Feeling Young Again

Eric Clapton, MSG, 2022-09-19

But oh my, we sure don’t LOOK young anymore, do we?

We were at Madison Square Garden last night rocking out to Jimmie Vaughan and Eric Clapton. Oh I LOVE the Blues. Although I was so excited to hear Clapton, I’m a bit sorry that Jimmie Vaughan’s set was so short.

Jimmie Vaughan at MSG

We missed the first few minutes, unfortunately. I also was not yet into the automatic “take a video” mode. So all I have are some very poor quality photos and 3 second videos which are really “live” photos. What can I say? I was enjoying the music and getting into it. In other words – EXPERIENCING IT LIVE rather than viewing it all through my phone. 🙂

Clapton opened with God Save the Queen (or should I now be writing King???) which he has been doing since Queen Elizabeth’s death several days ago. I haven’t seen him perform live in several years, but I don’t recall him wearing a suit & tie to perform. Black suit, black tie.

The guitar playing is still amazing. Is it generational or does every age love to hear those guitars singing out, weeping, rocking, pounding, loving?

It was a long night transportation-wise. We did take the train in, but it had a pause around Newark because of “police activity ahead”. We got to Penn Station about 75 minutes before the concert.

We thought we’d get fast food at the station before going upstairs but the problem with that plan is that there is nowhere to SIT anymore. All seats were removed years ago to deal with the issue of homeless sleeping in the station.

To our great delight, there is a restaurant/bar right in the station – Kabooz. We got a table for 4 in their “outside” area – outside meaning not inside their site but in a fenced off area on the floor of the station. 🙂 “Outside” is a relative term. The drinks were VERY strong and the food was quite good. We were already mellowed out by the time we got to our seats.

Coming home was much more of an adventure. The concert ended about 10 minutes before the 11:06 pm train home. That meant a midnight train home getting in after 1:00am. Ouch. But when we got downstairs we discovered the 11:06 was delayed. Very delayed. We made the 11:06 which left at about 11:35pm. Even so, there were sooooo many delays. My guess is that there was a lot of rail work happening. When we got to our station we were on the Northbound track (we were on a train heading south), and had to climb down the steps to cross the 2 southbound tracks and then go up stairs to get to the platform. We got home somewhere around 1:00am. Although we are sooooo tired today, it was worth every moment!!!

A Little Moment of Joy & Beauty

Swallowtail enjoying the tithonia

Some weeks I really, really need to look at flowers and butterflies and even the deer. Good grief, what is WRONG with some people????? There is so much happening with the renovation, which is very good news. But I’m sitting here listening to the new floor being installed upstairs. There is crashing and banging that happens after long interludes of quiet or fairly ‘gentle’ installation sounds. I don’t know what he is doing up there to make the house shake, but each time it happens I cringe. He’s working right over my head at the moment. You may remember the HVAC team was working in that room and stepped through the dining room ceiling. I hope my ceiling and my nerves survive today.

They have no fear. I walked out on my front porch and all they did was look at me. I am standing perhaps 10 yards from them at most, and they kept munching away. Nothing too precious growing there at this time.

Thwarted!!!!!

blockade!

It was only a matter of time. Sooner or later there would be something happening in the renovation which would be deemed not-cat-safe. Sheetrock is NOT cat-friendly. It makes a complete and total mess. The floors are covered in white dust. There is STUFF everywhere: debris, workmen’s tools, supplies, unknown stuff. BC got out during dinner (the door being opened a zillion times to the dining room and us being less than speedy) and headed upstairs. She did NOT want to come back down. She was Exploring. When I went to pick her up she ran into our bedroom. I locked her in. After a bit she was willing to be freed and come into the dining room for Greenies. As much as I love her being with us, I did NOT want her wandering about the mess, nor did I want white dust-covered paws jumping into our bed. Drastic measures were needed. I took one of the large boxes in the front hall (the one with the pedestal for the sink) and put it across the bottom of the plastic zip door. For good measure I placed another box on top, although I was fairly certain one box would suffice. I was correct. BC did try valiantly to get out that night, as evidenced by the shredded plastic in the morning. But as determined as she is, she is still a little too small to push that box out of the way. We’ll open it up again soon, little kitty, I promise.

