Archive for the 'RL happenings' Category

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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?

Cat Reality

Sometimes (most times) I find the reality of life around me to be a bit stressful. Hurricanes. Fires. Politics. Protests. Covid19. Unemployment. Weeds. No-see-ums. Micro and Macro events can create a sense of “It’s so big and I’m so small”. At those moments I look to the experts for guidance on relaxation. I’m told that sitting in a box is very calming. The red couch is yet another place of serenity and peace. The red couch is usually occupied but perhaps I can find a sufficiently large box.

La La La La La

tall canna lily front garden

Isn’t that what you say when you cover your ears so you can’t hear what someone is saying to you? La la la la la la la. I do NOT have the energy today to deal with macro issues: return to school? presidential election? senatorial elections? college football? eating out? La la la la la la.

1st mushroom sighting

The first sighting of the mushrooms. They look harmless, don’t they?

Unfortunately for me, my little micro concerns were also difficult this week. Sigh. So no cat pictures today – still a little bit too sad about GC for that. Which leaves me only the garden and yard for an escape. Oh – and food. There is always food, right?

crustless quiche

crustless vegetable quiche

Let’s do food first. My husband has been cooking. His new obsession is making pot stickers from scratch. I can assure that yes, you CAN get bored with eating pot stickers. The last two times he suggested it I vetoed the idea. That got me homemade pasta with sauce (oh yum yum yum) and a delicious flatbread pizza. I also got a crustless quiche. You can tell from the photo that he LOVES cooking tomatoes. I’m not as fond of cooked tomatoes as he is but at the moment they are still preferred over yet more pot stickers. The night he made the pasta he made a tandori sauce to go on it. Out of this world delicious. Remember Snuffles, the treat loving dog from Quick Draw McGraw? That describes the 4 of us having dinner. My brother-in-law is usually the bread baker, as I’ve told you. His breads are beyond compare. He was busy all day, however, so baking the challah fell to me. It was good, but it convinced me to get myself a bread thermometer. I worried about it being under-baked so I gave it more time than I thought it probably needed. I’d rather have it that way, even though over-baking means leftovers dry out faster.

Ahuva's challah

That is a 5-strand braided challah. Haven’t done one in years and so my strands were not as evenly thick at the end of the braiding.

The local news reported today that July was the hottest month on record for New Jersey. As everyone commented – tell us something we DIDN’T know. When I was a young lass, maybe all the way up to my 30s, NJ summers were my favorite weather. Hazy hot & humid did not faze me. Now that I am older, I have more empathy for those who complain about NJ summers. The humidity wipes me out. I learned in Arizona that temperatures above 100 are probably more heat than I enjoy, but I can go up into the 90s and have no problem if it is dry. I finally understand the phrase “it’s not the heat it’s the humidity”. Yes, it’s the humidity. And the dratted no-see-ums that are eating me alive every time I water the plants. My legs are covered with scratched bites and scabs. My legs look like the legs of a grade schooler (if there were still such a thing as grade school – oh wait – do NOT go there). My wonderful husband heard me moaning every night after watering the plants and bought me mosquito netting pants!!!! They do work! The problem, I think, for me is that I sweat so heavily from the humidity, that it is still attracting them through the pants. The number of bites is greatly reduced but I still got bitten the other night. I think I’ll try spraying the pants with insect repellent and see if that makes any difference. I could try to get up early when there are fewer bugs about but mostly I get up that early to make sandwiches.

mosquito netting pants

You may laugh but everyone who has seen them or heard me talk about them has asked where they can get them (search on mosquito netting pants)

I came home from making sandwiches yesterday and went to pull into my driveway. And I stopped. There was a man from the utility company walking out of my driveway and 5 orange cones IN my driveway. I rolled down my window and looked at him, and asked “What are you doing?” He explained that he had cleared it with the man in the house (*grin* I said – my husband, he said – I didn’t want to presume, I said – wise approach these days). The apron of the driveway was damaged when we got the new gas and electric to the house back in February or whenever it was. They are finally getting around to repairing it. He said we couldn’t drive on it for 3 or 4 days. That means no convertible – it is in the garage. Too bad, because the temperatures are only supposed to be in the 80s for the rest of this week. Of course, the humidity is also supposed to be in the 80s. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
driveway before and after

