Saturday, December 26, 2015

Done Scrooging

Maybe I am not a Christmas Person.   It always ends up being a sad, or at least pensive season for me.    I am generally pretty good about letting things roll off my back, I do not usually take offense easily and I am quick to excuse people when I feel hurt.   I spend more time worrying about the feelings of others than about my own.   

But this time of year, especially the time leading up to Christmas, my feelings are easily wounded, even over things I know are silly or at least unintended.   I feel unimportant to the people in my life and, more than other times of years, it matters to me.     It's as if, instead of fairy dust, I have been sprinkled with hormones.  And trust me when I say that, at this stage of life, being sprinkled with unexpected hormones is not a good thing!   This is the time of year that, when a friend calls and invites me to 'a family thing,' I am inclined to decline, because I am not part of their family.    I feel more lonely, less worthy, less loved, than usual.      

I know it is childish.  I see it happening, but it always takes me a little time and a lot of effort to shake it off.   And this is the time of year when being a lone wolf makes me especially raw.   It is an awkward time to be the third wheel, to feel as if my forehead is stamped with red block letters saying 'reject.'   And I am finding that being old and unattached is even worse than being young and single was.    And of course, being old and single and retired just gives me more time to dwell on it it all.    

Eventually, of course, even I have to laugh at myself for being so pathetic, and my good humor does return in spite of the hurt, just because of the ridiculousness of it all.   That won't always stop the tears, but it does remind me that this will pass.   I know that I am blessed beyond reason, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

So I do the things one does when silliness overtakes us.   I try to put others first, I push myself to accept invitations and hope I won't be a wet blanket when I get there.

I baked cookies to take to my search and rescue group, to the 911 operators and to the police officers who are on duty.    (Cheat admission:   I promised myself I wouldn't eat any, but I dropped a whole tray of them on the floor when I was taking them from the oven.   I was was able to catch two of them but they broke in my hands.  Everyone knows that broken cookies don't count, so . . . . )    Even so, and despite the lack of exercise this past week, I am happy to report that my post-Christmas weight is 2 pounds less than my pre-Christmas weight was.  
And I started sewing last-minute projects with scraps and orphaned socks, hoping they would work out well enough to give as gifts but knowing that they might well end up in scrap heaven or as dog toys.   Some of them worked, some of them didn't.

And, in fact, Christmas ended up being lovely, despite my self pity.   I saw the new Star Wars with the Littles after thinking I would never see it at all, I spent Christmas Eve with precious friends, and was surrounded by people I love, and a few who love me, on Christmas.  

I hope you all had a more joyous and grown-up Christmas preparation than I did, and hope that Christmas itself exceeded your expectations!   Mine definitely did.

And by the way, the Goole-plus warnings given recently by Cat Patches are spot on -- please don't lose me in the transition, and don't let me lose you, either!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Ties That No Longer Bind

 I am retired!  Again.   It was an ordinary (gloomy) day, I saw very few people and there was no drama, but when I exited the building for the last time, there was a huge rainbow over my car.   Since money has never been my primary motivator, maybe retirement is my pot of gold.  :)  I hope so!

Now that I am a lady of leisure, I have no more excuse to not do some of the things on my endless To-Do list.   Today I cleaned out my work bag -- an item that has been on the list for nearly 5 years (don't judge me) - and tossed the bag into the pile of dirty laundry.   Laundry is clearly not on today's list.     I also answered a letter -- something that never slips far on the list since I enjoy that task -- and got an overdue blood test drawn.   I need to take out the trash before bedtime, and really, that seems like quite enough for one day.   There's no rush for the rest of it.   After all, I've only been schedule-less for half a day.  :)

Friday, December 11, 2015

No Place Like New Orleans

I've been to New Orleans lots (and lots) of times, because I have had family there, both before and after the Storm.  There are things about these trips that are difficult for me, but no question it is a place unique in my experience, and so I decided on this trip to focus on the quirks and qualities that have made memories over the years.   Here are just a few of the things I have found fun or charming or just plain New Orleans-y.

