Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Spring Flinging

Life was so peaceful just a few days ago!

I am never going to catch up it seems.  I have almost completely given up on my exercise routine because there are so many interruptions the next few weeks.

There is a medium-sized sink hole under our garage slab, about 5 feet by 3 feet or so.  Won't really know until the driveway brick is brought up, the cracked concrete apron removed and the guys go  in and take a look.  At first we thought it was a foundation issue but garage walls are stable.  We discovered this late last fall and now finally getting the engineers report and schedule for the guys to come in an work on it in more suitable weather.  It means everything against the garage wall gets moved to the center of the garage ... or out?  It means hubby will be away and I have to handle this all!  It means thousands of dollars nicked from our budget.  Photos in the future if you wish.

Hubby informed me this past week that we are having company on  Wednesday through Saturday before they both leave for the South Pacific.  I  had been cleaning out foods, since it was only going to be me for most of April, but now I have to gear up  for at least three days of food to feed two  hungry men.  I am not going crazy and probably will buy some frozen lasagna and other pre-made stuff to  carry me through until their departure.

I have not gotten one word from the County Extension person  who wanted the presentation to the  Council members.  I will have to email him for more specifics, but since the short presentation (8 minutes) is the same day and 45 minutes away from my tutoring class I really want to make sure everything is copacetic (always wanted to use that word in  a post).  He is a rather strange man who always seems to be fearful of  women...just my take on this.

Finally, I did get the entire first floor vacuumed, floors mopped and throw rugs washed.   I was even able to run wet rags along some of the baseboards where spiders tuck under the woodwork.  Winter bedding washed and put away and summer bedding out.  Fireplace is cleaned and fire tools taken to basement.  I have no energy to wash all the windows this spring as in past.  Those double glazed frames are just too heavy.  I am looking into hiring a service, if the budget allows.

Our three citrus trees have been moved out to the deck.  We have predictions for nights in the mid to low 30's F, but not any freezing, so I think we are safe.  Two of the citrus have blooms on them which means a second harvest!  Deck is cleaned and deck furniture washed.  Birds are not  happy that I have reduced the feeders, but it is time for them to start looking for bugs and  building nests anyway.  While we were gone as bird seed dwindled an angry squirrel got into the feeder with the cage for smaller birds and ate out the plastic center core!  It now sits in the garage looking forlorn.

I am exhausted, but there are still time-sensitive items on my list.  If you can send some minions that are coordinated, I will be most appreciative.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


I had to harvest these off of our calamondin tree which is indoors this time of year.  Usually we can harvest a few each day for drinks or cooking, but our trip meant that all were harvested and went into a plastic bag in the freezer.  Now we will use them as ice cubes in our drinks.  They are smaller than a golf ball...

but full of citrus flavor.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I Have Reappeared

Returning home after a week away with grand kids...beaching, biking, walking, swimming, flying kites, eating.  Got some good exercise which did make me resolve to be more active here at home.  I will see how that resolution pans out as we move into the much warmer days of summer.  Will not bore you with photos, although I took many.  It is a privilege to have such free-wheeling time with family even when my son-in-law tends to "correct/contradict" me on a number of my comments!  I am giving him more slack these days as he (a very conservative Catholic Republican) has come to both a crises in his religious faith and a crisis in politics.  The movie, Spotlight, seemed to sear his soul, and he actually voted for Bernie last month!  While Trump may be bringing confused lost souls to the GOP he is also driving many away.

I have returned but still have lists...long lists that have to do with re-entry.  

My husband is going away in a few days on his crazy overseas (expensive) project which meant I was looking forward to almost three weeks of being alone.  Eating when and what I want, wandering around the house at all hours, etc.  But he is leaving me some of his project chores here to monitor!  I also have spring gardening work to do.  I really feel a need for a major spring cleaning of the house which should take two days.  The last item is some short presentation to our "wonderful" commissioners that has been dumped on me last minute.  All of this to be started after going through the box of mail, the piles of laundry and the grocery shopping today since there is no food in the house. 

Retirement and winter months of being indoors do make one lazy, I fear.

Anyway, now to catch up on some blog reading.  (For those who celebrate, may your Easter be joyous.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Hi / Bye

I have lists...lots of lists.
I have lots of long lists.
I am slowly crossing off stuff.
I should be thankful
As someday I may have very few
And very uninteresting lists.

I will try to get back next week!

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Baby Steps

A few posts back I posted an old list I had found on my computer under the title "resolutions."   The file date was created in August, so certainly not something I had created after one champagne-filled New Year's Eve.  That list is re-printed below.     Kerry suggested that I make the list into a poem to fulfill one of the items ON the list.   How dare she?  Well the list is below and perhaps you will recognize the age old form of poetry beneath, not a full sonnet and with a cheat.  Baby steps.

  • Dance in the rain
  •  Write one complete short story
  • Write a poem adhering to some strict form--not free form
  •  Enter a serious photography contest
  •  Read about France for our upcoming trip
  •  Call about the Adult Education Program    

Resolve this day my youth is spent red hot

Remains the tale of where and how to write.

Did she believe a dance in rain would blot.

In peaceful stillness the scene of plight?

A romp with no picture and no reward.

Rethink that trip to France which holds mind's thought

And turn instead to train the aged diehard


Check off each goal before thy turn is aught

If you think this is painful to read, imagine my  torment in writing it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Preserving the Memories

As I wrote awhile back I am in the process of trying to preserve organize photos.  I am starting with plain ordinary photographs, and then onto plain ordinary 8mm where I will look into preservation of such since projectors are going the way of the dinosaur and finally onto VHS tapes.  I organized the slides long ago and they are in neat little labeled boxes because they were created mostly BC (before children).  My move to preserving will begin with digitizing the movies once an index has been created.  I will probably never digitize the photos...except for my poor wedding album.

Below is one of the early photos that I came across in my husband's family collection box and I thought it was charming.  The photo was scanned in the sealed frame and I did not want to disturb it, so the clarity is a bit rough.  It was taken in the 1920's when his mother (the girl in the photo) was about 14 by her father, my husband's grandfather, who was a professional photographer in the city. 

On the back of the photo is written "Miss Folly---age 14-16?  Masonic Lodge"

As I progress on my research I will share what I learn in terms of preservation if you like.  It can get very technical and down in the weeds so I have to skim the surface in terms of information or both you and I will throw in the towel.  It also can be expensive, but maybe better than doing it yourself.  I once worked for USDA on a preservation project for printed materials, which was cutting edge at the time and a lot of work and more detail than I expected.

My first stop during this project--preservation and digitization-- has been the Library of Congress web site which researches this field professionally for all the libraries in the country and therefore, takes it pretty seriously and pretty comprehensively.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 27, 2016


What is sexy?  Well, how do I define sexy.  That thing that gets your heart beating and your head spinning and your juices flowing. That which makes you glad to be alive and encourages you to throw caution to the wind and do something out of the norm. That thing that makes you forget all the mistakes and portends a fresh start.  Below in no particular order are things I find sexy.

• Investigative journalists who are in it for the truth because there is usually not a lot of money.

• People who are preservationists. People who preserve land, man’s structures, old ideas, and memories.

