Thursday, December 31, 2020

I live Next Door to Martha Stewart

Drip, drip, drip.

I have blogged (belabored) several times on the economics of my current neighborhood, and this over-blogging of the subject, perhaps, was because I grew up poor.  The kind of poor where there is food on the table but not enough to fill a growing teen's stomach..especially when there were five children at that table.  The kind of poor that when you outgrew last year's winter ice skates, there was not enough money for a new pair. The kind of poor where you did not get the gifts you hoped for Christmas, so you did not make any wishes. My parents were loving but somewhat distant as life pulled them here and there while trying to make enough money to feed, clothe, and shelter a family of seven.  We were never the "homeless" poor although my father was on unemployment for one year.  I was in sixth grade the first time I ate in a restaurant, and that was with a friend and her parents.  Our form of eating out was the 15 cent hamburgers at MacDonald's when I was a teenager. I never knew how difficult it was for them to make ends meet, as they were good to shelter us from the tensions of money problems and we did not live in a community where there were wealthy that flaunted their fortune.  We never felt we were poor...just a farm family.  I am sure this is what makes me side with the liberals, as I know the hard-working poor.

Education was important and we all worked hard to make good grades.  Besides, that was the only way we made getting "A's."  We did not get an allowance.  I did have the fortune to go onto a small state school where I got a Bachelors's Degree.  Then after saving carefully at my first job I was able to go on to get a Master's Degree.  I met an educated man at graduate school and he was also a good and honest man and we married and raised our family on a solid middle-class income with a small nest egg from living 9 years overseas.  To me that is rich.

So living in my current middle-class house, which we designed and had built, is a dream.  As I have written before, the neighborhood is mostly upper-middle-class with at least three millionaires in the larger houses and everyone else solid middle class.

I have written about the lovely large house to our left and our good neighbors with whom we went out to dinner at least twice a year and talked on the phone as needs arose.  They finally downsized and now have a small apartment in the Capital city and a small Condo in Florida. Their huge house sold in two days!  The new owner(s) moved in over the weeks of December.  Three moving vans illustrated that the new owner(s) had plenty of furniture to fill up the place.  This was followed the week before Christmas by a large tree to decorate.  I do not spy on them, but as I did dishes there is a clear view between the bare winter trees and I easily saw the day-long activity.  

I called my old neighbor and she said that the new owner was a single elderly woman.  "Single elderly?" I said to my  former neighbor, "She must be very wealthy to live in a huge house like that by herself."  The response was "Oh, she has lots of money!"  This from neighbors who themselves have "lots of money."

I will try to get to the end of this ramble here about money, neighborhoods, and neighbors.  This week my husband harvested the last of the carrots from the food pantry garden...pounds of carrots and nowhere to deliver with a closed food pantry due to Covid and holidays.  The pantry was not to open until the second week of January.  So after calling around he found a good place for distribution but saved two batches for our neighbors on each side.  Therefore we(he) got to meet the "elderly lady" with a hospitality basket of carrots and a welcome card.  She was very gracious and surprised that we were the first to drop by.  I think she thinks our neighborhood is neighborly...

She told my husband she had sold her 600-acre farm to the north and hosted a garden show on PBS for she likes to garden and she must be VERY good to be on PBS. As hubby and she chatted, they realized they were the exact same age spared by a few months.  Her husband passed a few years ago.  So when hubby came back with a name, this nosy old bitch (me) had to Google her and I found that she is listed as a Philanthropist, rather than a TV host.  She has donated a million dollars to our county hospital and hundreds of thousands to other venues in this county.  We are so lucky to have people like her.  She is beautiful (maybe a face lift) but a lovely smile and warm face.

This morning my husband noticed that "Martha" was out in her front yard planting a tree!  She was digging a hole with a shovel and then she brought in bigger tools.

I told you she was Martha...she drives that bobcat!  You can just see her on her knees doing something with the vehicle.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020


First, an answer to the older post titled "An Abstract" and posted on December 14 was BS as in Bird S###.  But it did make a nice abstract pattern within the shadow of dock railing at the fishing pier.  I was surprised at the evenness of the white spray!

Second, another answer to a more recent post, the gift WAS a pot mover and it "seems' to work well enough.  The problem is that many of my plant pots have become brittle with age and need replacing.  You must have a very good thick pot edge to tilt the weight back against those suction cups.  I will not be moving plants again until the end of March or early April, so my plant mover has gone up into a vacant closet.