The mechanical toilet seat covers in the airport.  
     These make me smile every time I land in NOLA.  Toilet seats are covered with a sheath of clear plastic, which rotates from a fresh roll and into a trash receptacle (or so I hope) with every use.   All you need to do is wave your hand in front of the button on the wall before you sit down.   I've never seen these anywhere else, so they clearly say New Orleans to me!
     This is where I first tasted them, at the famous Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter, open (I'm told) 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.   Since my grandson was born in NOLA, I make them every year for our Christmas brunch, but I try to stop by the Cafe du Monde and order them once every trip, purely for research to be sure I'm doing it right.
 The "horse" (mule) drawn carriages.   
     These wagons line up all along Decatur in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, waiting for customers.  You need to be careful because the price you are quoted is rarely the price you will actually be charged.
     I have never ridden on the famous "Desire" streetcar, which is of course named after Desire Street, although I am told it is up and running again after a long 'down' time.   But I ride the St. Charles streetcar at least once every trip.  It is inexpensive ($1.25) and very noisy, the cars run about every 10 minutes but sometimes they get backed up and you can wait for half an hour or more, and you sit along with tourists and locals.   A definite must.
     Look closely.  Along parade routes, the trees are filled with beads from previous Mardi Gras parades.    The beads, like strings of berries, are there all year.   Once in awhile a strand will fall down on the sidewalk in front of you like ripe fruit.
Red Beans and Rice.
     This is another dish I make myself as a reminder of where my grandson was born, but I still try to order it every time I visit New Orleans.   Just because.   I've got plenty of photos of it but it isn't all that photogenic, so I'll spare you  :)
The best bread pudding in the world.
      I try to have bread pudding one time on every trip.   It is so decadent, and not at all like the bread pudding we get in the north.   Filled with butter and brown sugar and whiskey, even once a year seems like a sinful indulgence.    I know I could make it at home but I'm afraid to, because there would be no one to limit my intake.   I meant to take a photo, but the hot, sticky goodness got my spoon moving so quickly that I forgot.
Street musicians.
      Some are just okay, some are good, and some are great.   On a good trip, there are fiddles, clarinets and lots of brass.   On this trip there was all that AND a (bag)piper.  
Street sign tiles.
     I just love these.   Old ceramic tiles mark the names of many streets.  You find them at corners.
Bourbon Street.
     filled with Too Much Information about people's private lives and activities, and freely flowing booze.   The French Quarter area is the one place I know where you can buy your alcoholic beverage at a sidewalk stand and then carry your drink into every store, even "mall" type shopping areas.    I generally try to have one old traditional drink on each trip.   Last year it was bourbon and milk, this year it was a sazerac.    My sister tends to the sweeter options, like the hurricane and yellow bird.  
       So, for those of you who've never been, or those of you who have, those are the usual highlights of my NOLA adventures.   It is far from my favorite place to be, for a whole stack of reasons.   I understand its charm, but frankly, I'm glad to be home.  :)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Mother of Reinvention

 Well, November is over and December is well on its way, and I am almost ready to get out of my blue funk.   (Which reminds me, I had a teacher by that name once, Funk,  and I remember thinking that the rowdy boys at the elementary school were terrible spellers because of the way they always mis-spelled her name in graffiti on the back of the school building.     Really, so little has changed, except that I would recognize that particular 4-letter word if I saw it on a wall today . . .  but I digress.)
I'm not as young as I used to be.  November is my birthday month, and always a broody time for me.  It was even when I was young, and it certainly hasn't improved with age.    I 'celebrated' the day by giving notice at my job, a position I suspect they are as ready for me to leave as I am to leave it. 
I have such a different view of hospice than what I see happening there, and it just got harder and harder to pretend to bosses and staff that it was all just ducky.  And since I am not very good at pretending, my annoyance with it all was annoying to them.  So I am really glad to have quit, and will be happier still I expect on the 14th, which is my last day of work.   But now I face the Void of my future until I can put a new puzzle together.   Sure, I am a little worried.   I am already so lazy and reclusive by nature that it would be easy to just never get out of bed again.  But have no fear, I will reinvent my life and myself and am even looking forward to it a little.   So far all I can report is that I have reluctantly almost totally crossed "run away to alaska" off the list of possibilities.

Do you remember, by any chance, the Mothers of Invention (with Frank Zappa), an american rock group from my long ago past?   That's how you know you have joined the Truly Old, when those Truly Old things pop into your head for no apparent reason.  Anyway, if you wondered, that's where this post heading came from, that 'pop.'
Meanwhile, in between working and not working, I am going to visit my daughter for a few days next week.   I will no doubt post the usual NOLA photos while I am there, the same ones you've seen each year if you come here often, so if you want something different you should send in your requests now.