Last year I mentioned that I should plant lots and lots of canna lilies because the butterflies seemed to really enjoy them. I have only seen 2 butterflies this year so far. I showed you the monarch butterfly on the butterfly weed. There has also been a black swallowtail I’ve seen periodically. The swallowtail seems to check out everything but the things I planted specifically to make butterflies happy. It seems to really like the echinacea. I saw it today checking out the herbs, tomatoes and superbells, but it flitted away before landing anywhere. Camera-shy I guess.

black swallowtail butterfly on echinacea

Black swallowtail butterfly

I planted 2 gardenias this year – one in a hanging pot and one in a pot along the front walk. I believe that the one in the hanging pot was burned out by the hot weather, after managing to produce 2 flowers in the late spring. The one along the walk has produced one full bloom. It does smell heavenly.

gardenia

Gardenia

Not only has it been humid, we’ve gotten a lot of rain. The fun part is when it rains in the evening so I don’t have to brave the no-see-ums and can skip watering the plants. Apparently it has been even wetter than I realized. This week my neighbor’s lawn has sprouted mushrooms. Every day they have gotten larger and larger. There must be a good story to write there but at the moment I only have the illustrations. ๐Ÿ™‚ If they get much larger they are going to cross the line from impressive to creepy.

mushrooms day 2

okay, a little wider, but still not too creepy

Then of course there are the canna lilies. The “rescued” cannas have been thriving in the pots along the walk. FINALLY one of the ones I planted has begun to bloom. I get very impatient in the spring. Even knowing things will grow, I don’t want a lot of empty space that needs weeding and looks neglected. I cram way too many plants into one area. I have this gorgeous stupendously tall canna right smack in the middle of the lawn garden. Beautiful. BUT – crammed in that spot are 2 Rose Mallows, perennials that are in the hibiscus family. One of them was doing quite well before the canna began shooting up. The other is nestled under a canna leaf. When I can brave the biting-bug-filled lawn to go there, I rearrange it to be in front of the leaf. But somehow it always resets to under and behind. I hope it is sufficiently rooted to survive.

Mushrooms day 3

There are actually 5 of these things in the yard. These 2 are about 6 inches across at a minimum.

I like so many flowers, and I’ve now got so many perennials. I want MORE rudbeckia laciniata hortensia, but I’m not sure where I can put them. I will have to pull out the firecrackers or chop down the variegated grass. Or pull out the rudbeckia laciniata (single bloom rudbeckia). That might work, except I also have the goose neck flowers there and I added the swamp milkweed as well. Sigh. Maybe I should put a border garden along the walk? That gets lots of sun.

rudbeckia after the rain

Rudbeckia laciniata hortensia after the rain. do you see the HUGE mushrooms?

Whatever it is that snuck into my planters now has flowers. I can’t wait to see what I’m growing. I thought that purple-edged leaf vine was a sweet pea vine – that’s what I was calling it in my head. But it’s not, according to my search. According to my search I have no idea what it is, other than beautiful. I also have no idea what to tell the lad who cuts my grass. I’m tired of moving pots and putting them back. I think I’ll tell him to just ignore the grass under the vines. *laughing* There isn’t really any grass, is there? My lawn is really nothing but weeds. ๐Ÿ™‚
vines in the grass

tall canna lily and rose mallow

Rose mallow, canna lilies and dahlias

Sleep Well, Beloved GC

Siri 1

GC passed over the rainbow bridge last night. We knew it was going to be any day now. We’ve been cherishing her, and trying to give her last treats and indulgences. This weekend we had been giving her cream, and a little bit of cheese, and any cat food she wanted, and greenies.

