Wednesday, December 29, 2021

That Old See/Saw

I have always felt a letdown as the holidays wind down.  When I was younger I was able to fill the empty hours with a return to my job or projects that I had listed to complete during the winter vacation before I returned to work.  I had family responsibilities that made me feel useful.  I road the waves out until the crest of January and its deadlines reared their ugly head.  (Rarely living in the moment!)

Now I find it more difficult to catch the next wave when the waves are small and barely moving.  Retirement coupled with old age brings time for thoughts, regrets, and wishes for do-overs.  I know that it is stupid and useless to venture down that path, but each year I feel a little more useless in this world and my mistakes haunt me.  I volunteer, donate money, and try to spend as much time as possible with family and my few friends, but everything seems much more ephemeral and questionable as I have acquired perspective moving to the end of the tunnel of my lifeline.  Perhaps the stress of the times mixed with my perspective on world affairs adds to this frustration.

This does get balanced with the wonderful opportunities I have for study, pleasure reading, watching great entertainment, watching my family grow and venture into their exotic new lives, and traveling with my husband.  I know that I have nothing to complain about.  I know that my rich life is how I make it. 

So I look to wise men (and women) to lift me:

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.  Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

And as I venture into 2022 and I will work on my attitude.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Today and Long Ago Yesterday

Today is my birthday and I have made it to 3/4 of a century. I certainly never thought about that, although I hoped to live a long and healthy life. My cough has been suppressed with the medicine and I have been sleeping like a baby for months! 

While the new variant of COVID has us a bit concerned we are taking all the precautions and going forward a month after our last booster using masks and sanitizers. We are eating out and taking that chance, but it has been such a long pandemic season. We headed up to Lancaster, PA last week to shop for a canoe as a Christmas/Birthday gift for our son. He has been trying to save up for one and both families decided to help him out. The canoe inventory in our area, including several nearby cities, was very sparse. The largest inventory we found was way up in a tiny community in Lancaster. We were surprised at how hard it was to pick a size, model, brand, etc. once we got there.  But we got him a nice canoe, did some Christmas gift buying in the Amish market and stores, and ate at a fancy restaurant owned by a former White House Chef who served under both Bushes and Clinton. The food was very good, if not the exotic or excellence I was expecting. The restaurant was designed like an Inn and that coziness along with the Christmas decorations and some wonderful holiday cocktails made it something we had not had the chance to experience since we are out in the rural area of our state. 

This area has lots of churches of various denominations with some historic cemeteries. This one below has some connections to William Penn, a member of the Quakers who emigrated from England and was the founder of the province (now a state) of Pennsylvania. Penn first called the area "New Wales", then "Sylvania" (Latin for "forests" or "woods"), which King Charles II changed to "Pennsylvania" in honor of the elder Penn.
This area is also the heart of an Amish religious sect. The Amish had split from the Swiss and Alsatian Mennonite Anabaptists in 1693 in Switzerland. They are very conservative and avoid modern technologies as much as possible. My husband has been involved in business with our Amish down here and the man is very difficult to reach as he has no phone and has to walk a mile to another farm to use theirs...which seems to me odd. Either use technology or not. They do not like to have their photos taken and this one was a snap from our car as we drove down the road.  They go about by carriage.
There are vast farms with little on no electricity.  We found a number of great places to get ice cream made from their dairy farms.  They still grow tobacco for their personal use and hang it to dry in tobacco barns like they did hundreds of years ago.  Yet I saw some pretty fancy and expensive farm equipment being driven by Amish farmers.

The only bakery we have where I live here is that found in the large supermarkets. They are good but not outstanding like the European bakeries.  We enjoyed window shopping at the local bakeries.  Below is an Amish bakery and we did buy just a half dozen pastries, although everything was so tempting.
The brief vacation was a nice respite from our hungered-down lifestyle.  It was just a bit disconcerting to see how many fractious factions of Christianity evolved over time, especially of note during the holy day season. It reminded me once again that Jesus was not a Christian.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Season of Avoiding the Calorie Count

During this time of year, our two (three?) persimmon trees outside begin to produce abundantly. The entire harvest arrives in less than two weeks and if we are efficient we can get to them before the raccoons. They cannot be eaten until fully ripe as they are very astringent when firm. So we harvest and let them sit out until they are quite soft to the touch and almost translucent in appearance. The tree itself has showy fall color.
Once they are as soft as a firm pudding I can puree them for recipes.
...such as persimmon cookies. Some for the freezer and others for the cookies jar.  I now have too much puree.  I am going to try adding them to pre-packaged lemon and orange cake mixes as an experiment.
I have brought my citrus trees inside to the tiny corner of my kitchen and they have gone crazy with both blossoms and fruit at the same time! Below are my kaffir lime tree and my Meyer lemon tree.  The harvested kaffir are the size of golf balls.

