Saturday, May 14, 2022

Today I Am in Midsomer County

I have spent way too much time re-watching the Midsomer Murder TV series. I do try to exercise while watching to justify, but I got my second COVID booster shot on Tuesday of last week and for the first time since I have been doing these shots, I got very fatigued. Just felt like sitting in front of the TV after a short nap. Hubby slept the entire day! 

Yes, we are elders and no one should be surprised. I was surprised as my first two vaccines and the first Booster did not give me any side effects.   I was pretty non-reactive.

Today I feel as if I am in some cottage garden in England.  It is misty and foggy on the river and there is no sun because the gray clouds are drizzling spring rain everywhere.  This should be posted on my other blog about the great outdoors, but I started here on this blog!

Spring rains and an abundance of flowers.  Below is our native geranium.

Above my "rose arbor" just like the flowers in Midsomer.

Poor Iris always want to bloom when the rains are so heavy!

The yard is full of columbine that scatter their seeds EVERYWHERE.

And below is a photo of one side of my house, that I think DOES look a bit of a Midsomer Garden...wonder if there is a body down that foggy hill to the river?

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Big Yawn, Big Sigh

I am exhausted. Could it be that it is because I got both my Second COVID booster and a DTap shot today? Surely that is not the reason. 

Could it be because I have my electrician friend here working on a mercurial outlet on the deck that jumps the fuse that also goes to my new freezer in the basement? Could it be my concern because this dear man has lost his job with a big utility company because he failed to follow up and inspect a job that he had assigned to an underling and that meant some customers went without electricity for 30 minutes? He was the man I wrote about earlier who helped us and we helped him as he got out of jail and reunited with his family for new beginnings. 

I am exhausted. Could it be because I wanted to take a nap after my shots and now I cannot because he showed up?

I am exhausted.  Could it be because I was lifting moving and standing the former two days on my feet setting up, being available, and taking down the plant sale for the County Master Gardeners and being outside one whole day in the cold and drizzly rain--- a sale that brought in more money than ever this year?

I am exhausted.  Could it be because the very next day, Sunday, I was summoned up early that morning by my son whose wife gave early birth to a new baby girl, 4 weeks early, who is now in NICU but should be released in a few days? (So lovely!)

I am exhausted.  Could it be because last week I invited over a friend for lunch that we had not seen in years due to COVID and I ran around trying to make everything hunky-dory instead of just relaxing and enjoying company?  She is an excellent baker and I did feel intimidated.

I am exhausted.  Could it be the lovely post Mother's Day dinner I had with my daughter and granddaughter at the lovely Mediterranean restaurant near their house?  Followed by the very long drive back home.

I am exhausted and I know spring is getting away from me.  Still so much weeding and planting to do!  I need an 8 or 9-day week!

Sorry, I am not going to read your blogs to catch up.  I now have to find a manual for my electrician.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Procrastination, Parties and Preserving Food

My world has been crowded with events and procrastination has been at the top of my list of things to do. Blogging has been tapping on my shoulder and I have felt guilty but ignored it rather successfully.

First I lost my upright freezer and at least half of the contents.   It was an old freezer that we had purchased from a neighbor when they moved. The rest of the food was given away or re-frozen in my now super packed little freezer below my refrigerator.  The lesson learned is that:

1.  I freeze way too much stuff for two old people. One could say this is depression-era syndrome but I am NOT that old.
2.  I bake too much stuff for us to eat and all that baking isn't healthy eating anyway.  I split it into smaller bags, but all have to be frozen.
3.  Hubby processes all his tomatoes into dried tomatoes and thinks we can go through tons of that in one year.
4.  Hubby makes huge batches of freezer jam...and jam is not all that healthy either.

This drawer above to my refrigerator freezer now only closes if we mash everything hard!

We bought another upright freezer (delivered today) and I moved it to the basement instead of the garage where the other freezer was plugged in.  The new freezer is about 60% the size of the old freezer and I am sure we will fill it fully in no time!!

Hubby wanted to invite our neighbor ("Martha Stewart") over for an oyster dinner.  She told him she had never eaten broiled oysters(!)  Hubby invited her that very day and said he would do all the planning and cooking and I would not have to worry.  Needless to say, he got to talking and talking to our guest and I had to cook everything except the oysters which he put in the oven to bake for about 8 minutes before he realized he had not turned on the broiler!  The meal went well in spite of all the craziness.  She is super polite and a perfect politician.  (Never having eaten a broiled oyster after living in this state most of her life. Ha! ) 

I had apologized to her that we did not have seafood forks for the oysters.  We probably could have used the crab forks, but we enjoyed the oysters and store-bought veggies and cake and the meal went pretty well, although I felt out of my depth in the hostess department.

A few days later I came home to find on our front porch a small gift bag filled with tissue paper and these: 

She seems to have the perfect hostess gift for any occasion.  I do feel a little intimidated that for every one thing we do for her she responds with at least two things!

