Sunny Excursion

MY bag is on that table!!!

Today’s excursion was VERY sunny, in more ways than just the weather. My usual outings consist of making sandwiches and grocery shopping. When I’m very lucky, I might also get out for a massage. Alas, that’s not happened since even before I injured my rib. At the moment the very idea of someone wanting to press on my rib makes me flinch. In November and December I had a series of medical appointments -that was a bit different. Nothing serious, just trying to get the yearly check-ups accomplished once we all figured out how to interact during a pandemic. But today, today was very special!!

Books to be placed outside later (or maybe that’s also what they do in bad weather)

My sister has been telling me for weeks (months?) that our local library was back in business. You place an order with them either over the phone or via email, and they would bag up your books for you. They would contact you to set a pickup time. At the scheduled time your brown paper bag would be waiting for you in front of the building. I am a Kindle Unlimited patron and I have been getting the vast majority of my reading that way. Besides, part of the fun of the library is the browsing to see what is there that you weren’t expecting, or hadn’t known existed. Back in December I treated myself to an outing at Barnes & Noble to get some REAL books. While I do appreciate the convenience of my iPad, there is something about a tangible book, with tangible pages, that still fills a particular need. One of those books was the first in a series by one of the authors I like – Jeffery Deaver’s new “Culter Shaw” series. I REALLY wanted to read the 2nd book but I didn’t want to spend the required amount for an ebook. I turned to my local library. Sure enough, they had it available ( because this is only new to me, not to the world). I dug out my long-abandoned “books from the library” list and found 3 more available and placed my order yesterday. Today I ran over to pick up my books!! Making the book acquisition even more wonderful – I just learned that Monday is a company holiday!!! I know it’s a national holiday but only this year, due to changes in scheduling because of Covid19, is this a work holiday for me as well. *huge smile* Oh my goodness!!!! THREE WHOLE DAYS TO READ!!!!!!!!

MY books – although it also looks as if maybe there should be fried chicken in there as well.

Let’s Talk About Food

table ready and waiting!

Food. Cats. Plants. The Weather. I think those are all still safe topics these days, although I do have a (completely misguided) coworker who would disagree about cats. His loss. BC often joins our video calls. ๐Ÿ™‚ We like him anyway. Food – my family is most definitely a FOOD family. All the men enjoy cooking, with at least 2 of them into baking as well. You know I enjoy cooking and baking. Now that I stop to think about it, I’m not sure about the other females. They are absolutely fine cooks, I’m not sure if it’s something they “enjoy”. Funny how you can be so close to someone and still not know something that important.

slicing the rib roast

In our family our winter holidays are Chanukah and my husband’s birthday. Obviously these days we are not dining out very much but even so I was surprised when a friend asked me what *I* was doing for the birthday dinner. Moi? Excuse me but in OUR family it’s the MEN who cook the birthday dinners. My husband knew exactly what he wanted – a standing rib roast and potatoes au gratin – French style. He’s taken great pains to teach us that “au gratin” does NOT mean “with cheese”. It derives from the French for “scrapings” and is used typically to mean covered with crumbs (OR cheese). When HE makes the potatoes au gratin, it means that the potatoes have been drowned in butter and then baked. ๐Ÿ™‚ Unbelievably delicious.

look at the garlic!!!! yum!

The problem with our meal arises with cooking the beef. My sister and brother-in-law like the meat to be moo’ing when we bring it to the table. While I don’t like my meat well-done, and I do like beef carpaccio, the rare ribs in these pictures are too rare for me. Not a problem because I can always toss mine in the microwave if necessary or, as in this case, have my slices cut from the ends of the roast. You can see the end, covered in garlic. Oh my – nirvana. ๐Ÿ™‚ The beef just melted. My apologies to the vegetarians reading this. I don’t eat meat very often so when I do I really enjoy it. I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but each rib must have been nearly 2 inches thick. Four ribs. Only 3 fit on the platter. ๐Ÿ™‚ Each couple ended up splitting a rib (and not finishing it) so we all had wonderful leftovers as well.

Can we eat NOW?