baby kittens all together

Baby kittens in their new home

She did not seem to be in any pain. She has been growing weaker and less steady for weeks, months. No matter how much we fed her she was growing thinner. She was a happy girl, though, and stuck to the regular schedule. She got her cuddles, her skritches. She came to check out visitors. She and WC were born in August 2002 and came to our home in October 2002. Someone had dumped them in a dumpster next to a pet grooming business. We brought them and their little rescue mate brother (from a litter dumped 2 weeks after theirs) home together. We had only planned on 2 kittens, but there was no way we would leave any of them behind. We were determined that being dumped in a dumpster would be the last indignity and cruelty they would ever suffer.

baby gc exploring the new world

baby gc exploring the new world

We brought them home to our 6-month old puppy who ADORED them. She promptly adopted them and took care of them. Her favorite thing was to lick their ears for them – we called that a Mu-do, a shortening of the dog’s name. While the others seemed to take getting a Mu-do in good humor, GC merely endured it. ๐Ÿ™‚

gc Oct 2002 after what might have been her first Mu-do

gc Oct 2002 after what might have been her first Mu-do

From the time she was a little kitten, we were fairly certain that GC was going to be a couch potato. She loved to eat and sleep and sit around watching everyone else work. Everyone needs a manager, and GC figured she’d be perfect for the role. She had a special affection for our son – he was “her boy”. I used to tell her when “her boy” was coming home so she could have the fun of anticipation.

baby wc and gc oct 2002

sisters learning the world can be good

She was so plump and cuddly. Do any of you remember Gund stuffed animals? They are/were the softest plushiest cuddliest stuffed animals. GC was what Gunds would be if they came alive. She was beautiful, so beautiful. She looked like she could have had Russian Blue blood in her, her coat was that color. Her paw pads – I always called them a dusty rose color. They weren’t pink – they were much more subtle and interesting than just pink.

GC and LB 2005

GC and her little brother, who was quite a bit larger

Oh my G kitty – we will miss you so very very much. May you be where you can have all the treats you want and a warm comfy place to nap.

Beloved GC

Beloved GC

double-decker sisters

double-decker sisters

Didn't happen often but they DID get along

Sharing a seat didn’t happen often but they DID get along

GC and her little brother on the steps 2005

WC is/was, oddly enough, much braver than her siblings. They’d sit on the stairs during parties while she would venture into the room once the crowd thinned out

sisters 2005

Before we had the fireplace, warm radiators were the place to be

gc and wc snuggling 2005

snuggling sisters

3 cats on a couch

proof that there were times when we were one big happy family, no sibling issues

You Were Warned

Subtitled: You Had LOTS of Time to Prepare

IMG_3830

Oh my. Frustration is SO exhausting. For at least a week now NJ has known we were in the path of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Big Messy Storm Isaias. NJ has weathered (hah hah) several storms – sometimes well, sometimes not as well, but I *THOUGHT* we’d been learning with each one. Maybe the individual people are, but apparently our utilities still can’t seem to grasp the concept of “Be Prepared”. There’s a HUGE storm coming. Wires will come down. Power will go out. Things will break.

IMG_3829 (1)

One of my “rescued” canna lilies. LOOK at how gorgeous it is! and the orange spots on the yellow leaves!!!! Moral: ALWAYS rescue canna lilies

I no longer remember the big storm that came after Hurricane Sandy. Sandy was one of those events where everyone remembers where they were, what happened, and how many days they were without power. After Sandy, whenever we had warning of an impending storm, the utility companies would assure us that they were prepared, had their crews positioned all over the state, ready to ride and restore once the storm had passed.

IMG_3863

SOME of us prepared. Tucked everything against walls, into corners, heavy side down

Apparently my internet provider forgot the lessons. We lost the internet & cable just before 3 pm. It is now 24.5 hours later and we have no internet & cable, no estimate on when it might be restored. My neighbor actually received a call from a human being (I had NO faith in the automated voice mail system myself, or I, too, could have gotten a callback.). My neighbor was assured that “it is out all over and they will get to it as soon as they can”. I wasn’t upset with that attitude yesterday. I get it – a storm, damage, things broke. BUT. You KNEW it was coming. You KNOW that all of your customers are working from home because of COVID19. You KNOW connectivity is a true necessity these days. I’m disgusted, truly disgusted.