But for today,  a friend took me out to a belated birthday dinner, and I so enjoyed that, both the food and the company.     I'd been on a no-carb diet for the past few weeks, and the mexican restaurant, chips and cheese and all, was a super treat of 'forbidden' food.    I expect I will pay for it tomorrow, but I sure did enjoy it today!  :)   

I hope your week has been filled with enjoyable things, too.   It's cuddle weather here, so I am always trying to find someone to hold onto.   Thank goodness my Grands haven't learned yet how to resist me.  :)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Stars In My Eyes

Have you had a chance to star watch during the Taurid Meteor Shower this month?   A friend and I camped out in sleeping bags for several hours in the middle of a country field last week, on the one clear night we've had lately.   We saw a few ordinary shooting stars and enjoyed them very much, but just before we gave up and packed it all in, we saw one huge blazing meteor cross the entire sky in a very large ball of fire.   It lasted several seconds while we oooo-ed and ahhhhh-d.   I felt so very lucky to see it, and it was like being a child again to be wrapped in my sleeping bag on the wet grass, up way past my bedtime.    Magical.  The next morning I slept late, but even at 9 am there was frost on the lawn.   The weather here is turning, make no mistake.

My birthday is later this month and, as seems to be my practice, I have been doing a fair amount of  introspective Life Review these past weeks.  A friend, talking about someone else, made the remark that "you can't love someone into loving you," and the phrase struck such a chord with me.   I wish someone had convinced me of that decades ago, it might have changed the course of my life, because I have quite a history of people I've tried to love to that point.   Now, at the inner edge of 66, I need to decide whether to take it to heart.  On the one hand, it seems like it is too late to try to change such a constant part of my personality.  It has always been hard for me to move on from someone you love, even when I have been given every indication that it is a one-way street.   And of course I always dread the idea of change, although I know that fear is a very bad way to make life decisions.   Especially this kind of fear, where one decides without knowing what will really happen.  After all, there is no reason why friendship could not remain even as the focus changes,  and no good reason to close doors because of the fear of losing the good things I already have.  Thing is, at any age, but especially at this age, a good friendship would be a terrible thing to lose, and my gut tells me that if I went looking for more I would lose much of what I already have.  On the other hand, this part of my life is the only (and probably last) time I can try to make those changes, and more than anything, my whole life longing has been to have a Certain Kind of relationship.  It is hard to give that dream up, even now.   And so I think myself in circles.   I'll probably do that until after my birthday, and then go on, life as usual.   I really do not like change, and I already have much to be grateful for.

I got to spend a day this week with my slightly-sick grandson.   There is nothing sweeter than a slightly-sick child, a child in no danger, a child with just a cold.   It slowed him down enough so that our energy levels were a good match, and there was quiet time to talk and catch up.   Sweet times with a child who is growing up so fast.  He will be eleven in a week, hard to imagine.   It seems like only yesterday he was calling me "gah" because he couldn't say grandma.  :)

My attempt at healthier eating continues to go well -- the exercise portion of the plan not quite as well -- but I have lost about 8 pounds so I am not complaining.   A drop in the bucket with a good chunk of chunkiness still to go, but still.  Keeping away from sugar remains a challenge, but it is no longer my most constant thought so I guess that's progress!  It is chilly and windy here today, despite my sweat pants and wool shirt -- I need to find some indoor activity to replace the outdoor walking that has been my mainstay.  

I hope you are all staying warm and having happy thoughts and moments of magic.     There is much to be thankful for in this Thanksgiving season.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Feeling Fluffy

 We all know that clutter and sloth end up making us feel moody and even anxious.  And it's a circular problem: the more we lie about and the more clutter we create, the less energy we have to fix things.   I am feeling lately like I've gotten caught in the Sloth Cycle, and that it's time to get myself in hand.  Past time, really, since the predictable side effect is that I've gained a few extra pounds.   So this weekend I started (again) trying to work on my healthier self.    I am trying to walk most days, which should be so much easier than it has been -- it is beautiful here.   Of course, the trees are a little less pretty when obnoxious teens drive by every so often shouting obscenities out the window or blaring their radios.   Shake it off.   I am increasingly ready to sell my house and move but of course the Sloth Cycle interferes with that plan, too.
I'm going to try to cut down on processed carbs, at least for a few weeks, to try to reset my growing appetite.   It is funny how the less I do, the hungrier I get!   Fortunately for me, it is an excellent time of year for veggies.   Although the lovely summer produce is gone, I love squash and sweet potatoes and root veggies.  And apples, which are plentiful in my region.  Thank goodness we made all that apple sauce!  Those healthier alternatives can easily take the place of the breads and cakes and pies that I have been reaching for with little restraint the past few months.  I'm planning to skip Halloween this year and go to a movie instead, rather than invite bags of candy into my house.   Will power is in short supply around here lately!

