Monday, December 17, 2018

From My Home To Yours

The halls are decked and the bells are jingling and I am doing OK.

Retirement gives you lots of free time, but when it comes to “have to do’s, I am a procrastinator.  There are still some things to be attended to before the holidays, like wrapping, cooking, cleaning, etc, etc., etc. and my California family will arrive on Friday.  I am now in full-speed-ahead mode, so I was up and out of the house early to deliver some gifts and then off to Costco to buy some items that come in large sizes and amounts.  I was in a great mood and taste tested all the foods that the lovely, white netted hair ladies were offering.  The best part of that store is grazing.  I tasted some Bruschetta that was yummy, and went over to the display to buy a jar. It was down on a lower shelf so it took some maneuvering, especially since I was in a tight space and had the giant cart.  As I got myself up, I saw someone behind me so I moved my cart in order for him to get by.  He rushed past me and I heard him say, “ Now she moves” in a very sarcastic manner.  First, I felt bad that I was holding him up, and then became angry and thought of some remarks I should have said to him.  My mood changed.  I checked out and then went straight to the cafeteria to get myself some frozen yogurt to cool down (a good excuse to eat a sweet).  The sugar worked and I forgave that grumpy old man and walked out of the store in the same good spirit that I had when I entered. As I approached my car I saw something hanging in my door handle.  My gloves, my favorite gloves, were tucked in tight. They must have dropped when I got out of the car and a passing stranger found them and secured them to the handle so they would not blow away.  It was an act of kindness that I truly appreciated.  Yes, there are a few Scrooge’s out there who will only care about themselves, but there are many, many more thoughtful people who go out of their way to make life better for others.   

So from my home to yours, May your holidays be filled with kindness and joy and may that spread to those you love and those that pass your way. Even in difficult times, we should appreciate all the blessings that surround us, big and small.


Friday, November 30, 2018

O Tannenbaum, or in my case, Oh, Tannenbaum




December is hours away, and I am doing OK

My children were kind enough to bring  up my old "forever" Christmas tree from the basement after a Thanksgiving dinner last week.  It is showing its age and some lights refuse to twinkle.  I can relate.  It is in its spot by the window and there it has stood naked for days while I try to ignore the whole darn thing.  Wednesday, I tackled it and brought up the first box of "stuff".  There are six more, but because of my lack of  ho, ho, ho this year, I  knew I could not handle any more.  I took out the first box in the box and carefully hung eleven ornaments.  My back started to hurt, so I needed to sit down and contemplate the whole matter and decided Thursday would be a better day for decorating.  Unfortunately, it had slipped my mind (happens often) that the next day I had to go to work and there would not be enough hours left to do a proper job.  Plan C would be to do it on the next rainy day which happens nearly everyday here. So I was committed and I got the freeking tree up.  I did it, it is done, and I would like to say, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in my abode.  Well, kind of , sort of , maybe.  I'll just get that can of Sparkling Spruce air freshener spray and see if that works some magic.  That and a lovely glass of fine wine just might have me Fa la la-ing.




Daisy was not any help and hopefully she will enjoy the tree from afar, and not on one of the branches.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Ina, Ina, Ina

I plan on making soup on this blustery autumn day and I am doing OK.


Ina Garten, a patron saint of all good things to eat, is my idol.  Look at that happy face, with the beautiful cheekbones, and smiling eyes.  Then look down to that large bowl of something especially good that she has made.  Who couldn't love that woman!!

I used to be a decent cook (although my kids might question that statement) but now I am a forgetful cook.  I confess to missing  an ingredient or an instruction every now and then and having to scramble when I finally see my mistake. I have found that flour, seasoning and hot sauce can fix many things.  When that doesn't work, I forget about the whole thing and make reservations.

Ina, though, is perfect.  On her show, The Barefoot Contessa, there are no spills or splatters, and she never loses her cool or drops a piece of chicken on the floor.  She speaks in a tone of voice that assures you that you can do the same. Then there is Jeffrey, her husband, a very genteel man.  He strolls in the house with a smile, kisses his wife, says about five words and then disappears. You don’t get a more perfect spouse than that.   Ina will have a guest or two to entertain and they may be a celebritity or just a well-heeled neighbor who is going by the script and may be being paid with a lunch/dinner made by Ina.  The show ends with them all eating outside in her perfect garden on a perfect table as they converse in a perfect manner.  No loud laughing and burps are ever heard.