defeat

A Multi-season Weekend

Cool enough for a fire and no fan. All the little lights hanging in the ivy walls

The weekend temperatures fluctuated as greatly as our plans. Our maybe that’s backwards – maybe our plans fluctuated as greatly as the weather. In either case things changed quickly. We started the weekend with no plans. I thought I’d keep working on weeding and chores. My brother-in-law suggested that the 4 of us “do something”, maybe a bbq. I said great. Then I remembered we’d talked about taking the Circle Line cruise around NYC. A perfect weekend to do that! Friday night around dinner time I booked us 4 tickets for Sunday. Saturday morning my sister emailed me to say that my brother-in-law had test positive for Covid that morning. Sigh. Because she mentioned getting someone to use their tickets, I never checked for a refund.

getting ready

I thought it would be fun to have our friends Pam and Jerry go out with us. They like “doing things” and they were a week-recovered from covid. As they do not answer their phone or email on Shabbos, it’s not always easy to reach them. I drove over to their house and checked with Pam. They couldn’t go Sunday but they were available that night. Yes! Come for drinks & snacks on the deck. I kept trying to find someone to use the other 2 tickets. My friend Amy could use 1 but her son Joe didn’t want to sail. It finally occurred to me that maybe I could get a refund or reschedule. Yes, indeed both of those are possibilities. So while texting Amy I handled the refund request. I invited Amy & Joe for dinner on the deck on Sunday. 🙂

The flowers started doing better once we had a day of rain and reduced temperatures.

Well, Saturday night was clear and COLD. Cold is, of course, a relative term. Given the 90+ degrees and humidity we’ve been having, Saturday night was in the low 70s in the early evening and not humid. I had on long pants, as did Pam and Jerry. We had the firepit going and NOT the fans. It was cool and quiet and pleasant. Sunday morning dawned much the same. But by the time Amy & Joe came at 5pm, it was near 90, disgustingly humid, and I had THREE fans going on the deck to keep air moving. We were doing okay until the skies opened up and RAIN started around 7pm. We’ve been in a drought, remember???? I have no inside for entertaining – my dining room is set up as a major computer lab. But I have a front porch! We relocated to the porch, I set up 2 fans there, and we had our dessert. There was no rain yesterday during the day but it started again at night and is expected to continue today and tomorrow. Within 24 hours we swung from Autumn back to Summer, from drought to rainy season. 🙂

mandevilla enjoying the rain

This May Be The Right Path

I started trying to build a path along my deck last year. I wanted something that was “green” in the sense of allowing water to flow through, but stop weeds from coming up. My first attempt with burlap as the foundation was a failure. The next iteration was a bit better, but not really great. I used screen material and stepping stones. It did slow the weeds tremendously, but there were still weeds and it wasn’t all that comfortable for walking. I kept adding more and more stepping stones. No photos of all those interations because they just didn’t thrill me.

Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) and a cosmos

I saw mats made of recycled plastic on Gardener’s Supply. They are semi-permeable and very tidy. They also cost much more than the screening and stepping stones. I bought a set to give them a try. Around the same time a friend of mine told me he’d used old roofing shingles as a path. It so happens I HAVE old roofing shingles from when they blew off during Hurricane Ida last year.

canna lily, butterfly weed, Bolton’s aster, cosmos

I made a patchwork path of stepping stones, rubber mats and roofing shingles. I decided to see which worked better for me. I made the mistake of asking my husband which he preferred. *grin* I was leaning towards the roofing shingles approach because that was much cheaper than the rubber mats, I liked the look, and they were flat. The stepping stones were the cheapest but they are not that comfortable for walking, leaves and other debris get trapped and I wasn’t loving the look. My husband preferred the rubber mats. Of course. Champagne & caviar taste for that one. 🙂 If you look carefully at the photos you can see that I did still use some of the roofing shingles in the narrow area by the lilac bush.

