post written at a prior time that will post tomorrow.  Maybe I will have time on my trip?

The sniper and my fear (years ago) where I worked?
The update on the situation with my math student?
The book(s) I am reading?
My travel over Thanksgiving?

I am open to ideas....

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Liberty, Egality, Fraternity

AND of course I  also weep for Beirut, Syria and other places where religious craziness and  pathological anger kill innocent men women and children.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Challenge of Things to Come--Thursday 13 more depressing thoughts...unless you add you own.  But here are some facts (most gleaned without added footnote links) for you to actually add to your arsenal of knowledge.  If it takes only a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes only a good brain with factual data to stop a bad idea or foresee and avoid the consequences of said bad idea...or some such paraphrase like that.

  1. We are just a short way away from making cancer a chronic illness and not a deadly disease.
  2. We are going to use fetal cell research to create animals to grow for harvesting organs or for testing drugs on diseases (probably mostly pigs).  This may lead to repair of that ugly facial  damage you got as a kid or the better replacement of a heart.
  3. Drone photography is becoming the tool of the day for real be sure you are not nude sunbathing if you live next to that house with the For Sale sign.
  4. With the enormous expansion of video and photo sharing apps you can now be found on the Internet whether you like it or not.
  5. There is very little you can do on the Internet that is not shared with some company that wants your money.  Do you have familiar ads stocking you?  They have decided, based on your searches, that you want/need what they have to offer.
  6. Scientists are now researching ways to use technology in human brains to help understand why we feel the way we do.  This might be expanded to help find soldiers in the field who need medical assistance.
  7. UCLA did a study and found that most children, having unsupervised time with technology, had trouble recognizing emotions in others.  I just want to that due to the time with technology or the lack of time being supervised?
  8. Is technology 'soulless' if it can read your feelings using input from your body?
  9. There is a new lab in London that wants to research all kinds of technology and humans.  You may not want to volunteer but there are many who will. 
  10. I have a friend on FB who has developed a device that you wear that monitors how Zen you are as you work.  It helps to lower your stress so that you are more productive.
  11. Some researchers are monitoring a possible solar storm in ten years that could wipe out our use of technology as we know it...but do not worry because the government has plans to be prepared for such an event.
  12. Facebook is already using a digital assistant called "M" that makes reservations, coordinates order delivery and sends reminders.  It does require a human 'robot helper' at this time.
  13. All is not lost because China, UK, and USA are coming together in their searches for solutions to common apolitical problems.  Scientists and intellectuals come together in one place... the best students, faculty and industry experts from around the world, and apply their talents to solving the challenges of our time.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Just a Few More Weeks

Winter is less than a month away, although our fall has been oddly warm.  It was 80F two days ago!  I got my daughter-in-laws bulb-garden-birthday-gift almost complete and looking forward to what she will see in the spring.

I came back to find that my clematis has put forth two blooms and my cosmos seeds (volunteers) have sprouted as seedlings.  They will die, but it was a surprise.

I also am enjoying the abundance of our garden that remains.

This Swiss chard is huge but very tender.

Lots of lettuce and bok choy for salads and side dishes and fried rice.

The last of these sweet long peppers are almost too pretty to eat.

And it does look like strawberry jam in the spring.  This bed is out of control!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Tilting at the World

There were a few of my readers that felt the discussion of a dystopian future in the prior post was too overwhelming and depressing for thought.  There are those who are in the hands of God and feel they have no understanding of the future or what God has in mind and therefore focus on the day to day.  There are others who feel evil is a constant battle to be waged and they will pass tools onto the next generation to keep mankind safe and whole.  Then there are people, like me, who tend to be agnostic about the whole process, always refusing to give up the challenge, but also feeling the battle will not be easy and each turn must be analyzed carefully and sometimes solutions are very hidden behind our prejudices.  I know there is a precious goodness in mankind that means we will return whether in small numbers or large to restore beauty and love to the earth and to humankind no matter what dark days we go through.  Whether we are fighting religious fundamentalists, Bible belt salesmen, the unexpected results of our technology, or deeply greedy and evil leaders, we must prevail in our vesting of this planet and this civilization.   I also feel strongly that we cannot forget.  We cannot allow evil history to be buried and forgotten or we will continue to make the same mistakes.  We cannot be afraid that there is not enough to go around.  We cannot see human groups as "others."   They are us and that is sometimes frightening.

