Look! Purple flowers!!! I’ve had vinca vines many times in the past. I like having them trailing down from hanging pots, swaying with the breezes. I like them in my big planters lined on the front walk, ‘connecting’ lawn to flower. In all that time, however, I don’t think I have ever had them flower. I’m guessing that is because I usually don’t buy them until sometime in May, which might be past their flowering time. This year life continues to be ‘different’. No – this has nothing to do with the pandemic. This is about the seasons.
The past winter was very mild. Other than some crazy cold days in February, it wasn’t that cold. I have been amazed at how many of my plants wintered over on the porch. Even my rosemary, which doesn’t make it onto the porch, survived. And thrived. Usually it hangs in there until February, then one night it will throw up its metaphorical arms and die. Not this year. I have all sorts of things coming back, which is great! What’s not so great is that for many of them I have no idea what they are. 🙂 Ah, the perennial question: Are they weeds or are they flowers?
Some things are recognizable- jasmine, vinca, dusty miller. The herbs: lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, lemon balm. LOTS of mint. I think the dianthus is back. But there is a lot of green that I’m not recognizing.
I cropped the photos so you don’t see the 2 huge bags of potting soil and the huge bag of top soil. I’ve been buying more planters and pots. 🙂 I bought seeds again this year, knowing even as I did so that last year’s didn’t work all that well. Actually, my cosmos and zinnias did – I sowed them directly into the beds. I’m going to try again with radishes. I was unable to resist picking up 2 Romaine plants. 🙂 I really need a “support group” but I want the one that tells me what I’m doing is natural and healthy, not the one that tries to help me quit.
My meetings started at 8:30 am this morning – scheduled to go until 2pm. I managed to get my phone out from under BC, but at 8:30 we were still disputing to WHOM the keyboard belongs. Sigh. By 9am thank goodness she decided she didn’t want it anyway. WC, however, made sure that the 9am call knew that she was being starved. 🙂
BC wants it known that she works VERY hard. She does many important tasks while I work at my table. First she helps make sure that all my calls can start properly. She ensures this by walking between me and the camera so that everyone can see her sleek black side. The other day I was on a call, using my cell phone for audio, the laptop for video. My coworker began laughing and said “I have to stop you and ask – Is your cat sitting on your phone?” Sure enough, BC was indeed on the phone. Holly, still laughing said “All of a sudden your voice got very fuzzy and I heard a loud purring.” 🙂 I guess BC likes Holly. It’s not all fun and games and office meetings. Sometimes BC helps take care of household chores, like the laundry.
WC is still with us, although we had a bit of a scare this week. She wasn’t eating and wasn’t meowing and wasn’t coming downstairs to watch TV, pressed against her daddy’s side. She is better but still has NO interest in helping with house chores or doing anything to assist me while I work. No, her contributions still consist of coming down the hall and almost into the room where I’m working, and making sure that every single person on the video conference can hear that she is HUNGRY!!! Do you UNDERSTAND? I AM HUNGRY. I guess when I reach WC’s age I, too, will have retired. 🙂
I’m impressed by the bloggers who still manage to find interesting anecdotes and photos to share. I have lots of thoughts in my head, but nothing ever seems urgent enough to overcome the winter/covid/lockdown lethargy that possesses me. It was rather fun to have a major snow storm, especially as the teenager who lives next door dealt with the shoveling (yes, we loaned him our snow blower to do 5 houses on the block). Neither my husband nor I had to go out so that was also good. But now I’m over it. We had snow a week later and honestly – boring. I want to say something like “either snow a substantial accumulation or don’t bother”, but I want to be very, very careful what I wish for. Because it takes a LONG TIME for the snow to melt, and it’s not so pretty anymore.
There WAS a plus to the big snow storm. As I checked in on the neighbor to make sure he knew that he could use the snowblower, his little sister came to the door as well. 🙂 You remember her – she’s the one who greeted me on my return from a long, hard day at the office with “Can I have a hug?” *huge smile* I adore her and miss our baking sessions. Maybe we could bake with masks on? Anyway, she came to the door and told me she had a gift for me. She then presented me with a gorgeous eye glass case that she had made for me. Can my smile get any bigger? What an absolute joy!
I made it back to the library this week to pick up more books on my “want to read, too cheap to purchase” list. Thank goodness for the library. What a brilliant innovation!!! 🙂 While reading eBooks I came to several conclusions. I’ve already ditched the author who never lets her characters be happy. The relentless misery and disappointment is too much for me. I’ve decided I’m also bored when the main character is YET AGAIN considered the main suspect. Enough already. We know it’s NOT you so it’s boring to read all the details implicating you and the hostility of the ones suspecting you. Yawn. I’m also tired of books that start out with the protagonist breaking the law deliberately even though they are in law enforcement. I couldn’t make it past the first chapter. I don’t know if it was the writing or the “here we go again” feeling it evoked, but it’s taking up room on my iPad at the moment until I figure out how to delete it. I don’t mind obvious plots – I’m very happy reading “chick lit” where you KNOW who ends up together (unhappy girl runs to wherever, swears off men/that man, meets man/remeets that man, sparks, misunderstanding, fight, reunion, happy ending) if the characters are likeable and believable. I treated myself to a big THICK book a few weeks ago – Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson. This is Book 4 of the Stormlight Archive series. My son got me started on it and I love it. The books are a few inches thick, *grin*, and you do have to like sci-fi. I look at the book and I don’t start it, I just sort of drool. It seems that there are at least 3 years between the publication of each book. If I read it NOW, that will be good, because I remember everything (okay – a lot) because I just read the first 3 books all fall. But if I read it NOW, I’ll have to wait 3 years to find out more. If I wait to read it until Book 5 is out, I can have the pleasure of re-reading books 1-3 and then 4. 🙂 I do that with another series – reread the entire series start to finish when the latest book is published. Those are much shorter books, however, and I’m sure that they are in the “teen novel” genre. I don’t care. I love Elantra.
