Shanah Tovah! (Happy New Year)

Lucky us – beautiful perfect weather for the weekend and holiday

Oh wow have I been busy!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ And it’s been (mostly) wonderful. Sunday evening began the Rosh Hashanah holiday, or (one of) the Jewish New Years. This year is extra sweet for me because my son is home for not just ONE holiday but for all THREE holidays occurring in the next 3+ weeks. In celebration of that, and because I really, really need it, I’m on vacation from work for 2 1/2 weeks. ๐Ÿ™‚

simple bedroom – a bed, clothes, a light (hanging from window sill), privacy for windows, fan. new wood trim, baseboard and doors

The renovation is still ongoing. SO much has happened and I’ve not blogged most of it. We got new floors, we got trim, we got doors, I was FINALLY told I could start designing the tile walls for the new shower. (I’d been begging since May.)

This room even has a door! no doorknob. a closet . no knobs, no clothes bar.

My husband and I spent hours on Saturday laying out the 3 walls of the new shower. We got along quite well on this except for the discussion of how to indicate which tiles get cut to fit. Mind you – we didn’t disagree on which tiles. What we seemed incapable of communicating was how to tell that to someone else (as in the person who will do the tiling). We did not come to blows but I confess I DID raise my voice. Several times. ๐Ÿ™‚

We don’t plan to leave the big window in the shower. ๐Ÿ™‚

After that we were both aching and exhausted. I was aching and exhausted from hauling boxes and boxes of tiles out to the work area in the driveway, and from clearing the deck and rearranging all the furniture (more on that later). My husband was aching from hours bent over arranging tiles.

there is a 3rd frame but foolishly (in hindsight) we put that in the house upstairs. I got creative for the 3rd wall

I think I was brilliant and correct about how we’d do the tile arrangement.

Marking the cutouts for the window and the wall recess

My husband has a good color sense and a good eye. It wasn’t feasible for us both to work on the frames at the same time and I had other chores that needed doing.

close up of the first wall. this is the back wall of the shower with the awning window. roughly 5’x 8′. the sides are roughly 3′ x 8′

I suggested that he start – layout the tiles in away that pleased him. Then I would critique/edit, then he would critique/edit my revisions and we’d be done. Except for labeling every single tile for the person to tile. *grin* Look at all those tiles that need to be labeled.

I’m a very good scullery maid and lackey. I brought all of the boxes out of the garage and arranged them

We chose 3 different “large” tiles and 5 small crackle-glaze tiles as accent pieces. We agreed we did not want the same color next to each other. In this case “next to” means side by side, not above/below. The pictures in this post were taken before my final critique/edit/labeling. That will happen later this afternoon.

we need to pick grout. You can see the floor, the shower walls, shower floor. what’s missing, I realize because of this photo, is the backsplash for the sink – also tile that needs grout

Once we finished with the tiles and the deck, we both collapsed in the hot tub with the jets on high.

The left-most panel was done on brown paper I marked to fit the wall measurements. It’s also the only panel that I have “aligned” and reviewed. The other 2 frames are today’s task. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then it was time for me to head to the airport to get my son. His plane was a few minutes early so I didn’t even have to wait in the cellphone lot – I could go straight up and get him. Sunday was bake-bake-bake and food preparation for 2 holiday dinners. Sunday night was at my sister’s house for which I made 4 desserts: 3 sugar free and 1 sugar full. It was a lovely dinner with family.

deck is totally rearranged and ready to entertain in “fall-season style”

Monday was religious services in the morning where we got to see friends we haven’t seen in 3 years because of Covid – zoom services, not in person. Then home to cook-cook-cook and set up the deck for dinner for 12. Well eleven and a half because one of the 12 is 3 years old and did not actually sit at the table. We had a wonderful time with family and friends, and post-dinner conversation and drinking lasted until after 11:00 pm. It was glorious.

the guests are gathering, the food is cooking, the wine glasses are ready!