Last winter here was very mild.  We got so little snow and so little interruption in our daily lives.  While this had a good side, it does mean that climate change is more impactful.  This year we knew we would not get a white Christmas.  We did get a "dandruffy" Christmas Eve.

I looked out the window at the weekend cabin across the way and what, at first, looked like fog or mist became a snowfall.

The flakes were like small tufts of feathers from the white breast of our Canada Geese that gather on the river this time of year.  There was a small breeze and the "tufts" came in waves.  If you click on the photos you may get a better view of what was drifting across the back yard.

Grandma shook her quilt against the sky and even more feathers filtered down but disappeared as they hit the warmer earth.  It lasted all day into the late afternoon sun which created a brighter light as the lowering sun peered through the thin clouds of snow.

I wonder if we will get snow this year to any extent?  In 2017 we got this much snow at another house where we lived closer to the city.  We were certainly sheltering in place for quite a few days back then.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Guessing Game

Christmas is not Christmas without something given to you in pieces that you must assemble. Some of the pieces were so small I lost them in carpet threads sometimes. Directions were only two pages long and in English...good English, so we (me) got it together in about 15 minutes. Pat this old lady on the back. It did take me some effort to get up off the floor. Can you guess what it is?

Friday, December 25, 2020

Squinting Through the Holidays

Today is Christmas.
I am waiting for a call from my children who want to open presents via Zoom.
I got out grandma's China for hubby and me to eat our meal.
Since Hubby cannot eat mammal meat due to his allergy we spent a small fortune on live lobsters.
The lobsters are in a box in the garage where it is very cold.
I did no baking although Hubby made a pumpkin pie from a pumpkin we had sitting on the porch from last month...a post for another day.
I bought a tiramisu from the grocery and it looks beautiful, better than anything I could make.
Below some photos from our rainy Christmas Evening.
One is in focus and one is hand-held blur. 
Which one do you like?

If you squint your eyes you can see 2021 on the horizon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A Very Very Very Busy Solstice, Grab Some Coffee or Tea

The 2020 solstice day was a busy, busy, busy shortest day of the year. We packed the car with gifts for the kids and grandkids and then headed up to a small town about 20 minutes north of us. I had a doctor's appointment for my chronic cough which is still a mystery. He is increasing my meds by 30% in the hopes this will work! He is a jolly man and actually spends time talking to you about stuff other than your illness. I like him and trust him. 

Then we were off to to the city to visit the daughter and her three children. Her hubby was off for his shoulder therapy because he injured himself months ago on one of his many sports. When we arrived the granddaughter was upstairs with her therapist working on the pain in her ankles, probably from cheer where she is the base holding people 2/3 her weigh with her hands and shoulders! The oldest grandson has had the boot removed from his foot and still takes some therapy for that injury but he explained there was only a little pain now and he was working his therapy exercises. It seems he has an extra bone in that foot...rare but not so rare that they have never seen it. The daughter arrived at the door apologetically as she had three remote meetings and two conference calls that day and was squeezing us in. But since we arrived early she had not had time to wrap our gifts and was adamant that we wait so that we can take them. She went upstairs and we visited the two boys while she wrapped. The youngest boy was happy and healthy and not in any therapy! I told my daughter that I expected her to take better care of her active family and she laughed.  She told me to open the large box at my feet as it was my birthday gift---my birthday is on the solstice.  It was glass storage containers and I was thrilled as I am moving away from the unhealthy plastic in our lives. We visited a bit more, deposited our rather large box of gifts, and then headed to another suburb 20 minutes away where my son lived.

My son was alone except for his neurotic dog, who is sweet, but like many of us has issues.  His wife had driven far north to the Great Lakes area to see her grandmother who lives in an elder home and had just contracted Covid.  She is 91 and we are all praying she does well.  She is a bubbly and delightful woman and one of those who takes the tragedies and changes in her life with aplomb.  Son was also was panicked upon our slightly early arrival and proceeded to wrap the gifts as they were still in their cardboard boxes from the mail delivery on the table in his living room.  We all maneuvered in his small living room around the big tree and the enthusiastic dog and the rolls of wrapping paper.

He handed me a lovely and sweetly written birthday card (as I wrote... the solstice is my birthday!) and explained my gift would come by email and while we could not hug and kiss we deposited our gifts at his tree and gathered our boxes from him to put in the trunk of the car and air-hugged before we pulled away.

