Monday, December 31, 2012

Stalkers in the Midst

We had a beautiful snowfall this week and I am doing OK.

A few days ago, hubby came running into the bedroom yelling, "Arleen, Arleen, look outside."  Not fully awake but startled by what he said, I stretched over and peered out the window.  There, sitting on a backyard tree were two large turkey vultures and they seemed to be looking into my window. I checked my pulse, and yep, I still had one.  I jumped out of bed, did a little dance and yelled for them to go away.  Heck, there is still plenty of life in this old girl yet.

This was not quite the happy New Year greeting I wanted.  I was hoping for the Bluebird of Happiness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

See You Next Year.

Busy, busy, busy, but I am doing OK.

My daughter and her family will be visiting from California next week and my other children will be popping in and out during the holidays.  It will be about having fun with family and friends, feeding people and keeping everything going in an easy, peasy flow.   Easy, peasy, well, maybe that won't happen, but I am being optimistic.    I am going to take a break from blogging for awhile and will return when the new year comes around.

I am wishing you all a wonderful holiday, no matter what you believe or how you celebrate.  I believe in the power of love and that is the one thing that all cultures have in common.  It is what we all want and what we all need. So I wish you  love and may you all find peace and joy in this season of  hope.

Bless you all, everyone. 



I wrote this before the news came out about the tragedy at the Sandy Hook elementary school. My title was Joy to the World.  That title seems so inappropriate now as we are all in deep sorrow. Such madness and unless we change the laws and the culture of guns in the US, this will never end.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Mrs. Christmas and the Freaking Tree.

My  tree is up and decorated and I am doing OK.

Eleven years ago my hubby brought home an 11 foot fir tree for me to decorate.  We had just moved into our new home and had a few rooms with 15/20 foot ceilings.  He was so sure that I would love this blankety blank monstrosity.  My family will tell you that I am very fussy about decorating and spend most of the holidays tweaking the tree until I think it is perfect.  Up until then we had always had 6 to 7 foot trees that even though I obsessed about them, I enjoyed trimming.  That year I worked on what seemed to be a giant Sequoia planted in my living room, for two nights, crying and cursing all the way.  Much of the cursing came when I looked in the other room and saw hubby comfortably ensconced in his old man's chair, sipping on fine wine and enjoying some sporting event on the TV.   A line in the sand was drawn then and there.

Next year I took hubby (kicking and screaming) into our local big box store and purchased a 7 foot forever tree that we have had ever since.  We also bought a carousel stand and when the lights are on, the tree will turn.  I just stand there with box of ornaments and let the branches come to me.  Life got better.

Mr. Christmas Interactive Lights & Sound Ornament with VoiceActivation - H196662This year I have added something new that I thought would entertain the grandchildren.  Yes, it's cheesy and I am sure will become annoying, but right now I am enjoying it.  It is a frame shaped ornament that plays carols and whose workings are hooked into the indoor  tree's lights.  You do, though, have to be polite and say, "Hello Mr. Christmas" and have a conversation with the tree (so what's new about that).  Mr. Christmas will play the songs you request and the lights will blink along.  My only problem is that my tree is constantly spinning and Mr. Christmas, like many men, does not hear really well and when he is facing another direction, he tunes you out.

The first night we connected this acoustic marvel, I saw my husband running around and screaming into the tree, "Mr. Christmas, Mr. Christmas, MISTER CHRISTMAS and no lights went on and no songs were played.  In a spirit of the season, he said to me "This damn thing won't work" (and a few other choice words).

"Of course, I said, he won't respond to you if you talk to him like that.  You have to greet him with a hello, and then he will listen."

When greeted properly Mr. Christmas played Joy to the World, and hubby learned that manners can be fun. Fa, la, la!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Downloading Christmas

I went shopping on Black Friday and despite it, I am doing  OK.

I am not a shopper, but I do love to buy presents.  I pride myself on listening to my loved one's wants and needs.  I try to pick up on any of their hints and then read all the news on the latest and the greatest gifts of the season.  By October, I usually have some good ideas.  This year though, I have nada, nil, zippo, nothing, not even a clue what to get. 