Oddly the fragrance of the citrus blossoms is not as full as when they are blooming outside in the spring. But the kaffir juice and shaved rind are perfect for a warming winter curry.
And today I sort the persimmons for ripeness and begin again!

Sunday, December 05, 2021

A Conversation with the New Neighbor

"Martha is going to come over in forty-five minutes to see the lights out on the dock. She wants to know how we did it."  Hubby calls down the hall from the kitchen.

I stopped pulling on my exercise pants halfway and sighed. I knew she was going to come dressed as if setting out for a trip to shop in the city or looking like she was going on a country fox hunt without the riding boots. 

I pulled over my roomy black chenille top which fit me like a box cover.  It was large and warm and could be used for exercise later in the day if I could talk myself into that.  I was not going to dress up for a neighbor visit! 

As I passed out through the bathroom I glanced at the large mirror over my sink and admitted I needed to at least apply a little make-up and brush my crazy, wild, gray hair.  My eyebrows have gone pale gray, and as a result, I have a little expression on my face if I don't draw them in with a dark charcoal brush.  Martha's haircut is that perfect trim that matches those who have been on television...which, of course, she had in years past.  My hair is cut into a shag-pixie something or other.  It doesn't hurt that Martha has the facial bone structure of a blueblood and has that delicate beauty that some women are able to hang on to when they age.  Like me, she is pushing 80.

It took her over an hour to arrive and I filled the nervous time straightening the living room and moving the folded clothes to the bedroom. I was still barefoot and put on some winter socks.  This is the first time she will actually be in the house as COVID has prevented us from really welcoming her to our home and also the neighborhood.  If you remember she bought the mansion across the ravine.

She finally arrives in slim gray pants and one of those down jackets in a baby pink that matches her lipstick and some large disk earrings.  She apologizes as she had received a call from the local museum and its concern about the depletion of their reserve accounts due to COVID and since she was on the board, she had to respond.  I have never been on a board, and I have never been asked but it makes me think of bored.

Hubby jabbers as he often does around charming people, but finally, I get her to move through the living room down to the dock.  She studies how hubby has tied the ropes to the pilings and then tied the outdoor holiday lights to the rope.  We got a reindeer on discount (still expensive) at the hardware store and plugged it in at the end of the rope.  It needs a bow and/or a red nose! Baring a major rain we should be able to protect connections with taped plastic.

She admires his handy work and says that she likes our "icicle" lights better than the traditional lights used by the neighbors across the way.  She said that she gets up early and some folks already have their lights on.  How do they do that?  While I sense a bit of competitive nature in this, I am polite and explain we use outdoor timers and show her ours.  

She smiles and says she is heading to the local hardware store and maybe the local plant place to see if she can replicate our "beauty."

She is really a very nice person, but I think she is either a 'dumb blonde' or is using this need for information as a means to get to know her neighbors better.  I mean...light timers are not exactly new technology.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Worthwhile Post

Some of you are so good at writing on a regular schedule.  Readers do like that.  They like knowing that every morning or even just every Thursday morning (or evening) they can join you with their computer and beverage of choice and live vicariously as you review your daily adventures, challenges, and hobbies. Oh, the food.  Don't forget about the food.

Maybe you are in the sunshine near a beach or maybe you are documenting the first heavy snowfall of the year.  One hundred years ago people had to wait maybe a week to read the adventures of someone they knew.  While personal Post Office Boxes were finally more common, it still was an adventure getting mail.  Catalogs were something that many looked forward to reading over the holiday season for gift ideas.  I don't know about you, but I throw away a half dozen each day!

Anyway, I do not blog on a regular schedule.  I do not deliver text predictably.  I may be a little busier on Facebook with people that I personally know, but my bloggers are like penpals.  I have met very few of you.  You do not want or need to read every detail of my life.  Yet, we read each other like some serial novel.

