Friday, October 04, 2019

And She Is Off, In More Ways Than One!

Only one larva crawling across the pantry ceiling this morning.  They will have three weeks to reproduce and restore, but I have done the best that I can.  This pantry is the cleanest and best organized it has ever been. I will make every effort in the future to not overstock.

I have made garlic chive salt from the scapes that I cut last week.  This should be a stimulating spice in the cold days of winter.

And I am packed for three weeks across the vast country of China.  I have not figured out the app situation, but maybe I will just be offline most of the time.  I think I have packed pretty efficiently.

zài jiàn !

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Devil and the 10 Details

Circling the wagons?

The list of detail things to be done before our trip is endless. I have a house sitter who came by two days ago when we did a walk-through and today emailed to ask when she could pick up the keys...which I GAVE her two days ago! Hope she finds them.

Our tax man is helping us with a delayed filing and has spent today attempting to send us some additional forms to sign through an encrypted email, but each time we only get one of the two emails. Finally, he is going to just send a PDF and have us physically scan and sign tonight.

I have a bag full of charger cords for Kindle, phone, and camera batteries. I have to sort through all my various plugs for China and add all that weight.

I will be in the high cold mountains of Tibet for two days as well as tropical Hong Kong for two days with mainland travel in between.  What a crazy wardrobe I will need.

Hubby's laptop died last week and he is learning to use the new one this week, which means I am routinely interrupted helping him learn it.  I wish I was a more patient person.

I have worked for two hours trying to download WeChat as the only China-friendly app for communication on my phone with my fellow travelers texting and been totally unsuccessful.  My "account" is now blocked.

My wristwatch died and I do not like the Fitbit as it gets crazy with changing the times via satellite, so I had to rush out and buy a new watch this morning.

I have gotten an invasion of moths in my pantry and each time I think I have found the culprit: some old barley? a plastic container of mung beans? or the really old box of graham crackers? the little larva appear a day later along the ceiling!  At least my pantry is the cleanest it has ever been.

I have no ability to buy Yuan in the boonies but hope we can exchange once we get there.  It seems that our new credit card bills had been mailed to our physical address and not our P.O. Box and thus we were in payment default and the two new cards were being blocked for use!  Another half-hour at the bank has now corrected that little anomaly.

My SIL recommended we use compression stockings since our flight is 15.5 hours long after the transfer.  I have two more still thinking about that.

(It does not help that every time I turn on the TV that old man is in his front yard in his underwear shouting at everyone.  I look forward to getting away from this circus.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Two Weekends in a Row

Some of us elders have the luxury of hanging out with Millennials.  I had back-too-back late 30 and early 40 somethings for two weekends in a row last week.  I did manage to talk myself out of a food panic.  I always want to be the gourmet/original/healthy/luscious cook when folks come.  Yes, I  am an  idiot.  Yes, it is a very bad habit.  This time I took a deep breath and decided to do something simple.  In one instance it helped that we had fresh crab for a central dish, something not easily obtained without money and something not all that hard to cook.

I took one of the couples, who are relatives, to a discount store of which we are members where they could do some shopping with savings.  They got to the candy aisle which was full of bags of candy for the distant Halloween holiday.  This involved a lot of discussion over which type of candy and how many bags.  It went on for some time.  Finally I went over to the  couple and asked why this was an issue.  The wife said, "Our neighbor across the street has caramel apples and hot apple cider and the kids walk on by our door even though  we are sitting outside.  We have to get better candy."

Yes.  In the grand scheme of things this is such a sad  situation.  Only in a first world country and in an upper middle class neighborhood is sweets giving so competitive!  I would be mad about having lots of  leftover candy and would have just turned off my porch light and  not  given out candy!  Such a bit of silliness.

Most of the rest of the weekend with them was boating and beaching which could help them unwind from stressful jobs.