• People who fight for the truth and are willing to die for it. 

 • Something very strong protecting something weaker, the lion and the lamb, the marine and the child refugee, the teacher and the bullied, the policeman and the homeless woman. 

 • The writer that crafts words into a picture of such beauty you cannot get it out of your mind. The actor that touches the heart of humanity in a single character’s line. The painter that sees with a stigmatic yet clear eye.

• The human determination to understand and find a middle ground. 

 OK. Your turn, what is sexy to you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Procrastination...should be the title of a song.

Going through old e-files on my desktop and cleaning out the detritus I came across a file created in August of 2015 called Resolutions.  I rarely write lists of resolutions, but I must have been bored on this hot August day:


Dance in the rain

Write one complete short story

Write a poem adhering to some strict form--not free form

Enter a serious photography contest

Read about France for our upcoming trip

Call about the Adult Education Program    

Oh well, I got two of them done!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Alice Down the Rabbit Hole

Today's Sunrise

No new news on Alice (see prior post), I am sad to say  The children have a blog which gets updated every few days, and we all are desperate for some conclusion to this tragedy.  Flyers have gone up everywhere, churches contacted (including the one she attended infrequently), and interviews at a nursing home where she used to volunteer and was fond of one of the male "inmates."

If she had found a friend to take her out of state the medical care needed would alert the network.  Besides, what kind of friend would put her family through this awfulness?  Perhaps she is dead and lying somewhere waiting to be found in the spring.  Snow cover is gone and birds are singing and today it will reach the low 50s again.  The concern is only for the living after a while. 

My husband has been having very slight memory problems for a few years, as have I.  But our concern is on his side since his mother did have senility as she reached her final years.  She kept going back in time and only remembered things in her 30's near the end.  She thought he was her brother and did not remember marrying and having a son.  She did know what irons, phones etc. were for.  So, we worry when he forgets stuff.  It is natural, I guess.  We study 'what' he forgets and while mine is long term memory loss his is more short term.  I think it has more to do with a lack of focus on his part.  He gets distracted.  I play games on the computer, take online courses, do volunteer work (my math tutoring alone has stretched my brain).

Our (his) lives are still pretty dynamic.  He is flying to the South Pacific to do some SCUBA diving on a project in April.  He swims a good mile several times a week.  He still has his good humor while I am the more difficult one. 

We are all Alice in some way and want to protect those we love from any burdens we inflict without our control.  My parents seemed to have had very sharp minds up until the very end as did my husband's father.  It is a bit of a gamble no matter how hard we work at keeping our senses.

Alice, please help us find you.

Friday, February 19, 2016

True Stories

Marissa put down the phone and stared out the window at the cold winter morning.  She was beginning to feel panic and she once again ran down the lists of options in her mind.  Last night had been all wrong.  If she hadn't rushed over after a long crazy work day still angry from the argument with her secretary, and fighting the usual Friday chaos in traffic to north county where her mother had her garden apartment, if she had just waited until this morning when she had a clearer mind...  But the caregiver was waiting on the paperwork and could wait no longer. 

Marissa is a professional financial adviser in a large company in the city.  She is in her early forties, unmarried and has lived her whole life in the city.  She takes each day as it comes and is not afraid to take charge.  Her latest burden has been a mother living alone with late onset Alzheimer's disease. Marissa's mother, Alice, was in denial and had been able to live alone for this past year while they considered what actions had to be made until several scary incidents caused Marissa and her brother Chet to pursue hiring in-house care.

A contract needed to be signed before care could be hired.

Marissa brought the paperwork last night and carefully explained to her mother what it meant.  She asked her to sign it.  Alice was suspicious and didn't want a stranger living in her home.  She didn't understand why this was even necessary.  As they closed in on the first hour of discussion Marissa lost her carefully controlled patience and they began to argue.  Marissa threatened that Alice would have to go to a "home' if she did not sign the papers, which was true.  After another hour and exhaustion on both sides, they were at an impasse and Marissa left the papers on the kitchen table and headed home.

Her morning broke a restless night of no sleep and she called her mother early as she did every morning since her mother had been diagnosed.  Alice was not an easy person to care for, she had had mild schizophrenia for years and her children were always on egg shells around her.  Ever since Alice's divorce from her father decades ago, the burden of care had fallen on her.  Some days were normal, but some were filled with upsetting emotions.  This new dementia diagnosis was more fuel to a simmering fire.

Marissa decided to call Chet, her younger brother, an engineer who with his wife and little boy lived a few miles away.  She had held off because Chet had problems of his own.  He had been diagnosed years ago in his twenties with inflammatory bowel disease and had spent years on treatments that worked for a while and then failed.  These past months he had worked from home because the symptoms had become so debilitating.

They decided to drive over to the house together.  Although they both had keys the door was unlocked and they walked into the familiar apartment.  Everything was in place, the bed had not been slept in, Alice's purse and keys and credit cards were on the table, and Alice was not there.  They knocked on nearby doors and no one had seen her.  They walked in different directions in a mile or so around the neighborhood calling her.  Hours passed and nothing was found to give them a clue to her whereabouts.  They did not want to, but decided to call the police.  Because of Alice's medical condition, the police immediately dispatched two units and began their own canvasing as well as looking through address books.  Marissa made calls.  The afternoon was coming to an end and Marissa and Chet called friends who came out in winter jackets with flashlights began a grid search assisting the police.  By sunset the police had both search dogs and cadaver dogs that worked for the next 24 hours across the suburbs and outside woods.  Temperatures dropped below zero in the dark and held on through the morning.

There were no security cameras to give a clue.  Someone who lived in the apartments said they had seen her pacing back and forth in the parking lot at about 10:00 PM.  Maybe waiting for a friend?  But they had called everyone they knew and nothing turned up.

Facebook and other social media were used as tools to find Alice with recent photos of her.  Another long and anxious day passed and still no clues were found.

Marissa was blaming herself for having the argument and for pushing her mother and for leaving her.  She was wracked with guilt.  Chet had discovered some paperwork that Alice had drawn up with a lawyer more than a year ago that had given him Power of Attorney...something he had not known...and now he was wracked with guilt.  He could have signed the contract. They had failed her.

It has now been over a week and no sign of Alice.  Since she does not have money, credit cards, a phone or car, it is a real mystery.

This is a true story of friends of one my children with names and details changed.  It is very different from TV when the tragedy is being lived by people you know.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It is a Dangerous World Out There

This past fall while traveling in Florida and visiting some long time friends, I met a man.  He was a childhood friend of my friend and they had not seen him in decades although they lived in the same state.  The man was in his late 70's I am guessing.   He was tall and handsome.  He used to be an engineer.  I surmised that he was a very successful engineer because he recently lived in a beautiful house in a very nice part of Florida, one of those impressive gated communities.  He lived there alone and I think his wife had passed years ago.  He had been a community leader explaining he had thrown many a party for political candidates.  (Stop me if I have told this story.  I swear I have the memory of a gnat.)

We were talking about weather, food, filling time because his car would not start.  He had come for a visit to my friend's house and could not leave.  He was restless and impatient.  That type that I know so well that runs companies or manages projects.  The type that wear out the carpet and check their  watch every few minutes.  It was getting dark and both he and the neighbor lady he brought did not like to drive in the dark.  This is common among the elderly and a joke among the middle-aged in Florida.