Evil can be difficult to understand because as writer Primo Levi says, "nor should you understand it, but it is a sacred duty not to understand, and that to understand something is to subsume it within yourself and we cannot do that."

Can you not look as a small child's face and know that your job is to stay aware and to always be brave?  You are their guardians of their future and you must prepare them before you hand over the reins to the young in the days to come.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Future is Somewhat Dystopian

I just finished reading a book that explained to me that my desire for a strong middle class is a futile wish.  This segment of society will diminish as technology replaces the more mundane jobs and tasks within those jobs, including writing scientific theories(!) and even teaching.  This is already happening with computers collecting and analyzing data for everything from how our blood reacts to drugs to how a product can sell to the why of the disappearance of some esoteric insect.  We just need a handful of people to understand the data that drives an answer.  All that will be needed is about 10% in each profession to be the bridge between the computer and man or the designer and tinkerer of technology.  But since these, about 10%to 15%,  will be very well paid, the upper class will grow.

The disappearance of jobs means competition will be fierce and the victory will go to the focused and very smart students who understand the technology, those students for whom numbers are a fascinating puzzle, those who like cyphers.  Robots can replace all the low end jobs and even things that are not supposed to be jobs such as sex.  The poor class will grow larger.

Then the author goes on to say that there will be no class revolution.  The poor will have lots of cheap food, cheap entertainment and cheap housing to numb them.  They will accept that this is their lot in life.  They will not be the beneficiaries of cheap health care, though.  Since it is paid for by others, it will be parceled out even more judiciously and sparingly.  I am not saying I agree with this, just reporting on what was written.

The book is titled "Average is Over" by Tyler Cowen, recommended to me by our financial adviser, who should be most worried about his job  with the growth of the use of computers to crunch numbers....

P.S.  This view neglects the importance of creative thought and creativity in all the art forms that we love.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dancing in the Cemetary

Taken at a famous Richmond, Virginia cemetery.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Night Rambling-Rumbling

Fighting insomnia always seems to be my battle during a full moon.  Perhaps I am a witch?  Is this my season to be out and about with black magic?  In these dark early mornings with only moonshine (the kind that splashes on the patio, not the kind that spills from a glass),  I feel like my brain is a room with ping-pong balls going off in all directions.  The balls are clean and shiny with lots of ping, at least.  They ricochet with endless energy before that first cup of coffee even gets made.  But I must contain them, as hubby is still sleeping and I try to be quiet.

I received a coupon for a digital course on meditation and I have been thinking of taking it, like a vitamin.  It is hard for me to find a quiet place to study something like this as I am never sure when hubby will be off on a project of his own.  And I need to concentrate as I have tried (superficially) and failed (completely) in doing this before.  Hubby has gotten more and more restless, like a dog chasing his tail,  as the weather gets cold and rainy and he finds he cannot fish or garden or just take off to visit some neighbor's project.  Winter has been his challenge in that he has no indoor hobbies, unlike I, who has photography, writing, cooking, reading, watching Netflix, doing bits and pieces of interior decorating....etc.  He spends time making plans to visit old stomping grounds, Florida. 

Mage gave me a tiny critique on my poem on my other blog and I realized it is time for me to grow up and stop creating poetry diarrhea.   I need to hone and pause and edit and write again.  Maybe I need a course on writing poetry?  That sounds so comfy warm for winter afternoons, really.  Yes, I see that face some of you are each his own.

