Archive for the 'RL happenings' Category

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.

Baby It’s COLD Outside

Basking in a box in the morning sun

Good thing that *I* control the temperature INSIDE. 🙂 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. 🙂 Kids are either totally organized or have no clue what being organized means. I neeeeeed that ash tray. 🙂 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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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?????

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. 🙂 Last night he came home with FOUR bottles for me.

Yes, Ahuva, There ARE Hummingbirds

If you’ve been reading my posts for awhile (18 months or so), you know that I had no recollection of ever seeing a humming bird until I took a trip to Phoenix in 2019. My husband and neighbors had assured me that there WERE hummingbirds in NJ, but I couldn’t even picture what they looked like, much less bring up memory of having seen one. Finally last fall I actually SAW a hummingbird among my canna lilies but failed to capture the moment in a photo. 😦

This year has been extremely disappointing as far as seeing butterflies. I have a garden full of pollinator- and butterfly- friendly plants, and I’ve had fewer than 10 sightings of butterflies. Lots and lots of bee-type insects, and moths, and some scary looking wasp-type things, but very few butterflies. I was thrilled to see a goldfinch feasting on my flowers a few weeks back.

Then a few weeks ago I saw a hummingbird! It was enjoying my firecracker plant (cuphea ignea). Note to self: plant more firecracker plants next year! I was sitting on the front steps and a movement caught my eye. It moved so quickly. Thank goodness my phone camera compensates for my shaky hands and for my inability to focus well. 🙂 I snapped frame after frame. I got as close as I could, loving every moment of watching the bird. I know these photos are not great, but I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Wings faster than a camera lens

Return of “Headlines I’d Rather Not See”

The world is a crazy, crazy place these days. I expect to see many headlines and articles that will annoy me, confuse me, and, on very rare occasions, delight me. It’s definitely time to share the headlines that caused me to blink when I saw them.

Poisonous furry caterpillars that look like wigs are popping up in Virgina

You really, really, REALLY need to click on that link and see the photo. I’m not much into caterpillars but this one is cute. It is, however, one of the MOST poisonous caterpillars in the US. You’ll especially like the sub headline: ‘The caterpillars can fall from trees and lodge in people’s clothes”. That’s right – in your clothes, in your hair, with all of its venomous spines, which stick in you. But as long as you keep your scotch tape handy you should be fine. “The Florida Poison Information Center (FPIC) recommends treating puss caterpillar stings by placing scotch tape over the sting, then peeling it off to remove the spines.” There are more interesting facts about these caterpillars, which turn into the even more venomous Southern Flannel Moth. *grin* From Texas to NJ, Beware the Furry Puss Caterpillar! (Yes, even in Arkansas.)

‘Zombie cicadas’ under the influence of a mind controlling fungus have returned to West Virginia

Or as my friend commented on twitter: This is 2020. Why NOT zombie cicadas? If you are curious about how the fungus spores ” eat away at the cicada’s genitals, butt, and abdomen”, read on. After that tasty treat, they are replaced with fungal spores used to transmit the fungus to other cicadas. Do be sure to check out this article. Don’t miss the exciting part where it explains “The parasitic fungus even manipulates male cicadas into flicking their wings to imitate the females’ mating invitation so they can also infect unsuspecting male cicadas to rapidly transmit the disease.”
You’ve been warned. Aren’t you glad you are not a cicada?

Tools of Terror’? New Face Masks Thrown into Fire Pit at Mission Bay Park

Time to give equal time to the west coast. I’m sorry if you agree with the people quoted in this article. I’m not going to have that particular discussion with you. The headline, however, is what made me blink. Also the photo with the article. There is no question that the author (Ken Stone of the Times of San Diego) had fun writing this article. It begins with “As if casting out demons, dozens of people tossed pricey KN95 face masks into a fire pit Friday in Mission Bay Park.” That is catchy, you have to admit. He continues: The coverings were depicted as “tools of terror” being used to “turn neighbor against neighbor.” They were a “precursor to adult mandatory vaccination” and “getting everybody angry.” Right. I especially like the “getting everybody angry”. People aren’t angry already?

If It Only Had An Ocean

view from my chaise lounge at the hotel pool

Like many people these days, I have been feeling frustrated living during a pandemic. I will say straight out (making every gesture and speaking every saying that averts the ‘evil eye’) that I really have no reason to complain. My husband and I both work from home and have been fully employed. My parents, may they rest in peace, are no longer here and I don’t have to worry about them. I have no children of school age so I don’t have to make the crucial decision of whether or not to let them attend classes in person. I live in NJ where we fought the virus and brought it under control. Well, we did, but now apparently many New Jerseyans are feeling mask fatigue and have stopped doing all the things that protected us all for so long. But I miss my son. I haven’t seen him since the very beginning of February. No trip back home for Passover in the spring, no trip for me to him in the spring or to spend Rosh Hashanah with him. Arizona brought its infection rate waaaaaaay down and I decided it was time to take action.