And I have finally started pulling out a few boxes from the basement.   Of course, now it is more of a mess than it was before.   But I've already discovered that some of the 'treasures' I was holding onto for resale have been chewed by mice, so I am trying to get my mind set to just Get Rid Of anything I am not using now.   I have bins and bins and bins of photos and honestly, I am not even sure who half the people are.   I'm hoping to scan the ones I know and ditch the rest, although it is hard for me to turn my back on all those people who only exist in boxes in my basement.   I remember when my sister went on this De-Clutter Journey several years ago, and discovered that, once through the Valley of the Shadow of Materialism, she was able to move from a big house to a one bedroom apartment with room to spare.   I don't ever expect to become that efficient, but would be very happy to cut my belongings in half!

This was a nice weekend, with lovely weather and time with a friend.   My family has been down with a virus so I've put in quite a bit of Grandma Time over the last week, and there is nothing sweeter than a only-slightly-sick child.  I know, that's awful, but it is so, so true.  

I also replaced my phone, a task that I think I put off as long as I could.   My iPhone 4 started really acting out this weekend, shutting down completely, refusing to take calls, simply unacceptable behavior.     I don't mean to be harsh, because more than one person has pointed out that it might not have developed such habits if I, for my part, had not taken it to the bottom of the Au Sable river.   No hard feelings on my part.   Anyway, I got a 5S this week and I am not sure yet whether I am happy with it -- or rather, whether I am going to be happy with the much (much) cheaper Boost service now that I've cut ties with the more pricey Verizon.   I just can't justify spending twice as much, but I am truly hoping that I haven't cut my service in half, too. 
And this evening I married a nice young (so young) couple, who seemed perfect for one another.  All of the guests were telling me that they were a match made in heaven, and they sure were sweet.    I wish them a lifetime of happiness together. 

But best of all, the weekend is not over yet for me, because my schedule changed this week because of a computer-training requirement involving new software -- so I have Monday off!   I see a movie in my future. :)

A coworker told me once that the perfect weekend would include something productive and useful, something fun, and time with someone you love.   For me, this has been a perfect weekend.  I hope yours has been as good as mine.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015


We re-processed all of the dozens of jars of grape jelly, in many (many) small batches, and we finally got jelly!   Thanks for the tip, Kim!  It was an all day job, but it is done and we can finally claim the sweet taste of success . . . and jelly.
There were still more grapes on the vine, and more apples to sauce, but we were able to go at it with a more optimistic attitude now that we've been jelling.    We picked and juiced and jellied for a couple more days and there are still plenty of grapes left behind for the critters.   The weather was much colder this weekend so the wasps and spiders kept themselves scarce.  I could barely feel my fingers by the end.   We made juice and I decided it would be fun to try a concord grape pie -- something I had never heard of.  It was delicious, truly surprisingly good, although a pain in the neck to make.   And so nice to have warm pie after a cold day outdoors.

Another thing we tried was oven-roasting them, baking clean grapes (still on the stem), tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper,  for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.   When we pulled them warm off the  stems, the seeds stayed behind and they were as sweet as the jelly.  We ate them with cheese and crackers.   Ummmm.

I saw the cutest little lady on my walk this week, sweeping up acorns on her sidewalk.   She told me to think of her as the woman who lives in the Nut House.

Also this week,  at work, I wrote and signed my quarterly 'chaplain letter,' which I send out to our hospice families every three months.    By the end of the stack of 275, I could hardly remember how to sign my own name!

This weekend was the annual Zombie 5k Fun Run in a town near me, and our search and rescue group was asked to help keep the city safe from zombie infection and Save The World.     We screened people as they entered the park to be sure no Zombies got in, even though it was clear from the program that we would fail.  It was a lot of fun.  And of course there was a bonfire with a s'mores bar and a Zombie meet and greet afterwards.

 And we had snow!  It didn't stick, but it was coming down like crazy.     Even so, we are not completely finished enjoying summer.   The wife of a friend volunteers at a local garden called Dahlia Hill, a real showcase all summer long.   Because of the weather forecast (which certainly came true!), she and the other volunteers cleared out the flowers last night and she was able to keep a lovely bouquet for herself.     Sweet memories of a wonderful summer.  And now I am looking forward to lots more fun in the seasons to come.    Tomorrow I plan to see a movie with a friend -- Bridge of Spies -- and have dinner with him before it's back to another work week.   I hope your weekend has been filled with fun.  :)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Another Beautiful Weekend