The second couple who came the very next weekend brought along a lovely two-year-old girl who, while having one or two "terrible two" tantrums, was a delight to watch and share activities with.  This couple is just friends.

The husband of the little girl is originally from Hong Kong and so I was able to ask him to write up some notes for my husband's dietary restrictions during our upcoming visit to China.  He was able to write in the Chinese characters for both Northern and Southern China.  Fortunately, hubby's dietary restriction is not life threatening as it may be with others!

The husband of this couple also prepared a lovely salmon dish for our first night.  They brought ALL the necessary ingredients.   The biggest surprise was he did not have to ask me where any particular tool or ingredient might be in the kitchen.  My hubby can rarely make something without calling me  back a few times to  find something in the kitchen.  I was left to sip my glass of  wine and watch the toddler put together  one of my many children's puzzles.

There was so much more I learned and could say about these two visits, but I have rambled on  long  enough for now. 

This next week I face a long list of things  to check and do before our flight on Friday.

Saturday, September 21, 2019


My days have been filled with company and volunteer work and a few meetings. While I know that being active is very important in retirement, I am looking forward to some downtime before my 22-day trip that is also filled with stuff!

This post should go on my other blog, but I just posted something seasonal there, so I will write about it here.

Reptiles lay eggs in many different areas of the wild.   I have seen them move the gravel from the side of a busy road to lay their eggs.  I have come across them laying eggs at the edge of a hiking path in the forest.  This year one of our box turtles decided that the compost pile would be perfect with its summer warmth. The eggs usually hatch in late August and early September. Hubby was flipping that good earthy compost a few weeks ago when he found this

He is a scientist after all and realized he had torn an egg and induced an egg hatching before its time! Thus a section of my kitchen was immediately converted into a hatchery for one lone box turtle. He avoided turning the rest of the pile for another two weeks!

He brought in the aquarium and filled it with some of the compost.  I got a timed light to replicate the sun.  We added a small dish of water to keep the aquarium moist.

We had some watermelon and put a little of that in the aquarium/terrarium while waiting for the turtle to hatch.  Days went by, but we could see slight movement if we touched the egg, so we knew it was still viable (alive).  Finally, just before the visit of the first grandson, the little guy/gal shoved its way out of the eggshell and crawled to the watermelon and ate!

Hubby cut up a worm or two a day later, and turtle also liked that.  I was told by a friend that they liked grubs but never seemed to find those in our dry soils after weeks of little rain.  We also added pawpaws which are ripening in our woods now, and that was a favorite.  He still had his little egg tooth!

He did well for the weeks that we kept him, and it was hard to let him go out into the world of snakes, fox and whatever else might want to eat him.  We put him back near the compost with a little food, and maybe next spring he will return!  We will not recognize him and I doubt he will recognize us.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Blue is for Girls and Pink is for Boys

As in introvert I have found this rapidly ending summer to be a little "too much" in my face. I spent two weeks very closely interacting with relatives in July. I returned home to spending parts of weeks with my grandsons, involving planning days full of activities and love and joy.  This was followed by a weekend visit from my son and his wife, where I tried to give them a bit of respite from their demanding  lives. 

This coming weekend I am entertaining another young couple and their 2-year-old that I have not seen in 18 months, when the child was an infant.  I still am not sure why they are coming.  They want to expose the daughter to marine life...or  something like that!  While I am  flattered they think we are  good guides, I am also so done with company.  After all, in early October I am going to be on a 3 week  trip with my  family across China.  That should be a pleasure and so exhausting.  Those lonely short days of winter cannot come too  soon.

The coming visitors are "modern" parents focusing on gender neutral activities and ideas, even to the point of not allowing pink in the nursery.  It makes me realize that my ignorance of colors  and color stereotypes perhaps saved my sanity.  I had both a boy and a girl and therefore our house was full of all types of toys and books and I just let them play with whatever they wanted.  They also spent years in foreign countries which certainly broadened their view of the world and gender standards.  Seeing men in sarongs and skirts was common.  My daughter was a blue jeans kind of pre-teen and teenager and I did miss having the fun of dressing her up, but not the drama that comes with most girl teens!   Oddly today she wears designer clothes for her job.