Shanah Tovah!!!! A happy, sweet, healthy new year to us all!!!!

holiday candles, challah, wine glasses and the shehecheyanu fruit.

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Noticed this above my head one day as I put the top down on the convertible ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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

NYC in the Summer

Patience & Fortitude, NY Public Library

If you read this blog you know by now that I go into the city (and btw – there is only ONE “the city”) every winter and often in the fall. I go in more often but not that often in the summer. NYC is no different than central NJ in July & August – hazy, hot, humid. Of course there ARE exceptions. Last year we went into the city in the summer for the Interactive Van Gogh exhibit and my birthday. I never did finish blogging about that wonderful trip, did I? I got you on the ferry across the bay and never finished with the great walk down the East River to the restaurant. My bad. That was a FANTASTIC day.

Fortitude, sitting on the north. (Patience sits to the south)

My husband and I are both Senior Citizens which means we get to pay lower train fares. It used to be VERY expensive to take the train in – 2 or 3 round trip tickets cost more than driving in and parking in a lot. In addition there was no easy place on this end of the train trip to park. Now with the cost of gas, the high tolls, being senior citizens, and the new very convenient very large parking deck next to the train station, we’ve stopped driving in. A good thing too as they are discussing imposing “Central Business District” fees on motor vehicles, and that would include us trying to reach our favorite parking deck.

Fountain on Rockefeller Center promenade

I work for an international company and so I have many coworkers who I’ve known for years but either never get to see in person or almost never get to see in person. One of these is the wonderful woman who is my technical support. She is fantastic and over the years I feel that we’ve become friends as well as colleagues. She lives in California, however, so we’ve only met 3 times over the last 10 years. A client was flying her in to NYC last week and we knew we had to meet.

Rocking Horses on Rockefeller Center promenade – how appropriate, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course the day we were meeting for lunch was day 5 of the current heatwave, temperatures over 95F, the humidex (is that a word?) over 105. I didn’t care. ๐Ÿ™‚ I found loose-fitting clothes, comfortable walking sandals, blocked my calendar and headed for the train. Getting the right train is always an interesting endeavor. We were meeting in midtown at noon. If I took the 10:40 am train I’d get in at 11:45 and would have only 15 minutes to make it 12 blocks uptown, which is about 3/4 of a mile. Hmmm. When I do my morning walk I average a little better than 3 mph. But not in this heat, not on crowded city streets, not in sandals, and who knows if the train would be on time. On the other hand, the train before that was at 10:17 getting me in at 11:15 – 45 minutes early, a long time to hang at the restaurant waiting.

Prometheus – HE can jump in the water to cool down

Of course I opted for the earlier train and decided to do my traditional sight-seeing BEFORE lunch instead of after lunch. That gave me something to do with my time as well as freed me to go-like-crazy after lunch if I wanted to catch a train back home without having to wait 30 minutes or more. Penn Station NY is much improved but not THAT much. ๐Ÿ™‚ I got out at 32nd and 7th and headed uptown. I had a lot of friends to see. I made my way to 5th Avenue & 42nd to see Patience and Fortitude.

In the summer the ice skating rink is a roller skating rink – 30 Rock

I checked my watch but I thought I could make it up to 30 Rock and Prometheus and still make lunch on time at Carmine’s on 44th between 7th & 8th. Walking a bit faster despite the heat I trekked up 5th. Ah, home sweet home. There was a time, gentle reader, when I worked for RCA, and 30 Rock was the RCA building and I was up there regularly. I couldn’t get a good angle for a shot of the entire promenade so I started walking to Prometheus. I loved the fountains in the middle of the promenade and was delighted to see the rocking horses!!!! Oh my! I really wished I had time to get on one and take a selfie. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But time was pressing. Hastened to say hi to Prometheus – you can see I was less than careful with my camera angle. Then off to 6th and 48th for my traditional photo of Radio City Music Hall. The plaza in summer is much different than in winter. Now I knew I was going to be late – but only by 5 minutes. Indeed I was less than a block from the restaurant when my friend texted me to say she was there. I said “go in, I’m right behind you.” I was – sweaty and disheveled but I was there! The waitress was lovely and brought me some paper towels so I could mop up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Lunch was wonderful! We started with fun summer cocktails, the lunch was delicious, and the company superb!!! And I made the 2pm train home – got to Penn Station as the train was boarding. Now THAT is timing!