If  wishes came true and I could have but one, it would be to get an invitation for lunch at her lovely home in the Hamptons.  I would dress well (no yoga pants), make sure I use the right fork, and talk about the lovely things in the world.  When Jeffrey strolled by, I would compliment him on his tie, and then let him have his usual 30 second conversation with his wife.   He would drift off to wherever it is he goes, and then Ina would go into the kitchen and bring out the most scrumptious and beautiful dessert that I have ever seen.  She would place it in front of me, I would thank her, and then I would probably sneeze all over the creamy topping because I am allergic to Jeffrey’s cologne.  Nothing really is perfect, not even in my dreams.

Ina Garten's new book, Cook Like a Pro, is now available.  I have bought and used her book, Make it Ahead, with success.  It is perfect for me as my explosion in the kitchen is cleaned up before guests arrive and they never need to know about the chicken on the floor.

.



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Invasion

We went from sweating to sweaters in a day, and I am OK.

This summer we had a new visitor.  Isn't he/she beautiful?


It is a Spotted Lantern Fly.

Having first appeared in 2014 in some cargo from the East, this invasive, killing machine has taken over a large part of southeastern Pennsylvania trees and is now moving into other states.  Their favorite hang out is the Ailanthus Altissima, a weed tree which grows in abundance in woods and fields.  From there they spread out to grape vines, fruit, Willow, Maples, pines, and timber trees.  As they get more used to the environment, it is thought that it will harm other varieties.  My neighbor, down the road, had three apple trees that are now without leaves and fruit.  According to the PA Department of Agriculture, “Trees will develop weeping wounds.  These wounds will leave a grayish or black trail along the trunk and the ground beneath will become black with their secretions."  It is said that on average, each one of these pests will lay 100 eggs and these masses are all over the bark of many, many trees.  There is little that can be done about them as they have no natural predators.  We are told to scrape the eggs off, which is not an easy task, especially if you are short and leery of long ladders. Swatting these bugs is exhausting as there are too many to even make a dent in the population.  A systemic insecticide seems to work but we have a few acres of woods behind our property and it would be cost prohibitive to do all of them.  They pose a multi-billion dollar threat to our state's economy because of the damage they do to wine and hops (OH, NO) fruit, logging, landscaping and other industries.  A friend works at a small airport and these bugs have infested most of the trees on their 200 acres of property.  He showed a video of them crawling up one tree, and there were thousands. I am sparing you the video, as it is disgusting.  The fear that some of these pests will hitch a ride on a plane and spread this threat is very real.  Right now it is like the plague of the locusts, they are all over, and it is not pleasant to be outside.

This picture was taken over a month ago on one of my trees.  There are many more bugs on it now.  




My beautiful Willow was a victim of the SLF.  We thought it looked stressed as its leaves were spotted and turning yellow in June.  We planned on calling an arborist in, but did not get the chance.  We woke up one Sunday morning with the tree on our house.



When it came down, we saw the that it was covered with the nymphs and the egg masses were all over the bark.  My Retired Man and I worked rapidly to get the tree off the house, probably to the chagrin of our neighbors who I am sure were not happy to be woken up early on a Sunday morning with the buzzing of a saw.  We got a good deal of it cleaned up but were beyond happy to see that our landscape helper "just" happened to be passing our house and stopped by to see what he could do.   It took a few days but it eventually got all cleaned up.  There was no damage to the house as Willow is a soft wood, but there was some to my heart.  I loved that tree.

He left the stump and told us to call someone else to remove it. I decided to keep it and made what I call "Memorial to Willow".  I wrapped fairy lights around it because I always overdo.



The grass is beginning to grow back and so is something else.  It is just one branch, but you never know.


 I call it Hope.




.



Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Natural Woman

We lost a great lady today, but how lucky we are that she was here in our lifetime.  I am doing OK.


She went by two names, but everyone knew her as Aretha.  No one, and I mean, no one, could belt songs out like her.  Fame is fleeting,  but her talent was not.  Two, and probably three  generations knew and loved her and danced and sang along to her music from the soul.