Last weekend a friend and I canned dozens of jars of applesauce.  I warmed a bowl of it after supper tonight and topped it with a scoop of ice cream.   Amazing.
This weekend we picked and processed 70 or so jars of what was supposed to be jelly.  Except that, as it turned out, it is more the consistency of ice cream topping.   Delicious, but much too thin.   We will let it set for a few more hours and then decide whether to try reprocessing it.   This is our second year of failure and I am pretty sure I know where we are messing up, and hopeful that maybe this time I've argued those points more convincingly than last time. 
I love picking grapes, and love the smell of the cooking juice.   I am not nearly so crazy about the wasps, but they seemed almost drunk from gorging themselves in ripe grapes and didn't both us even though we accidentally picked more than one of them along with the grapes.    Even after I washed the grapes and drained them in a colander, several wasps climbed up and out as I was taking grapes off the stems.    My canning buddy carried them outside, where they staggered around on the railing of the deck for awhile before flying away.
The grapes also held several tiny spiders, a few earwigs and then this big mama, a nursery spider.  I am not a fan of bugs, but all of the critters in the grapes were too mello to worry me.   And it was interesting to read that this kind of spider actually stays around to protect her young ones -- not very successfully in this case, I'm afraid.   We set her free to start another brood.
The colors are reaching their peak north of us, but the trees are still turning in my neighborhood.   I hope the season holds on for as long as possible.  
I am trying a new project this weekend, my first attempt at chalk painting.   I've read about it in several blogs and loved the idea that I could refinish something without stripping, sanding or much of any of the usual prep work.    My dining room table was water spotted and marked up with paint and markers from years of kiddie projects so I figured I had little to lose.   I bought one of those 8 ounce paint samples at a local hardware store and used that, along with the chalk powder from BB Frosch and painted away.   I've now put on my third coat of wax and tomorrow I will buff and begin to use the table.  According to all I've read, the finish should hold up to my usual life.   The final product is not perfect, I think I will do a better job at it next time, but I think it will be an improvement over the old finish and I am not ashamed to use it so I 'chalk' (ha ha) it up as a win.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Another Year Flying By

I watch the obituaries, awful as that sounds, as part of my job.    Especially now.  My part time hours have been cut even further, there are days when I am not connected to the Hospice system, and so I watch to see which patients will still need to be seen and which have passed on while I am off.    And so, one of the things I've learned in the course of this job is this:  I am too old now to ever die young.     At best I have joined the group of people of whom we say, "she was not that old."    It's a strange feeling because, as I'm sure many of you have also found, I am younger these days than I've ever been, and for the first time in my life, I feel ready to actually begin.

On an impulse recently - or more accurately, the combination of an impulse and a Groupon --  I had my DNA analyzed by    One of my (many) aunts has traced my maternal line back quite a ways, and my father's family claimed to be purely Lithuanian, so I knew there might not be many surprises, but I was hoping for a few.  No such luck.   We are more thoroughly eastern european (91%) than the eastern europeans who currently live there (82%).   I have only a smattering of other bits, with trace amounts from Finland/northwest Russia (5%), Great Britain (2%), Scandanavia (1%) and Ireland (1%).   As a child I had fantasies that I was adopted into a family that was not a good fit for me, and in that fantasy I was Irish.   Yet another fantasy bites the dust.  Sigh.

This was a fun weekend.   I saw the movie The Martian, which I really enjoyed, and went to hear Soltre, a small celtic band, fiddles and banjo and guitar and bodhran, and that was lots of fun, too.  Today I performed a wedding ceremony, a small group of the couple's closest friends were there and the atmosphere was loving and casual.   I have really gotten tired of doing weddings, but this one reminded me of how sweet a task it can be.   
I found out -- on Instagram! - that my grandson is apparently taking lessons on the french horn as well as the cello.    This grandma spins so far out of the loop during the school year when the kids and the littles are all so busy.    Thank goodness for social media, though, where I can lurk in the shadows and still have hints about what is going on in their lives!  Life is good -- if a bit chilly these days.   Not sure whether I will get back into a canoe or kayak this year like I was wishing, but all in all, no complaints!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Seeking My True North

I am getting ready to move on to some new adventure, and I use that term oh so very loosely.   When I leave my job at a local Hospice, I will be leaving some things that have become oppressive and frankly annoying to me.   Our census has shrunk by about 90%, and yet the complaining of one branch of co-workers has increased at least that much.   Meanwhile, my hours have been cut way back.   As a result, we are doing less and less to serve our clientele, through no fault of our sweet manager but with no excuse that I can see except lack of engagement.  Or burn out, which is certainly understandable given what we do and see every day.    I should be able to just shake off the attitude of the one or two on our small team, so maybe it is a sign of my own burn-out that I cannot.   I am beyond ready to leave and only staying this long because of a promise I made to another coworker, that I would stay until the end of the year.   On the other hand, I will miss the work that I did in the beginning, and rarely have the opportunity for now.    It is a humbling and amazing experience when you get to touch someone's life at this final, mysterious stage, and it has been a privilege.      I seem to have a talent for work that people consider depressing, which might not be such a good thing when you think about it, but it has been valued by the few who get to experience it.