Along with the above events are the Master Gardeners' activities, which are in full swing with lots of meetings and planning.  That crowds my calendar and I am trying to get out of much of it.

And the cherry on the "Too Much to Do" cake for this month was my daughter-in-law and son's baby shower.  I helped my daughter move chairs and tables and helped with menu planning and shopping and brownie making, etc.  It was outdoors and for 40 people.  She and her husband - ever the host and hostess - did the games.  The crowd were people in their 40's so it was much more different than an age 20 baby shower.  It went very well, I was in charge of photos and we were not entirely exhausted when we delivered all the chairs and tables back to my daughter's neighbors throughout her neighborhood.  Early afternoon the weather was lovely and then it turned a bit cold.

Today I am supposed to pay bills and exercise.  Sigh.  I think I will read blogs instead.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

A Fisherman's Tale in Seven Photos

The photo story setting is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
I sent hubby down to the waterside to see if he could help with the net once we noticed that size of the carp! (It took very little encouragement from me.) The man was photographed by at least 20 people who were walking around to see the cherry blossoms.  (We will not discuss that carp are bottom feeders and that this was in the river in the city.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Moving through the Climates

The globe is indeed smaller.  Imagine our pioneer forefathers being able to go from mild late winter at our home to summer to mid-winter in just a few days.  They would be shell-shocked.  We left warm and sunny San Diego and arrived in Denver to meet up with family and were plunged into winter.  I love looking out the windows of the plane as we fly over our vast country, so much of which "seems" uninhabited.  

Something magical about being up so high above the earth and getting a bird's perspective on how small we all really are.

Denver had been getting plenty of snow on and off the week prior to our arrival.  It would melt and then another snowfall would arrive.  Below is the roof of my sister's neighbor's house the night we arrived and then the next day after a lovely gentle overnight snowfall.

The weather was cold but since it is a "dry" cold it is tolerable.  They loaned us scarves and coats, etc.  Below are brother and sister and in-laws at a Mexican restaurant get-together the next day.

Then we headed out to my youngest brother's house which he is building.  He has built two other houses for himself, but his wife wants this new much larger house it seems.  They have no children and are not big not sure why unless it is for investment.  They do own quite a bit of real estate.  They do the work mostly themselves, although as they have aged, they do contract out the heavy stuff!

It was lovely seeing them all.  I hope that my sister and my other brother come out for a visit soon now that COVID is on the wane.  My youngest brother has never visited me even though we are close.  They only like travel to Mexico in the winter for a break.

Above we are back at my sister's house trying to stay out of the way of two large dogs that were getting reacquainted.  You can see them wrestling in the back.  Can you tell which of the folks are related by body language?

Lastly, we flew home after three days and arrived late at night.  We did not stay at my daughter's but picked up the car and tried to make it through the city at 9:00 PM.  Below is what we encountered and what led us to a two-hour detour before we finally could unload and rest at home!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Playing Tourist

How lucky I am to be able to play tourist in my own country. Yes, COVID Cousin waits to rear its ugly head down the road. Yes, inflation has cut dramatically into our budget. Yes, the war in Ukraine gets uglier and uglier as that awful dictator tries to bomb them back to the dark ages. But, I have to turn my face to the sun and pretend, for a while, that my life is going on somewhat regularly. 

The conference planners had expected 3,000 scientists, environmentalists, and policy planners from around the globe. They got 2200, which was still a pretty good number.  Most, but not all, wore masks, as required by the rules.  There was a PCR testing room off to the side and as I walked by I saw 3 people inside.  I think they were testers.  This conference in actuality was one of three regional member meetings that allowed easier travel for all of the scientists around the globe.  One meeting in San Diego, one a few months later in Mexico, and a final one a few months after that in Singapore.  Some scientists will go to all three.

Below is the bar/gathering area outside the conference registration building up in Mission Valley outside of San Diego.  It was early in the day.  Scientists can fill a bar when needed.

I went to the conference two of the days.  Hubby's talk did not go as smoothly as he hoped because the slides were out of order and some were missing.  He was not embarrassed but went on with his talking anyway.  I had asked him several times to go through it with me, but he was tinkering with it until the very last minute.  He did get an opportunity to meet all of his old friends and also made some plans with Nature Conservancy contacts for work on a project.  So all in all it was worthwhile.

The other days I played tourist.  San Diego has a special city park called Balboa Park.  It began in 1868 as a city park on a high mesa overlooking San Diego.  It has got to be the best location of any city park!  Over 17 museums and historic venues to see.  Naturally one of my afternoons there I saw just a tiny bit. (I must come back.) When we had visited years ago with Mage and George we got a private tour of the car museum, which is the best way to get a tour!