I found out about her death from my Retired Man, who spends his time each day in front of the TV watching political shows.  It drives me CRAZY.  Around 10:30 AM, he called out to me  about an alert on the news. He said that the station he was watching had gathered together some talking heads to discuss the tweets or the always breaking story of the day, but the moderator interrupted them and said, “Excuse me, we have an important announcement, Aretha Franklin has died.”  From then on, politics stopped, and a person of talent and character was the subject.  I left for work at noon and they were still playing her music.  What an improvement on their daily schedule!  I drove to and from work and both ways the station I was listening to (public radio) was playing only Aretha.  At home, I turned on the World News and the top story was Aretha.  We went out for a quick dinner and came home and found out that the program schedule had changed and instead of some nonsense, there was a program honoring Aretha.

It is all about Aretha today, and so it should be.  She upstaged them all. And yes,  she made me feel, she made me feel.....

We lost a treasure.  Rest In Peace, dear lady, you always had our love and RESPECT.  You sang us through the good times and the bad and we are grateful.  We were privileged to know your Amazing Grace.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Wet

I need my high waders, but I am doing OK.

It has not been the summer that I expected, but then, what can anybody expect today with crazy weather patterns all over.   When it rained most of April, well, you know, April showers.  May brought more liquid sunshine than usual, but May is spring and we need it to help the flowers grow.  By June, I was getting water-logged but I was awed by the beautiful green terrain. By July, I was becoming pissed with so many events threatened by storms.  Then came August, our last hope.  It has poured or been predicted to pour almost every day.  Today, I awoke to what sounded like a monsoon.  Rain is coming down 2" to 6" an hour in the area.  Part of my yard looks like this. 



The weathercasters are saying this will continue all day, with threats of more tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, etc. etc.  Needless to say, we are breaking all records, and not ones we want.

Our western states are going through droughts and fires and it is all so terrible.  I am also hearing that the normally green UK is also having an unusual dry year and can use some showers. Hopefully, you are enjoying the sun and plants without mildew. 

I just returned from a wonderful trip to the Monterrey area of California.  They have no rain, but they do have fog, lots of fog, for half a day.  This keeps the area cool in the AM and usual afternoon temperatures in the 70s F. It was perfect, especially coming from the east where it has been sweltering, with high humidity, precipitation, and lots of bugs that bite.

My day, though, is planned.  I will worry.  The Retired Man had to go into the city today, and I am concerned about how he will get home.  My son and DIL took my grandson to Penn State (3 hours away) today to start his college years, and I will chew my fingernails until they get home.   

Oh my, the sun just came out!  I live in hope (and anxiety).

One hour later - black clouds are forming.

Time to eat a few cookies.  Sugar in my belly makes everything better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Twists and Turns and then Splat

I took a break to deal with life. It used to be easier, but I am doing OK.

The road of life is full of twists and turns, a lot of bumps and quite a few roadblocks.  As we round corners we hope to be met by the bluebird of happiness, but sometimes it is a cackling crow.  I hate detours because I am directionally handicapped and always fear that I will lose my way, but somehow, miraculously, I find my way back home.  This is where I am safe, where I am loved and where my flowers grow.  Oh, there are hazards with steps and stairs, and more so recently, but I am familiar with the landscape, and I walk more carefully. The world seems to have become more harsh and more difficult to navigate and what I could have never imagined being acceptable is now tolerated and embraced. It is what it is, I say to myself, but I have tears for the children and what has been lost. I move forward, somewhat unsteady, with hope for today, some fear for tomorrows and with good memories of yesterdays.

I wrote that a month or so ago and decided not to publish.  However, I wanted you all to know that I really had not abandoned Blogger, but was just in a funky mood and not trusting my feelings.  I have, though, experienced some lovely times the past few months.  My family visited from the other side of the country.  That week brought me much happiness and it was a wonderful, busy time.  They moved away twenty years ago, and I still have an ache in my heart because of the distance between us.  Their visits mean the world to me. 

I went to a lantern festival in June with my sisters.  It was one of the most glorious sights I have ever seen and I got to share it with loved ones (and it was my birthday).  There were 13,000 people in attendance and approximately 12,997 lanterns went up in the air without much trouble.   Here, though, we were blessed by the kindness of strangers.  Perhaps, it was because they wanted to be helpful, or maybe they were afraid that we would burn down the field.  Our lanterns did eventually fly free, although, one was burning up as people ducked for cover as it passed up and down thru the crowd. 



Then I got my outside room.  It is smaller than I had hoped, but I love it and seven people and my large furniture fit nicely inside.   I have spent many hours out there, enjoying all the wonderful sounds of summer without the company of biting bugs and scorching sun.  Screens make me happy. I am still decorating it and redecorating it and moving things around.  I should get it right by the end of summer. The best part though, is having friends and family over to enjoy the beauty of a summer night with us. 