Everybody seems to be obsessed with their latest phone, tablet or laptop.  Their lives appear to revolve around being connected through social media.  I have watched people at social gatherings who look like they are engaged in a conversation, casually glance at their phones (which they always have not far from their fingertips) every few minutes.  Right now three of my grandchildren are sitting in my family room playing on their hand-held devices with the oldest one multitasking on three.  Games they enjoy to play no longer come in a box but are downloaded.  It seems that so much can be acquired instantaneously and people's needs satisfied with a click of an app.  Santa Claus no longer has to travel all that distance on Christmas Eve, Apple and Amazon have taken his place.  The old guy has been outsourced.

This holiday season will be different.  I have always enjoyed wrapping and giving gifts with beautiful paper and ribbons.  It is a way to tell the people I love how special they are to me.  This year though I am perplexed, because how do you wrap an app?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Fog Comes On

Getting ready for the holidays, and I am doing OK

As I no longer go to work on a daily basis and time has lost its importance, I have, on occasion, woken up and am not sure what day it is. I look for clues and if hubby is not there, it means he went to work (big smile, big smile!). So now I am down to one of five or one of two and that is good enough for me.

Where, oh where, did that mind go that used to figure out complex programs and mathematical equations. I was that person who managed a small company and a large family and now I cringe when my grandchildren want me to play Angry Birds on their iPod. I used to be that person who jumped out of bed and quickly got her day going at 5:30 AM. Now as I slowly slide off the side of the mattress and onto the floor, my main purpose is to look for my glasses. Finding them within three minutes is sort of like getting a hole in one for me.

Monday, Schmonday, what does it matter now. It has taken me a while but I have learned to embrace a less stressful environment. Unless hubby is around, time is mine to do with what I want. I have a volunteer job that I love, love, love and gives me great satisfaction and joy.  I also now have time to spend with my grandchildren that I did not have before and I am making memories. I have replaced the stress and restraints I had by now doing things I choose. My early enthusiasm about doing chores that I had put off for years has waned. Purging the basement of unnecessary collections has not been accomplished although I do make attempts at it every now and then (the emphasis on "then). I have decided to focus on small victories rather than big burdensome tasks. Best of all, what I have found is that in this phase in life I do less complaining and am grateful for so much more.

So when I woke up this week and saw the thick fog, I did not worry about being out on the road trying to see through the mist. What I noticed was how beautiful it looked. There was silence and sweet peace in the scene.

The Fog
by the wonderful Carl Sandburg

The fog comes

on little cat feet

It sits looking
Over harbor and city (and suburbia)

On silent haunches

And then moves on

And so have I. 


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Let There Be Light

"Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself." 
 Desiderius Erasmus

The lights are back on in downtown New York.

"Normal" will not return for a longer time for many who were in the path of Sandy, but meanwhile the media is taking time from their constant annoying political spin to tell the stories of  the selflessness of so many who braved the dangers to help a neighbor, be it a stranger or a friend. 

People from all over have lent a hand in any way they can.  It does the spirit good to know that we truly do live in a wonderful world.  The lights seem to be a little brighter because of the the kindness of the human heart.

And BTW, I am doing OK.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trying To Keep Up

Dancing as fast as I can, and I am sort of doing OK

Dealing with the torment of Sandy, spending time with my granddaughters ( my pleasure), dealing with my volunteer job, dealing with life, and I have gotten behind.  It has been a difficult week and I am sorry that I could not keep up with everyone, but life interrupted.  I will resume what is normal for me next week.  Maybe!

I am doing my best, just was not prepared for it all. However, we escaped the worst of Sandy and it breaks my heart seeing the the horrors that other people are going through.    It lets you know how small your problems are. They are telling us now that another storm is coming our way.  Not fair, we did not have a chance to breathe.

I have never liked November. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

Grim weather reports, but I'm OK (right now)

I looked out my window this morning and the scene was calm.  The leaves on the willow tree, whose branches reach within 10 yards of my bedroom window, were barely moving.  It had rained slightly overnight and the deck was wet.  The sky is very grey and the stillness of everything outside is foreboding.  The birds are quite noisy though and the feral cats that come to my yard everyday are up on my deck now staring into the window. 

We have been inundated with news of this Frankenstorm (as it is called) for a few days now.  Stores are now out of generators, batteries, flashlights, radios and anything else that they think necessary to protect them and their property from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.  I imagine the grocery stores have sold more bread and milk in this past week than they have since last year's October surprise.