My brother-in-law asked what kind of bread my husband wanted for the meal, and of course the answer was salt sticks. ๐Ÿ™‚ My contribution was the steamed vegetables and the dessert. I knew my sister and I would be tempted to keep picking at the meat & potatoes, so I tried to distract us with 2 bowls of vegetables. One had only cabbage (we all like cabbage) and the other had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and brussels sprouts. They may have deterred us a trifle but seriously, given the options, which would YOU have picked at??? Not to mention the salt sticks. ๐Ÿ™‚ For dessert I made a cranberry/orange/apple cake. A friend wrinkled up her nose like “that’s a birthday cake????”. In our family, yes, we always have at least one sugar-free dessert for the menfolk. I gave my husband a choice of different fruit pies, tarts and cakes and that was the winner. I still had some sugar-free espresso ice cream which tasted great on top. Keeping in the birthday spirit we added whipped cream as well.

Very tasty loaf cake – moistness from the apples and juice

Now one of us doesn’t eat fruit. In anticipation of these meals where 3 of us would happily eat apples & cranberries & oranges, I sliced the chocolate pecan pie into individual servings and froze them back on Thanksgiving. SHE had the pie. ๐Ÿ™‚

chocolate pecan pie

Not Ready for Reality

flowering succulents

Oh man, it’s January in New Jersey. We still have a pandemic. It is glorious sunshine out there but you can’t fool ME – I KNOW that we’ve reached our HIGH temperature for today. It may LOOK lovely out there but it’s 37 degrees but will FEEL like 30 degrees. Ugh. Too cold for a walk even if I could. And I can’t because I injured my back a week or so before Christmas. I have no idea how I did it, when I did it. I became aware of someone stabbing a knife into my side repeatedly. I looked to stop them but didn’t see anyone but myself. There was definitely someone sticking something incredibly sharp into my side. Turns out I seem to have an absolutely text-book case of costochondritis. If you follow that link, you will see that the authors had an interview with my then-future now-current self and got the description for the ailment. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you are not into links, the short story is that my rib and its associated cartilage had a parting of the ways (for no discernible reason), and I need to wait until they decide to get back together. My brother-in-law (retired doctor) diagnosed me and told me to take it easy and rest. No problem, I thought. It’s the time of year when not much is happening. I’m not doing much. So I kept on walking my mile on my treadmill each day and, yes, sad to admit how stupid I am, kept doing my little try-to-get-started arm exercises. Well. It turns out that walking and arm exercises move your rib cage. I kept that up for 5 days or so after my diagnosis until I nearly passed out from pain New Year’s Eve day when I went to make the sandwiches for the soup kitchen. At that point I decided that maybe walking was NOT such a brilliant idea. Hey – you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!!

kitchen bay window full of happy succulents

I’m doing much better, I am happy to report. Last night I actually managed to sleep in my BED, instead of the reclining chair. There is only ONE position where there is no pain, which gets a bit much for all the other parts of my body, but I did make it through the night, thanks to the ever-present heating pad. The cats have been quite considerate and both they and my husband allowed me to sleep late – all the way to 9:30 this morning!! Even better – the coffee was still hot when I got downstairs. ๐Ÿ™‚ That is one of the most wonderful things about working from home – my husband brews the coffee every morning. Even when I get up early to do the sandwiches, when I come home he has made enough that there is hot coffee waiting for me. Ahhhhh.

WC on Red Couch – All is Right in the World

White cat is doing well also. As with so many things now, having an appointment with the vet is a production. Two pages of questions to answer about the pet, waiting in the parking lot in the car until you can bring your pet to the door. You hand over the animal and go back to your car. You will field calls from the doctor as your pet is examined. Finally you are allowed to pay (I forgot to ask if my husband had to give that over the phone or if they allowed him in to pay). I had a day full of meetings and I was still not lifting any weights (see above – care and treatment of costochondritis) so my husband took her in. Another mark on the plus column for working from home. Yes WC is old, arthritic, kidney issues, thyroid issues caused by the kidney medicine but for being 18+ years old, she’s in good shape. The doctor told my husband that WC was sitting in the doctor’s lap and that WC is a “beautiful cat”. Note to my sister: Maybe if YOU told WC she was beautiful she’d stop tormenting you. *grin* WC was probably frozen in fear. Unlike my dogs, who loved the vet, none of my cats have ever been able to relax and go with the flow. I’ll never forget the time one of my girls turned and sank her teeth into the vet. He had to pause the exam while he got stitches.

