It has been ages since I’ve blogged.  This winter every time I thought of it, it seemed as if all I could do was whine.  Who wants to read anything from a whiner?  Even the writer doesn’t.  So finally the winter is over, spring is here.  Our daffodils and tulips have bloomed and Bruce has planted the vegetable garden.

After the epic ice storm of February 2014, we spent a bundle on the tree removal — somebodies’ kid got a year of college on our nickel.  However, we hire the good guys — the ones who are bonded and insured, have the proper equipment and know-how, whose employees are wearing safety goggles and helmets, even though we had to wait a month for our turn.  They come on time, do the job right, and leave only after cleaning up.  We watched last year what happened to our neighbors who hired Joe Schmoe and his Stooges to do their tree removal.  They broke things on their property that have yet to be fixed.  I knew they were yo-yos when none of the workmen were wearing safety equipment.  If you’re so stupid to stand under a falling tree branch without putting on a hard hat, what other ignorant decisions are you making?  Obviously the owner is equally dumb and careless to even let his employees work under such conditions.  (He must like to play Russian roulette with workman’s compensation.)  I shudder to think. . . .

The deluge of yellow pollen, which is a rite of (pine tree) spring here, is on the way out.  Today it is raining hard and we’re praying that it washes away aaaallllll the pollen.  I’ve cleaned off the screened porch and will work on the flower pots on the deck this week.  I bought a new Boston fern and a new deep red geranium.  I haven’t yet looked for impatiens or petunias for the boxes hanging on the rails.  It is so pretty and relaxing out there, especially at the end of the day with a large glass of cold tea.  Heaven.  And if Bruce is grilling — aahh, a double dose of heaven.

Happy Spring, everyone, wherever you are!


To Burn or Not

it is cold.  About as cold as it will get here in the winter.  

Not last winter, but prior to that we had fires several nights a week.  This year each night the fireplace stares at me.  Empty. Even of ashes.  

So what do we do?  It is clean without any ashes.  But it also isn’t warm on a cold windy night. Yesterday it was so cold and windy that we talked ourselves out of going out to the movie theatre.  We had NetFlix at home and colas and popcorn.  What we lacked was a fire to be ultimately cozy.  But then, neither would the theatre be super cozy, and we would have had to go out in the cold, to a cold car for the trip home.  I guess we still won.

Simple Clean-up

Our Christmas tree was one step up from last year’s which was actually the ficus tree in the living room.  Both had lights.  Neither had ornaments.  What was easy to go up, was also easy to take down.  What surprised me was that no one — not even the grandchildren — said, “Why are there no ornaments on the tree?”  It was beautiful with just lights and a star on top.  SImple.

With the Christmas season half over and the new year almost here, I am pondering how life moves along.  Our Christmas was quiet, our decorations subdued and the food rather basic.  Christmas Day church was even rather quiet.  When the Feast of the Epiphany is over, we’ll take down the lights from the tree and the mantle and put away the Nativity Scenes and the few Father Christmas’ we put out.  This year I decided not to bake, the first time in 48 years.  I bought several types of cookies and fruitcake from Publix.  Bruce baked a delicious ham and I made a big bowl of potato salad.  Sweet potatoes and the obligatory green beans and soft rolls were also part of the meals.  However, the big hit this year was Jello!  Yes, orange jello with mandarin oranges and lime jello with crushed pineapple.  The kids dove in, with the adults right behind.  I guess simple foods never go out of style.

What to Save?

I purchased a new sewing machine recently.  I had spent too much money trying to repair the old one.  I sewed James’ layette on that old machine.  He is now 43 years old.  It was a long ago Christmas present from Mom and Dad.  I think I got their money’s worth.

Bruce had torn one of his everyday shirts he wears when working in the garden.  I was anxious to try the new machine and its mending stitch.  It was a good opportunity to check it out.  I was pleased with the results as I was worried he would tear it further before I got a chance to fix it.

With sewing chores on my mind, I decided to sort through my assorted and vast mess of sewing notions. They were in two under-the-bed storage boxes.  Wow!  What a discovery!  Stuff I had forgotten I had was also stashed in those boxes!  Bruce and I had a trip down memory lane when we re-discovered my Pet Rock from 1975.  With Bruce’s research we found out that had it been in an uncrushed box, it would have been worth $25.  It wasn’t.  We also found an old Big Ben wind-up clock that was worth $9 if it worked.  It didn’t.