I am back home after a week away.  My mailbox was stuffed, my fridge (A new one) was empty and I was comfortably tired.  The schedule worked out such that I saw both sets of my children's in-laws (at different times in different homes).  I am so lucky that my children married into nice and tolerable families.  Yes, they are both Republicans, but they both are embarrassed by Trump and even voted liberal in the most recent election.  They do not think vaccines are a statement of belief but a scientific tool to keep themselves and those they love healthy.  (No, we did NOT talk politics.)  They believe that our tax money is wasted on social programs...but the disagreement with us is more a statement of method rather than philosophy.

We spent Thanksgiving in my son and his wife's tiny house.  She is a memory hoarder and has way too much '"stuff" on shelves and in cupboards and stacked in boxes.  They have a nice yard to expand the house but do not have the money right now to do so.  The meal was ordered in and it was not great.  The turkey was dry and we messed up on the heating.  The homemade sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes were delicious.  The green beans and other vegetables were ok.  The pies came from a local bakery and were very good.  We four sat around a tiny table.

I tried to help in the tiny kitchen and it worked, barely.  My DIL seemed distracted.  They had asked that we stay through the day after TG to welcome her parents that made a five-hour drive down.  We agreed as we had not seen them in some long time!  

The six of us ate a pizza lunch together and then son and DIL said they wanted a photo of all of us on the couch.  No problem.  Son spent some time setting up the camera.  He kept changing the timing...or something but finally sat down and joined us for some still shots.  Then he said he wanted a video of us all??!  We agreed and joined on the couch again while he and his wife counted out 1-2-3.  I thought they were going to shout Happy Thanksgiving, but instead, they shouted out "We're having a baby!"  

All of the parents were shocked and weeping and so happy.  This couple has had a difficult marriage.  Without going into lots of details, my son had some serious medical issues and the marriage was very strained.  But they both were strong and overcame those issues and now, while they spent two years using fertility treatments and trying so hard to have a child and being disappointed each time...they are now blessed.

So this Thanksgiving was very special for all of us!  Yes, the fetus is only 3 months old, but we are so hopeful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

I Have Not Dropped a Ball, Yet

It is a very quiet morning at my daughter's house the day before TG. Daughter and husband are overseas enjoying beaches and pools and sun. The three grands are sleeping in, enjoying the fact that they have no school today. We got each of them set the last two mornings to their three different schools with three different times, each 30 minutes apart!  The dog was picked up last night by the dog sitter to be watched while we leave for my son's house today and the other set of grandparents arrive to take the TG shift. I think that they will spend one night here, so I will get the guest room sheets changed, once hubby is up and about. Then they drive them up to cousins' for TG and somehow or other they get back to the parents that fly in on Sunday. I am glad I do not have to worry about that airport connection. 

When they left last weekend, my daughter forgot her phone and hubby had to rushed out to the airport before their flight! Fortunately, they were there 2 hours early and the phone drop off went smoothly. 

We did some dog walking over the week and an actual trip to a Mall for lunch and that has exhausted us a bit also with all the scheduling to follow. Now that school is out and the dog is gone, this morning is pretty peaceful. We did miss the little dog sleeping at our feet last night. He totally adopts me when I come to visit and follows me everywhere. 

We also took in a Smithsonian exhibit yesterday while the grands were in school and I will post on that interesting activity in another post when we get home on Friday. We are staying Friday morning to greet my daugther-in-law's parents and then changing the sheets once again in this other guest bedroom so that they can have the weekend (birthday for DIL) at her house. Both of these houses have only one 'small' guest bedroom, so it does require shuffling.

My daughter has a Nespresso machine and I had my coffee from that two mornings. I do not really like all the foam and glad I could try it here, because my single coffee maker is broken and needs to be replaced and I might have shelled out the money for that expensive unit and then been so disappointed. The foam is supposed to enhance the taste but it was too cloying for me. I will continue to see what machine I might like when I go home. My daughter-in-law has ordered the pre-cooked TG dinner from the store and thus we both should feel free to just put on calories...definitely going to exercise when I get back home (she writes with the best of intentions). I have found the week exhausting, emotional, and wonderful. I was able to really get to observe the grands in their environment instead of always running out the door. 