Soaking up the sunshine

I may be going stir-crazy by having to stay home and inside so much, but the succulents seem to be quite happy. I brought in as many as I could fit in the kitchen bay window. On gray days, which are VERY frequent in NJ in the winter, I turn on the grow light at the top of the window. On sunny days they get a few hours of direct sunshine. They are flowering and thriving. It does give me joy and satisfaction to see them all snuggled together, very green, very happy. Once a week I try to get them into the sink and give everyone a good soaking. Three of them are quite heavy so they don’t always get the sink-treatment. Even so, they look happy to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

She’s Singing My Song

My sister sent me this link today about Holiday Dinner Planning. Of course it applies to ANY dinner planning these days. I’ve written before about the challenges I face trying to invite my long-time group of friends to dinner. And that is WITHOUT the person who can’t eat nightshades (which I only learned to my dismay at my Come See My New Kitchen party). My husband pointed out that they also forgot to mention the people who bring their own food without having mentioned it or cleared it with the hostess first. ๐Ÿ™‚ I believe that I’ve also mentioned that showing up with unexpected entrees that you expect to be served at that meal is actually a bit rude. Aren’t you glad you aren’t invited to my house for dinner? SO many rules!!! But enjoy the song because, oh my goodness, it’s right on the nose! (Of course at THIS point in the pandemic, I’d be DELIGHTED to be throwing a party no matter WHAT food challenges I face.)

Baby It’s COLD Outside

Basking in a box in the morning sun

Good thing that *I* control the temperature INSIDE. ๐Ÿ™‚ I woke up this morning and my phone app and my actual thermometer both agreed: 16 F. This wasn’t a surprise – we all knew this huge drop in temperature was coming. As one of my favorite bloggers has been noting, the weather is yo-yo’ing all over the place. Last Saturday it got up to 70 F. Today our high is expected to be 30. Wooohooo! Thirty whole degrees!

This may not be as obvious in a photo, but can you tell which bed is used and which is scorned?

My mother used to have an ash tray (remember ash trays?). I didn’t understand it when I was growing up. I think my sister might have it now. I’m SURE we didn’t get rid of it when we sold the house. It shows 2 men at either end of a table. I think there are either coffee cups or old fashioned glasses or something on the table. They are both semi-reclining, with at least one of them having his feet up on an adjoining chair. I’m fairly certain at least one of them is smoking. The caption on the photo is “Next week we’ve really got to get organized.” See – THAT is adult humor. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kids are either totally organized or have no clue what being organized means. I neeeeeed that ash tray. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have so many photos I took in order to post here, but I just can’t get organized to write a coherent narrative. Perhaps you’ve noticed that lately yourself. ๐Ÿ™‚

My husband “torturing” BC with TV for cats

But writing to you makes me feel as if I’m having a social life, especially on a day when even if there WAS no pandemic I have NO intention of setting foot out the door. Brrrrr. I was supposed to have a massage, which I need badly because I have a spasmed muscle (why does WordPress not think spasmed is a word?) and only my massage therapist can help me now. She’s my only hope! But I texted her yesterday and asked to move the appointment because I am such a spoiled princess that even for my massage I am not going out there. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m willing to bet by now my good friend Honour is rolling her eyes and shaking her head. (She lives on an island in the middle of the Bay of Fundy – they know how to do cold up there.)

Got it!!!!!

One day I may have enough inner strength and control of my temper to tell you the saga of my attempt to get an attractive heater for my deck, so we could still see friends during the winter. Last year we had NO SNOW and fewer than 5 below freezing days. We were supposed to have friends over for dinner this weekend so I had been accumulating deck heaters. Or attempting to accumulate them. One I ordered online on Nov 2. I’ve been assured as recently as yesterday that it really IS on its way to me – it’s on a boat in the Pacific. Still. Before Thanksgiving I went out and bought Mr. Heater and he has been a rock star. He may not be much on looks but he heats like the sun. We took him with us to have dinner with friends last weekend. Between their wood-burning fire pit and our Mr. Heater we were perfectly comfortable for 7 hours of fun and food (all socially-distanced).

Now you know why I needed a ladder – I can’t reach the top without one. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last week I began to lose faith that my slow boat from China would ever arrive so I bought a Pyramid heater at the grocery store. I set it up last weekend (remember last weekend? temps in the 60s?). We turned it on, saw & heard it sparking – nothing. I was fairly certain the problem had to be in the control box as there really was nothing else to that tower but structure. I didn’t know WHAT exactly although I had my suspicions because things didn’t really look aligned. I asked my brother-in-law to come help me debug it. He came yesterday, after our big snowstorm 2 days before. That meant before we could work on the tower I had to dig it out, clear my steps off the deck, and bring up both a ladder and Mr. Heater. No way we could work out there for any time without heat. ๐Ÿ™‚ As usual, my brother-in-law figured out the issue and we fixed it. I got a lesson in spark gaps. I had thought the one piece was the issue but intuition can only take you so far – knowledge is power. Anyway, I now have 2 working propane heaters AND a propane fire pit with lots of ceramic logs. I cancelled dinner anyway. Even with 3 heaters going none of us wanted to sit out in 30 degree temps.