Ready for takeoff!

I booked myself a trip to Phoenix. I got a round-trip first class ticket for a ridiculously low price, using all of my accumulated airline points. I booked myself into a hotel only 15 minutes from my son’s house. The rates were VERY low for the room – on the executive floor, with a walk-out balcony, and access to the concierge lounge. I’d stayed at this Chandler Hilton before and enjoyed it. The people there are lovely – helpful and cheerful! I even had a reasonable car rental. I decided to go for an entire week, and spend some days on vacation but other days working from the hotel. I thought I was taking this trip to reset MY spirits, but as departure day got closer I realized that my son was also in true need of a complete and utter break from his life.

Somewhere between NJ and AZ

He’s been in his house since mid-April, working from home, hanging out with his housemates. Other than trips to the grocery store once a week, he really had no place to go. For many months Arizona was not enforcing mask usage, and the infection rates were soaring. His friends were sheltering and he didn’t want to risk infection. By mid-July Arizona had followed the example set by the northeastern states and had shut-down all indoor activities. His work, while interesting, had become pressure-filled with deadlines and changes and other elements that can make employment truly seem like “work”. I’d imagined we’d hang out at the hotel, around the pool, but when I got there I learned that the hike he’d planned was up in Sedona. So twist my arm. *grin* We’ll go to Sedona.

First look from the hotel balcony

The trip was wonderful. I began describing it as the two of us clearing our cache. Those of you who understand browser terminology will understand that. We cleared out all the stale information cluttering our brains, and started fresh. Flagstaff and Sedona rate their own posts, but you can see the view from the hotel, and the ridiculously expensive self-indulgent car I rented. They were wonderfully nice and helpful at the Budget car rental at Sky Harbor in Phoenix. When I booked I was told no convertible was available, but when I asked at the desk, they managed to find me one and work a deal. 🙂 We put over 600 miles on that little beauty.

The “A Butte” in the middle of Tempe

It was a very indulgent, relaxing, enjoyable week. We started slowly – cruising about Tempe on Saturday to find nearby spots that could refresh and renew (check out Tempe Town Lake and Beach). Downtown Tempe showed the effect of ASU doing classes remotely. Many closed restaurants and stores. There were still many students around, however, and music and food. (And of course the Tempe Butte, backdrop to Sun Devil Stadium games, is always there.) All restaurants followed the mask and social distancing protocols that have become the norm. Friday night (my arrival) we found outdoor seating at The Keg in Chandler, an excellent steakhouse. Saturday night we ate outdoors at Four Peaks Brewery, a favorite spot. Sunday was spent hanging out at the pool for a few hours reading. We were so relaxed from the heat and the water and reading that dinner was just a little bit of takeout (well, really delivery – the hotel no longer has a restaurant and bar and has worked out a delivery service with a nearby restaurant).

And we had fun, fun, fun!

We both feel refreshed and renewed. I LOVE Arizona. I would move there tomorrow if it only had an ocean. But I am too much a Jersey girl to move too far from the Atlantic Ocean. As much as I am lost in the splendor of the desert, ultimately it is the ocean that brings me complete serenity. Ah, to have them both. Since I can’t, I’ll keep heading out to Arizona to soak in that sun.

The mustang appears when you unlock the car. 🙂

Quality Matters

Ah, 2020, the year when we need to devise new ways to do traditional things. We have just completed the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These are wonderful events and, like most holidays, a time when we get together with family, friends and community. Except it’s very difficult to fit large numbers of people together in limited space and observe social distancing. Our congregation had a “sacred space” committee that sent out emails, suggesting ways we could all achieve or create a “sacred space” for ourselves in order to observe the holiday. They suggested that people should NOT just sit in their usual video conferencing setup but that we should all dress up, change locations within our homes, and otherwise beautify or “dress up” the space. I discussed this with my sister and we agreed that setting up outside, on my deck, would be a wonderful way to create a sacred space – outside in nature. Of course for me, this year has been horrendous with the no-see-ums so I knew if we were outside, I needed to be INSIDE of screens.

I already had one pop-up canopy, but it did not have sides. I went searching on the internet (WAS there life and commerce before the internet?) for another popup but with screens, and a way to add screens to the one I had. What a range in prices and styles. I didn’t want to spend THAT much because I really didn’t see the need for TWO popup canopies in my life. I confess that I let price be the deciding factor when I finally found some 10’x10′ popup canopies with screened sides. The add-on screens and the screened popup arrived a week before they were needed. My sister and I spent an afternoon setting them up, aligning them, figuring out how to ‘join’ them and keep them steady. That was Tuesday and when we were done it looked GREAT! Thursday morning I woke up and went off to make sandwiches. While I was making sandwiches it began raining. It poured. I came home and the new popup had collapsed under the rain. I was very very dispirited. But come Saturday the sun rose, and like the itsy bitsy spider the tent went up again. This time with pool noodles to try to keep rain from bringing down it down.