This will be the first Halloween we do not drive up to visit the kids.  Many reasons.  I thought they still had the company in their house (long story about company living there during a month-long house remodel).  Then they said they were going to a Halloween party and wanted to know if we could babysit childsit.  And for some immature reason I just felt a little used.  Sugar-infused childsitting was not exactly the family get-together I had in mind.  Thus, I made other plans, but those fell through, so now Halloween will be a non-event at my house as I live at the end of a dark and long road.  I long ago gave up decorating the house.  I envy those cute grannies that have little decorations in every corner...until the event is over and everything has to be rounded up and wrapped back in the storage boxes.  Also, no one really sees these decorations except hubby and I.

As a reward for reading my spew above, how about some of my last rose photos taken a few days ago before the rain ripped the petals to shreds to wrap up this disjointed barrage of thoughts?   These are the true colors, no photo-shopping.  I get such lovely colors when the nights are in the 40's and 50's and the days in the high 60's.  It is almost English garden weather, meditate on that!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Boxing Day?

I received an opportunity to spend the day canoeing a river that flows through a local land trust.  This part of the woods is not accessible unless you are invited or part of a canoe or hiking tour.  In this instance "we" had a job to do. 

We had our boxes, hardware, and axe and heavy mallet. 

We had one young person who spent most of her time waiting for us old folks to catch up.

We had to pull the canoes down the bay side of the land trust.  A large sand dune had been thrown up with the last storm and our river was now a temporary lake and we had to carry all the equipment and canoes over the dune.  From a distance we looked like satellite dish repair people or perhaps a unique Cajun band?  I wonder what the gas facility offshore thought.

The river itself had flooded to the edges of the woods and over!  We were able to paddle into places that were usually inaccessible by canoe or by walking.

Hard to believe there was at least 2.5 feet of water for the canoes into the grasslands.  The "cross" you see in the photo below is actually a trail marker when the land is dry.

And then, finally,  we got Wood Duck nesting box number one installed.  No one cut their finger or had the baffle fall on them!  We did not lose any nuts, bolts or screws in the water.  Final step was to add the wood chips shown in photo below.  (Yes, the "1" is backwards as the stencil flipped in the wind when it was being painted.  Children from one of the local schools also added their art.)

It was an adventure and I was glad I was along as photographer and did not own any waders.  You would not believe the number of spiders that attached to those waders when they hit the water.  Every little bug had been flooded out of his/her home.

We got four boxes installed and had to wait on the fifth due to high water.  The paddle home was stupendous.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Growing Pains

I live in a very rural area.  So rural that our County Councilmen have trouble reading tributes, perhaps written by others, at meetings honoring their citizens.  These Councilmen are educated, they just cannot read out loud...that includes at least three of the five officials.  Two of our Councilmen own liquor stores.  This is the path to political leadership in this county.   A few retired professionals from a more intellectual arena ran for office, but the big words they used frightened the voters, I guess.  This good-old boy majority leadership selection means our county struggles.

As I mentioned in a prior post, I lost my current doctor because she found working in this county too difficult.  They did not support medical service development and she had to send her patients out of county for specialized treatment.  She said five other doctors are thinking of following her.  We are limited in our selection already!

A recent meeting of various groups on "smart growth" for my state resulted in this news report:

"In the spring of 2006, a self-proclaimed “unholy alliance” of developers, environmentalists, civic and academic leaders staged a series of reality checks around the state during conferences designed to stare future growth in the face.  The leaders gave each table of eight to 10 participants piles of colored Legos representing their likely share of the 1.5 million new residents projected to swell the state’s population from 5.5 million to 7 million by 2030. It would mean adding more than half a million new homes.  On a map of their region, each table had to place all of that new growth...
The idea was not to discourage growth. This state, like most states, avidly courts economic expansion, more jobs, more people. The Reality Check conference organizers hoped to promote “smart growth,” or to place as many Legos as possible around places where growth was planned and roads and sewers already existed, thus protecting farms, forests and undeveloped Bay shorelines.
It was nonetheless a sobering exercise as Legos piled higher and existing towns began looking like little Manhattans. You could hear sighs and mutterings: “The traffic’s already hell there” or “my pile fell over…there goes the countryside.”  An Eastern Shore contingent built a paper boat and set their Legos sailing toward a coastal city, which has been losing population since the 1950s.  It was a good laugh — maybe a good idea — but the directive was firm: Growth is coming your way and you must accommodate it."