IMG_3866

Removed all the hanging sculptures, did tuck down those brooms after seeing this photo. tucked away potential flying missiles. PREPARED

My son was living in Florida in 2017 when Hurricane Irma roared ashore. Of course they lost power, might have been as long as a week. I was impressed with their power company, however. THEY posted estimated dates by when they hoped to get different localities up and running. It didn’t change anything – my son still had no power. But at least he (and I) knew there was some hope that the utility WOULD restore it, and how long he needed to manage without. Optimum either has no clue when things will work or can’t be bothered telling its clientele when the service might be restored.

IMG_3831

There is a butterfly in there!!!!

How am I posting this blog? It is MY good fortune that my next-door neighbors use a DIFFERENT internet provider. Back in the spring, after the lock-downs, Optimum went out of service. Again, I wasn’t angry because it was around the time when EVERYONE in the surrounding metropolitan area all stayed home and hit the internet at the same time. I had a very important meeting, however, and I freaked that I’d miss it. I ran next door and discovered they were up and running AND I could see their wifi from my house. They gave me the password and saved my sorry self. I contacted them again today and they graciously allowed me on again. All of my work apps are running off of my neighbor’s wifi. My brother-in-law brought me his – okay – I’m going to get this wrong – Google WiFi. I think that is what it is. It looks like a cell phone, it’s something Google, and it finds whatever service is closest and strongest. I guess there is some app and a fee but wherever you are in the country, you can find a service provider and hook up and have the internet. My personal computer and all apps that are NOT behind the company firewall are running off of this thing. My phone is using that now too. Sigh.

IMG_3835

Vindicated and satisfied! This monarch butterfly spent several minutes flitting from one butterfly weed flower to the next. There was a carpenter bee there as well.

I was supposed to run a training session today. We rescheduled it to Friday. I’m supposed to run a training session tomorrow. As I was proof-reading this, my OTHER next-door neighbor called – the one who also had no internet. He says it was UP! But as we talked it went down. Another neighbor texted to say she was back UP! “It’s like Christmas in August!!!:)” She lives 3 blocks away, but I went down to reboot my modem and reboot my router anyway. Nope – still no internet here. I guess there is hope. Maybe. It does look as if the storm passed/is passing far west of Honour. That’s good – it means I can’win’ when we compare complaining! ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_3848

I love the clarity of this photo. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Birthday Lunch Down the Shore

highlands beach

I know I’m getting older. Time was if I’d planned to go to the beach, nothing would deter me. But despite having plans to spend Thursday down the shore, I could sense my heart wasn’t really in it. I’ve been hearing horror stories about the traffic and the lines to get into the national park. It’s been so humid that it sucks the life out of me. Late Wednesday night I emailed my sister and said – let’s not go. She was astounded and concerned. The truth was that I’ve been doing so many things that I’ve wanted to get done for so long, and I wasn’t ready to take a day and do nothing. I wrote back and said that nothing was wrong, I really was still her sister Ahuva, and that I was planning to go down the shore for lunch. She was amenable to that change so down to the Highlands we went, back to Inlet Cafe. That place is really becoming one of my favorite spots.

old rusted anchor

local color

We drove down in the luxury car, not the convertible. Neither of us was really up for the 96 degree heat and humidity. I love my new used car – it rides so smoothly and is so powerful. I’m enjoying all the luxuries and appreciate the fine tuning. Unlike dinner on a Saturday night, there was no wait for a table. I probably made a mistake by asking for a table in the shade. We sat close to the building and there was only an occasional breeze. I’m not sure that it would have been better at the tables by the water, however. They are separated by walls of clear plastic now and it’s possible that the plastic would also break the breeze. It didn’t really matter as the food was great, excellent service and a lovely view of the water.

sign board at inlet cafe

sign board at inlet cafe

While we were there I had birthday calls and texts from my niece and my son, so it was a little family lunch. For many years the 4 of us had what we called “our beach day”. Over the years we had traditional stops on the way, traditional conversations, and lots of memories of good times together. Time passes, children grow up and move away, and it’s been awhile since we had “our beach day”.