The handmade ribbon is so pretty

I plan to spend the day baking. This makes me happy. Unfortunately it also makes me gain weight. I’m planning to share with neighbors. Another thing that makes me happy is to get unexpected presents. I looked out the window and saw a package on my deck this morning. A little package. I figured it was something my husband ordered. Nope, it was for me (yes I took 3 steps out the door to grab it). It was from a co-worker. There is also a very long annoying story about the word “co-worker” but all I’ll say now is that corporate politics and policies are blocking me from being on the team (hers) I wish to be on. That team and I, however, are all acting as if I am indeed officially on that team. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeah, you really don’t want to mess with me at this moment. I opened the box and it was SO PRETTY and there were so many goodies inside. Maybe I can trade some of the goodies to my sister in exchange for the ash tray???? Spiced rum? Vanilla cinnamon Bailey’s?

Where to begin?????

One Day in December

Winter! Bah! Humbug!
Donโ€™t ski. Hate the cold and gray.
Bring back hot summer!

Watching through windows
Snow falling, blanketing all,
Glad I am inside!

The storm has ended
Brilliant sunshine reflecting
Off pristine white snow

Young neighbors are best
Lend him our snow plow, sit back
Watch the sidewalk clear!

Northโ€™s winter solstice
Ends the lengthening darkness
Brings promise of light

Only four more days
Until sunshine starts to grow
More light, warmth, flowers!

Living With a Retiree

Is that a blissful face or what?

While BC has become my office mate, and is especially present to “help” in the afternoon, WC has retired from all such obligations. She is on the feline equivalent of Social Security and Medicare. In cat terms that means she meows and we do whatever she wants. The meow is usally one of two things – either a strident demand for me to get to the kitchen and put more wet food on her plate, or a strident but plaintive cry for my husband to sit back down on the couch so she can snuggle. BC wonders why SHE doesn’t get a plateful of wet food every hour, so I have to buy her off with catnip-flavored greenies. WC has yet to demand a place on my husband’s keyboard, but she HAS gone back to utilizing her hiding spot on top of one of his other desktops (really floor model). It’s very warm there, and safe. I’ve found her sitting next to the electric radiator in the breakfast room and snuggled up next to the hot-air humidifier in the sunroom. Ahhh, the life of a retiree – eat, sleep, snuggle.

I bet she has the same expression that I have when I feel the sun on my face.

Office Mates

Sharing office “supplies” (btw – we have more, but some were on the floor)

I shifted my home office several weeks ago. I used to work in the dining room, where we have very strict rules about the table. I moved up to my son’s bedroom. There are some great advantages up here. First, warm air rises so it’s much warmer up here than downstairs. Second, there is a red tailed hawk in the neighborhood and up here I sometimes glimpse it as it soars. Third, my office mate is much more present. This of course has both an upside and a downside. We share supplies, although I tend to have less need or desire to knock them off the table. We both like warmth, however, and that can lead to a few disagreements. Overall, I’d have to say the new location has been working out quite well.

Awkward but manageable. I can still reach the mouse.
At this point, we disagree. Only ONE of us gets the keyboard.

Questions in My Life

Why do I always figure out how to prevent something from breaking AFTER it has broken?

Why can I never find something I KNOW I put somewhere that “made sense” until the moment when I’ve bought a replacement and thrown away that packaging?

When you are trying to lose weight, and you gain weight back and then lose it again, does that “lose it again” amount count to the total number of pounds you have lost?

Why is it always me who manages to step in the cat “mess” on the floor?

Why do I always need something that I’ve kept for AGES but finally threw out 2 weeks ago?

Should I spend a lot of money and buy another popup canopy (see question 1) or is that just good money after bad (having bought the cheapest possible ones in the past)?

How do I throw out a garbage can if the garbage collection didn’t collect it along with all the other bulk trash?

Why do the stars shine, why does the ivy twine, why is the sky so blue, why do fools fall in love? All great musical questions.

๐Ÿ™‚

I Am Understood

My new dishtowel

It’s very good to have people who REALLY understand you. My sister ‘gets’ me. She gave me a prezzie this weekend that she’d picked up for me on a trip. I showed it to my husband, who grinned his wonderful grin and laughed. Yep, he ‘gets’ me too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Last night he came home with FOUR bottles for me.


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