The conversation got around to his new smaller neighborhood and why he had sold the big house.  I assumed he was going  to say that it was too large for him, too hard to maintain, too expansive to use or that his friends had all moved away.  Instead he said he had moved because he used to wake up in the middle  of the night listening for noises and thinking someone would break in and kill him...not rob him, kill him.  Now maybe I could read something into this, like who had he wronged over  the years or what did he know that we did not about his past, but I really think there was nothing nefarious here.  There was no crime spree any greater than any other place in the state or even the states for that matter in his area.

I think he was that man that never was comfortable in a community unless he was the leader running things.  I do not think he was the man that trusted his fellow man.  He was not the man that figured most people are honest, most people are fair, most people do not have hidden agendas.  He was the man  who would vote to go to war first and ask questions later because the world is a dangerous and ugly place.

Last week I read a news story about an incident on the mass transit train  in England.  A man, large and military looking, got on the car  and began  having an emotional attack of some kind.  He was talking to himself, thrashing about and terrifying the other passengers.  A woman in her 50's or 60's was sitting at the end of the car where he was standing and she reached out and took his hand when he took a pause in his emotional outburst.  He collapsed to the floor in tears and sat there the rest of the ride  holding her hand.  At the end when it was time for him to get off he said softly to her, "Thanks moma (mum?)." and exited the train.

When this woman was later interviewed they asked her if she had been  afraid.  She said, "Of course."  but she explained that her instinct told her to try to help.  She did not know how he would react, but  she  knew he needed something.  Yes, I know that this could  have turned out so much worse for  her, but I truly feel the odds were on her side.  The world is not that dangerous and ugly if we use caution and  love.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

It is Not Adding Up

When I began to volunteer with the county Adult Basic Education program it was a very slow start.  I took a three hour training/meeting that involved more in the way of forms and cautions about privacy, legal issues, etc. than it did about learning theories or learning styles. While initially they had told me they really needed someone living at my very rural end of the county, months passed before I was contacted with a student.  During that time I was certainly romanticizing this project and envisioned hours of success and happiness and goal completion!

As I wrote in a prior post, it was to teach math...not reading, which was a bummer for me.  I only volunteered for math because I felt guilty not trying to help students.  It was high school math, not Algebra or Geometry, etc. thank goodness.  I was told not to contact the student until I got my "packet."  Someone spent a good part of a day pulling together all kinds of exercises from various curriculum books, included the answers, and put them all in an inch thick notebook which I picked up at the local high school.

I looked over the exercises.  I slowly became terrified over my research hours because I honestly do not remember the details of combining fractions and the rules for decimals, I mostly just used a calculator in my daily life these days.  Word problems are another challenge and can be easy or difficult.  Anyway, I studied and prepared and then called my "student," a 50 something black woman who had dropped out of high school at 17 due to pregnancy.  This is such a tragic and common story.  You can go here to read about our very first meeting.

We have now had over 12 sessions together.  Our meetings have been erratic to put it generously.  She cancels about 20% of the time due to a granddaughter in the hospital, her flu, a grandson she has to get ready for coast guard deployment, her moving to a new location, a migraine, and this last cancellation was due to a fall on hard concrete while doing her job.  I myself had to cancel over the Thanksgiving holidays for travel and we did have a "snow" day.  She cannot afford voice mail and when I call I just have to wait for her to call me back to touch base.  She does not seem to have email either.  That is another challenge.

The program lets her take her test early if she has enough formal class hours plus hours with me.  I sent in the paperwork and while I discouraged her from taking the test in January she went ahead and took it anyway.  She did pass her reading but did only slightly better on the math side and thus failed.  I have not seen the tests and while I have asked her and the county offices to let me know her areas of weakness, I do not seem to get much help. 

She still seems enthusiastic to meet this challenge, but also shows up and then cannot read the problems because she forgets her glasses.  I have been around the world a few times and know exactly what is going on here.  She does not want to quit and yet she does not want to continue.

I have scheduled the library study room for 6 more weeks and will continue with her into late spring and about 12 more classes, but realize at that time if she is not ready, she may need to find a new volunteer teacher.  I think she is not allowed to take the test again until September, but I am not even sure about that scheduling.  I will give it my all through these next months, but feel a little disheartened that I am failing her and she is failing herself.

Saturday, February 06, 2016


Regarding movie/video preservation it is the 16mm and 8mm home movies that turn  to acid.  They do not like dramatic temperature changes or  being stored in very warm places.  Once these films start their "vinegar" transformation they can  no longer be saved.  We had converted all of our reel-to-reel type movies years ago because some were almost 100 years old from my husbands family!

But at the time we converted them we converted them to VHS as that was all that was available.  Now those  VHS are getting old and must be converted to digital.  The DVD's are not recommended as long term archival  medium any more, so we may have to put them on flash  drives,  or  hard drives and as back up  store them some safe place "in the cloud."  This process is actually a scary and expensive nightmare.

My wedding photo album is fading because I did not  have money for a professional photographer and it is snapshots taken by friends, so that is something I need to also  send away for professional restoration  soon!  It is sad that we are not going to live forever, even virtually, it seems.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

What is that smell?

Is it a bouquet or a stench?

I lived in an apartment for two years before my retirement.  It was a change I had to make because we sold our house and had no where to live.  We were retiring in a few years and had not decided WHERE we wanted to live, and felt the housing market was too squirrely to wait for another few years when we might find it more difficult to sell the big old house.

The big positives in this new lifestyle were that it took an hour to clean the whole place.  I lived across the street from my workplace.  Everything I needed including shopping, hardware, restaurants, cultural activities and mass transportation were just blocks away.  It was a new lazy way to live without the yard work and the low utility expenses.

The negatives were that I rarely got to know my neighbors.  We may meet at the mailbox but many tenants came for just a year and then left.  My view from the apartment was of a parking lot and the rooftops of business buildings.  I missed my gardening.  There was little room to entertain company unless you went to the lobby with human traffic and stale air, and the kitchen was not exactly set up for cooking.  Our first Thanksgiving I actually bought a large box Thanksgiving dinner from the local supermarket.

The other adjustment was the closeness of living spaces with strangers.  Fortunately there was only one yelling match that took place in the stairwell off my kitchen door. 

But I also frequently smelled curry in the hallway.  Now I do love curry but not everyday and certainly not that stale smell that lingers in the morning as I ride the elevator down to work. There are those commercials that remind people the smells of their pet can be hidden to them but very off-putting to others.  You can always tell when a toddler lives in a house no matter how careful they are in changing the little one.  And there is the joke of stale cabbage odors and cigarette smoke in homes of the elderly.

Well, once my new home had off-gassed its odors of wood, sheet rock and paint, we noticed something a little off in the master bedroom closet.  Now to clarify, this closet is HUGE as The Donald would say.  It is not only walk-in but there was room enough to put the grand children's portable crib when they came to visit.  We checked out the shoes, billed sports caps, and dark corners.  I checked hubby's suits which he no longer wore and we had some of them cleaned.  We could not identify the smell and eventually we no longer smelled it...because we got used to it.