We have still not braved going out to dine indoors at a restaurant. As stir-crazy as I feel at times, it’s still not worth the possible risk. What we did instead was have a friend come to dinner at our house. Rather than eat in the snow on the deck, we ate inside. We sat at opposite ends of the nearly 9 ft. long dining room table. I had an exhaust fan pulling air out of the house in the sun room, and a fan in the dining room pushing air out of the dining room (or such was my theory/hope). We had a fantastic dinner – my husband made what is now my all-time favorite dish, some French chicken recipe. It was wonderful to see our friend, who we’d not seen in months. We talked and talked and talked. Absolutely great.
This past weekend was the NFL Superbowl. It was also the first time in over 25 years that I was NOT throwing a Superbowl party. I’ve mentioned this in years past, how this might be our premiere party each year. We have to move out the living room furniture, we set up 2 TVs, TONS of food, dozens of friends. It’s always a wonderful wonderful time, no matter how uninteresting the game. I’ve been a bit bummed about no party – difficulty wrapping my head around that. On top of that I had some health problems. I mentioned my costochondritis. Not only did I have that, but apparently at the same time I contracted shingles. Well NO WONDER I’ve been exhausted all of January. Just as both of those appeared to have loosened their grip on me, my back went out the way it has not done in years. I don’t remember the last time I got “stuck” and had to call for my husband to help me move. I spent the day with my back packed in ice and popping ibuprofen. Thank goodness it cleared up very quickly. That meant I could think about a Superbowl zoom get-together. Cheers for my friend Pam who refused to let me wallow in self-pity. She kept nudging and suggesting things to do. I got my sister signed on board (as she is the one with the zoom account that can run for more than 50 minutes) and we did indeed have a virtual party. I made up Superbowl bingo cards (can’t start playing until after kickoff, and only words that are used in commercials or during the game broadcast) and sent them out to everyone. We had folks logged in from Florida, NC, Delaware, NJ, Ohio, and AZ. 🙂 We all shared views of our party food and drinks. For most of the game people stayed on mute but when something major happened we’d text and chat. 🙂 It wasn’t the same, but it was fun. It’s good to have family and friends. 🙂
The rest of life is pretty much as it has been. Sandwich making twice a week. Working from home. I took a new role at work, which contains all of what I used to do and then some. That means I’m in a LOT more meetings. I also appear to be on the 2-person committee of people expected to create a virtual “water cooler conversation” in text channels. Although it can be a bit annoying when the other committee member nags me to figure out what to do, it can lend itself to some very fun activities. I spent several hours photo-shopping our VP into “Where’s Waldo” type scenarios, and onto Mount Rushmore, into a suit of medieval armor on a horse also wearing medieval armor, and more. Today was turn our VP into an emoji. This is because I got tired of the other committee member saying last week “What do YOU want to do, Ahuva?” I replied “*I* want to be on vacation in the Caribbean”. Sigh. But today’s pictures did seem to bring a lot of enjoyment to the team, including (or maybe especially??) our VP. 🙂 Success!
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. 🙂 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!!
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. 🙂 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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
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. 🙂
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.)
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).
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.
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?
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 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.
My mother used to tell us that she ‘wasn’t running a restaurant’. If we didn’t like what she was serving when she was serving it we could fend for ourselves. I like to pretend that I am that strict with my cats, but our reality is a bit different. WC (and GC when she was still alive) takes medicine for her thyroid. My technique for giving medicine to these cats is to grind up the pill and put it in their wet food. While some may prefer the ‘grab, hold firmly, pop it in their mouth, and rub throat” method, I’ve found that our cats, like ourselves, are more willing to accept unpleasantness if there is good food to ameliorate the situation. Unfortunately this means that I must stand guard over the plates so that the right cat eats the right food. When GC was alive she was convinced that the other 2 plates might have something BETTER than her plate, even though everyone got the same food and WC had the same medicine.
In order to maintain some illusion of control, I don’t put the plates on the floor until both WC and BC are in the kitchen. BC understands this concept. I come down in the morning, go through my routine and BC is right there with me. WC, who is old, and sometimes cranky, and completely deaf, is usually here, but not always. If WC decided to sleep in the basement, she does not always hear me in the kitchen and doesn’t see me. I try stomping on the floor (she seems to feel vibrations and maybe even hear them) and I flip the lights on and off. I call for her, even though I know that she can’t hear. BC sits there, looking for her, waiting for breakfast. Ultimately WC will come slowly up the stairs, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Ah, mealtime!
Postscript: Came down to my computer this morning to work. Not only had ‘someone’ turned off the power strip, apparently ‘someone’ walked all over my keyboard before shutting off the power. Have now spent over 20 minutes trying to get things back the way they should be. All I see are innocent little faces. Who ME?????