Still, after decades of volunteer work and employment in the areas of loss and death, including AIDS, homelessness and bereavement, I am ready for something more lighthearted.   I just don't know yet what it will be.  So I am taking inventory of myself and my life and my preferences, trying to find direction.
One thing I have experienced in just these past few years is Fun.  As improbable as it sounds, I had no idea what it was and, in the beginning I would repeat silently to myself, "this is what Fun feels like."    Turns out, I like it.    I wish I had started learning about it sooner but I am glad I finally learned to laugh out loud.      Part of that is that I have a friend that I enjoy doing things with, which is both good and bad for me.   Good because I have so much Fun, so so much Fun.   But bad because we are not a couple, not a partnership, so I can't count on it and yet I haven't learned yet to have the same kind of Fun on my own.   I need to work on that.  So many things I have to work on!  I need to settle my mind and get ready for another leap of faith.    "Jump.  The Net will appear."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Still Having Fun

The weather just gets more beautiful!  My summer annuals are looking shabby so I got some potted mums to take their place.   I guess I should buy more since the bunnies have eaten my huge hostas down to the ground and there is nothing in front of my house except a few bushes.   I added 3 large potted mums today, and I hope they will look nice when they finally bloom.
I have also been working on this year's Christmas gift for the girlies in my life.   I am making braided bracelets, quite pretty and very easy to make.   I have half a dozen made, probably more than I will use, but I will make a few more anyway because I enjoy the project.   On most of them I am using magnetic clips, because girlies of a certain age have aging fingers that don't work as well as they used to.
I had supper with a friend and his daughter who was visiting from another state.   We went to one of our favorite restaurants, a middle eastern menu, and we all enjoyed it.    His lovely daughter was accompanied by her boyfriend on this trip and it was a real pleasure to meet him.  They are both the nicest "kids," bright and interesting and sweet.   And who doesn't enjoy being in the presence of young love?!  :)

And I finally made it to our local Farmer's Market again today after a too-long absence.   I have been busy almost every Market day this summer so I need to make up quickly for lost time.    I went for cut flowers but they were sold out.   Still not a wasted trip, because they had Snow apples, which were a favorite when I was a child, although we called them Snow White apples.   They are absolutely pure white inside, thus the name, and deliciously tart -- perfect with caramel dip, just one of my many fall dietary failings. 

And beautiful heirloom tomatoes, which I put into almost everything I make.   I love me some tomatoes.  :)
Summer is quickly coming to an end here.   The leaves are starting to pop with color, just one tree every here and there.   Although I hate to see the season end, the fall colors will be more beautiful every day as the weeks go by for the next month or so.    I am still hoping for that one-more canoe trip before the liveries put their boats up for the winter.  But whether I get it or not, I certainly can't complain.   It has been a fun and active summer for me.     I hope it has been good for all of you, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mostly Happy Chaos

 Where HAS the summer gone??!?    I have been so busy doing mostly nothing the last several weeks that I haven't had time to think or to blog.   Between work, and fun (so much fun), and search and rescue (SO much search and rescue), it's been hard just to keep up with the laundry.   Fortunately, I am not a fussy or fashionable person, and I live alone, so I'm not disappointing anyone with my lapses.   My kids have apparently been equally busy since school started, since I am not hearing a peep from them, although they claim all is well when I call every several days to just check in.

We had a search last week, which is always stressful even though my part is so small.   On this search I was in the command center as an assistance, and of course it is fascinating work.   The described the subject as "elderly" in the police department and press, but I'm not buying into that -- she was a mere 70 years old for goodness sake!   Prime of her life and all.   Fortunately the search had a happy outcome and she was found safe, although not by search teams.   I will never know all the circumstances or reasons behind it all, but I am content to have had some little part in relieving her family's worst fears.