I am not the best map reader and had trouble finding the Japanese Friendship Garden along with a few other tourists that I followed!  (The Botanical Gardens were closed, sadly.)  The Friendship Garden held new meaning for me in these times.

Then I toured the desert garden and missed the Rose Garden, sadly.

Finally, I visited the many art shops at the Spanish Village Art Center and did not buy anything because that time in my life has passed.  In fact, I went through my craft closet and gave some stuff to Mage that had been sitting there unused for some time!  Nothing like dumping your stuff on others!

Artists village.  Photo was taken before it opened mid-afternoon.

I also toured the Mingei International Museum which was filled with marvelous arts and crafts items from famous and non-famous and maybe infamous.  The museum had a half-dozen explorers other than me and arts and crafts are one of my favorite things to view.  I spent over an hour there as I had no one else to worry about!  I was so enthralled that I failed to take many photos.  Below the wall of Indonesian wax Tjaps which are copper designs that carry melted wax to resist the dyes when making batik fabric.  I have one or two which I use as trivets.

We did spend a small fortune on food, but since we have not eaten out in nice restaurants for almost three years, we felt justified.  We got to places early since we were on East Coast time and had our choice of tables.


Plenty of good seafood in the tourist areas of the city.  Seafood is always healthy, even if smothered in butter, right?

Needless to say, almost all is ala carte in the tourist areas which makes it so much more expensive.

Since I did a lot of walking I also ordered my share of desserts.  

On our get-together with two of my favorite bloggers, Hubby and George ordered some chocolate-cake concoction the size of a small cat, and Mage and I ordered a mutual favorite, creme brulee.  The creme brulee had fresh fruit on top and that has to count for something!  I will skip writing the narrative on the huge mistake I made in getting the meet-up location correct as that is almost a blog post by itself!  At least we finally met up!

I hope this showed that the world is moving on timidly.  Stay safe in your travels.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Traveling by Air Once Again

Certainly, aging changes travel skills. I usually return exhausted and ready to get back to my normal routines. This time I was much more emotional and sort of "out of time".  I felt lost at times during the day and actually had problems remembering where I had stored stuff before I left.  I did sleep like a hibernating bear on the trip and at home which I do love after my problems with coughing last year.

The actual flights, scheduling, and going through security were extremely efficient.  We flew United and have their credit card and they made it so easy to check in at home or at the hotel in San Diego or at my sister's house each time we needed boarding passes.  Many people used their phones to show the QR code, but I found that at least a few times the airport reader would not work as easily with the phone screen as it did for those of us with our paper printed codes!  (I also always worry about having a phone with no power.)  We were able to check in our bags at the kiosks very easily as well.

Due to hubby's memory issues, I have found that I have taken over all the scheduling and checking in.  BUT he made all the reservations before we left!  I think that when he is stressed, his memory fails him more and there is nothing more stressful than standing in an airport line or waiting for a taxi.

Our airports were relatively empty during the times and days we traveled.  

We were off the pre-TSA list as we had not flown for years, and were no longer subscribed.  Therefore we did not have the luxury of being pre-checked with TSA.  The security lines had different rules at Dulles, San Diego, and Denver.  None required shoe removal if you are over 75.  All required removal of electronics. Two required removals of my DSLR camera.   One required me and hubby to go through the body scanner while the other two did not.

It was hard to wear masks during the entire time you were at the airports (unless eating) and during the entire flight, although you could remove them if you were eating the snacks and drinking as long as you replaced the mask between sips and bites.  It was hot and if you were dragging luggage from one end of a large airport to another, the mask did reduce oxygen intake! We encountered no mask idiots on the flight thankfully.  99% of the travelers followed the rules.

We stayed in the Gaslight District in San Diego.  Very touristy, expensive food and only touristy stores to shop.  But since I live in the country, these were all treated as temporary issues.  It was within walking distance of the parks near the water.  The architecture was certainly varied.

And, as you can see there were no crowds!

We got some great sunsets from our hotel room which looked over the water in front of the Convention Center.  (Hubby's conference was up in Mission Valley instead of the large center here.)

We Ubered everywhere and that cost $19 to $30 depending on the trip.  Considering the cost of gas and the luxury of not having to find parking for a rental car, we thought this was quite acceptable.  I downloaded the UBER app to hubby's phone and he was able to navigate back and forth by himself on the two days that I did not go to the conference.  He hates phone apps, but when motivated...

I took a few hundred photos and will not bore you with them all.  In the next post I will add some stuff about botanical visits, hubby's speech and include our visit with Mage and George since I know that bloggers love to read about others' travels...not.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Being Brave

We are off on an airplane this Sunday. We drive up to my daughter's house on Saturday to spend the night since it is closer to the airport and we can leave our car in her neighborhood. She and her husband are off to dinner and a play and will not have much time to spend with us and the grands have various plans as well. It cannot be helped that they are in the prime of their life! 