Our traditional shot of Radio City Music Hall. ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s a BIG Cat!

At least it wasn’t driving

I was running an errand the other day, driving to the store. I was stopped at a light and happened to glance in my rear-view mirror. OH. EM. GEE. That cat is HUGE!!!!!! I spent way too much time staring in the mirror to realize that I should have been grabbing my phone and getting a photo of it. When the light turned green I stayed in the lane and hoped the car & cat would stay behind me. There was a woman driving the car, but I was fixated on the cat. ๐Ÿ™‚ We stopped at another red light and I was a little more prepared this time. Unfortunately I was in the convertible and it is difficult to see the camera view easily in the bright sun AND when I was hoping not to be obviously taking pictures of my rear view mirror (not sure why I thought I needed to be discreet). I finally managed this one photo before we parted ways. I hope you can see the cat. Then – what do I see in my media feed this morning? The advertisement for said cat!!! I might have to indulge.

Ahhhhhh

I guess not all pictures are worth a thousand words. Last night I posted a video of 18 seconds of my idea of paradise: ocean waves at the Jersey shore. Apparently that was an insufficient post. Let me supply some context. It was day 8 of the current heat wave, temperature at 95F. My meetings were done at 1:30 pm. There were no contractors in my house (that’s not really a good thing, imho). My car is always loaded with beach chair, umbrella & blanket. Obviously I was meant to go down the shore. As a further validation of that action the friendly park ranger let me in for free. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a slice of paradise that I share with you here.

18 seconds of Ahuva’s idea of heaven

Did We Annoy Someone?

My neighbors and I had an interesting weekend. We are living the Homeowners’ Motto: It’s Always Something. You know that last week for me was the HVAC worker stepping through the dining room ceiling. The fun continued.

Only 3 of the piles in this pic. This morning there were 5 and they were much larger.

Either Friday or Saturday I noticed a huge dirt ant pile between my lawn and the sidewalk. As we were still allowed to water that day (maybe it was as early as Thursday?) I used the hose to wash away the pile. There is also some huge and scary looking flying thing that has appeared in the last few days. I’ve never seen anything like it before and I wish I’d not seen it now. It’s big and it moves very quickly. There had been only one and now there are 2, and they seem to like those ant piles. First there was one ant pile which I washed away. There were 2 the next day. This morning there were 5. Thank goodness for the electricians!!!! Eli kicked them all apart with his big heavy steel protected work boots and he stepped on something icky as well. My hero! Could the extreme heat and drought be causing the ant hills and these bugs? The flying things don’t look like wasps – I don’t see any obvious stinger. But they are intimidating.

UPDATE: Or why it’s important to have your teeth cleaned regularly. According to the folks at the dentists’ office these are wood wasps, and those are NOT ant hills. They are the burrows of these ground wasps. I was told to flood them out. I’ll let you know if that works.

This is the little one. I think that the larger one has a more vibrant, larger yellow/black body

Two houses down from me an ENORMOUS branch came down. No wind. No storm. No noise. They’d had branches trimmed several weeks ago. This was a live branch – not dead wood. No sign of infestation. I wonder if one of those lower branches had been supporting this big one and no one had noticed. My other neighbor snapped a picture capturing how lucky someone was – the branch landed BETWEEN 2 cars, not on any car, not on any person. Lucky despite the bad luck.

Those are soft white pine needles so the cars are not scratched

As Helen and I stood there this morning staring at the tree, my next door neighbor came out. THEIR main is backed up and he’s home waiting for the plumber. Do you think it’s going to stop with us 3 or do we need to warn the rest of the neighbors????