My SIL and daughter have done a very good job of raising smart, polite and easy-going children. They get along wonderfully and no temper tantrums even those the eldest was taking the "fake" SAT via computer while we were here. I will sort the few photos I have taken when I get home and maybe post on some other things. This laptop is a bear to type on!!  Looking forward to being at my desk with my computer again. Have a wonderful rest of the week, whether you celebrate eating bountiful food or not. Stay away from the must get better soon.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Did You Like College?

I keep forgetting about what is really going on in the world. Our lives are spent mostly close to home, although we will be taking our first airplane flight in a long time at the end of this coming February. 

This past weekend we spent a 5-hour drive north to Rochester Institute of Technology. I am not enrolling in graduate school, but that is not because I would not want to.  As much as I was intimidated by college, coming from a poor family in a small farming community, I still loved all the information that was revealed in my struggle to get my Bachelor's in education at the state college.

Grandson #1 will be applying to colleges next year.  He comes from a wealthy family (the ones who will be taxed in Biden's new bill) and he has a tutor already to help him with SATs!  I love this child and want him to have every opportunity, but I also am sad for those poorer children with talent and passion who do not have access to such tools. He is looking into IT work on gaming.  I keep trying to pressure him to look at gaming that would help in the health care industry or the education industry rather than the kind that just makes money.  I try.

It was a five-hour drive, and overnight in a hotel, and due to COVID we were not able to take the student tour.  Only one parent in the labs, library, classes, etc.  The daughter sent us videos of their tours while we toured outside the campus.  It was cold and a bit rainy and even sleeting by mid-day.

The campus has some nice wooded trails.  It is fairly new...maybe 15-20 years old.  I found joy in being around the few young people on campus.  It was a Saturday, so most were hunkered down, but we saw a few joggers and walkers.

We ate lunch in downtown Rochester at some 'favorite" hot dog place that was wooden tables, metal chairs, and cheap food.  It was meh...but I am not a hotdog fan.

The trip was a stretch, but I am glad we went along.  My days to enjoy stuff like this are numbered.  

We are packing today to head up to our schedule of supervising the Grands while they are in school and then turning them over Wednesday to the other set of Grandparents who will drive them up North for Thanksgiving.  My daughter printed out three pages of the schedule...who has to be where...what there is to eat...when the dog is being picked up by the sitter...etc.

I am revving my engines.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

More on the Saga of TG

I realize that most of you do not need to read about family dramas over the holidays. Who wants to hear about families juggling holidays? I told my children, each after they were married, that they did not have to feel obligated to come to my house over major holidays. They could celebrate as they wished and where they wished as long as they saw us sometime during those months.

This post is to clarify these events based on what has followed, and see that I have had good times as well as stressful ones.

My daughter said after her second child (of eventually three) was born that she wanted to celebrate Christmas at her house so that she could start her own traditions.  I think she has done this most Christmases and we drive up there for the day (or sometimes the night before) to enjoy the day with them.  Sometimes the other set of parents joins us.

She as well as my son and his wife usually try to alternate TG between us and their respective in-laws.  Below is our Hawaii Thanksgiving a few years ago, which was certainly special.

Unfortunately, as the years have passed, we have been lax in trying to find who was doing what and slower in inviting them down here.  My daughter, as I have written before, leads an EXTREMELY busy life with her job and three children and I have reduced my efforts to fit into such a hectic schedule.

ANYWAY, my Son-in Law's mother, Lili (not her name), called me on Sunday to talk about our roles in this crazy scenario.  It was too late for me to answer as my entire weekend had been filled with a painter working on two bathrooms and the ceiling to the master bedroom.  Stuff was moved everywhere and while he did an excellent job of clean-up and moving furniture back in place, I still had lots of things to move into the bathrooms and from the hallway.  So I called her back the next morning.

First, let me say that Lili is a delightful person.  She is the kind of person that would literally give her purse to you if you were in need.  She is generous to her two sons but admitted that both of them drop the ball on trying to get schedule details worked out with their parents.  An additional challenge for her is that her husband has a type of disease that is related to Parkinson's and while he can still drive she knows that the days are getting fewer for driving in traffic.  So she asked her son if perhaps they could just drive down the day before TG, spend the end of the week (including TG) watching the Grands, and then drive up the Sunday for the long trip back to their house.  