But at my County's table, a County commissioner, Ms. C, chose to differ. She swept a bunch of Legos off the map and into her purse. And it was not an exercise like barging people across the Bay to a coastal city.

This is what our County leaders do.  Respond with unrealistic solutions or ignore growth issues it seems.  Our County is long and thin and no more than 4 miles from tidewater in most directions.  Therefore our growth impacts the rivers and oceans.  Yet, if we have no growth, it means our county dies---well, goes into a coma.  And to give the good-old-boys their due, I realize what a difficult problem they have.

This week I was talking to my neighbor as we planned a dinner out with them before they leave for Florida for the winter.  We have lots of fried seafood places down here, but in the last few years several new and more delicious venues have emerged.   This County's population has double the median household income of the U.S. and one could hope that would support this growth.

The conversation went like this:

"How about The Basil Basket?"
"Nope, closing next week due to owners divorcing."
"OK....Lets go to the Lime Pie Tree."
"That place has had to close due to the foundation crumbling on the water side.  Don't know if it is a permanent close or not."
"Gee.  That leaves the Brasserie."
"Well, we better get in next week, because they are also closing for good very soon."
"Oh dear.  I heard yesterday that the Chinese restaurant is also closing."

I am well aware that the restaurant business is very difficult and most restaurants close within a few years...but all of our new ones are closing! 

And then, last month as we drove by the rock quarry on the other side of the river and just across the county line we saw this:

Some people say this other county is growing too fast and others wish our county was as progressive.  We got curious and drove down off the main road to see if we could find out what was going on with this new development:

Much closer and nicer than the old movie place we go to.  This even has reclining wide seats...I wonder if it will succeed?  I did notice that their ticket kiosks did not have the technology for chip cards, so someone wasn't paying attention.  I also noticed the impermeable surface of the largest parking lot I have seen in a while!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday Thirteen in October Contrasts

  1. Tabor debates at this time of year whether this week is THE week to pull down the winter quilt for the bed.
  2. Tara debates this time of year whether the UNHCR tent will be warm enough in the coming months.
  3. Tabor is thankful she has heated tiled floors in her bathroom so she is not shocked by cold tiles in the morning.
  4. Tara is thankful they built the concrete bathrooms near the fence and she no longer has to use a bucket.
  5. Tabor is beginning to stock up on frozen garlic, jams, and baked goods for the holidays.
  6. Tara is tucking away the box of rice and spices from UNHCR under the bed to save for the winter.
  7. Tabor called the garden company to blow out her garden soaker hoses today well ahead of a freeze.
  8. Tara has walked several miles to the farmer's greenhouse to help with planting seeds, hoping there will be greens this winter to share.
  9. Tabor loves the autumn light because it makes for good photography.
  10. Tara sees her daughter playing in the sand in the autumn light and knows this picture will remain in her mind forever.
  11. Tabor has gone through her closet and removed summer clothing she no longer wears to donate to the ecumenical Christian store. 
  12. Tara has gone through the plastic bags of donated clothing and is relieved she found something she could wear.
  13. Tabor and Tara watch the setting sun at the end of the day on the distant horizon and both hope and pray for peace.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Food, Glorious Food

Fall is the time when food is abundant, when you know that the freshness of some foods will be waning and when you justify eating more to pack on the pounds to stay warmer through the colder months. One's appetite is sharper as well, it seems.

We brought up what will probably be the last of the crabs as the nights are getting much cooler.  Their shells are harder to crack as the molting season has long passed.  I picked a batch of the basil that has gone to seed to add to the lemon/butter sauce for the crab.