Just two days after the search, with still not nearly enough sleep, I was involved in creating and presenting training in search and rescue at a local regional conference.  Indoor training all day Saturday, and a field drill all day Sunday (ground teams, canine and equine units).   It went well, although not as well as if I'd had the previous week to work on things, but well enough that we weren't totally embarrassed.   And best of all, it 's over, although the weekend is over, too, with not a whole lot of time to result.
In the midst of it all, a nest of wasps decided that my house looked like a cozy place to live and built a (large) family home under my siding.   I warned them that they should look for another place to live, but they weren't in the mood to be reasonable.   After making sure they weren't bees, I had to get an exterminator and carnage ensued.   It's been a couple of weeks, and I am still finding dead wasps in different areas both outside and inside my house, which is a bit unsettling.     Gotta admit, I sort of coveted his suit.  :)
Health-wise, my decades of low potassium have finally concerned my family doctor enough to have him refer me to a specialist.   She believes I have Liddle syndrome and has changed my meds, which is having the not unexpected effect of making me feel like heck.   These things take some time to shake out so I am trying to be patient, but I am not much interested in slowing down.   I am hoping that the weekly blood work and doctor appointments will soon be a thing of the past and that my pesky potassium will right itself once and for all.

Tomorrow is another work day -- it is so funny to me, they have cut my hours to 16 a week and yet every work week seems longer, lol.   No question in my mind that it is time to move one.    I still don't have a plan going forward, and I still can't seem to worry about it. 

I got the nicest email recently (maybe last week in the middle of my most frantic schedule?) named Laurie, who says she is a follower.   Thank you for your sweet remarks, Laurie, I wanted to write to you but can't find you on the list and lost your email -- I opened it to respond, got called away, and seem to have lost it now.   Thank you, Laurie, I'd love to hear from you again and will hope to be better organized if I do!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week End-ing

My sugar addiction caught up with me this week and gave me a swift kick in the butt.   I check my blood glucose levels every few days because one test, a long time ago, suggested that I was pre-diabetic.   You know how that goes, it gave me a scare, and I cleaned up my diet and exercise life.   But times goes on and this one gets lazy again, and when you top off my bad habits with some recent personal stress, this week my spot check revealed seriously high numbers.   I was able to bring them down by exercising, but it is still too soon to know whether I have the levels under control again.   If not by the end of the week, I'll high tail it into the doctor's office to beg for forgiveness and help.   Thank goodness for farmers markets and lots of fresh produce.    It is so much easier to eat healthy when there are beautiful healthy foods to choose from.   And nice weather makes it easier to get out and walk.

Last weekend I officiated at the wedding of a young couple.   I won't lie, this was not my favorite wedding.   Most couples are so sweet and happy and hopeful that I can't help but love them.   This one, not so much.    Even so, I hope they will be happy with their difficult little selves.  :)   There is, after all, no accounting for relationships. 
In another wedding related event, I got to help a friend put together a wedding cake for a couple of his friends.   Although he does pastry work on his job, this was his first try in a home kitchen, with home equipment.   What a lot of work!   Honestly, I had no idea the labor that is involved.   It gave me a whole new appreciation.
My kids had some landscape work done on the pond and abandoned pool at their new house.   There was one adventure after another, as the landscapers discovered mud puppies in the pond and 3 dump trucks-full of vegetation in the pool.   The guys we hired worked SO hard.   We did what we could to feed and hydrate them,  and they kept a great attitude as the job kept getting harder and longer.    They will have to come back at least once more, but we are all hoping things will be in place sometime next week.   No more surprises, please.
I went shooting with a friend on Thursday and had tons of fun.   Or as much fun as one can have and still be a big loser.   I lost our usual shooting challenge by SIXTEEN points, how humiliating.    Worse of all, I lost one of my prettiest marbles to him.   A turquoise blue 'shooter.'  I need to get more practice so that I can win it back, or another just like it! 

I had planned a canoe trip on Friday but that fell through.    My friend was not feeling well.   Hopefully we'll get another chance before the summer is over, but his health comes first, of course.

Meanwhile, at home, I am trying to get estimates to replace one side of the fence on my city lot.   The stockade fence, which technically belongs to my neighbor, is collapsing into my yard.  The neighbor, a young man who works most hours of the day, is exhausted when he gets home, and at one point his back lawn had grown as high as my armpits.    I feel bad for him and make no judgment on his yard, but I want the fence replaced and I know he can't afford to do it.    I don't know whether I can afford it, either, since I'm having so much trouble getting estimates!    So far I have one estimate for $1600 and another for $3600, so I need a few more to discover what's really reasonable in our area.    

The weekend is nearly over and I haven't had nearly enough fun, or done nearly enough work around the house.    So one more cup of coffee and I'd better get to it!   I hope that things are all good in your world, wherever you are.  :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

So Much Fun

What a nice week!   I played hooky one day from work and went canoeing with a friend.   What a fun day, made all the sweeter by his insistence that he would paddle and I should fish.   I didn't catch a thing, of course, because that is the kind of fisherman I am.   But we saw a deer and her fawn drinking at water's edge, a juvenile eagle hanging out on a branch that overlooked the river, and a billion little turtles all piled up on a sandy bank.   It was warm but not too sunny, there was a small hatch on the river but it was not too buggy, and there was an occasional breeze but it was not too windy.    A perfect, perfect day.