Hubby is giving a presentation at an international conference in San Diego. We are brave to go to such a large and exposed meeting with people from all over the world. It is good for him to prove to himself that he can still do this and while many will not find his speech important, it is important to him! It is only 10 minutes long with a few minutes allowed for questions and he has been working on it for months! He will print out a copy for me to review and then go down and make changes before I can even read it! He would normally have it memorized by now.  I may be the one changing the slides on the screen.

We will be exposing ourselves on long plane flights and then he will be exposed at the meetings.  We will be wearing masks and I have packed some quick Covid tests in the event we need them.  Sadly we have to go on living our lives and it seems such a small danger compared to places around the world right now that are in the middle of a war. 

hope to meet up with Mage (and Georgeas well as tour a few places in the city that I have not seen for years.  We met as bloggers when they came to my nearby city and then I went to theirs and now I am returning! 

I hope to eat in nicer restaurants; I hope to find wonderful things to photograph; I hope to avoid COVID.

After five days we are flying on to Colorado and meeting with family and praying we are not carrying germs to them although several of them have been traveling recently as well.

Life is moving on.  I guess it has to or why are we living?

(Apologies for the odd font size.  Blogger spends most of its time reducing my font size!)

Monday, February 21, 2022

Are Roller Coaster Rides Good for Your Health?

The saga of the dog is in three parts, and this is the last. If you are not a pet person or animal person or in the mood, I am guessing that reading this is a waste of time. But since it was an important lesson learned in my life, I have to document it. 

For a few years now, since we have retired, Hubby has been telling me we should get a dog. We have owned at least six dogs in our lifetime. I love dogs but not the ticks that are so dangerous. Yes, they give dogs poison but I have seen live ticks crawling on the granddogs that I babysit during some summers.

It has been good that the Shelters have been open by appointment only for the last two years due to COVID as I could avoid the issue more easily. Our local "limited kill" shelter finally opened on Saturdays for three hours for an open house and Hubby wanted us to go. We did. He immediately fell in love with a 3-year-old foxhound called Birdie and they let her out for us to visit in a side room. The dog was loving and exploring and calm. Hubby felt sure that since she was the only dog not barking in the kennels she was a real "Lady" and he called her that. He wanted to take her home immediately! I had to calm him and explain we needed to dog-proof the house (and talk about such a big step.)

 We worked on the house and a week later emailed the shelter for an appointment to take Lady. Since the manager saw our division in the enthusiasm she wisely suggested we foster to adopt. Those of you who have read the previous two blog entries know that this is exactly what we did. The second post shows the adventure we were exposed to and it helped me talk Hubby into returning this dog. I had hoped he would play a bigger role in the dog's care and in watching her, but he has a number of projects and is not good with details, such as when and how to give the dog medications.  It is not his early dementia, as he has always left the details of life to me.  He did take her on the long walks. While she initially sat with him while he watched TV, Lady related to me mostly, insisting on sitting in my lap during my morning coffee on the sofa.
She was very needy in demanding that I rub her tummy for a 15 minute morning session as I drank my coffee and watched the news.  She would take her paw under my arm and push it down.  I did not mind as she was warm for my cold hands and I realized that such vulnerable love was something that was in very short supply in her chaotic life. She was clearly trusting.  She followed me everywhere.
In about two weeks she was able to sleep in her kennel, was housebroken and rang the bells hanging on the door to go out, and actually started "talking" and "arguing" with me over treats in a very human way.

She even liked/tolerated(?) baths.  

She slept in her kennel every night without any bother and waited for me to get up in the early morning to feed her and let her outside! No barking. Perfect, right?

Then came the tragic evening that I wrote about in my last post. Such a scary thrill ride! I had imagined her dead on the road from a traffic accident, dead from the gunshot of a nearby hunter, or coming home with all kinds of health issues and broken bones to add to the ones she already had! 

It was not hubby's fault that she escaped, but it was/is a problem in that he cannot watch her and start a BBQ at the same time. His focus is singular. 

We took her back yesterday. The people at the shelter were polite and friendly, but I saw they were somewhat cold in taking her back. I brought lots of extra food I had purchased and snacks and other stuff in a bag as well as all the food she did not eat.   I still felt a failure.

Do I miss seeing that soft brown face in the morning-YES
Do I miss tripping over her as I make my way to sit down for my coffee--NO
Do I miss taking her outside several times a day-MAYBE
Do I miss her ability to drag me down the steps in the early morning before she can be controlled-NO
Do I miss her warm head in my lap-YES
Do I miss all the dog hair on the furniture-NO
Do I miss having to negotiate my every move in the kitchen-NO
Do I miss Dog bags of poo-NO
Do I miss her enthusiasm for life-Perhaps
Do I miss her watching birds with me in my weekly count for Cornell-YES

Will we try for another dog-Probably not for a long time.