Hubby and I have been working since Friday trying to get ready for what's to come.  What we could not put away, we have tied down.  Fresh batteries have been put in all that need them and we have candles on every table.   We have even made some shelters for those outside cats, because we have learned to care about them and hope no harm comes their way.
The clouds are gathering
Sitting here waiting for the inevitable is not easy.  Most people are frightened and it is hard to imagine what will be the outcome of this hurricane.  Yes, I have been around for many of these in my life, but for the most part, they start further south and subside to a tropical storm before they get here.  This one is different and will plow into the middle Atlantic states with all it's power.  As it moves across our landscape it will meet up with other storms coming from the west to give us a double whammy.   Winds of up to 80 mph are expected to bring down trees and power lines and the predictions are that it will affect 50 million people. 

I haven't given up hope that this storm will turn east and continue out to sea, but that is not being realistic.  However, with all the warnings we have been given and the preparations made, we will come out this, possibly battered down some, but ready to pick up and carry on.  I am just hoping not to wake up tomorrow morning and find that branch from the willow, or perhaps a larger part of the tree, laying in the bed next to me.

I saw some geese flying south earlier today.  How easy it is for them to just pick up and leave. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Play It Again, Sam

I never even learned to play Chopsticks, but I am doing OK.

Today I saw this on the news.

Alma Deutscher, the new Mozart.

And have you seen Jonathan?

Remarkable yes, but feast your eyes on Nora.

Makes you feel a little inadequate, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Fall came one cold night last weekend, and I am doing OK.

Bird Rock Hotel, San Juan Island, WA

Have you ever gone away, stayed at a nice hotel or resort, and even though the space is limited, thought, "I could live like this"? The closets are empty, save for the clothes you brought along in that one suitcase and carry on, you have flip flops and decent walking shoes, and your toothbrush has been charged to last a week.  What else do you really need? There is no clutter, few choices to make, and little or nothing to dust or clean.  Simplicity, I wish I knew you better.  

Even the word minimalism is too busy and cluttered.  Maybe we could use a few less letters also.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mayhem at the Cinema

Four days of rain, rain go away, but I am doing OK.

I have mentioned before that I love to go to the cinema. When I was a girl under 12,  my friend Peggy, my brother Fran and I would go to the Saturday afternoon matinee where we would see two movies, three or more cartoons, an adventure serial, and a Newsreel.  For forty-two cents each, my parents got rid of  us for the whole day, something I am sure they thought was well worth the money.   Of course, before we went, mom would check the Legion of Decency to make sure everything was on the "A" list.

After marriage, convincing hubby to take me to the movies was not easy and it took years before he would relent, as sitting in an uncomfortable seat and eating stale and heart-stopping oily popcorn, was not first on his list of entertainment.  However, after years of nagging pleading, he gave in and before long he was a cinema aficionado.  When they recently built a theater near us with double wide seats and rows, a menu of good bistro food and a full bar, along with pleasant waiters, he thought he died and went to heaven.  Going to the movies and being served a salad and sandwich (or such), accompanied by a glass (or bottle) of Pino Noir is an idea whose time has come. 

Today, though,  it is difficult for me to find a movie that I would enjoy seeing.  They all seem to be of one genre, "blow them up, shoot them up, destroy, and kill, kill, kill.   In order to be fair to friends whose choice of movie usually has to do with car chases and shooting automatic weapons, we sometimes have to fold, throw in the towel, acquiesce agree to their choices when they accompany us to the theater. 

Taken 2 Poster

Last Saturday, we saw the number one movie in the country, Taken 2  Where do I begin? Liam Nissan plays a CIA operative whose wife has been kidnapped by some eastern fellows.  They are seeking revenge because Liam killed thousands of them (or it seemed like that) in Taken 1 where his daughter was kidnapped and almost sold into slavery.  Liam, who is getting long in the tooth, wipes them out with various weapons, but not before he beats 5 or so up at any one time with his bare hands.  During all this, he only gets a scratch on his left cheek bone and a little blood smeared around his mouth.  To add to this, he and his daughter (who has not passed her driver's license test) race their car through the streets of the crowded city, while being chased and shot at and crashing into other vehicles and stores along the way.  Cars are being tossed in the air and mayhem ensues but there is not a mark on their car.  They head for the US Embassy and as they barrel in, knocking down gates and with bullets from machine guns flying at them, they finally stop and surprise, surprise, they have no apparent injuries.  The car though finally has some damage.  There are some bullet holes on the front hood and a small sideswipe on the side.  I guess they wanted to show that the good people at the embassy could hit a speeding car.  However, they showed quite a few soldiers with these heavy duty weapons shooting at the vehicle but there are only about 8 holes in the front of the car.  Not a good advertisement for the military.  A ten year old kid with less than a week of playing video games could do better.