The holidays were wonderful. We made a beautiful space in the screened area. We had friends join us for meals, and we could be socially distanced because of the large space. We had multiple laptops and large added monitors so we could livestream services and have our families video conference in to join us while they ran a livestream for the services. Hurray for multiple devices! No rain from Saturday September 12 through Tuesday September 29. Last night was a major storm – someone on a morning business video conference called it a mini-hurricane. It was so fierce that it woke me up around 3:30 am, which is extremely unusual given how hard of hearing I have become lately. I went downstairs and looked out. Sure enough, the new popup was splayed and bent across the deck. I guess pool noodles will only get you so far. But it’s okay. It did what I needed it to do. If in the future I want to be able to build and KEEP an extended screened area, I think I might invest a few more dollars and get something a bit more sturdy. It seems you do get what you pay for. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, PEACEFUL new year, filled with hope and good things. 🙂

Etiquette in 2020

I can NEVER remember – does the hand sanitizer go to the LEFT of the salt & pepper shakers or to the RIGHT?

Quick Thinking

Rose mallow

Ah, my husband has gotten SO WISE in these last few decades. 🙂 He has learned that it is NOT a “soft word turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1) but a WITTY reply averts annoyance. Our stove – our beautiful, 2-yr old, 6 burner stove – is having a problem. One of the middle burners does not light. Not only is it not lighting but I noticed it was causing a different burner’s lighter to spark. Hmmmm. I cleaned all the burners, then turned them on one at a time to see if the difficult one would light properly. It did and was fine for a few days, but started sparking again today, instead of lighting. We stood in front of the stove discussing it and that probably a good cleaning would resolve the problem. Then my husband said “We have a warranty on this, we could have someone in to take a look at it”. Ahhhh, that famous “we”. “We” means *I* will end up calling, *I* will end up arranging my schedule, *I* will do what needs doing. I looked at him and said “We?” Pause. “We?” “Weeee?” He looked at me and grinned and said “We – Woman Extraordinaire”. Okay, he wins. 🙂 It’s really hard to argue with THAT response.

Find A Better Way

I get it – I have a garden too. I don’t want the hibiscus flowers bitten off my plants. I’m not fond of deer poop in my front yard.

Mama and babies

But let’s be real for a moment. Whose fault is it that the deer have no place to live anymore? Who has insisted on developing just about every little wooded nook and cranny? Our local roads are already over-crowded. We’re driving out ALL the wildlife.

We used to have raccoons, deer, possums, ground hogs, skunks and the occasional fox. Admittedly I’m not fond of some of those, but they are nature, and I DO love that even here in suburbia wild animals can survive. Then we began overdeveloping, using lawn services with their poisons, trapping animals because they are inconvenient for our gardens. Some of us admitted defeat and changed what we planted. Also an option, right? In any case, it’s been years since I last saw a fox or a skunk. I haven’t seen ground hogs in quite awhile either. The last possum I saw I think might have been injured. Deer, we have lots of deer. So I plant a lot of deer-resistant perennials and annuals, and make sure that my tasty treats are surrounded by such things as marigolds and peppermint. I use hot chili powder as my animal deterrent.

Took this through my front door – do you see Mama? Just right of the blur.

Now there are many people in the town who claim the deer are a nuisance. The deer are raiding our gardens and spreading disease. Oh, and we humans aren’t spreading disease like crazy (ahem – covid19? remember? and I’d be willing to bet that the people complaining about the deer could be the same population that refuse to wear masks). There was a town meeting. The decision? Shoot the deer.

Walking down the driveway on the neighbors’ property (lots of weeds there)

You have GOT to be out of your minds. This is the most left-leaning town in the state, I swear that must be true. Green green green. KILLING defenseless animals is your solution? Who ARE you??? How about some non-violent tactics? The deer are all over town because they are HUNGRY. FEED THEM!! Feed them with birth control in the food. I checked. That is a solution that does produce results. Or perhaps it is better to call it a solution that leads to NO results.

Saying hello when I pulled up in my car across the street.

There is a mother with 2 fawns. I know her well. They are hanging out when I pull up in my car. They nibble the bushes along my driveway. I see them cruising down the street when I am driving. Yesterday I was on my way home and I saw one of the fawns at the side of the road, hesitating. I waited. It crossed. I waited some more. Sure enough, Mama came across. I waited and there came Fawn 2, hustling to catch up. I LIKE seeing them. I get the downside of too many deer. But these days – omg – do we REALLY need MORE violence? Can we not just stop and enjoy for a few minutes, the beauty of nature and wildlife?

What is Mama hurting by eating some leaves?


Stat Counter

wordpress analytics