Once or twice when my son visited he commented that the closet smelled funny.  He did not make a big deal out of it, probably thinking old people shed skin and stuff, and therefore, their closets smell funny.

We never could figure it out until yesterday.

Hubby was going through all of his old photos albums, his parents albums and diaries etc. in a box on the top shelf.  He called to me and said he had figured out what was making the odor.  In his hands was an 8mm movie tape in a metal case.  I could smell the acid yards before he reached me, the vinegar syndrome where an acid is created by the decay of the ascetic base.  Fortunately we had converted this to VHS years before, but now I have been reminded that we have to digitize even that medium.  VHS gets brittle and fades, to say nothing of the fact that we have only one VHS reader in the house and it is part of a TV set.

The movie tape acid was so strong that we had to wrap it in a plastic garbage and take it out to the garage garbage bin.  Even today I can detect the smell in the garbage!

Now when son comes down to visit, I am going to take him to the closet for a sniff test.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Better Side of the Argument

The take over of the Oregon Wildlife Refuge still hangs heavy on my mind.  I guess it is because I love this earth and I do not believe the way these militiamen-terrorists took over that land was an example of how to win an argument.  They lost the support of the locals, the American Indians, and all of us environmentalists in short time.  They also, like so many radicals, claimed God was on their side. 

One of my blog readers (keeping them anonymous as they argued only with me) provided a link to support the argument regarding the promotion of environmental grazing of lands.  The person making the argument did not convince me as there was little example or science to his blog post.

But I do not like to think I am closed minded and thus I went on a bit of research and came across the link I am providing below.  It does not win me over to the side of those who make arguments with guns and breaking the law and claiming they should get a resource for free, because they needed to be more intellectual and take their case to those that can provide the rational and science arguments for them that this African does. It is an environmental argument.  Does this work on our continent?  Who knows?  It might be worth looking into though.

It is a TED talk which means it carries some validity and is worth paying attention.  I am just linking here to provide a better argument.


Oh, the photo above is a macro of my couch fabric with some photo-painting!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Just a Memory

The big storm is now melting into water and I can hear little rivulets trickling down the drain pipes when I carry bird seed outside.  The white blanket will soon be gone and a distant memory as mankind forgets the challenge. 

I actually shoveled about 1,250 pounds of wet heavy snow off of my deck.  At first it was just to make a path to the bird feeder and water bath and then when I realized how heavy each shovel was, I was fearful such a blanket of icy snow was too heavy for the deck and removed as much as I could over about 45 minutes. My lower back will remind me tomorrow, but the rest of me will be happy for the exercise.

I have monitored how everyone has coped on FB.  Most of the families with young children are sledding, shoveling and building various snowmen and snow-women.  The more dynamic types are cooking or complaining about cabin fever.  We are mostly mellow because this is the first really winter weather we have had.  With my Helleborus blooming last week I was fearful all my bulbs would be emerging.

I sit at the computer and paint my photos. 

I read books.  I follow one of my courses that I bought a while back.  I binge watch a Netflix series.  I do sometimes feel I am wasting time but I am not lost.  There is always plenty to do.  When I post this I will start the pork ribs in the slow cooker for tonight's dinner.  Not healthy, but we deserve it.

Soon a more normal routine will emerge. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dodging a Bullet

Spent most of Friday getting ready for the big one.  Meteorologists were in the middle of orgasmic math as they predicted the breaking of ten year and then five year records of snowfall and temperature drops on fancy graphs.  We parked the big car at the end of the driveway for an emergency exit if needed as we had no intention of trying to shovel that long driveway and we do not have a snowblower.

As you can see above toward the road, there was just a little snow left from that first dusty bit that shut down the city earlier in the week.  We filled buckets with drinkable water in the event we lost electricity.  We got out the flashlights and candles and the weather radio.  I had gone shopping two days earlier and we were well-stocked with food.  This was a good thing, because there is a ritual in this country that people go bonkers 24 to 5 hours before a storm hits and buy everything in the grocery store that they can find.  The lines get long and the people begin to lose their sense of humor.  I did not want to argue over the last can of beans!

By the afternoon big wet flakes were beginning to fall.  Mayors and Governors were giving speeches on television about how ready they were, how you must stay home, and how this could be life threatening.  This was followed by newscasters talking to people on snow-covered streets who did not stay home and who were trying to shop for last minute booze or whatever or dragging out their snow shoes or skis which never get used.  Hubby stocked up on wood...we had a week's worth next to the house.  We started a cozy fire and watched a movie.

By nightfall it was beginning to get serious as the far side of the river disappeared.

We went to bed just a little excited about what might await us on Saturday morning.

Throughout the Saturday snow fell and gusts of wind rattled the window panes.  Birdies were thankful for our water heater and the full bird feeders and the suet cakes we had left out.  I went out around the neighborhood for photos because we were supposed to have a follow-up ice storm and I knew I could miss all the good stuff.  We had not gotten more than a foot of snow by mid-day which probably makes Canadians laugh.

I made my way carefully down to the dock for photos while hubby brought firewood into the garage and blew snow off the AC/Heat fans beside the house.

Then by mid-morning we lost electricity and thus started taking things more seriously.  We moved the love seat right in front of the roaring fireplace and got our books and e-readers out and put a pot of tomato soup on the gas cook top.  While we missed the contact and hullabaloo (yes, that is an actual word) from the outside world in a very quiet house we slowly re-settled into non-technology mold.  We did use our cell phone to report the outage to the electric company and to let loved ones on FB know we had no power.  Gusts of  strong winds pushed drifts next to doorways and against trees and pushed windows until the drifts were a few feet high.  Several small dead trees went down.  Yet, we had electricity back within hours, we were so lucky!

By the time we headed to bed the snow storm had become a white out with blowing snow hiding everything around the house.  We had measured only 12 inches of snow around noon, but it will be interesting to see what this morning brings when daylight begins.  I am writing this at 3:00 A.M.  The precipitation has stopped and thus far there is no ice!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Keeping Balance

We went to our monthly master gardener meeting last night and were surprised to find almost an inch of snow as we left in the early evening.  It was still falling in soft large flakes as we headed home down the highway.

It seemed we were not the only ones surprised as people were sliding and driving much slower in the dark.  We did a little fish-tailing on the turn into the intersection and this was in my husband's large and heavy Ford Explorer, so you can imagine how difficult it was for smaller cars to keep their traction.  The snow wetness, the temperature, and whatever else made for some acrobatics you do not want to see except on TV.  The city to the north of us came to a standstill for NINE HOURS.  Some people did not get home from work until 2:00 or 300 in the morning.  Officials had been focused on this weekend's bigger storm and failed to get roads salted for this little dusting.  It only takes an inch of snow to shut down an entire metropolis.  I am sure that officials heads will roll, but at least we are not drinking lead in our water, so I am willing to give the traffic department a pass.

I am supposed to assist with a seed exchange meeting on Saturday, but am pretty sure that will be postponed to the snow date next month.  I am glad, because I have not had time to sort the few seeds I can share.

I like having an excuse to not do anything but sit in the house and waste time for the next three days!  I am in truth a bum at heart.  Maybe I will at least make an effort to write...