This weekend I didn't have any work to play hooky from, so I just slacked off of everything I usually do, even the fun stuff.  I cannot remember a lazier weekend.  Instead I got together with a friend for a two day marathon of Netflix, which included watching the whole series of Sense 8   It took awhile to wrap our heads around the story line, but we both really enjoyed it.

The month of June continues to be a good one for me.   I got a surprise call from an amateur radio friend who wanted to give me a very cool radio.    A friend of his is ill and wanted his gear to go to people who would continue to use it, and one of his radios found its way to me.   It is something I could not have justified buying, and it came out of the blue.    Another occasion for gratitude.

So it's been a good and busy few days.   But today was rainy from beginning to end, which is probably just as well since it made it less tempting to go out for more fun.    Instead I (sort of) caught up on the tasks that needed to be done to make the work week easier.   Laundry and shopping and such.    I did not get as much done today as I had hoped,  because it all came to a screeching halt when I accidentally succumbed to the lure of the rainy day and took an afternoon nap.  Of course, when you stay up til 1 am for two nights in a row, watching movies, that sort of thing is not totally unexpected.

Tomorrow it's back to work.   But I will be skipping out again Wednesday (maybe I am practicing for retirement and so far I am liking it a lot), to hand out brochures at a conference that will focus on volunteer efforts.     I will be there representing the search and rescue group, and it is sure to be a lot of fun because some of my peeps will be there.   I spent a little of my rainy day time today working on a story board for our table, and buying candy to tempt people to stop and visit. 
I hope your weekend was as good as mine, and that your coming week will be even better than the one's that have gone by.   Life is short, find reasons for fun and enjoy those little blessings.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

No Whining Allowed

What a lovely place Michigan is!   The world is lush and green right now, and I am enjoying the view.      It is really too beautiful to complain about anything!

I led a graveside service this week in an old cemetery in a small city, just off a main road. The widower, we'll call him Pat, was there with the deceased wife's son, who called Pat by his first name, leading me to believe it was a second marriage.    Although I did not know anything about the family history,  I knew that Pat had suffered greatly from his wife's death, and the son, too, was weeping openly.   I read some scripture, and said a few prayers.    Just after I said the prayer of committal, commending her spirit into God's care, two deer ran across the lawn behind me, playing and dancing as they went, and not in any hurry at all.   The cemetery staff, waiting to fill in the grave, exclaimed out loud, later telling me that they had never seen deer there.   We finished the service, I hugged the family and went on my way.    But I couldn't help but wonder whether the wife had gone to meet a first love who had gone on before her. 
I finally planted my window boxes and hope they thrive.   The boxes do not drain well and I neglected to fix that problem (as I had promised myself I would) before I planted them again. And we seem to having a lot of rain this year.   Except for a couple of cherry tomato plants and a few herbs, flowers are all I planted this year.  

My bird bath is getting popular with the local avian population.  Nothing fancy in my neck of the woods, but I do have pretty yellow and purple finches and lots of robins.   I have friends who get hummingbirds, woodpeckers and my son's family, who lives near by, was visited this week by a tri-colored night heron -- memories of Sanibel!   Nothing so exotic on my little city lot.  Of course, I do have several generation of bunnies -- you can just barely see the head of one peeking out of the grass by the shed in this photo.    I use them as an excuse to leave patches of weeds and growth all year in my yard.    I can't claim it is 'landscaping,' so I call it 'habitat.'    The critters appreciate it, even if the neighbors might not.  :)

One of the hopice volunteers made me some of her amazing spicy peanut brittle this week.   She doses it with cayenne pepper and who knows what else.   She invented the recipe herself and will not share it, and I don't blame her a bit.   All I know for sure is that it is HOT, and leaves a satisfying burn in the mouth.   No other way to describe it than addictive.   I ate this little baggie the day I got it.    If anyone knows where I can buy some will power -- Amazon? -- please let me know.

Our Training Team spent days last week planning our June search and rescue drill, tromping through puckerbrush to find a good place for us to practice our search skills, setting up a course, planting clues.   When we did the monthly call out, only two people responded that they would be there so we had to cancel.     The lack of searches has sapped people of their willingness to give of their time, and it is very disturbing.   I hate to think this really important organization might fail for lack of interest.  But change is inevitable.   There's no point in worrying about what will happen or whether the group will survive.   I do, of course, but it's still good to remind myself that there's no point to it.  :)  The sun is shining and life, while not perfect, is good.