NOT spqr

NOT SPQR ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

My sister CLAIMS she reads my blog posts, but she was astounded when I parked the car in the tiny municipal lot by the tiny little beach. Despite signs claiming it was an unguarded beach there WAS a lifeguard on duty. I’d noticed the lifeguard stand when we’d been down there for dinner. There were letters on the back but they were partly covered by signs. My liberal arts Roman history major mind looked at what was visible and was sure the letters were SPQR – Senฤtus Populusque Rลmฤnus. For those of you who did NOT study with our beloved Dr. P. B. Harvey at PSU, SPQR is “The Senate and People of Rome”, an emblematic abbreviated phrase referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic. It appears on Roman currency, at the end of documents made public by an inscription in stone or metal, and in dedications of monuments and public works. I had no idea why a lifeguard stand in the Highlands should have SPQR painted on it, but it definitely struck my fancy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Since there was someone ON the stand, I couldn’t resist. I walked over and asked the young (cute) life guard what it said. He replied that it was SBOR – Sea Bright Ocean Rescue. I told him I was crushed and started to explain and he nodded and finished the explanation. *grin* Not only cute but learned. Impressive. Ah well, we must learn to live with disappointment.

joe's salt sticks

my brother-in-law’s incredibly delicious salt sticks

I pointed out to my sister some of my other favorite little discoveries around the restaurant. I have always been an LBI fan, especially drawn to Beach Haven, but I could really envision renting down in the Highlands. Actually, I could envision retiring to the Highlands. Too bad my husband is set on moving further south when we actually do this retirement thing.

joe's rye bread

Incredibly moist tasty rye bread

Driving home we had one of those “sister experiences”, where we end up laughing so hard we are crying, our sides hurt from laughing, and we worry about not having a change of clothing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do believe my sister is the only one who makes me laugh like that, where I am crying from laughing, and I scream with laughter. It felt good. I begged her to write a post for this, because she writes so well and we were so out of control, but she decided it simply would not translate properly. We had dinner at her house, as her husband offered to make me anything I wanted for my birthday dinner. He and I cook for each other now it seems. He is always making me bread that is so delicious I cannot stop eating it. All his bread is good but his salt sticks and rye bread are sublime. Many many many years ago I traded my Thanksgiving dinner rights for a yearly loaf of rye bread. On the other hand, *I* make him sugar-free desserts. One of the things I wanted to do on vacation was try a new recipe – a flourless chocolate cake. Since I now have FIVE boxes of Tagatesse, I wanted to see if I could make a SF chocolate cake. I knew once I licked the batter that I had a winner. Flourless cakes are much like thick brownies. We brought over some SF vanilla ice cream and had a fantastic dinner with my favorite breads (and hot pastrami) and a great dessert! Birthdays are fun. Just a shame that they come with aging bodies. ๐Ÿ™‚

sf flourless chocolate cake

SF flourless chocolate cake dusted with powdered Tagatesse

2 Faces of Ahuva

relaxing at The Vault

Relaxing after a long day at the spa

I am having NO difficulty getting into the vacation mind-set this week. Let me clarify that a little – MY vacation mind-set. As you know, I spent Monday at Spa Ahuva. That night I sat down and made a list of all the things I needed to get done this week, things I’d like to get done this week, things that at some point need to get done around the house, and the list of this month’s donations. I had everything written down – 4 separate pad pages. Impressed with how industrious I was going to be, I treated myself to logging in to SL to hear Calli DJ’ing. She was at The Vault, doing a set of sultry tunes. It was the perfect end to a lovely day. I relaxed, chatted with the friends who were there, listened to the tunes, and savored the moment. I went to bed and slept a good sleep – the result of spending the day at the spa and the wonderful music.