Except, I really feel like making chocolate chip cookies.  I have half a bag of walnuts left over and flour I need to use before it gets too old.  Then I will have to run 4 miles on the elliptical to justify eating two of the warm cookies!

Stay safe and warm inside.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Our First Visit This Year

This should go on my other blog...the one about our beautiful earth, but I have a list of things for that one, so today I share our FIRST real snow...1/2 inch of wet, sloppy kiss, flakes that fell almost the whole day, stuck to the sides and branches of shrubs and trees, revealed animal tracks across my yard,  and the time the sun came out in late afternoon...well, just look at the photos to see.

My Cornell Feeder Watch numbers were in the high dozens as I tried to keep up with all the little birdies that visited my feeders as the snow cover hid their normal food.  Today we are back to normal.

Friday, January 15, 2016

TMI With Photos

What follows is going to be about medical care and procedures.  If you are young and healthy and do not want to read this, I will understand.  I was like you once...I think, but putting your head in the sand is not always healthy.

I lost about 48 hours this week from my routine, uneventful life.  It was an expected loss as I have done this before.  This loss was time preparing for and time getting a colonoscopy.  I am fortunate that my health  insurance covers most of  the costs of this---although mine did require a $200 co-pay which is a sizable cost.  I had this done first long ago at about the age of 55 and the second time around I was 64.  They recommend it every 5 to 10 years as we age.  My most recent dance with the machinery was this week.  If you have not had this done I can tell you it is a good preventative procedure to have if you are covered by insurance.  It is also NOT a lot of fun.

First, you must be on a jello, bouillon, clear liquid diet for 24 hours.  That in itself requires sacrifice if you are a foodie like me.  No creamy liquids and only sugar in coffee.  Then the evening before the procedure you must drink a liquid preparation from the drugstore that is the most foul tasting drink (sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate and magnesium sulfate) even though they attempt to drown it in cherry flavoring and sugar .  It is a full 8 ounces mixed with 8 ounces of water followed by two more 16 ounce cups of plain water over the next hour.  Your gut is now filled with 48 ounces of liquid.  Within 45 minutes you will be visiting the bathroom every 10-15 minutes.  If you own a Fitbit, be sure to wear it on this day as you will easily reach your 10,000 steps.  This cleansing continues for about three hours before it wears off.  In my case I was really ready for sleep at 9:00 P.M.  While I did sleep uneventfully, I had to set the alarm for 4:00 AM and start the process all over again so that I was really clean for my 8:30 procedure.  In the photo above you can see how clean.  The nurse told me she had lost 8 pounds when she had the procedure done, but I only lost 2.5!!

The doctor puts a probe with a camera up your rear end and looks at your lower and upper intestine for anomalies, polyps, hemorrhoids, etc. and they want you squeaky clean.  They put you under an anesthetic before they pump your bowels with carbon  dioxide air and you sleep through the 25 minute process.  The CO2 is best because when it is over you have very little gas pains or problems.  It just absorbs!

In my case I had a team of really energetic, friendly and efficient nurses and doctors.  They even had warmed the nightgown and blanket in a heater before they made me strip naked and put it on.  I was required to answer the same questions for two different nurses and the anesthesiologist prior to meeting the doctor, which means they double checked everything.  Our nurses are mostly white ladies, but the anesthesiologist was Asian and the doctor was middle Eastern and the receptionist was black and seemed to be a personal friend of Obama according to our conversation.   If it was not for these immigrants I would get very little health care out here in the sticks.  Regular white doctors want to live in the city with their families, it seems.  Even my primary care doctor who is Asian Indian left for greener pastures last year as I wrote in a prior post.  (My new primary care doctor is Latino.)

Well, the procedure went as planned with the primary pain being the injection of the sleeping drug through a vein in my hand.  For some reason it must have pressured a nerve because my arm was in so much pain before I finally went under that it felt as if I had broken it!  The anesthesiologist told me it would feel like a pinch...WTF!!

They found one small flat polyp which was removed at the time of the procedure and sent for biopsy  although the doctor told me he was pretty sure it was precancerous.  At my age, everything they find seems to be precancerous which I  guess justifies all of this medical care.  We must keep us old folks alive as long as forever.  And the young think it is a waste of money...until it is their turn.

The sleeping drug wears off within 5 minutes of stopping the drip which is very different than it used to be years ago when I felt very drugged all day long.  I was not allowed to drive myself home even so.

You would think I would be starving for a big breakfast after this, but I was only a little hungry and very disappointed that either the sleeping drug, the oxygen in my nose drying the olfactory surfaces, or the excessive dryness of my mouth hindered my taste buds and the breakfast at that high calorie place called I-HOP tasted like cardboard.  The only thing I welcomed was the hot tea with honey.  That taste issue lasted until evening when my dinner, prepared by hubby, of some of our frozen crab, asparagus, sesame oil and roasted red peppers over a pasta was delicious as my tongue or nose seemed to be working once again.

I hesitated writing  about this, as medical stuff  is not very interesting and sometimes icky,  but I  felt some who had not had the procedure might find it important or informative.   I am now good "to go" for another 5-10 years.  Sorry,  but I could not resist.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Books Now and Later

Well about 20% in I gave up on the Baldacci book that I had written about in an earlier post.  It was written too much like a movie with James Bond types, perfect warriors with chips on their shoulders in wild situations.  David Baldacci is a best selling author and he appears to be a good person as well.  His books are too much like our over-the-top TV shows for my enjoyment.  They would make a perfect movie with strong characters and lots of action, which is also not my type of movie, and...they are clearly written for the big screen.  These are the books that seem to fit the need for escapism among the average reader.  They require little in terms of critical study or detailed thinking on the part of the reader.  This is the stuff that always seems to sell.  Yes, I am a bit of an elitist.

I instead have picked up "Istanbul Passage" by Joseph Kanon.  Much better.  Good description of the country and city and creates the exotic, dark and scary mood of this country as WWII is winding down.  It is a spy novel, but with a nice tapestry of the culture thrown into the plot.  I really want to get to Turkey some day.  I am about 25% through reading this one.

I also just finished reading a collection of short stories, "Half an Inch of Water," which I bought for my e-reader on Amazon after a PBS review.  The short story format has always fascinated me as a challenging format.  This collection was a good read, taking place in Wyoming near and on an Indian reservation, written by Percival Everett, who is a well-respected author.  The descriptions of the animals, the desert, the horseback riding and the types of people that live there reminded me of growing up in Colorado.  The stories tend to end a little abruptly and have sort of a mystical  tone, but it is so different from what I usually read, that it sticks with me long after I have finished.

I also just finished reading "The Sense of an Ending" which I did not "get" until I read a review or two.  It had a bit too much navel-gazing for me.  I think it is a novel for younger readers.  They love all that angst type of stuff.

A book that I read last month, "The Color of Water in July," was an OK read although it got pretty good reviews.  It is an easy read with one of those story lines that jumps back in time and then forward to the present and then back, etc.  For some reason writers are using this method a lot these days.  It works, but not for everything.  Good scene setting of an old summer house on a lake.