Her son said that the children were really looking forward to spending  TG with their cousins!  So, she sighed, then came up with a new plan. (I will not go into the details of sacrifices she making for this 'new' plan.)  She will meet us at the Grand's house the day before TG (we will not have to drive up and exchange them).  Then they will rest that night and drive back home on Thanksgiving day!  Which should be less traffic(?) plus give them time to rest up from the almost 4-hour drive the day before.  They would make it to her other son's house late in the afternoon on TG. We would leave that morning before TG to head to our house.

I was amenable to whatever worked for her.  I would have said let us do TG at the kids' house, but she had said that her son wanted the kids to be together with their cousins up North.  (Remember, he and my daughter will be on the other side of the world that week.)

It takes the pressure off of us somewhat.  We return home earlier the day before TG.  Now I just have to get my daughter-in-law and son to let me know if they have decided how they want to do TG...with us and her parents at her house...or with us and her parents at our house...or maybe her parents do not want to drive the five-hour drive from their house at all!!  They live way "up north" as well.

Whatever happens, I am for ordering a complete TG dinner from one of the stores!!  The food is good and there are always leftovers and it allows any foodie to bring their favorite dish.  Yes, it costs a little more.  I just have to know for how many...2 or 4 or 6??

Tomorrow I am getting my old noisy fridge replaced and so everything gets emptied early tomorrow morning to be ready for delivery.  Then, this weekend I am off to Rochester University to attend a college preview with my oldest grandson and his mother.  They have a good Technical college that has him interested.  We will leave Friday and be back late Sunday.  I guess I just need to cram more stuff into my life.  

Friday, November 05, 2021

Let Me Know What You Think

I have been organizing for the holidays..or trying to. Way back in May of this year...YES,May(!) my son-in-law asked me if I could help him over the Thanksgiving Holidays. He said he had received a rather large bonus and wanted to take his lovely wife (my daughter) away to the Maldives on a week-long vacation. He said his parents (who are somewhat elderly) would be taking care of the kids that week and could I offer to help over the TG holidays. 

Last week I contacted the parents for details and I guess I totally misunderstood, because I offered to cook or bring stuff up the city, etc. His Mother said that they were not having TG in the city but with her other son up towards NY state. The help they needed was to drive the grands two hours close to them on the day before TG and we would drop them off at some mid-point for a grand child exchange. My son-in-law then later explained that the help they needed was the days before the holidays. The weekend before TG and the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of TG week when the children would be in school and needed an adult at home.  They wanted us to spend the night up at their house those days.

So...this means we need to plan on driving upstate and dropping the kids off the late afternoon or early evening of the day before TG for the exchange. Then we can go back home that night, a 4 hour drive or go back to my daughter's house and spend the night before TG and drive home the morning of TG, a 1.5 hour drive. I am thinking I will not be  planning much of a TG dinner when I get home around 10:00 that morning.

Is is just me?

Friday, October 29, 2021

Cleaning, Nevermore

As I posted oh so long ago, I was finally going to hire a cleaning service.   I am in my 70s and I have never had a housecleaner, except for the two years we lived in Indonesia where you were expected to hire a cook, a laundress, and a night watchman (who actually slept at night and played with my 3-year-old son in the daytime).

Anyway, I was not used to having someone clean. My younger sister lives in a big house in Denver and has had a cleaning service forever. She always said they never clean as well as you want.  Since her house is huge she looks upon it as a necessary evil.  My daughter, who has three children, a demanding job, and a nice little house, has two cleaning ladies that also make the beds and do her laundry!  She also said that they tend to cut corners and not clean stuff as they should.  So I lowered my expectations.

When I started the service the first time they sent two women who washed window sills, washed doors, and did a major cleaning...sort of.  Then the service goes to one cleaner who comes weekly or bi-weekly or monthly.  They actually thought my house was so clean with the two of us that we only needed a monthly clean!  I went with the bi-weekly schedule anyway.  

After two months of bi-weekly cleaning from a sweet young woman, I realize that they miss stuff.  The recessed area below my kitchen cabinets in my kitchen is full of spider webs and dust and in one corner is a dead wasp.  I will finally point that out to her.  No one cares about the cleanliness of your house as much as you do!  I did a quick test in the third week.  She mops my floors each time and a day after she left I spilled a glass of water. I got my Swiffer mop to clean it and this is what I saw from a floor that had been mopped only the day before!  AND I had watched her mop.