Not my cup of tea, but the saving grace is that I was drinking something stronger than tea.

For those that like this type of movie, I have good news.  Right before Liam kills the last man standing, we find out that his nemesis has two more sons who will also seek revenge.  And here I thought he had done in the whole country.

If there was a Legion of the Mindless, this one would get five stars.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Had a good weekend with family and friends and I am doing OK.

The woods that border my home has a wandering creek flowing through it.  It attracts quite a bit of wildlife which I love.  The open space next to my house is a wetland and in the spring, the songs of the frogs entertain us in the evening.  Now and then I come across a snake in my garden which gives me pause, but if they keep to themselves, I'm cool with them also.   I love living in the country.

The other night my hubby was organizing the garage and putting away gardening supplies.  As he fiddled around with the tools he noticed something in a dark corner that looked ominous.  Prodding the area with a small stick, he was greeted by a rather long snake.  He quickly  grabbed the nearest armament, a broom that was hanging on the wall, and with the swing and swiftness of Tiger Woods, he gave that reptile the old heave-ho out the door.  Only it was not just one snake, instead they were five large unknown types and they all went flying into the air. Being none too happy at his rude awakening, one of them, after landing down the driveway in one piece, turned and charged his attacker, extending his body upwards and hissing in rage.  Running on adrenalin and not to show any fear, my brave hero stood his ground and whipped that sucker one more time.  Now, surrounded by the rest of the gang of slithering varmints and no one and no creature backing down, it became an all out assault.  With his mighty weapon in hand, and  the chutzpah of a Navy Seal, my man went full force, and drove those snakes off the driveway, into the road and down the gully.  This now proud snake wrangler lifted his broom, swung it in a circle, blew off the dust of battle and hung it up for another day. 

Duel in the Sun

 Clint couldn't have done better.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Am Still Here

Beautiful days, crisp nights and I am doing OK.
Hourglass Sand Timer - 5 Minute Glass
It was the summer of my 21st year and I was living life in the spirit of what that age gives to you.  One evening I was in the latest and coolest of the local clubs, dancing to the sounds of The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.  The room was crowded with 20 something aged party-goers but off to the side I spied a group of older patrons  and wondered what they were doing there. I thought they were taking up the space that belonged to us, the young, the vital, the hip. 

Time marched on...

I  am not the sort to spend my time looking back.  Life, for the most part has been good to me, although like everybody, there have been pitfalls and sadness.   I miss those that have gone before me and do think of them often, but try to dwell on only the good times shared by us.

I often hear contemporaries use the expression of "In my time.", meaning their youth.  I look at my time as now, because heck, I am still here.  It is the whole journey, not just a portion.  Each decade brings with it new adventures, new acquaintences, and new things to learn and experience, no matter if it is good or bad.   I may not be as limber as I used to be, but I am still vertical.  I can still think, although constant changing technology can befuddle me, but most of the time I can put a few words together and make sense.  My time is yesterday, today and I hope, many more tomorrows and I have tried to use it as best I can.  Because I have reached an age of invisibility does not mean I have no purpose.  Of course, that purpose is defined by me and how rewarding and meaningful I make it.  I am always a work in progress.

My friends and I are still vital and hip, even if some have hips that are made of titanium and yes,  I am still dancing. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Summer of "I Didn't"

Having beautiful days and I am doing OK.

I usually spend nine months out of the year working on my gardens.  I start planning in February, order seeds in March, search through catalogs for new plants in April, and start my summer garden in May.  This year my enthusiasm lasted till June and died in July.  Everything got planted, but I was unhappy with how I put them together. Flowers didn't bloom well, bulbs did not produce as they had in the past and I didn't even like the mulch we ordered.  I can't blame the state of my gardens on the weather as we had plenty of sun and a sufficient amount of rain. 

Yes, I just lost that lovin' feeling.  That expression on the fish in my header kind of says it all.