My son participated in sports because we insisted for social  and health reasons, but music was his space for retreating and recharging.  Today his  hobby is songwriting.

While gender neutrality has its place, I think it is better to  focus on shelter and  rest in any color.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Things I Learned and Did Not Learn This Summer

I purchased a second hummingbird feeder so that the hummers would fight less and find that they prefer only one. I switch them and it makes no difference as they will still go to the preferred feeder. The feeders are identical. Hummm?

I learned when you buy tickets to an event at the Kennedy Center, it is not always a culturally accurate presentation and can be a political sham. (Explanation maybe in another post.) Anyway, the evenings are so worth going up there.

We once again missed the Dragonboat races but were down at the water the night before when eyes were being painted and tongues coated. Maybe I will learn to be better organized next year.

I learned that my husband will always have enormous ideas for projects!

I learned if you accidentally tear a turtle egg in the compost pile, you are responsible and it will change your kitchen for a few weeks.

I learned that when your daughter says the kids may be too busy to come down during the summer, at the last minute you will get at least two of them. What fun!

I also learned that leaving a teenager alone to bathe in your Jacuzzi can be a surprising experience for both of you...modesty notwithstanding.

Never too old to learn!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Night Visitors

End of August and all of September usually mean the height of crabbing season. Some folks find the whole crustacean body thing offputting. Some folks like crab but prefer it picked by someone else and put into a nice patty with no filler and good seasonings. At our house, we wade in full steam and dump the steamed crabs in a bowl where we can pick them with crab picking tools and get our hands all greasy and out chins covered in Old Bay seasoning. No, I do not have a photo of that disgusting practice. But we are catching crabs and freezing a few while cooking and eating most of the others this month.

The photo above is a bit blurry, but this is what they do, holding claws before we dump them in the steamer pot.

We catch our crabs off our dock by baiting large chicken wire baskets with fish heads or chicken necks and leaving the traps in the water overnight. We now have new neighbors and while heading out the other day for a boating trip I caught this photo of them enjoying their new house on the water. They do not have a boat, but are trying to line-bait their crabs! They brought down family and friends for this new family tradition.  We have also crabbed this way.

Some of our neighbors take out a small skiff and drop floating baited crab traps marked by buoys in the early morning and then go out and check them at dusk.

There is one caveat when eating crabs.  We usually dump the remaining shell and parts back into the river rather than our compost pile.  Sometimes we get lazy.  

One recent night I heard rumbling and thudding and at first wondered if someone was trying to break into the garage.  Then my deductions got honed as I headed toward the back deck and turned on the deck light.

He was wading in full throttle and covered in crab juices.  Turning on the light was a very mild distraction.

Lesson learned.  Get those crab remains out to the river right after dinner!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Loose Ends

When I get depressed as I have been (see prior post) I tend to focus on chores and all those bits and pieces of life that I have put off.  I make lists and do stuff and then check each off as it is completed or removed, and I illude delude myself into thinking I am accomplishing so much before mortality intrudes.  I am like some smell driven animal as I explore all the corners of my life that are still buried under months of activity.

I made a few donations that I had been putting off. It gave me the illusion that I might be doing something right in this awfully wrong twisting world. One of my charities sent me an annual report...much better than a stupid calendar! I have a dozen of those 12 months graphics for next year already and I am of the age that I try not to look that far ahead! 

Some of the items on the list are first-world luxuries, such as checking the weather for the Month of October in that I can see if need to make a shopping trip for additions to the wardrobe.  

Others are a bit more tedious such as sorting and working on the four photos for our Master Gardener's Facebook page update, and re-scheduling volunteers for our final month of working with the art camp kids.