Each time she comes I find some little cleaning area that needs more attention and it does not add to her four hours.  This service is expensive, but oddly I feel I am helping this young woman keep a job, perhaps influenced by a mini-series I watched on TV?

Netflix had/has a TV series "Maid" that I watched last month.  The TV series is based on a book by Stephanie Land and has Andie McDowell as a bi-polar mother and Andie MacDowell's real daughter plays her daughter who is a maid.  It is well done and really reflects the chaotic lives of some people.  It is about a young woman with a small child who flees her husband's alcoholic violence and goes to a shelter and also finds a job with a company called Value Maids where she cleans various clients' houses...which of course, adds to the story.

My 'maid' Meghan is a young divorcee with a 4-year-old. She has backup in babysitting from her mother, but I think the mother also has a job. (The child had strep throat and although she is now well and no longer infectious she has a chronic cough that will diminish in time, because of COVID they must keep her home from pre-school until the cough is gone!)

Meghan is a quiet and gentle girl who goes about her cleaning with iPods in her ears listening to music so we do not talk much.  Sometimes I hear her humming which reminds me of my Dad who used to whistle while he worked.  Of course, I want to direct her to podcasts that will educate her and enlighten her, but I will mind my own business.  I did give her some children's magazines that my children have left behind and she was pleased to take them.

I have mellowed on my cleaning expectations in my old age.  I used to be one of those that polished and shined every piece of furniture.

Anyway, the title of this post reminded me of the coming Halloween and I will link to a nice little favorite poem of mine which is perfect for this time of year.

Have a great Halloween!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Lot Happens in My Little Town

I just posted on my other blog about the wonderful shoreline visits last weekend in our canoe. 

This weekend I have been out and about at meetings, something that is a bit of a stretch for me with my cough. I struggled but I continued! 

During this time, I met a world-famous orchid breeder who lives in my state but handles millions of orchids in a venue in Central America.  She lives on 40 acres and has her own laboratory.

I met an elder ecologist who talked about all the data he had taken on his little part of a larger river over the last decade or so which clearly showed water rising and temperature changes in a very dramatic and terrible way over each year. 

An old high school friend of my husband sailed down from Connecticut with his wife on his "yacht" and took us out to dinner. He is (was) a nationally well-known heart surgeon who developed a unique procedure to save lives and make himself a fortune.  He and his wife were very friendly and you would never know this about them.  This was a nice reunion for my hubby. 

Me? I felt somewhat small in all this prestigious company being just a retired librarian/educator with no national or international profile. But I did enjoy all the conversation! Now, please go ride a canoe with me on my other blog.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

When You Need to Just Stretch

At our age my husband and I realize that life has many twists and turns. He has received a probable medical diagnosis that we sadly anticipated.  We will shoulder on until the specialist appointment which can only happen a month from now confirms our path ahead.  My medical diagnosis for the idiopathic cough is still that and my specialist appointment with another doctor is in early December!  Don't you love the American health care system?  My cough is retreating as the medicine I am taking is increasing in dose.  I HATE pharmaceuticals...but I accept their necessity and ignore the side effects.

Anyway, we both said "screw it" and loaded the canoe onto the big car, and headed to the Eastern shore for four days of meditative walking and canoeing.  We are so lucky to still be agile.  The weather was super cooperative and even a little too warm in the sunny afternoons.  So we stretched our muscles.

We crossed the big bridge and saw barges full of stuff we have ordered sitting in the center of the water highway waiting for a pilot or a go-ahead.  Your order will arrive a little late today.  There were plenty of recreational boaters zipping along as well.

We crossed several small bridges in our exploration.  Bridges that have recognition in this low land part of the world and are so important to those that live here.

What we were looking for were peace and no agenda.  What a lovely time.  What perfect cooperation from Mother Nature. What a great distraction.

This is the land of hard-working people.  People who have rarely found change a good thing.  They want to be left alone.  They rise early in the mornings to work the water or tend to their small crops or get ready for church.  The water is rising but they do not believe in climate change.  Their savior was Trump and they are angry he was not re-elected even though he gave them nothing the last four years.

And plunked right in the middle of this wild country is a more liberal treasure of history.  It is a beautiful small museum with lots of interesting facts about this marvelous leader who single-handedly saved over 70 individuals from a treacherous life.  We did not follow the path of the "Underground Railroad"  by automobile but did explore this museum slowly and with interest.