Why does a live branch come down if there’s no obvious climate event?

My Latest Literary Education Sessions

A typical haul from the library

There are so many advantages to reading. If you are a reader you know what I mean. Vocabulary, ideas, history, escape. I love mysteries because they usually end with all the pieces in place – nice and orderly. I’ve been doing a LOT of reading lately. I “stumbled on” several stories that were not by my usual authors. I’m not always good at trying new authors. Often I want the characters I know already, I don’t want to put the effort into “meeting new people”. ๐Ÿ™‚ The books below not only provided good mysteries and stories but provided one of my favorite benefits of reading: the necessity to do research. I LOVE when I am forced to look up a new word or when I realize I am totally ignorant of either the geography or the world events in which the story takes place. The books below all had me searching terms and events all through my reading.

Let’s do this chronologically. A confession – I’ve been reading Lindsey Davis for years. I started with the Marcus Didius Falco and when he ‘retired’ I kept on going with his daughter Flavia Albia. So this is not a “stumbled on” recently – we are old friends. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d fallen behind on my reading for a bit when Covid closed the libraries. Years ago I soothed my reading itch by browsing book stores and buying tons of books. Now here we are trying to get rid of clutter and items that we don’t NEEEEEEEED. Buying physical books must be curtailed, and given the cost of my latest renovation, inflation, the unhappy stock markets, and trying to save money, even buying ebooks needs judicious consideration. Kindle Unlimited and the daily “deals” get me through most days. ๐Ÿ™‚ Which is how I got this latest Flavia Albia – A Comedy of Terrors. My Kindle Book Deal for the Day made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. The time frame is 89 CE, Domitian is terrorizing ruling Rome. Flavia is an ‘informer’, which in current terms would be a private detective. Why does this book meet this list? Because of all the details about Roman buildings, streets, bridges, etc. My undergraduate degree was in history, with an emphasis on ancient Rome & Jews. My son and I spent 8 action-packed days in Italy in 2014, walking the streets we’d both studied (yes, he too was a history major focused on Rome). I love reading the details and flipping to the map and verifying that yes, indeed, I WAS there. And of course it’s always a good story with such interesting tidbits as Domitian’s Black Banquet.

The Last Goddess by Kateล™ina Tuฤkovรก, comes next. Although the narrator lives in modern times her research stretches back to the 17th century, and even earlier. This book is interesting and, in a way, unsettling. Quoting from Wikipedia: “The Goddesses of ลฝรญtkovรก) … focuses on female natural healers from Bรญlรฉ Karpaty mountain range who are traditionally called โ€žbohynฤ›โ€œ (goddesses). Tuฤkovรก narrates their complicated history because persecutions by the inquisition in the 17th century, and the later Priestsโ€™ Initiative in the 19th century were finally suppressed by communist government.” I knew nothing about the Carpathian region, nothing about the Czech Republic and Slovakia, nothing about the persecutions, nothing about the communist takeover there (although I WAS in Prague in the summer of 1973, so I did a little bit of reading then). I think I must have spent as much time researching as I did reading this book. I recommend it even though parts of it are a little disturbing (what was done to these women).

Still hanging about in the 17th century we get to Stuart Turton’s “The Devil and The Dark Water“. I LOVED his first book, “The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle“. As soon as I finished that I went back and reread it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d read it the first time to find out the mystery. Then I went back to figure out all the clues. I’m VERY lucky because I own a paperback version of it. I can go back and back and back. I bought the ebook for The Devil. I devoured that one as well. I knew very little about 1634 and what was happening in the world at that time. Think United East India Company, spices, trading, the wreck of the Batavia. Although I was still in the 17th century this research took me down fewer side roads. Loved this book too and can’t wait for the next one.