Bolton’s aster (False starwort)

I waited for the mats to go on sale and for me to have some disposable income. That all came together recently and I rebuilt the path. There are still some stepping stones nearby, and 3 slate panels but the majority of it is now recycled rubber. It really is much more comfortable for walking and there won’t be weeds. I used landscaping fabric staples to anchor the pads as well. The catalog/website show the mats as going down sooooo easily and smoothly. My path area is at a slant, full of roots and uneven in its width. I’m also a bit slow at unpacking things so the mats were curled for quite awhile. 🙂 Curling edges not only are tripping hazards but ruin the smooth look.

Great Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) new for me this year – it seems to be thriving despite the drought

I am still not happy with the path as it moves past the lilac bush. There are a LOT of large roots, with not much space between the roots. I have the slate panels there. I really love the slate panels – I have 2 others elsewhere. They’re not really meant for the way I’m using them – on uneven ground. So some of the slates have broken and some have become detached from the backing. I love how they look so I’m trying to figure out a way to level that area a bit without harming the roots. At the moment that area is probably the least safe part of the walk. Even if I put rubber mats there they will be uneven because of the roots.

In any case I’m done with the path for this year. Water gets through, weeds are blocked, no tripping on most of it, and I’ve lost interest. *grin* Now I need to take a look at the rest of the back area and see what needs attention there.

My Inner 6-Yr Old

“Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill someone else.”

Pink rose mallow

I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy in my life. I know it only harms me dwelling on hurts and grievances. I know that I need to recognize it, understand it, and move on. But very often my inner 6-year old takes over and refuses to let things go. Tonight is one of those nights.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoying the zinnias

At my second professional corporate position, we had to do evaluations. This particular company had forms that were filled out by your peers, your clients, and your management. It was a way to get a more complete picture of how you worked and related to others. I was young. I was often emotional, defensive, wanting to be the best, never err, and win piles of praise. My father had talked to me about corporate life and appropriate behavior. I tried to live up to my daddy’s teachings. So you can imagine my absolute delight and astonishment when I got the results of my appraisal. “Takes criticism and feedback well.” Wow. Did I have them fooled. *grin* Because whenever I DID receive any “constructive criticism” while my demeanor stayed pleasant and professional inside my head I was screaming and raging. 🙂

Noticed this above my head one day as I put the top down on the convertible 🙂

I’m not all that much different all these years (decades) later. I attempt to be professional, gracious, considerate, calm. I don’t always manage the calm but I think I’m decent at the others. That means that I really really REALLY do NOT enjoy nor forget when I’m treated in ways that I feel are NOT professional nor courteous.

Black swallowtail enjoying the zinnias

In the last 2+ years I have transitioned some of the systems I support to a different team. Our first experience got off on the wrong foot, in my opinion. I know why, and I’m not sure that at their age and relative (compared to me) experience that I would not have done the same. From my perspective they decided that since the work was moving from my system to theirs, since the primary client said the current system stunk and they shouldn’t even look at it, they never approached me to discuss the migration. After they’d built a system and were ready for data is when they approached me. They talked down to me, they dismissed what I said, they “knew better” and it went on like that through the whole process. It wasn’t very pleasant for me but I did what needed to be done on my part because that constituted being professional and doing what was best for my client and employer.

white rose mallow

Unfortunately I needed to deal with the same team yet again the following year. I’d inherited a system I did NOT want to support, and we were moving it to their system. I was delighted and told them that repeatedly. This situation could not in any way be construed as me feeling deprived or resentful for “losing” a system. I couldn’t wait to be rid of it. 🙂 I was named the business owner for the migration effort as I had experience with the process, the clients and the business objective. Yet again I was treated with contempt and rudeness. Lest you think in this case I’m being overly sensitive, my manager set in on one call and was appalled at how I was treated. Daddy would have been proud of me. I stayed calm, stayed on topic, refused to be bullied.

zinnias and rudbeckia hortensia laciniata

Ultimately it came time to cutover from the old system (which we all loathed) to the new one. Unfortunately I did not feel that the new system could do all that the clients needed. It lacked key functionality. The new team wanted to release anyway. We had to present to management why I thought we could not release and they thought we could. Management sided with me. We stayed in development and we put out a great new system because that team really does do excellent work in an excellent tool.