As the summer went by, I was out there every week cutting down my bushes that seemed to grow a foot a day.  I did pull weeds, and I did move plants around, but I just didn't care that things weren't as perfect as what I had to have in the past.  Now though, it is almost fall and flowers that used to bloom till late October are leggy and/or have very little color.  I should not be surprised as the Miracle Gro fertilizer that we usually apply three times a season (and truly is a miracle grow) is still in its unopened box.  I looked things over on Saturday and decided that everything had to go. So with a burst of energy (that was short-lived) I pulled up some of those spent flowers to my hearts content.  It was a liberating experience.  I did replace some with fall flowers and now things are looking dandy, just dandy. I still have many more pots to empty and plantings (100+) to rip out of the ground but this spirit of demolition has gotten a hold of me and I am giddy with excitement (sort of).   However, next week when it is all done and most summer color gone, I may cry.

Here though, are some of the brighter sides of my gardening efforts this year.

 Delphiniums take little effort and grow from May till October here.

The Crape Myrtles added beautiful color along the side.

There is no work involved with the Cone Flowers and little with Geraniums.

The fan flowers (Scaevola) were smaller than other years, but still pretty.

My flower balls did not meet expectations.

But I love, love, love the Hyacinths Bean vines.  Years ago someone gave us seeds from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and these plants are about the 7th generation from that original pack.

Resembles orchids

That turn into to this

Mixed in with other vines, they are very showy.

In the evening, when the sun goes down, the gardens and woods are lit up with the new solar lights that hubby has been installing for the past few years.  The old electric ones kept tripping our breaker and these are so much nicer and environmentally friendly.   

I enjoyed my gardens so much more at night as I could not see all my mistakes and the up lighting really added to the ambiance.

Au revoir to my 2012 gardens. Some of the plants just did not work, some of my usual ones (like Impatiens) were disappointing,  and some of my bones were feeling their age.  To be honest, there were other things that I didn't do this summer for one reason or another, maybe it is just Father Time catching up with me. However, I will just turn the page on this season and try to think ahead.  I have started making plans for winter and there is a wedding in my family next year to think about also.  The future looks bright and hopeful, yes-siree!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rude Awakening

Brrr, but I am doing OK.

I jumped slowly limped out of bed this morning to the feeling of a cold, cold floor.  What the....!  Wasn't it 90 degrees about a week or so ago?  I put on my woolly socks, flipped on the switch to the fireplace, wrapped myself up in a blanket and contemplated what was ahead.

The future

Too soon, too soon!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Reaching to the Sun

Vacation is over, but I am doing OK.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
   Trees, by Alfred Joyce Kilmer, 2.13.1913

I had the pleasure to visit (again) the magnificent redwoods of California last week.  Words cannot describe, so I will just show the pictures.

The tall and short of it all.


This tree that fell, dated back to before 3000 BC

"What does he plant who plants a tree?
He plants the friend of sun and sky;
He plants the flag of breezes free;
The shaft of beauty, towering high,
he plants a home to heaven anigh.
For song and mother-croon of bird,
in hushed and happy twilight heard
- The treble of heaven's harmony.
These things he plants who plants a tree
-- Henry Cuyler Bunner, the Heart of the Tree

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It started out this way. 

A little more than the shower they predicted.

And ended up here.

In between

We stayed in a very nice beach rental.

Mary Poppins stopped by

The grandkids went on their first ocean fishing trip.

which turned out not to be so much fun.

Making sand castles

and jumping the waves

Were more to their liking.

We had some beautiful days playing in the water

And some lovely evenings enjoying the sunset

The kids had a blast and I always cherish my time with them.

The last few days were not the best, but we all stuck together and I am so thankful for the family that I have.

With some luck, I will be off to the west coast this week. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

'Tis the Season

Storms are surrounding us, weather people are talking about doom and gloom, but I am doing OK

I will soon be going on vacation with my family and am excited about all the fun we will be having. Plans have been made since April and everything fell into place very easily.

There were just a few more things to get, so off I went to Costco today, the mega store with everything mega sized. As I walked in, I noticed that against the wall there was Christmas ribbon stacked high.  As I moved across the aisles, I saw all the outside furniture had been replaced by toys for children.  Did I miss something?  Where did the rest of summer go, and for that matter did autumn happen without me noticing?   Have I been in a coma and woken up to a very warm winter?

So just in case you are listening to holiday carols right now and can't wait to get that shopping started, the fa-la-la thing has begun. Sales at Walmart will start at midnight, get there early.

Me, I'm going to the beach.  Hopefully, it will not snow.