I have vacation plans this summer and I will be accompanied by one of my lovely granddaughters. What could be better than that! California, here we come! 

Thank you for stopping by. I am sorry that I have been missing for such a long time, and I will try to do better. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Simple Pleasures

The Magnolias are in bloom and I am doing OK.

It is the season of being busy, and although I may complain about an aching back, my mind is in a very good place. The sun is shining, the cherry, peach, and apple trees are magnificent and spring flowers are popping up all over.  The weather and my attitude has changed for the better.  There is so much work to be done and I think I am up to it, but, if not, there is a young man I have hired to help me when needed.  I did not want to do this as I have always prided myself on being self-sufficient (aka, Superwoman, without the cape, body and ability to fly), and giving into aging was not in my plan.  However, there are jobs that I just don't want to do anymore, like cutting down and pulling out bushes, cleaning out garden beds, and putting down ten yards of mulch. They just are not fun!  I will assist my helper with the mulch, but he will shovel and I will spread.  It is a control issue with me and besides, I am paying by the hour and I want to hurry him along.  I will still be designing my gardens, planting new flowers and tiding up after perennials because that is where I find my joy - in the dirt. 

With the warm weather, I want to be outside as much of the time as possible so the Retired Man and I  have decided to spend our children's inheritance on ourselves and will be having a new outdoor room built. I am so looking forward to this and am hoping for many lovely days and evenings kicking back with a cold beverage, watching somebody else work, and being thankful for the simple pleasures that life can bring in the summertime.

On another note, our family has expanded this last month.  We have two new granddogs thanks to my daughter and her family.  They are rescue pups and are my favorite breed, Heinz 57 (varieties).  It was a litter of 11 pups and it appears that there was more than one daddy involved. Two of them look like St. Bernards with corgi legs.  Others are tall, and some resemble Chow Chows. Hopefully, Momma won't do that again.  Finn is the tri-colored one and Ellie is the lovely redhead.  I can't stop smiling when I see them. 

Puppies = more simple pleasures.


 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Ahh, Spring!

We have been shoveling since 8AM, and the worst of the snowfall is yet to come.  I am still doing OK (at least for now).

#$@&%*!



&@#$%&! 






 !*%&$#!!!


And a few other choice words.

My old body hates snow!







Monday, February 26, 2018

Sometimes You Just Want to Scream.

Bitching and moaning, but I am doing OK.

Today, I had to make a doctor's appointment for a routine yearly test to be followed by a annual  physical.  Truly, I put these off as long as possible and unless blood is coming out of every oracle of my body, I don't want to be around anyone wearing a white coat and a stethoscope. Finally I decided that I had stalled too long and it was time, so I called the hospital to schedule a date. Then I waited, and waited, and waited for someone to answer while listening to drive-you-crazy music interrupted by a voice telling me how important I am.  At last (about five or so minutes), a young lady answered.  I told her what I wanted - stressing that it was not an emergency, just a routine test.  Fine, we understood each other.  Good start!  Before giving me an appointment they needed dates and numbers and more information than I thought necessary but, OK, I understand that they need to get paid.  When I told her that I had a Medicare card, that led to another long string of questions. I tried to not sound frustrated, but then my Retired Man came into the room and looked quizzically at my face. Apparently it might have been red and twisted at that point, and he was concerned I might be having a stroke. It was going on way too long so I finally sat down. I answered about 20 more questions that had nothing to do with the type of test I would be having, then she  asked me why I was using a Medicare card. Was it this, was it that,  and then finally, "is it because of age!!!!!!! What the heck!!!!!! For the vast majority of Medicare users, you have to be 65 and over.  One of the first questions she asked me was my date of birth. Perhaps she could not count past 50, so I took a deep breath and told her how very old I was.

Her next question to me, "Are you pregnant."


Monday, January 15, 2018

MLK

I have always believed in the value of faith, hope and charity and I am doing OK.




I passed this sign last year in Washington DC on my way to the Capital for the Women's March.  As we walked, we noticed that most of the houses had these signs attached to their gates.  The words of Martin Luther King were the inspirational words to guide us on or way.   

"I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great a burden to bear."

"The time is always right to do what is right."

"In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends".

"Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere".

MLK's speeches are part of the history of our lifetime but are, sadly, needed more today. They are words we read, but they should be the words we live.

Peace and justice begin with us.