Sunday, June 24, 2018

Weeding and Reading

I am on the road once again or I guess I should say plane. The daughter was allowed to select the destination for a family vacation (her one side of the family) and she selected St. Kitts in the Caribbean for a week. 

I am finishing packing today and will be on the flight tomorrow. In a grass is always greener virus mode, I really want to stay home and weed and read. See, even those of us who can afford to travel are not always as happy and mellow as you would think!  Being a bit jaded on travel is someplace I never thought I would be.

At least I will get to spend some time with the grands who are now slowly moving away from me as they connect daily via phone with near and distant friends.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

When the World Gives You Lemons

I am retreating into my world of photographic art. It can be very therapeutic, trust me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tip of the Iceburg

This has been a more difficult year to maintain our yard. We "contracted" with employees from a small landscape firm in the area in the years past. The company used Mexicans, employed for around six months at 6 days a week and with "some" arrangements for health care. They arrived around May and returned in early November.  They were EXTREMELY talented in that they helped us fix our lawnmower, repaired the garden gate, identified a gas leak which we missed since we did not weedeat that corner of the house, etc.  They were ALWAYS prompt, polite and efficient.

Our "helpers"  were a "band of brothers."  The family had 8 brothers and each year they were able to send at least 4 of them north to the U.S. for employment.  The local U.S. landscape business could not find local folks to do these jobs, clearly.

For the last two years, their arrival became more difficult and they would come later.  This year they were not allowed into the U.S. at all.  My husband called one of the brothers since we have become friends as well because we have paid for their services for almost a decade.  They explained that they could not get work visas, they also tragically lost their older brother to murder from a gang over the winter months.  He was shot outside the front door of his home. They had related various tales of the increase in dangerous crime over the years.  (If you are a tourist in Mexico, the government may feel it is necessary in some areas to give you a police escort.)

My husband was trying to manage the yard on his own through May and early June of this year until we found a young boy who was saving for college and could help.  (Hubby's back has a recent problem.)  Why don't we just hire from another landscaping firm you may ask?  We did that in years past.  The various small firms either quit on us saying the yard was too difficult, or they would not show up on time after rains and grass would get too high to mow before they could reschedule us, or they complained about everything else.  They were totally unreliable and perhaps just wanted enough money for drugs or until another job came their way.  Living in the countryside is not always easy for finding help.  Even after writing this we will research hiring another landscape company next year.

This event in our lives is related to the huge refugee iceberg that is forming across the globe.  Closing borders, wars, climate change resulting in famine, climate change increasing diseases, criminal gangs, and overpopulation are taking their toll forcing people to flee for their lives.  In 2017 68.5 million refugees were displaced from their homes, their cities, their countries.  One person becomes displaced every 2 seconds.  The Central African Republic, Central America, Europe, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Rohingya, Ukraine, and Yemen are all impacted by the ongoing refugee crisis.  

Now it is at our back door where we are housing refugee toddlers and teenagers without a budget, plan, or infrastructure.  MAGA

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Bit of Fun

Having fun with photographs:

These flowers last only a few days with the heavy rains and later increasing heat, but I have captured some beauty in my yard and then played with layers and filters.

Now back to house cleaning!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Grocery Event

I shop at the local big supermarket. Produce is less varied and must be selected more carefully than when I shop at the more expensive yuppie market across the bridge. While I am fortunate in that my grocery budget is ample for the two of us, I come from that old family farming culture which makes me shop most carefully and not buy so much that I have to throw out food at the end of the week. I do use mostly the outside aisles (bakery, produce, meat, and dairy) while avoiding the processed foods in the inner aisles. I get my cleaning stuff at the Big Box store, but in reality, if I paid attention to sales, I would not need to go there. This intro had nothing to do with my event yesterday, by the way.

I had four large bags of food and was loading them from the basket into the trunk. I heard someone shouting and looked up toward the door of the store. I was parked about eight cars away. Standing in front of the double doors and waving both arms was a black man in his 50s with salt and pepper closely cropped hair, tall and in reasonably good shape. He was all in black. There was a set of black earphones covering his ears, a black backpack and what appears to be a bit of paraphernalia tagged to his shirt pockets. He was also shaking his head from side to side. He was loud, but I could not figure out what he was saying as he was talking fast.  At first, I thought perhaps he was singing to some rap music that was coming from his earphones.  People entering the store pretended not to see him.

I finished loading the trunk and opened the driver's side door. The man started jogging in my direction. I then heard what he was shouting over and over again. "I can't take it anymore!..I can't take it anymore!..I can't take it anymore!"

I was not frightened as I got into my car and shut the door and he ran down the area in front of me between the parked cars. I was sad and curious instead. For just a second, I actually felt like re-opening the door and shouting after him..."ME TOO!"