In the cold winter months I read quite a bit as you can see.  In between I read my multiple books of poetry, but the house has to be totally quiet for that to work!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Again With the Small Talk

Not everyone talks to their wait staff when eating out,but I frequently do.  I am "elderly" in the sense that I may not talk to anyone other than my husband for days at a time.  Here in the country we usually only run into repair people.  They are on the clock and not usually chatty...although some are very polite and endure my husband's insistence on bending their ear.  But recently I talked to my wait staff.

Since this country is one of the wealthiest in the world we do get a number of immigrants, in spite of what spiteful candidates may tell you about how we need to close our doors.  Our service industries are run to a great extent by those from countries with no democracy, no opportunity, and no promise.  People who have no choice, but come to us for a fresh start.

My trip this fall during Thanksgiving to Florida resulted in quick talks with a young man at the restaurant who was so very helpful and polite in waiting upon us.  Since we loved the view of the setting sun, we went twice to the restaurant for dinner and got to know this waiter better.

The place had an elderly cat that pretty much had the run of the place and caught my photographic eye.  He worked around the tables like an old sailor at a bar.  I am sure if he had had better eyesight he would have joined me on the table for dinner!

Anyway the young man, who actually was very androgynous much like "Pat" on Saturday Night Live and caused my husband and I some quiet discussion, had medium length curly dark brown hair and wore a gold earring.  He explained that all of his family still lived in Cuba.  He told us that life in Cuba was very hard.  People were very poor and the newly opened tourist industry from America may make little difference.  He said he did not bring money to his family who he visited every other year because they had nothing to spend it on.  They could not buy any more food than allotted and it was against the law to raise animals for food.  Obviously Cuba is still very restrictive and still very much a harsh country.  So sad that being hungry will not be alleviated by any harder work or more money on the part of the citizens or a growing tourist industry. Just a boat's ride away and I am sure that they are thinking very much about change.  But change comes slowly.

There is another person I met the other night when my daughter took me to dinner for my birthday, just she and I at a new Spanish tapas restaurant in her neighborhood.  It was expensive as are many innovative places just outside the city.  Most customers from that neighborhood make six figure salaries some even mid-six figures, and that supports such places.  I rarely get to these interesting restaurants and have fun with my daughter buying all the odd foods and great wines---even though I think some are overpriced.

We had to get there early because we had another activity at 7:00 PM and so we were one of the few customers .  Our waitress was a short and medium built blonde with attractive features and a very attentive and pleasant attitude.  She had an accent that we could not place, and I, being the nosy elderly one, asked her where she was "from."  She explained she was from the Ukraine.  I mentioned I hoped I would  have an opportunity to visit her interesting country some day and she said that she  hoped it was not too soon as it was a very sad country right now.  Poverty, war, and  Russia had made her sad about her family and the living conditions.  She said it was not the wonderful country it used to be.  We did talk about the way they celebrated Christmas with a 12 plated dinner of wonderful foods, which were then stored outside on the very cold patio and eaten throughout the rest of the week.  The 12 dishes are meatless and represent the 12 months of the year, pre-Christian and something to do with honoring their ancestors.

It is not totally irreligious as "After a prayer the father will anoint each person present with honey, make the sign of the Cross on their forehead, and say, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: may you have many good things in life and in the new year.""

I do love the way many countries hang on to such traditions because parts of our country move forward into the next year ignoring all the symbolism replaced  by sales and economic success while pretending we are celebrating a religious holiday.

I asked her about her social life in this country and she explained that at first she used to go to the bars with the young people looking for a social life but found all young American's wanted to do was get drunk.  She was looking for conversation, music, and maybe dancing.  So now she hangs out with a few close friends and has given up the American bar scene.  She did not tell this tale with any anger or criticism.

I find it important to be able to talk to people from far away countries without the work and expense of a plane trip and I like to see the world through their eyes instead of  my well-coddled view.   We are a global melting  pot an becoming more so.

Friday, January 08, 2016

It Is Late

It is a little after 1:00 in the morning.  Hubby's snoring pulled me from the light  sleep I had fallen into.  I poked him to roll over and he immediately but quietly fell back into  the  deep sleep of the innocent.  I  had to pee.  When I got to bed and tried once again to fall into sleep the clang of the geese on the river started up.  The weather is now cold, into  the 20's F at night and thus our Canadian visitors have begun to arrive with their rude middle of the night noises.

My neighbors across the river insist on using bright lights at their  dock and shore.  The lights are like little moons and crisply reflect on the smooth black surface of the water and somewhat blind me to everything else.  These are the kind of lights that they ask you to turn off in southern beaches when turtles are nesting as they compete with the directions given by the real moon.

I admit defeat in falling back asleep and get up and make some decaffeinated Earl Gray tea.  I am careful to bring the water  to just boiling and steep the bag just enough and am rewarded by that perfect cup of tea.   I sip the hot liquid and try to read the David Baldacci book with the tiny print.  I am spoiled by the font size I can create on my electronic reading devices, and now that I have tried to read the many physical books in tilting piles around the house, I remember why I have almost given these up.  The font is most certainly 10 point and Baldacci always write over 400 pages of this stuff.

The Friday tomorrow has a small list of few tasks and that does not worry my brain.  I do hear in the back of  my mind the drum beats of volunteer season starting up again shortly.  Soon there will be lists to make, tasks to organize and marks on the calendar.  I do so love the dead of winter when everyone seems to be in hibernation and leaves me alone.

The house is quiet except for the heater that kicks on and the click of the metal on the fireplace still cooling from the fire in it a few hours ago.  We have lots of wood in the outside pile since winter just started and the propane tank was just filled last week.  Hubby still loves to split wood and I am glad his health allows this.  The fires are perfect for taking  the edge off once the sun sets in the evenings.

Well,  I should read some blogs if I am not reading my book.  So I will leave you until another day.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Finally Benumbed

Our cold weather has finally arrived.  Below is the snowstorm that sprinkled flakes across my distant neighbor's yards, but failed to move west enough to reach us and I am not complaining.

While the snow was just a confetti of flakes and never held, it was our first show of reality that winter is actually going to come.  Cold winds today and all my birds look like fat feathered figurines.

Added a blue filter below so that you can see how it really feels here.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Thoughts for Those Who Protect this Land

A "National Wildlife Refuge is a designation for certain protected areas of the United States managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Wildlife Refuge System is the system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the System has grown to over 560 national wildlife refuges and other units of the Refuge System, plus 38 wetland management districts encompassing more than 150,000,000 acres (607,028 km2)."  according to wiki.  Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

I am one of those people who, when seeing this designation  on my road map as we travel, get all excited about the possibility to visit.  I know intellectually it is not as pristine as my inner vision hopes.  Sometimes it is smaller than we wanted.  Other times it is pretty inaccessible and I accept that.  I do sense that there are thousands of creatures and plants being left alone to blunder along in their lives through drought, flood, fire and storm and mankind's ever-reaching  pollution.  The area is called a sanctuary...a refuge and that is the mission..

"National Wildlife Refuges manage a full range of habitat types, including wetlands; prairies; coastal and marine areas; and temperate, tundra and boreal forests. The management of each habitat is a complex web of controlling or eradicating invasive species, using fire in a prescribed manner, assuring adequate water resources, and assessing external threats like development or contamination."