DJ Calli

Always good to hear DJ Calli spin the tunes

I woke up the next day and stayed in bed, listening to my husband puttering about (he’s VERY noisy in the morning). There was no BC to come and cuddle. She hadn’t ‘tucked me in’ last night, either. So really – it was all HER fault. I was relaxed, thinking no need to move, let my husband feed the cats, when all of a sudden I realized: IT’S TUESDAY!!!!! I need to make 100 sandwiches this morning. It was about 10 to 8 in the morning. Lately I’ve been getting there about 8:05. I jumped out of bed yelling “It’s Tuesday – I need to make sandwiches”. I threw on my clothes, brushed my teeth, made a to-go cup of iced coffee, called to my husband – take care of the cats and raced out the door. I made it there by 8:20. ๐Ÿ™‚ The other 3 were already there. When I walked in, Helene called out “The Birthday Girl!!!!” It’s true – they were 2 days early, but I’d already said I was taking off Thursday. Jay had baked me cookies, and they had prezzies for me and my brother-in-law, who also makes the sandwiches on Tuesdays. They had face masks from the soup kitchen we are supporting. They also brought the Birthday Crown for me to wear. ๐Ÿ™‚ I need to return it next Tuesday because Helene’s birthday is the following week and SHE needs the crown then. ๐Ÿ™‚ As you can see – I look stunning.

birthday princess

I have taken better pictures. Please remember that is unwashed hair. Was not intending to have the “off the shoulder look” – just part of the total being off-balance

We got the sandwiches and lunch bags done and out the door by 9:30. The stupid squirrels had dug up my dill, and my radishes had died, so I had 2 empty pots that needed flowers. I decided to give up on herbs and vegetables for the rest of the season. I’d planned to go way down to my favorite nursery, but was too lazy and befuddled at that point. Missing the morning routine had me completely off balance. I went to the nearest big box store to find something that would supply bright color and survive the sun (the temps have been in the 90s now for over a week). Well, I saw some canna lilies there at a very reasonable price. They looked so neglected. They looked like they deserved to be rescued. I did what had to be done – I bought 2 canna lilies and 2 pots of yellow marigolds. They were sooooo root-bound. Let’s hope they flower.

canna lily 1

I do hope it flowers – it was so root-bound

I came home, still somewhat off-balance. I looked at my many lists. I made it to the chiropractor that afternoon, before he left on vacation. The nerve! Who said HE could take a vacation??? I made a few phone calls (on my list, unlike making the sandwiches), crossed off buying flowers. I paid the bills, made the donations, and decided the rest of the chores could just wait until tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have to say, this is the first vacation where I am truly not thinking about work. I see the emails come through on my phone, but I just delete the garbage, mark others as read, and then stop thinking about them. I’m not at all tempted to just send one email, just do one thing. I have a password that is going to expire this week. I’m trying to decide if I should logon and deal with it or just let it expire and deal with it when I return. This vacation is proving a point that my dear friend Honour has been making for years: There is so much to DO if you are not working. I’m NOT going to be bored. Okay, most of my lists are what some would call ‘chores’, but for me they are very satisfying. I’m finally fixing and changing things around the house that have annoyed me for years. There might be something to this whole concept of ‘retirement’.

canna lily 2

This one looks in better shape. Gorgeous leaves even if it doesn’t flower

THIS is why, Ann

july 26 dinner 2

Ready for the guests to arrive

More than 30 years ago my husband and I went before the town planning board to get permission to put an extension on our house and build an attached deck. The addition was in place of the tiny back porch and little pantry, and part of where the driveway widened for the 2-car garage. The deck was approximately 32 ft by 15.5 feet and replaced most of our backyard. To get the necessary permits, you have to send notices to all the neighbors, and go before either the zoning board or planning board for permission and any variances. Even if our deck were to be smaller, we’d have needed variances because our old house was built before the ordinances were created and we had existing variances. (I don’t know why that should make us have to go if the new work wouldn’t be in variance, but it does.) I believe there were 5 people on the board, one of them, Ann, a mother of a classmate of mine. During the days leading up to our hearing, I saw various strangers stroll down my driveway and into my backyard – board members checking out the property. We got to the hearing and Ann reproved us, asking “WHY do you NEED such a LARGE deck?” Before we could even start to reply to this unexpected question, another board member spoke up. “Did you SEE their property, Ann? (aside: no – she never came to look.) It’s shady, it slopes, no grass because of the shade. The deck will be a huge improvement.” Well, yes, he was right. Not only would the deck give us a usable attractive backyard, it would function as a large entertainment room as well. Needless to say, our application was approved, the addition added, and we got our deck (which my structural engineer husband designed to withstand nuclear attack and about which the builders complained bitterly).

getting ready

Preparing the deck for little 1-year old feet!