Within a few seconds a man in a white shirt with a name tag and black dress pants and holding his phone appeared.  He was moving after the black man but did not seem to want to catch up with him as he typed something into his phone.  He stopped in front of my car and then another man in what appeared to be a supermarket shirt and cap (perhaps a deli-counter uniform?) showed up behind him.  The second man looked at me and then shook his head and chuckled.  I raised my shoulders and arms agreeing as if saying "WTF?"  But I do not swear, so I was more commiserating with the situation for all.

My take was that I wished I could have helped the man.  Had he shoplifted?  Had he threatened an employee?  Did he have a fight with another customer about who was next in line?  Did his mental illness manifest itself?  Was this a reaction to a drug (legal or illegal)?  I actually wish he has not been moving so fast and that I would have been brave enough to get out of the car and display some sympathetic body language if nothing else.

Clearly, this was not a major crime or even a novelty to the two employees who walked back into the store as I pulled out of my parking place.  The black man had totally disappeared as I found my way to the exit.  

Crime in our county has been climbing this last year.  Not sure why with all these great emplyment figures and growing economy (snark).

Monday, June 11, 2018

What Color Are Your Thumbs?

A Man's Home is his Castle

We built our house over twelve years ago. Over the years I have had to have two casement windows repaired (one no longer can be opened); two ceiling areas re-taped, floated and painted; the stairs leading down from the back deck to the backyard re-leveled as one side sank; one toilet valve replaced twice; the wine cooler solenoid replaced; the gate motor replaced and the garage door opener fixed.  I have had one burst water pipe (my fault for not disconnecting the hose).  We also had the two chimney's recapped last year due to water leakage through the ceiling.  Next week someone is coming in to replace the cracked baffle and insulation in the wood fireplace.

Some of these events are normal wear and tear items and others the result of living in a humid area with dramatic temperature changes.  The windows are just bad product.

This year the starters on the gas range have been giving me fits and I have been told corrosion means they cannot be replaced. I will need a new range top which I keep putting off due to the complexities of measurement and my fear of getting it wrong. We have a dual AC system and one unit is now not working and waiting for a part ($400 not including labor) and I have been cautioned that this could be a temporary fix and I may need a new unit (thousands of dollars). The good part is while the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife, temps are below 80 F.

My refrigerator is making odd noises.  I am working hard to keep the coils clean while it runs in this warmer than normal house.  

I often wish I was more of a handy-man like my Dad who could fix anything.  Hubby is mostly thumbs even though they are green.

I have read that you do not own a house, it owns you.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

I have Questions.

I have always been a curious person and have many questions this week (not necessarily in order of importance):

  1. Why did Pruitt try to buy a "used" Trump Tower mattress?
  2. Why did a Congressman get turned away from an abandoned Walmart building that is housing children separated from their parents who were crossing the border illegally?
  3. Why did Melania Trump have 700% longer time in a hospital for a procedure than normal and why have we only seen her many weeks later?
  4. Why were the Eagles uninvited to the White House to celebrate the Superbowl?
  5. Why is Medicare going to run out of money in 2026?
  6. Does Russia really have a smaller economic footprint than Italy?
  7. Do the bulletproof plates being given students actually stop bullets?  (not AR-15 bullets or assault rifles)
  8. Is Bill Clinton extremely naive (and out of touch) to be promoting a "fictional thriller" book he co-wrote with Patterson.
  9. As Facebook gives us more control over the ads we see, does this mean they are going to be losing money?
  10. Why don't Americans know the difference between a reporter and a contributor?
  11. Why do we not teach financial literacy courses in public school?
  12.  Do you ever forward your spam mail to
  13. Why war??

Monday, June 04, 2018


This is close to La La Land.

Many years ago when my sister was in her early 40's, she contracted skin cancer and lost the battle against it after only a few months. She lived on the other side of the country and our correspondence was by sporadic phone calls and emails.   The expertise of the staff of a major Los Angeles hospital was not smart enough nor quick enough to save her life.  I flew out to be with her for a few days in the middle of her battle.  When she passed she left behind a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl soon to turn 13 and their Dad.  These two children grew up into beautiful, stable, and sweet adults through some miracle of good parenting and good genes and damn luck.

This weekend I flew out again to attend the wedding of the young man, my nephew.  We were there for only 2 and half days and it was very emotional...more so than weddings are normally emotional for me.  I left the rain-filled skies here in the Mid-Atlantic for the sun-filled skies of Southern California.  

Southern California where real estate prices START in the very high six figures and never seem to end.  This little gray house in the background was worth a couple of million!

This was a special trip for me since I had not had a chance to see my niece and nephew for many years as their careers took them away from the places where I visited their father.  

The wedding was small, semi-formal, and was a chance for me to see my other brother and sister briefly as well.

It was both a tough and terrific time for me and I am so glad I did not miss it.  

Now I am back home and returning to normal---my version of normal that is.