Does mankind do this successfully?  No,  of course not.  We do not play God very well  at all, but we keep trying.  60 refuges exist primarily to protect endangered species.  Some of these refuges provide fishing  and hunting opportunities to sportsman who cannot afford a refuge of their own.

The National Wildlife Refuge System must work with issues like urban intrusion/development, habitat fragmentation, degradation of water quantity and quality, climate change, invasive species, increasing demands for recreation, and increasing demands for energy development.

But the worst and most dangerous threats are people like the Bundys and other "hardcore militia men" (one wonders why they are not fighting for their country overseas) who think they own the earth and can take it from the rest of us to use as they wish.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Cute

Those who really know me know that this is too cutesy and little-old-lady for my in-your-face taste, but it will have to do as I have just gotten my computer back in time for the end of the year.  My more ZEN wishes for your best new year ahead can be found here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Raising Teenagers

Me: Anything you want to tell me? Talk about? Reveal about yourself so that I understand exactly what's going on in your mind at all times and so that we bond in a mother-son way, deeply, so that we have a continued good and healthy relationship so that when you eventually leave me to go out and have an life independent from me (despite all the dire warnings I give you beforehand) you'll call me on the phone every now and then and ask my advice on things and tell me how your day is going even when you are 20 and even though doing that is really uncool?

J: What?

Me: Never mind. Tristan how was your day?

(Something I sort of overheard recently.  Been there and done that.)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Brain Drains

I have been in computer hell for a few days.  It seems my download of Windows 10 to this old PC was NOT a good decision.  As a result they (Geek squad) took me back and not to the future by loading Windows 7.  I would like to upgrade to 8 where I was before the disaster, but have not found a way that does not cost money as I seem to have lost registration of discs or whatever.  Reloads of most other software, at least that which I use, was fairly normal.

ANYWAY...this is boring.  So lets talk about the weather.  Days and days of rain or gray sky and not a drop of sun.  Barely saw the rare full moon through foggy clouds on Christmas Eve. Took some night photos of Christmas lights. Well, this is also boring!

Oh, would you like me to list my New Year's resolutions?  ... I didn't think so.

It seems that working on my PC has left my brain empty of thoughts for, I will leave you with a few Christmas shots as we say goodbye to another Christmas Season.

 This lovely house in the grandchildren's neighborhood gets super decorated every year.

 The angel in the window is there every year.

Hubby and daughter checking out Santa and his reindeer on the house.

The three jewels in my family.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Taking a Pause

My last post before Christmas.  This year the  approach to the holidays was the easiest ever.  Daughter wants to do most of  the cooking, gift shopping was fairly easy followed  by two afternoons of wrapping, baked a few cookies, and today deciding on appetizers to make at daughter's house since I will be up there tomorrow.  Hubby and I put up a handful of decorations since we are the only ones to see them.  No  Christmas cards because  my computer was in the shop and I wanted to design the cards myself.  So, it  looks like I am sending out New Year's cards.  Maybe that will be a new tradition?

I spend my time today enjoying the musical links on my small  laptop as that keeps me in the real  spirit of Christmas which is  SUPPOSED to be about the birth of the Prince of Peace.  How easily we forget.  Two  people, a young carpenter and  a young woman, perhaps barely out of  her  teens, in the final stages of pregnancy, seeking shelter and being turned away several times.  This scene has  become common today.

I am truly so personally fortunate this time of year and this becomes more painfully clear
as three of my young friends are fighting serious illnesses and another young friend is struggling  with fertility.   It is normal for us elderly to fight our health battles as we have lived a long life and I can accept that, but it is not fair when it visits the young who should  be focusing on family and future.  So, they will be in my heart even more so this season.

May you find a way to  enjoy the true meaning of the season as the bright colors and laughter of the  season surround you, distract you.   OH, don't eat too much,  because you will have to face all  those horrifically annoying diet commercials in the New Year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Holiday Expectations

They no longer call
But if they did,
And asked how I was,
What would I say?
This morning I saw the pileated 
destroying that old tree.
This afternoon I heard a loon’s lonely call 
across the silver gray river.
Tonight I will spend an hour flipping through channels
Before I find something I watched before
And will watch again.
Tomorrow I have nothing on the list
Of things I used to do.
They never call
But if they did 
What would I say?

(Yes, this is a sad little poem, but it kept forming and reforming and so to get it out of my head I had to write it down.)

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Finally a day that is gray and cold and rainy.  I like this forced coziness.  Maybe a fire in the fireplace tonight?  I have been able to focus on brightly colored ribbon and paper as the soft drizzle wets the ashy tree trunks.  I have all my presents wrapped and waiting for the package delivery of one last minute purchase.  I am done early and telling myself NOT to think of one other item that someone might like or that I would like to give.  I am addicted to giving stuff  to people.  It does give me pleasure, but it sometimes is a burden to others, so am being fair this season.

(They still haven't repaired my PC but it looks like they have to wipe the hard drive and do a complete factory re-load.  They saved my data but it means I have to find/remember what software I had on that PC and try a reload from the manufacturers if I can find the Serial numbers!!  OR buy the software again.  An expensive holiday season.  I am not going to let this stress me, because that is bad for one's health.)

I asked hubby to take me out to an early dinner this evening and then offered we come back and watch a movie on Netflix and pretend it is a Friday date night.  Hopefully seeing something we had missed seeing over the years.  I need that!

I am heading up to the city on my birthday.  Hubby claims he has a Scout meeting with grandson up there and that is why we are going, but that seems strange to me, so I am  thinking they are trying to surprise me for my birthday.  I will act surprised.  It seems to be a Scouting week as we are attending the Eagle Scout ceremony of a friends son on this Saturday.

Tomorrow I have nothing scheduled to do, unless my PC is brought home and then that will be a headache filled day.  If not, my day is precious and free.

Tired of all this rambling and boring thoughtlessness.  I have a story from my trip to Florida and maybe I will write that soon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Cheer Up, It Is Sure to Get Worse

Yes, I admit that our politics has put me in a funk.  Then we have had the gun disasters that  moved me into more of a funk followed by the  ridiculous response of some of our Presidential candidates  to our country's violence and the big joke that many think  of the global climate change meeting, all of it  causing me to research looking for a corner of  the world in which to live where people are not so crazy.  (There are a few areas, but not as many as one would hope.)  

Anyway, my dental appointment as discussed in the prior post ended with a nice long chat and jokes with the technician who always remembers me and whom I like very much.  We both are interested in photography, which is nice.  And my dentist knows my name as I guess  there is  still  hope.

This did not uplift my mood enough to start hauling the  heavy boxes of Christmas decorations nor the heavy tree upstairs after I got back home. Perhaps it is because yesterdays temps reached 70F that I decided I am just not going to do that this year.  I am going to take a break from it all.  Hubby has not asked about decorating nor seems to notice we are not doing  it.  I did purchase a wreath from my granddaughter's Girl Scout troop and that is not even hung because I cannot find the stupid wreath hanger.  I have TWO!  The evergreen circle, which seems to be shedding worse than any house cat, sits in its lovely glory on the top of the wood stack on the porch waiting for me to do something.