I will get the two grand-boys at the end of next week for about 4 days as a surprise change in schedule.  But hubby is already scheduling them for an overnight fishing trip, so not sure if I will squeeze in any passive time with them.

I splurged on two original works of art that I have wanted to have framed for years.  One is something my eldest grandson did while he was in grade school and I stole it from his mother's kitchen wall to frame as a surprise for her, and the other is something my son did when he was around thirteen or fourteen just before we had our tempest-tossed relationship. I will give it as a surprise holiday gift.  They both have a lot of emotion attached and would only be framed by someone who loved them.

Thanks for loyally stopping by and extra thanks if you leave a word or two.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Blessings Needed

We have returned the dog and my kids are home from their trip to Europe. Many lovely photos posted of all their adventures so I could pretend that I was with them. 
I called my daughter yesterday to see when to bring back their pet, because their weekend errands were probably too busy for them to pick up the dog, although they offered.

During the call my daughter explained she would be leaving on Sunday for a visit to an old college friend several hundred miles away. As I asked what caused this after her being away from work  for  several weeks, she started to cry and I realized the pieces of a puzzle I had seen on FB in the prior weeks. There is a precious 9-year-old angel with a smile that can stop your heart suffering from brain cancer. Options given to the stricken parents were surgery and treatments that could keep her alive for 6 months to two more years, but that was all.

I was not able to sleep at all  last night while I thought about the sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers in this family and how much shock and smothering pain they must all be in.  

Today we gathered dog beds, crate, toys and food.  We dropped the dog off and exchanged many hugs, all of us unable to put our minds and hearts around this.  

Naturally not feeling like posting much in the next few days. Also, hoping for miracles. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Tiny House Guest

The older you get, unless you have accumulated millions of dollars, the less important you are to the lives of others. I used to get grandchildren for a week each over the summer. It saved the parents money on camp and it gave me lots of hobbies and crafts opportunities with them. While the cooking part was a bit of a challenge, all else was exhaustingly marvelous.

Then they grew and are now on the cusp or past the cusp of crossing into teenagedom and their days are filled and super filled. The past two and a half weeks they have been exploring Scotland, Ireland, and Paris with their parents and another family. The trip comes to an end in a few days. I have seen the photos on Facebook and am amazed at how much they have crammed into this vacation.  Everything from castles in Scotland to Harry Potter to bicycling around the Louvre.  A visit with grandma is pretty dull!

I was not exactly forgotten.  Someone needed me it seems.

He gets me up and out of the house in the mornings.  We go together to the end of the driveway and bark at deer.

They ignore him.

Since he is left in a small cage most of his days when his owners are back (except for a mid-day dog walker), he seems a bit lost having the run of the house.  Thus far his only bad habit is licking the cushions wherever he sits!

We walk him on a leash but do let him out of the house with us leash-less once in a while and he pretty much hangs out nearby.  A very easy guest.  He does disappear when I bring out the mop or vacuum cleaner, though.  Not sure what that is all about.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Starts and Stops

I was supposed to have guests this weekend, but since they are millennials, they had a job issue and had to cancel. I understand this because the one who canceled works for DHS and clearly those "bureaucrats" are busier than ever these days. They have rescheduled for the middle of September and I look forward to seeing them at that time. I have grown close to these "kids."

So I have a free few days and what I did was wash and vacuum my car. Boy did it need it! I used to have free car washes at the dealership, but that expired and I got lazy and failed to move up my game! Now hubby is doing a duck and cover because if he puts anything of a dirty nature in the trunk, he is in trouble. (He uses his truck for boat and garden stuff and my car for errands!)

My house is clean because I was expecting guests, but I did not do any cooking or baking and so food tonight is going to be one leftover frozen swordfish fillet cooked (fried with miso) and then put over a fresh salad with added mung beans and many choices of dressings. 