There have been various pictures on this blog that show the deck – in snow, in summer, in fall with the red tail hawk feasting on the squirrel. Over the years the furnishings on the deck have changed from sandboxes and plastic slides and play houses and shade from the cherry tree branches to market umbrellas and wood furnishings to umbrellas and led-lit palm trees and propane-tank fire pits with big comfy chairs. The hot tub has been a constant in the one corner, although it is now the 3rd tub.

the clan on the deck

The clan on the deck enjoying lunch

My niece and her husband and their our one-year old summer solstice baby came to visit July 4th weekend. It was supposed to be in the 90s and humid all day. How to keep everyone happy and safe? The deck has one oscillating fan and 3 umbrellas. Thinking of little soft feet that had only just learned to walk on their own a few short weeks earlier, I went out and bought a large outdoor ‘carpet’ for the deck. I put up a square 10’x10′ pop-up awning. I brought 3 more fans out from the house and aimed them at the play area under the awning. I bought LOTS of toys for ‘my’ baby. I NEEDED a pool. There were no small kiddie pools to be had in time for love or money. What to do???? /me sings “ShopRite has the answer!” There it was – right as you walk into the store. Pool toys. Including an inflatable raft with sides. The PERFECT size and shape for a pool!!!! All for the exorbitant price of $8. As you can see in the pictures, we had plenty of shade, the fans gave us a breeze, and some of us enjoyed the water. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, it WAS humid but the fans do help somewhat. It was good, but I knew I could do better.

ladies of the family (2)

The ladies of my family are beautiful but I must protect them from the paparazzi!

This past weekend we had friends coming for dinner on the deck. It would be the 6 of us, and it was again going to be in the high 90s and humid. 4 of us belonged to one ‘pod’ but the other 2 are just in the process of venturing out to be socially distanced, maskless, from non-pod people. Not only that, but I knew I had to do better about the heat and humidity. I upped the number of fans to 5, including buying 2 with larger diameter than the ones from the house that I’d used before. ๐Ÿ™‚ 4 oscillating fans and one stationary fan. The day before I set up the pop-up tent and surrounded it with 4 umbrellas. I also made sure we had LOTS of ice – 30 pounds of ice. Yes – 20 would have sufficed. ๐Ÿ™‚ But you KNOW I would have needed more if I’d only had 20. We did quite well – social distance was maintained, there was a constant gentle breeze, and a good time (and great food) was had by all.

july 26 dinner 1

Socially distanced dinner for 6 -can you find the 5th fan?

Now I’m on vacation. I know that I’m “supposed” to going down the shore multiple times this week. BUT. Well. This is embarrassing to write but honestly – I know I’m getting old. It’s actually too hot for me to want to pack up everything and shlepp to the beach early enough to avoid the worst of the traffic. I made a list of everything I’d like to get done in the way of chores, and there are a LOT of things to be done. Why chores on vacation? Because I don’t have time to get some of these things done when I’m working and they are constant irritants whenever I see them or think about them. The solution? Spa Ahuva!!!!!

setting up Spa Ahuva

Setting up Spa Ahuva

Welcome to Spa Ahuva! It has ALL the amenities of the most luxurious spas. Easy to get to – no traffic. Secluded – exclusive membership. Shade. Comfortable chairs. Gentle breeze to keep guests cool and keep the bugs away. Hot tub, for those aching muscles. Rest facilities within an easy walk. And a POOL to cool off in should the need arise. Because I finally found a kiddie pool online that I could still get delivered. Although, Spa Ahuva doesn’t REALLY have all the amenities I need. There is no wait staff to come around and take my food and drink order, and deliver the order chair-side. I’ll have to work on that.

So Ann P – THIS is why we NEEDED such a LARGE deck. ๐Ÿ™‚

Spa Ahuva

Spa Ahuva, as seen from my chaise lounge


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