Oh, I haven't written about the best news this month that means my funk is more than valid.  My PC crashed two days ago.  Totally started eating its own files.  I had booted it up and while waiting for my photography software to load I click on the trash icon to empty and it started deleting files like crazy.  I saw that it said it was deleting 39,000 files and immediately interrupted that process, but not in time to avoid disaster.

I took it to the Geek squad as we have paid for annual technical support and they studied it for 24 hours and then called to tell me that it was the Windows OS that had crashed.  They said it rarely happens to Windows 10 but it means a back-up of the personal files they can get at their end and reinstall of Windows 10.  No wonder the W10 upgrade was free.  (They may be wrong because my photography software has been giving me a test of  patience, so we will see.)  They insisted the hardware was fine which was a surprise.  Of course for the software reloads I have to find the CDs, DVDs, and serial numbers, etc.  I am writing this at 1:30 A,M. on my tiny laptop and would be doing the searching now, except I do not think hubby wants to hear me rummaging around at this time of night!

Do not worry.  I will dig myself out of  this funk.  My PC fail is far less worrisome than the state of the world I think and I can do only a little for that, so I will lift my chin and carry on.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Few Shades of Gray

We tend to disappear as we age.  Women notice it more  because our culture treats us like eye-candy from a young age.  In my 40's I was beginning the process of becoming more gray in fading glory.  I had to be more aggressive getting a clerk's attention in the store and more bold pulling away from the boring corner at the party and being included in the conversation in the middle of the room.  Families  love grandma, but tend to move in groups around her, rather than include her in the SOME families.  Thus I am becoming gray.  I was a bit miffed this vacation when the 4-year-old didn't want to kiss me good-bye because he only kissed members of  his family!  He looked a little stunned when I had to explain I was his grandma!  His nickname for me is not grandma.   I tend to blame this on my son-n-law who is very, very, close to his family and I am guessing makes it clear to his children who they are and not so much who we are.  I  am assuming he  didn't know my husband was grandpa either.  We do see these kids several times a year!

Yesterday I had a dentist appointment.  I have been going to this dentist for almost a decade since I moved down here.  He has two receptionists.  One is the smallest of little elder ladies with short cut dishwater brown hair and a tentative smile.  The other is a very large elderly woman with blonde hair who  has a small jewelry display on the counter in front of her which she sells.  The large woman was behind the counter when I entered.  She was dealing with making an appointment for another woman.  The reception area  is small and so I sat on the nearby wooden loveseat. and waited.

As I was waiting an elderly woman came in and very slowly made her way through the door.  Her movements were careful and tentative.

The receptionist finished with the other patient and looked over at me and said "Name?"  I gave her my name wondering why she never knew me?  "You DO have an appointment?"  she then asked.  I made some comment about just loving dentists and dropping by anyway over the holidays...snark!  We both laughed and she input my arrival into the computer.  She looked up at the elder woman and said hello to her by name and entered her into the computer.  A few minutes later another woman came in and sat down and the receptionist greeted her by name and then logged her in.  I sat and read my new book on poetry and still was a little miffed that she did not know my name, but I barely remembered hers----names are a big failing on my part as I age.

A man came in next and she greeted him by name.  I was beginning to wonder what was wrong with my personality, demeanor, appearance that I was  the only stranger in this reception room.  I  was in a bit of a funk now because I was remembering that people usually remember my husband when we go somewhere, yet if I am alone, they often do not remember me!

And I as I thought about this,  I realized it was NOT an elder thing.  It was not because I was  a lovely shade of  camouflage gray.  This anonymous thing has been  true most of my life.  I  would just brush it off during those busy years.  I remember once being introduced to someone who had actually been to my house for dinner but was a passing acquaintance over the years.  I was younger then and remembered him!

I guess  we all like to be memorable to people.  We like to be known as the "humorous " one  or the "charming" one or the "intelligent" one.  (I am sometimes remembered as "hubby's" wife.)

Yes, of course I have people who know me on sight, thank goodness.  But it is most disheartening to be the gray person in the room at various times.  I mean I WAS the Prom Queen in  high school and the editor of the school annual---it was a very small  school.  How far the great have fallen!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Season of Peace

This is the season of peace in our country.  We claim to be a Judaeo-Christian culture, but I am not sure anything from that religious history supports the violent rhetoric spewing from our leaders right now.  Above are two of my three grandchildren at a very peaceful location wondering at the vastness of our planet and the lovely way their days of fun come to an end.  I am trying hard to get out of this cloud of bitter, angry, sadness that follows me from room to room now that I am home.  I am trying hard to think positive about the future for these children as we slide into war.  So, I retreat into my photography to paint pictures of fantasy to share with you.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

You Cannot Get Away

Our first days south we stopped in Savannah, Georgia.  It is one of our favorite cities in that it maintains romantic southern charm mixed with decadence, indolence, history, beauty, and something exotic that I cannot quite put my finger on and that few cities have.  Above is the square, one of many, of that famous French revolutionary hero that fought for our revolution, Marquis de Lafayette.  The flowers are because of the tragedy in Paris.  Seems even on vacation the war follows us.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

This First Morning

It was a long ten plus hours in the car yesterday on our last leg toward home.  I am always surprised to find the house is just as we left it when I open that front door.  If I left a mess, the mess is still there.  If I left it clean, then I admire my good work.  Even though  on this trip I realized my bed is not as comfortable as the many hotel beds and the mattress is now ready for  replacement, I was into a deep sleep soon after my head hit the pillow.

Beyond afternoon canoe paddles in the mangroves, evening walks on beaches with sunsets,  and high calorie delicious meals of seafood which I wisely never finished (except once, but I had not eaten lunch that day), it is now re-entry time.  Always a bit of an odd feeling liking waking from a dream.

Early this morning, I look out my windows at the deck and see that the gnarly branches of the trees are bare of leaves, the frost is on the lawn and there is that pale pink sunrise painted fog that looks as if wood smoke hangs in the air over the silver quiet river.  Sipping my first cup of coffee I am avoiding making the long list of things that need to be done after weeks away.  I see the spiders in the corners have filled their larders with bugs that must be dusted out the door, the fan above me is covered in dust and must be wiped clean before I turn it on, one of the kitchen lights has burned out, there is almost three weeks of mail waiting at the post office, and the pantry and fridge need replenishing.

But for now, I can watch the pinks and purples of  dawn kiss this very still morning with both man and animal still snuggled warmly in their beds.  I do not think there is a God, but I pray for peace anyway, always someone who keeps her doors open and does not disregard any opportunity for help from a wiser and higher power.  Everyday, I pray for peace before I begin my jumble of stuff to do.

Now I will go blog reading and begin an hour of catching up with all of you, knowing I have missed huge chunks of your lives.

Thursday, December 03, 2015


33,000 people killed annually in this country by gun violence.  If more specific gun control is not the solution, what is?  We own two guns, so don't assume I am against owning a gun for hunting or even  self-defense.  If you do not have an idea for a solution you are  accepting the status that we live in a very violent country and it cannot be changed. Yes, people will be killed  by knives,  etc. but I do not accept that the long slog toward greater gun control is bad.