We also steamed some of the Swiss chard which will continue to provide us greens up until frost in a few weeks.  I drizzle a little bacon fat over the top and then salt and pepper.  It is also good with just a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  The plants are huge this time of year and since the weather is cool they are so tender, even the stems!  The rest of the meal was leftover potatoes gratin.  Potatoes from a distant farmer.

For dessert I made a peach pie with some puff pastry on top.  The peaches were a bit of a disappointment as the farmer had placed them in coolers since they had been picked earlier.  I was pushing the season, I guess.

The night before we had breaded/fried eggplant.  We have fixed it a dozen ways this late summer and early fall and this was the last way.  Freshly picked eggplant is so much richer in that subtle flavor than anything I have purchased at the store.

There are still too many tomatoes and we have been too busy to process although hubby has been busy drying the hot peppers to warm our tummy in soups and sauces throughout the winter.  The rainy weather had done a number on our tomatoes, but they seem to bounce back at last.

I did make time to make carrot cake as we had lots of carrots.  They are a little tough in our garden, but when you take a food blender to them and put them in their place, they make delicious cake!  And making this cake makes a delicious mess!

Now that I am well-fed,  I am off to staff a garden booth at one of the events at the museum for the afternoon and see if I can shed all these pounds I have added.  It will be cooler than I had hoped, so need to get out that old turtleneck and take a nice freshly picked apple with me for lunch and answer questions such as "Why can't I get my spinach to grow?"

Thursday, October 08, 2015

I May Never Grow Up

I met a young man years ago through my Son-in-law.  He is a handsome New Jersey Italian, friendly, nice, from a deeply Catholic family and was at a cross roads in his life.  My SIL and others felt he might be gay as he was very good looking and never dating anyone.  He was a twin and his brother had long since married and started a family. We years later heard he was dating a playboy model.  I had (be)friended him on FB and he never revealed any beautiful women with selfies or that part of his life.  This young man had worked for a high end consulting company, lived at home and saved his high salary while he was looking for a passion and then in recent years has morphed into a foodie.  I followed him on FB and watched as he evolved into finding himself and worked with various chefs in the city where he lived.  He slowly became involved in promoting interesting foods and farm to table type events.

I cannot remember how it came about years ago, but he was invited by me down for a weekend and ended up coming with another young newly divorced man who also seemed to be at a cross-roads in his life and who was also part of my SIL's work life.  My SIL seemed a little miffed at our new relationship with "his" friends, but that is another story that I may blog about someday.  We took these young men boating, fed them, they stayed overnight and then they went on their way home.  I did not feel we made a "connection" with either.  They seemed your typical self-involved types who do not realize what happens around them.

I sometimes post a "foodie" photo about what I am cooking...remember the stuffed pepper casserole that ended up on the  floor(?)...the photo above was before it went into the oven, and I write about what we are having for dinner on FB.  I am pretty good at making what I cook sound delicious.  Well my foodie guy is intrigued and now wants to come down for a another visit and maybe side by side cook effort!  I know that many of  my readers would be so ready for this fun team effort with a "young'in."who actually has real connections in the food world.

But I am just a bit terrified as I do not see myself as a great or even good cook!  I see myself as an old lady cook who gets easily distracted and can burn stuff.

It looks like this may happen and I am going to screw my courage to the sticking place if it does and figure it out.  I will let you know.....  Yep, this blogger is an enormous timid mouse type.  If you read my entries you do know this, and I do agree that it is pathetic.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Apple of My Eye

Tradition in northern climes this time of year is to harvest and save and savor.  Nothing tastes better than freshly picked apples in the autumn.  There are many varieties in the U.S. although Johnny Appleseed (our folk hero in the planting of apples) probably carried mostly crab apple seeds.  These were perfect for making apple cider and that is what our forefathers drank in abundance because in some areas water was scarce and in other areas it was foul.

Yes, we have whole farms devoted to pick-your-own.  This place has school buses of public school children and vans for home-schooled children that keep them super busy in the fall.  You may notice the orange warning cones in the drive.  They have classes, hay wagon trips out to the field and then lots of fun stuff in the craft shop to also buy and take home.