Making our way up to 1892 when India is still a British colony brings us to Nev March’s “Murder in Old Bombay”. I’ve definitely encountered other stories set in similar time and place but I don’t recall being spurred to research the events. This time enough detail was provided about the time period and the geography that it made me curious to look at maps and place the story within the patchwork time frame in my mind. The details on how people lived, accepted behavioral norms, attitudes – a very interesting read with an interesting mystery. This one came to me via Kindle Unlimited. I try to understand what catches my eye about a title. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think in this case it was the phrase “Old Bombay”.

We haven’t made it to the 21st century yet. My next book for this post is set in 1950, Vaseem Khan’s “Midnight at Malabar House“. It was another daily deal and the cover and title were intriguing enough for me to click it. I started reading the first few chapters and decided that for the price it was worth trying. Definitely worth more than what I paid for it. This is another case of spending as much if not more time researching history than reading the story. The timeline for the story is New Year’s Eve December 31, 1949 through January 26, 1950. This is after the partition of the British colony of India into the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The story is full of references to the events preceding the decision to partition, the people leading the drive to independence, the ensuing hostilities that remain today. Again a case of knowing nothing when I started and realizing how much I need to learn and absorb.

For my last selection I give you Dr. Siri Paiboun, a coroner in Laos in 1978. I love this series by Colin Cotterill. It starts with The Coroner’s Lunch and is up to 15 books. Yes, I’d even spend money to read these books. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also love his Jimm Juree series which is set in Thailand. I spend a GREAT deal of looking at maps and researching history when I read both series. They are a great deal of fun and, as I said, I learn a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚

“What’s It Like?”

I am having top-notch nursing care

I can’t believe how many people have asked me that this week. What’s it like to have Covid? MISERABLE. No matter how much you want to be “in” with the “in crowd” – pass up the opportunity to get sick.

Not the usual counter-top picture I share with you, but neither of us is much into food or cooking this week.

My husband and I have the same symptoms. It’s like having a horrible, horrible head cold or, imagine this, a viral infection in the sinuses. We are both congested. He’s coughing every few minutes and I’m blowing my nose non-stop. We’re both trying desperately to keep it out of our chests, because once the congestion is in your chest you KNOW how disgustingly uncomfortable that gets. I have had a painful scratchy sore throat for days. One of my personal issues is that if I take too many Tylenol or Advil I tend to get an ulcer. Yeah, this is probably NOT one of the more pleasant weeks in my life.

thank goodness the grape tomatoes are healthier than i am

Fever, yep that’s present too. We are living on Tylenol and Sudafed during the day, and Nyquil and Afrin nose-spray at night. We are drinking oceans of liquids. Sleeping a lot. For me yesterday that meant most of the day. Not sure I was awake for even 10 hours. Brain fog. What’s brain fog? That’s when you can’t focus at all on any one thought. It’s too much effort to think, you can’t remember why you wanted to think, and it hurts too much to think. I have no idea what day it is.

I have the butterfly weed but no butterflies ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I am so very grateful that we have our house, our garden, the deck, my sister & her husband, and that the contractors are NOT here this week working on the renovation. With the things we HAVE to help us survive, and the things we do NOT have to deal with, this week is less horrible than it could be. I tried to imagine the 2 of us feeling like this in a small apartment with no real space to separate and no way to go outside. I’m sorry that we had to cancel weekend plans, and maybe even next weekend plans, but we are very fortunate to have the support system we do. My sister and brother-in-law have run errands for us, replenishing the depleted medicine stock. I wonder if they’ll do a grocery run for us too? ๐Ÿ™‚

the pink echinacea makes me happy

On the positive side we do seem to be getting a little better. My husband has a prescription for some meds that are supposed to help him not relapse as he recovers. Of course the list of potential side-effects sound almost worse than the current symptoms. I felt strong enough last night that before I went to bed (in the recliner, because he’s in our bed and I’m living in the recliner in our sun room) I Windex’d every surface and handle and knob I could reach. And I only slept 10.5 hours last night! Definitely on the road to recovery. I hope. Please.

I LOVE these very tall daisies. I thought I’d lost them – choked out by other plants. But I have this group and a small group on the other side of the house. They grow to 2-3′ tall