swallowtail enjoying the mandevilla. incipient goldenrod in the foreground

Well here we are, months later. They are working on a project and lo and behold – they want to brainstorm with me. They need information about the process and tool I support. Being a professional of course I will…..

caged tithonia (Mexican sunflower). but at least it’s not part of the deer buffet

My inner 6-year old has begun screaming in my head. The heck I’m going to help!!!! So all of a sudden I’m NOT an idiot????? Because I’m the only one who knows this information and you NEED me? Because it’s been such a JOY to work with you in the past? You think I’m going to sit there and calmly teach you everything you’ve scorned for the last 2 years? You’ve made a dozen decisions on this already and “oh I forgot to tell you” and suddenly I’m part of the process??????

grape tomatoes and herbs and flowers in the rain

You see what I’m up against? I cannot get the 6-yr old to let it go. She’s giving me a headache. She’s enraged. She’s vindictive. She’s gloating. And yet we both know she’s NOT going to get her way. So she’s mad at me, too. Sigh. She and I go through this periodically – this bit where she is determined that THIS time we WILL do it HER way. (Yes, she talks in caps a lot – she’s very emotional.) Maybe giving her air time here will help. Although I’m not sure I let her vent enough up there. *grin*

orange gardenia

Okay, Daddy, I’m taking a big breath. I’m going to make you proud. If it kills me.

echinacea and rose mallow

More Proof It’s a Very Small World

I ran away last weekend. I am soooooo tired of being stuck in my house. My house is lovely (despite the renovation), my cats are lovely (mostly), and I love all the convenience. But I have found that my personality is not a good fit for being housebound every day, all day. Every where I look I see something that needs to be fixed or something that needs to be put away or something that needs to be cleaned. It’s not even so much a question of needing to talk with other people – I’m on video conferences a good part of the day and the contractors always exchange pleasantries. I need the outdoors, a change of scenery, fresh air, and nothing for which *I* am responsible! I hopped in the convertible, top down, and headed OUT.

Since I’d been down the shore only 4 days earlier, I headed west this time, towards the Delaware River. There are many cute stores in Lambertville, one in particular delights me – A Mano. There is a restaurant in New Hope, The Landing, with a wonderful view of the river and great cocktails. My plan was to drive to Lambertville, park, wander about, catch a cocktail and a nosh in New Hope and then head back home for dinner (I had been promised burgers on the grill!).

A Mano was all I hoped it would be – a present for me and one for my adorable grand-niece, and lots of ideas for if when the renovation is done. Prezzies in hand I crossed the river to New Hope, but not without the obligatory mid-bridge selfie (my son got that picture). I wandered into several stores looking for an ankle bracelet – I’d lost my wonderful white & teal turtle bead one. I found 2 that would suit the same slot as the lost bracelet, and some guest towels for the bathroom. I realized it was 3pm and I was hungry – I’d not eaten all day. I went to the Landing which was PACKED – a 45 minute wait for a table. If I could find room at the bar, however, I could sit there and get a drink and a snack.

I was lucky and there were TWO empty chairs at the bar, despite 3 people standing right by them. If you are a group of 5, you can’t chat very well if everyone is seated at the bar. There was a couple sitting on the 2 seats by the wall, and I took the empty seat next to the woman. You know I’m gregarious and when the woman started adjusting her hair I smiled and said “you look great”. We started chatting. And chatting. It turned out they were from the town next to my hometown. I had to drive all the way to New Hope to meet neighbors??? Too funny! Then she asks me “do you know x?”. I nearly fell off my chair. I stared at her and said “That is my SISTER. WHO ARE YOU?????” Who is she? She’s Lu- she cuts my sister’s (2 other friends’) hair. She said that I sound like my sister, have the same head gestures, hands, mentioned where my/our mother lived, loved the now-defunct Sugarloaf Craft festival. Lu was sure x and I were related. *laughing and laughing* All the way to PA and I end up next to my sister’s hair stylist. It can be a VERY small world! But SO much FUN!!!