I have been going over my photos from Colorado and Wyoming and will do a blog post on one of the hikes because the scenery was so inspiring.  I will post this on my other blog. I will link from this blog to that when it is done.

In the meantime, I am reading "The Blood Archive" which is a fiction about the Romanovs...sort of. It is written unevenly, the primary woman is hard to like, and the author throws in ghostly stuff with modern action and history. I am a third of the way through it and not sure that I like it!  But I will give it a shot.

Days already are starting to be shorter and highs are dropping below the 90s, so I am feeling better about that.  My late phlox are still in bloom and there are tons of butterflies still visiting the garden.

(Food for birds?)

Friday, August 02, 2019

Dancing with Relatives

Nothing can test a marriage more than spending days in hotel rooms with a sibling and an in-law. We survived, but the biggest dance was around being old and set in our ways. For instance, the sib and his wife refused to drink the hotel room coffee. They walked the six blocks each morning to Starbucks for a more gourmet version of the morning pick-me-up. I purchased some Starbucks instant foil packets (they are pretty good) and enjoyed coffee in my bed! Hubby does not drink coffee.

My brother is a conservative and I have no idea if he voted for the current mental case in the White House, but we did avoid politics.  His wife is from Denmark and very much a liberal and socialist as her country reflects that...even though they have a monarchy.  I was surprised that he watched CNN in the morning, but maybe he did that for us.  (CNN has become too much one-note these days for me.)

We both love the outdoors and seem to be on an even pace with how much physical activity we both wanted.  My brother is a silent Sam and we really never know what he wanted.  That is one reason their marriage ( a first for him and a second for her) works.

The money dance is always the most important.  They are conservative in spending, although Sis-in-law was the one who sprung for the expensive pedicure in Jackson Hole.  They own multiple rental properties as well as two homes and do not have to budget tightly.  We have far less money than they do, but I am always ready for a fancy restaurant splurge at least one night!  (My sister and I were wondering how my brother's wife talked him into the China trip...which is costing a lot.)  He does not like making small talk in the evenings, so we must protect him from that and encourage him to head for bed early on this trip!

I am ever thankful to my sis-in-law for giving up a precious week this summer to go around with us because her second son's wedding is less than a month away.  Her son lives in D.C., but the couple is invading her mountain Colorado plateau for a wedding of about 100 guests.  Sis-in-law will be hosting a family from Denmark and her ex-husband during the three days.  The rest will stay at a hotel and the ceremony will be in a tent with terrific views at a nearby resort.

Sis-in-law was in the process of remodeling the main bathroom and adding a back deck during the week we arrived!!  Mother's go crazy for their kids.

Although we know the son and have hosted him and one of his earlier girlfriends at our home, we are not invited.  I am not mad about it, but I do think it is weird as my family members that live in Colorado are invited.

Families are complicated, are they not?  I have learned it is best to be like the duck in the rain and let it roll off.

Next post about searching for ashes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Big Sky Country

Back in 1962 Montana set out a tourism promotion and called the state "Big Sky Country". Miles of flat land and nothing but the distant horizon and vast open sky is the daily view. Well, Wyoming can also call itself a big sky country...if not officially.  Songs, books, and resorts have been named after the big sky. While Grand Tetons present a firm anchor with their pointed and craggy peaks to contrast with the soft and succulent sky, there is still a whole lot of blue canopy that covers your head.  

The morning air was cool and great to inhale.  The afternoon air was dry but fresh.  By late afternoon clouds would begin to form. (If I lived there I would open up a chapstick booth as that is the what is used in vast commodities as people fling back their heads and gazed open-mouthed at the heavens.)  

There are people who feel vulnerable and naked if standing in the middle of a meadow with a vast expanse of the earth all around them.  They feel safer in the shadows of a highrise in a city somewhere.  I, on the other hand, feel as if I can breathe once again.  As if my life has opened to a natural rhythm and freedom.  As if I am in an invisible embrace of the earth.