We purchased some Jona-gold, some Honey-crisp and I think those last red ones were early Fuji.

Some were made into applesauce which is really lovely for breakfast with pancakes.  Because the weather is cooler I like to heat up my applesauce.

I made some tarts with some leftover puff pastry that absolutely HAD to be used, and while it did not have the flakiness that one expects, the tarts were still very good for dessert.

...and of course, several containers of apple pie filling for the freezer.

Yes, we also ate a bunch of them freshly sliced this past week.  So sweet and juicy and not at all like the apples one gets at the grocery store.  (We did not leave any behind on the table...that was an overfull child's apple in the photo below.)  This is a fun kind of business and fills the house with smells of cinnamon and nutmeg and sugar and apples.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Truth ...In the Eyes of the Beholder?

New giant dove discovered during eclipse of the moon.

"people remember through photographs but that they remember only the photographs ... that the photographic image eclipses other forms of understanding – and remembering. ... To remember is, more and more, not to recall a story but to be able to call up a picture"  Susan Sontag

For readers who do not know Sontag, she was a fiction and non-fiction writer who became interested in photography and its affect on society and its implications as it evolved into what we have today with the ease of digital documentation.  She was a very demanding, smart, and exotic woman.  I have not read any of her fiction, but may tackle that someday.  Her interest in war grew with several trips to Sarajevo during the war there.  I have been reading a Susan Sontag book about the brutal photography taken during war.  Oh, yes, a nice after dinner theme to sink my teeth into after watching the photos and videos on TV covering all the devastating news.

Decades ago in the old Russia, people were removed from dignitary photos without guilt as certain leaders lost favor with the regime over time.  There were usually a few other non-doctored photos that revealed the editing to the world.

Most people remember the famous photo taken by AP photographer Nick Ut of the naked 9-year-old Vietnamese girl running from the rain of chemical napalm from a South Vietnamese Air Force attack that incorrectly thought the village was an enemy group. The photo won a Pulitzer prize and yet history tells us that President Nixon doubted its authenticity.  Was it too awful to be real?

Recently a photo of a Syrian toddler lying face down in the surf on a beach near a Turkish resort was published around the world.  This very moving photo touched many people much more strongly than all the boats of refugees crowded in rafts or trudging along railroad lines in search of a new life.  An investigation later revealed that the boy had been moved from a small cove to the beach area for a better photo opportunity.  So now this becomes a bit of a staged photograph!  Would it have had the same tragic punch if the original site of death was the one shared around the world?

Also this year some videos of Syrian refugees refusing water and food and in another case carrying some flags in protest were sent out with the information that these were examples of how Islamic zealots were willing to protest for their religion with the sub-text of how dangerous these people could be if let into "Christian" countries.  Not given enough attention was that these photos had nothing to do with Islam.  One was not even part of the current refugee crises but another protest entirely at a different place and time.  The other videos reflected frustration at being stuck behind a fence for days with no where to go, rather than rejection of "Red-Cross" meals.  If someone had not followed with accurate context, could this have mushroomed into a larger rejection of Muslim refugees?

There was also a photo this week from Peru that Kay Davis lawyers insisted was a mass meeting of Christians in Peru (of all places?) supporting her stand against gay marriage.  It took less than 48 hours for photographic detectives to reveal the photo was taken more than a year ago and had nothing to do with her protest.

We are going to have to question photographs we see as photo-shopping a digital photo can be even more confusing and less able to detect as we move into the future.  What we once relied on as photographic truth is not necessarily so.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Used Books

While perusing the local used book store in a college town in the mountains of Virginia last week, I just had to take a photo of this top book shelf in the store.  Someone has a dark sense of not ignore the careful placement of the book in the middle.  (You may get a closer look by clicking on the photo.)  I did not get out of this place without buying three books of course, but none of the above were in my bag.

If you read my blog, you will understand why I selected all of the titles above.  I will always buy books even though I can read electronically on at least three devices.