What truly amazed me was the variety of stuff I chose to save.  A decorated tuna can with 7 year old Jim’s script saying “I love you” which was an apt gift for Mother’s Day long ago.  The boys’ last diaper pins; a necessary item back in the days of cloth diapers.  Some jewelry left over from my high school days.  That went in the zip-lock bag marked for the “We Buy Gold Here” shop.  A white size 10 blouse that was no longer white.  It hit the trash sack. I also found a bunch of material for some (now unknown) sewing projects.  I even found a pair of flannel pajamas I had cut out (but never sewed) for Baby Emily who is now in middle school.

Eventually I got the notions sorted out in one box and the stash of material in another.  Hopefully, next time I won’t wait so long to sift through the memories.

Technology? Bah!

Years ago I remember a colleague at work complain that she couldn’t get her new VCR to work properly.  I asked her several questions; had she done this or that.  “Even my dad can’t get it to record.  He’s pretty good about things like this,” she said.  I thought to myself, no wonder I keep my old VCR, I know how to work it.

When that same VCR finally gave up the ghost, Bruce suggested we buy a new DVD player which made sense.  We settled on a combination VCR and DVD player/recorder.  And no, we too could not get it to record.  We finally gave up and use it just to play tapes and disks.  Bruce too is pretty good at that sort of thing. We followed the instructions in the booklet and when that failed even tried just using our imagination.  To no avail.

I have had the same cell phone for about eight years.  Last week I was talking to my brother and as I changed from one ear to the other, it flipped shut and cut us off.  That evening I went to use it again and realized a chunk of phone fell off the hinge as I opened it.  I showed Bruce.  “Is  it dead?”  “Yes, it’s dead.”

Having resisted every chance to upgrade, I could no longer hold out.  No, I didn’t want a  smart phone.  Too much money for the amount of time I would use it.  So Bruce was able to get me a new flip phone similar to my old one.  However, I still had to grit my teeth and learn it.  The other day we were in the car much of the day.  I just started going through the functions, getting to know them.  The immersion technique worked as I now feel comfortable with it.  I still can’t find the speaker phone option.  Perhaps it will be like the record option, I’ll just learn to live without it.

The other day a brochure arrived  from Bed, Bath & Beyond advertising lots of items for the college dorm room.  It made me think of that whole process — going away to school.

In 1964 when I went away to school, from Omaha to Lincoln, a whole 60 miles away, I needed linens and towels. of course.  Mom told me to go to the linen closet and take what I needed. I also grabbed a quilt and pillow off my bed.  Then I packed a foot locker, one left over from Dad’s time in the Army in Korea, with all the things I needed to live away from home.  Dad loaded it into the car and Mom drove me to college.  When we got there, Mom and I quickly realized we could’t carry it up three flights of stairs.  We finally smiled at and begged two strong young men to carry it for us.  They kindly helped out.  After meeting my new roommate, Jane, Mom drove us downtown to Brandeis Department store to buy matching twin size bedspreads, with a matching rug to place between our beds.  We thought we had a very fashionable room.

Today the choices available for decorating a dorm room are vast.  They sell all kinds of matching and coordinating items designed for college comfort.    I was amazed.

Years later, during the 1990s, as a mature adult, I spent four summers in dorm rooms –two in Hays, Kansas studying for my MA degree and two in Hattiesburg, Mississippi working on my specialist degree.  I lived alone, of course.  No way could I have shared a tiny room with another adult; I was too old to think that was fun.  I remember treating myself to a new twin comforter each time.  I even bought a small coffee pot.  The rest of the things I needed, I simply brought from home — again, I went to the “closet”, so to speak.  I learned to find things that were dual purpose.  Plastic crates that packed stuff to bring could be turned on their side and stacked up like shelves to hold books and hygiene items.  A tray on top made them like a counter-top.  A TV tray held my laptop computer.  Another one was my bedside table.  Thankfully, by then, dorm rooms automatically came with micro-fridges, a marvelous invention.  I didn’t have to  warm donuts wrapped in foil on the radiator or set cokes on the window ledge to chill them like in 1964.  In Hays I brought tapes from home — hours and hours worth — so I didn’t have to listen to country music on the radio.  In Mississippi I even bought a floor fan to supplement the AC and add white noise.  I was an old hand at dorm living by the time I finished my second postgraduate degree.

As I pondered the goodies in the brochure, I realized that I, in my own way, wanted to be just as comfortable back then as do today’s students.  It just costs more now. A lot more.