And while I was exhausted at 9:00 P.M. when the sunsets began, I did get a few sunset photos on a late moose hunt

Sunday, July 28, 2019

North to Colorado

I am supposed to be exercising and here I sit blogging. Hubby is off at a booth in the museum talking about bugs(insects), but after two loads of laundry, washing dishes, finishing my bill paying, I passed to peruse my photos.

We met up with the brother and his wife and went to the mountains of Colorado to their home for a few days before heading out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a week of fly fishing (just the guys) and hiking (guys and gals). There was good food, a bit of shopping and even a pedicure that we managed to squeeze into the days. Then we headed south to Berthoud, Colorado for dinner with my youngest brother and his wife and then on to Denver where we stayed for a few days with my sister and her husband. Still digesting all the emotion and activity and may get around to posting photos when I have actually come back to earth. The trip to find where we scattered my parents' ashes is a full story in itself. 

The weather in the mountains of Colorado was rich in green.  They had rain and this made for unusual plant color in late July.  Weather was hot and dry, and just as hard to endure as our humid heat because it was up closer to the sun!

Below are some photos I took while we walked around my brother's mountain house.  

This green is the back "lawn."  Gorgeous!

This above was taken at a nearby resort ranch.

Great place for weddings.

Flowers were abundant due to the rains.

This was my view on an early morning walk before the others got up.  The mist formed over the waters each morning.  I did not run into elk, moose or wolves...but they lived here.  I saw an early morning Bald Eagle fly over the yard as well as a Blue Heron, western Blue Birds, sparrows, and hummingbirds. Even got a few photos.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Bits and Bobs in No Order

Bob 1:  Currently getting ready for a two-week trip to Colorado and Wyoming. Hubby bid on a fly fishing day at a charitable auction and "won." My family lives in Colorado, so we will be spending some good family time.

Bit 1:  Was that not the best Women's World Cup series ever?  Even the losing teams played really well and 5 foot 11 inches Sara van Veenendaal was marvelous.  

Bob 2:  Taking my second all-day meadow field trip tomorrow.  So looking forward to the heat, humidity, and ticks.  Photos to follow in the distant future.

Bit 2:  Binge watching he seven seasons of The Closer while paying bills and folding laundry.  Had forgotten how much I enjoyed it years ago.

Bob 3:  Still working on learning my camera.  It is a challenge, but I keep telling myself that I am supposed to be encouraging challenges at my age.  (Newer photos on my other Blog.)

Bit 3:  I have lost most of my parsley and since we seem to have kept the rabbit outside the fence, thus, this has to be an opossum?  Did you know that its ancestors go back 65 million years?

Bob 4:  Upon our return from big sky country, we have two days of company, and after that, we have a dog visiting for two weeks.

Bit 4:  Hubby is in fine health once again!  We both hope we can endure the higher altitudes while trying to keep up with my slightly younger brother who is a runner and his wife who is a water aerobics instructor!

Wishing you balance in your life as the summer moves upon us like a wet blanket.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Do You Think It is Old Age?

Hubby got a funny little cough about 12 days ago. It was infrequent and dry, but unusual for him. We had spent days in the week prior with the public interacting at a Master Gardener's booth ...

... and then the week before that we were with the Grands canoeing and spelunking and "cabining" in the Shenandoah valley. 

We even squeezed in one small hike.  No one was sick on the trip and some of us had lots more energy than others at the end of the day. 

Anyway, his cough did morph into a cold which put him in bed for 6 days. A mild fever on one of the days came and went pretty fast. He started to get up and about this past weekend, cough still hits him once or twice a day and he is slowly building up his stamina. I think as we age, if we spend days in bed, we weaken dramatically.

Actually, I was going to write something about aging and illnesses and after I looked at all the pictures above, I think we did darn good!  Getting ready for some hiking in Colorado next!  (I really have to pace myself...don't let the photos above fool you.)