By this time it was mid-afternoon and we had not eaten since breakfast, so we decided to find someplace with take-out as this  County does not allow indoor eating ( which we would not do anyway).  I really craved a hamburger as hubby cannot eat beef with his allergy and we found a place that cooks actual hamburgers and not that flat meat that MacDonald's and Burger King now offer.  The fries were limp and needed more salt, but my burger was delicious with the fresh toppings!  Hubby had a mediocre grilled cheese.  It was an adequate birthday lunch/dinner.  Since we were eating so late I knew that once we were home it would probably just be ice cream for dinner.

We headed home after 3:00 P.M. and we faced absolutely gridlocked traffic all the way around the beltway of the city to the other side.  There were police pulling over cars, at least one large toll truck broken down, and just lots of cars trudging along.  As we sat in traffic, we remembered that on my birthday the "Christmas star" (the close matching of the planets Jupiter and Saturn orbits so that they look like one star) would be visible just after sunset.  

We stopped to pick up the mail about 10 minutes before sunset, rushed home to use the bathroom, get my camera, get the binoculars and head out to a nearby farm field to see if we could see these planet phenomena which had not happened for something like 1600 years (?).

I leaned against the car as the sun's fading made the planets and stars visible and tried to be steady with my handheld camera.  We saw it better with the binoculars.  It was exciting and even my meager photos will help me remember.

We finally returned home, started a wood fire to thaw, and watched a couple of episodes of The Crown before we sleepily headed to bed.  Such a looong day for two old retirees.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Regrets, I've Had a Few

Each year I drag out fewer and fewer Christmas decorations.  This year, with Covid hanging in the air, no one comes into the house.  The decorations are just in two rooms and only for the two of us.

I notice each year the ones that are handmade.  Most are handmade by my Mother-in-Law.  She did not have much time on her hands with the full-time care of my blind and demanding Father-in-Law, but she was always generous and cheerful.  When I received the handmade decorations each year, I am afraid I was not as effusive as I should have been.  Oh, I thanked her and was appreciative, but looking at them now in my old age, I realize how much care went into each one.  I also realize how far away my grandchildren are from appreciating anything handmade (other than friendship bracelets) in their digital world.

She made several of the ornaments on my small tree like the one in the photo below, all in different colors.

She also made these little stuffed Santa Shop characters that greet me as I walk up the stairs several times a day to my computer.

And leaning again the candle holder, made from a wine barrel stave (made by my brother and sister), I have propped these little felt ornaments.  I cut off the little rocking horse on the right with this camera angle, accidentally.

While she did live with us for her last few years, I do so wish that sweet lady, who was given such challenges in her life, was back here so I could thank her properly!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Drive-by Shootings While Running Covid-Safe Errands

I most certainly did some sharpening on these, but I thought they were fun.

Monday, December 14, 2020

An Abstract

Go ahead and guess. Not too hard.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Keeping Parallel

Not sure how time can fly faster and faster and faster when I am moving much slower these days.  There must be some physics formula about my solid body and the dimension of time which is not solid that overlaps intermittently.  I think it has something to do with parallel universes, those universes that say I am moving backward someplace else and getting younger.  ( There is some theory about a parallel universe that moves backward as ours moves forward.  I am not even remotely intellectual enough to go there.)

I do question that other dimension.  Do I still make the same mistakes or am I wiser? If indeed I am moving from my 70s into my 60s-50s am I wise enough to live a more healthy lifestyle?  Do I respect the elders more?  Do I understand their issues? Do I stop and smell the roses more?

Of course, I am taking this all too literally and it has something to do with order versus chaos among atoms and not a duplication of ourselves.  Even so, it would be fascinating.

Our tree is up...a small artificial tree that I put on a small table to make it look higher.  It comes with lights and we just put on decorations, not the familiar homemade type as I gave all the "kids" their decorations when they each moved into their own homes.  I have about 4 or 5 that were gifts these past years.  It is a lovely Charlie Brown tree and meets with my idea of simplicity but LOTS of gold globes and red glittery birds!  I am a conundrum...must be that parallel universe swerving.

The neighbors have all lit their docks this have we.  It is getting a little competitive as some are using more lights each year!  But there are lovely reflections against the water.  Two images of lights...parallel in their beauty except one is wavy and moving and the other bright and static.

Well, time to attend to some errands. Stay parallel until our Blogs overlap once again.