Black Cat Houdini

Or: Where there’s a will there’s a way

Felis Triumphans

Black Cat wants to be with us. Mostly with me, but also with my husband. Pre-renovation she would follow me about the house. If I was doing something that appealed to her (as in creating a lap, working somewhere she could have a view of the world, etc) she would stay with me. If I was doing something boring like ironing in the basement she’d see what I was doing and then leave for more comfortable/interesting locations. During the renovation she’s had great fun walking between my husband’s keyboard and my keyboard – she can annoy both of us without too much effort. *grin*

How it began – ah, the innocence

During the work day all is copacetic. Her preferred spot is the cat tree next to my “desk” but sometimes she neeeeeds to be on the table with her tush on the edge of my keyboard. Hey – if that’s what she needs, that’s what she needs. My friend Honour understands this and understands who sets the priorities in a household. 🙂 Lately BC has taken to walking across my keyboard. We have been having many discussions about this habit.

Let’s see you push THAT door open

It’s been 2.5 months since the renovation and the Second Great Incarceration began. Apparantly BC has lost patience with being incarcerated. Oh sure, it’s fine during the day when there is almost always one of us incarcerated as well. But she has THINGS to do at night, especially walking on us while we are sleeping and meowing loudly at 2:00 am. Being incarcerated impinges on the things she needs to do.

Insufficient # of shoes and brick placement

In our defense I need to remind everyone that WC and BC are incarcerated to PROTECT THEM. Upstairs the walls are opened, there are holes in the floor, splinters and dust. Yes I try to keep on top of all those things but still. Our friends have a horror story of how THEIR kitten managed to get up in the walls and get herself dry-walled there before anyone knew it. They had to tear down the wall to get her. We’d really prefer to avoid such a situation.

So to protect our fur babies we blocked the doorways, creating the Second Great Incarceration. It has been working well. Then about 2 weeks ago my husband informed me that I had forgotten to latch the door to the dining room and when he came down in the morning there was BC – on the stair landing, NOT incarcerated. Then he told me the same thing the next morning. Well, one night of forgetfulness I can believe but not TWO nights. I investigated. I discovered that if one tapped on the door with enough pressure (and it didn’t need much) the hook would pop out of the latch and the door would open. Such a BRILLIANT kitty!!! I switched the latch to a carabiner AND began putting the paper recyling bin in front of the door when I went to bed.

reinforced the netting

She got out again. We realized it when my husband got up in the middle of the night to “use the facilities” and I heard him call her name. He came back to bed and she followed. The next morning we went to check. Carabiner & bin in place. Plastic door, brick and shoes in place. Did she teleport??? We discussed this. I investigated and noticed that there was actually a lot of space above the bookcases in the living room, part of the plastic doorway setup. I thought maybe she jumped up there, walked behind the plastic and then jumped down to the hallway. I spent a good hour the other morning putting up screening, enforcing all the tape on all the existing screening and plastic. I was sure that would be the solution.

Reinforced door – notice addition of screening to block passag

That night we hadn’t even made it to sleep before BC was up in the bed with us. I confess that we both adore her and it was NOT a hardship to have her snuggling. She does NOT try to escape when there are workers here, nor if we are also incarcerated. Even so – this was a mystery that needed solving. There might come a time when we do NOT want to risk her wandering about and getting stuck/hurt. In the morning I said the only way she could have gotten out was by wriggling UNDER the plastic door in the front hall. There were shoes there, and a brick on one of the zippers, but she’d seen me go in and out that door. When I checked I saw that yes, a cat COULD fit underneath, but only if it didn’t mind wriggling and pushing through a tight space. I didn’t think cats really did that kind of thing.

I am Cat. I am Strong. I am Determined.

Last night I determined to “win” this game. I moved the brick, I put my husband’s shoes, my sneakers, my sandals all onto the plastic flap on the floor. You’d have to be one very very determined kitty to push ALL of that out of the way to get out. BC is a very very determined kitty. When *I* got up last night to use the facilities, eyes closed, still half asleep, a little furry head brushed my hand. Yep, there were 3 of us in the bed again last night. Where there’s a will, there’s a Black Cat.

Napping after a hard night’s work moving shoes and bricks.