My next post I will take you on a canoe trip to where the wild things are.

Monday, September 06, 2021


As most of my readers know, my chronic cough returned after only a 5-week respite. I did enjoy sleeping through the night and feeling free to go anywhere and talk to anyone. New meds may be reducing the cough, but since this started back in January 2020 and I have been on a multi-pack of various meds I am not keeping my hopes too high regarding this new regimen.  Well enough of that!

Fall is here.  I saw it coming in the angle of the morning light and then the day after Ida passed (and thankfully missed us) the weather turned to cool and dryer mornings.  Mid-day can get quite warm, but it sure feels like autumn.

The delicate skirts of Ida.

Above is our Verbena (Black Haw) with the flowers all gone and seed for the birds beginning to ripen. Soon they will turn dark bluish and the leaves will be the color of wine.

I have reached the age where I think often of the passage of time, my connections with others, my growing irrelevance, and how hard I have to work to stay healthy.  While my husband's allergy to mammal meat is on the wane, we still eat mostly fish and fowl.  We have tons of vegetables from the garden and fruit is readily (if not cheaply) available in the store.  Hubby has been told to cut back on sweets (originally by me) but now by the blood data.  I love dessert but can get by with a small piece after meals.  Hubby thinks that pies should be cut into quarters!

Salmon with mustard sauce on arugula.

Kaffir lime leaves from our tree for soups.  We even took a large bag to the local Thai restaurant.

A few kaffir limes from the tree after pruning.  Perfect for our seafood.

So many tomatoes that I now broil them! (Sorry for the blur.)

I also try to keep up a small bit of exercise with free weights and my elliptical work, about three times a week.  I should up it, but it is sooooo boring.

I do miss making a contribution to something or other.  While I do some volunteer work with master gardeners, it is on my own at home, and due to both COVID and my cough, I have little contact with others.  I see my grandkids and my children maybe once every other month.  Their lives are super busy, as they should be.  I might like to work with elementary school children, once everyone is vaccinated...if I am still living then!

My next post will be a perspective on being the recipient of a clean house, rather than cleaning it myself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Hearing Hornets

I was just settling in for an afternoon nap when there was a war of hornets filling the air.  It was not real hornets, of course, but the activity of my neighbor Martha Stewart.  I have written before about this woman who moved in next door.  I call her Martha Stewart because she had a gardening show on television, she owns a huge farm, she has lots of money.  She is a lovely lady and has the stature and face of Jane Fonda or Diane Rehm.  She has the presence of a woman who knows she owns the room but realizes kindness gets more done.  She also has enough power in this small county to get around most environmental regulations.  She is continually cutting trees so that her view of the water is unimpeded and the view from the road shows off her Southern-style mansion.

There are two types of people on the water.  Those that try to avoid damaging nature as much as possible and those that believe they can mold nature to mankind's desires.  She is the second.

If you look closely (click on the photo) you can see the man on the left of the photo hanging from safety ropes and the man on the far right is in the bucket.  They have stripped the trees of all their lower branches, which I understand is legal so that she can finally have a view from her million-dollar house.  We do get some great sunsets and now she can see them without having to go down to her dock like I do.  I just cannot help but think this is hard on the trees.  They lose a third of their food-making machines.

The chain saws buzz and buzz and buzz and give me a headache!  It is like a battle of the hornets.  I will get some interesting sun angles against those naked trees for photography on the lighter side as I look from my deck I am thinking.

Above is our house.  We can see the water from our deck, but it is through some natural bare areas that we had when we bought the house and we do keep them clear so that we can watch the boat during stormy weather and so that we have a clear path to our dock.  We pile rocks to keep the waves from destroying the natural grasses rather than drop a wall of rock along the shore as many do.  Do I sound a little snooty?  Sorry, but I am old and am set in my ways.

If trees fall into the river we are required by law to leave them there unless they present a navigation issue.  She does not own a boat and is also removing a fallen tree on the opposite side of her dock.  This means habitat loss for our fish and shellfish.  But it is so hard for people to see the big picture.

I think you deserve a sunset picture or two after all my ranting.  (The buzzing has stopped!!!)

Hope you have a healthy week without COVID, fires, storms or flooding.