Thursday, April 28, 2011

When North Meets South

The jet stream has dropped very low out of Canada this Spring allowing cold air to come down towards  the southern United States.  And of course we've been having a very warm (80's and some 90's) Spring, so when the two weathers systems meet you get the horrifying weather that has been happening over the last couple of weeks here, and in particular last night.  My heart goes out to the people affected by the storms, it's hard to watch the tv news with the pictures of devastation.  I know that we need to get our emergency supplies together and hope we haven't put it off too long.
We're under a tornado watch here till 4 pm and there has been light rain and thunder most of the afternoon.
I'll be glad when the weather settles down.  I'm not scared, but I'm not comfortable either.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My New Toy

And it's  a real cutie!  I'd played with the idea of getting a Kindle for a while, and started giving it serious thought after a big (1,000 pages or so) hardback book fell on my hand and bruised the heck out of me.  The Kindle has really gotten cheap, but having a single function toy didn't really make sense, so I talked to my tech savvy daughter and she said that I didn't need to wait for the price of i-pads to come down because there were  lots of pads and tablets out there that would do what I wanted, which is download books, surf the web, keep track of the weather when we travel and e-mail.  I don't download movies or play games so I didn't need one with a massive amount of  memory one.  So while talking on the phone we shopped together and decided on the g-Tablet.  I ordered it and took it up to her place this last weekend, because, as I said she's the techy in the family.  She set it up for me and I've been playing with it ever since.  I downloaded my first book in seconds, which is really scary because I spend money on books fast enough anyway!  But so far I'm very, very happy with it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Talk About Fast Growing

 Lightly sauteed in garlic and olive oil
We planted potatoes in February and when we were walking through the garden yesterday we saw several good-sized potatoes pushing up through the soil.  I was amazed!  We picked them and had them at lunch time today.  February was early for planting potatoes but it was so warm we did it anyway, and the weather since has continued warm.  We planted the potatoes in tubs on the patio because there was no room in my garden.  Now we need to get more tubs and plant more potatoes because the price of potatoes is getting ridiculous at the store.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Great Weekend

We flew up to our daughters on Friday to spend Easter with her and had a wonderful time, except for the weather when we first arrived.  It's been in the 80's down here and our arrival temperature in Maryland at noon on Friday was 44 degrees.  Rainy too.  But it's always so good to see our daughter that I wouldn't have cared if it had been 40 below.  We met her in Annapolis for dinner, but unfortunately where we wanted to eat (Reynold's Tavern) was booked for an engagement party and couldn't accommodate us until 7:30 and none of us thought we could last that long for food so we went to a seafood buffet down by the water and it was delicious: crab, shrimp (both fried and boiled), baked salmon, orange roughy, fried cod, oysters, chicken (no quite a marine animal but always welcome), a crab mixture with olives and cranberries that Mac and April raved about, plus steamed veggies, salad, rice, dessert.  Needless to say no one left hungry.
On Saturday we went to the National Zoo (the weather was much warmer, in the 70's) to see the lion cubs that had been born last August and April had been wanting to see--they were adorable, all 7 of them.  Fun to watch the play between them and the care given by their Moms, some humans should take note.
We meant to only have a snack at the zoo but they were bar-b-queing ribs and so we had rib sandwiches.  Originally we'd planned to leave the zoo in the early afternoon and head on to some of Washington's museums, but the weather was so nice, the zoo so enjoyable that we spent the day.
As you leave the zoo and head down the street to the Metro station you find that the street is lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants.  Though not exceedingly hungry we decided to have something, found a Mediterranean restaurant serving mezzes and ordered lamb sausage (reminded us of korfte), an eggplant salad, hummus, olives and bruchetta done with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese.  It was all delicious.
Then home to our daughter's place for Easter cookies and "The King's Speech" which we all enjoyed very much, so well acted!

You may have noticed a food theme in this blog and it's true, when we get together with family there is nothing better than long, tasty meals with lots of conversation, and this trip was no different.
Sunday we did Brunch and all too soon it was time for us to fly home.  But a wonderful thing has happened, our daughter has gotten a job that requires her to fly to Jacksonville, Florida every other month and that's only and hour and a half drive from here so we will get to see her much more often starting in May, I'm so happy.  It made saying good by to her yesterday much easier.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Just a quicky to say the Easter Bunny has come early bringing me my own Cottontail, a painted glass to put buds in and a pair of Ladybugs to light my deck.


I should be too old for stuffed animals, but I'm not!  The Easter Bunny spoils me, but I like it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The "Eyes" Have It

There will be no photos with this blog because what's going on ain't pretty.  I have lovely blue eyes. if I do say so myself, but they've never been one of my stronger assets.  I was born with amblyopia which means that one of my eyes has so much stronger vision that basically my brain ignores the input from the other eye, so I do not have binocular vision.  No 3-D for me.  Everything was tried as a young child, patching the good eye, surgery to straighten the weak one, but to no avail.  I am very far-sighted, which would have been important if I were a  hunter but not so important in our modern world.  It also means I'm very clumsy because my glasses take near objects and make them appear further away which finds me tripping over a lot of things.
But through the years my eyes and I have gotten along fairly well.  I wore thick glasses until I was a teenager and then went around without them, tripping over many other things.    Got contact lens as an adult, still wore glasses much of the time, but eyewise life was ok, I could see, didn't miss binocular vision, got to wear just one contact, all was well.
Then a couple of years ago my optometrist notices signs of macular degeneration and sent me to a retina specialist and he said I'm showing some genetic predisposition to AMD, but no  signs of it yet, I get to see him every 6 months  so it can be monitored and each day I take my lutein capsules.
On my last visit, which still showed no further signs of the AMD they discovered elevated pressure in my "bad" eye.  I guess my eye decided that I wasn't go blind fast enough and decided to throw glaucoma into the mix.    They ran a bunch of tests and put me on drops to lower the pressure and had me come back in 3 weeks.  Well, the pressure was down, the glaucoma held at bay and I got a prescription for the drops that I'll get to use the rest of my life.
So my eyes weren't doing too well.  In addition to all this my allergies have been horrible this spring which means by eyes have been awful, itchy, runny and red.  Both my retina specialist and my primary care doctors have tried medication to make it better, and it was, a bit.  But  then last week it got awful, and I developed styes in both eyes.  So I threw out all eye drops (allergy, glaucoma, dry itchy eye drops), threw out my contact lens, lens case, contact solution and anything else that might come into contact with my eyes and began applying hot compresses.  Today it was no better so I knew it was time to see the doctor, and of course I knew mine wasn't available (he had to have surgery), but another doctor in his office fit me in, took one look at my eyes, carefully washed her hands and said I had a bacterial infection.  So I'm on steroidal/anabiotic drops for the next week and can't wear my contacts until I'm better.  And as I said, it ain't a pretty sight, but they're already feeling better, thank goodness.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oh What a Beautiful Morning ...

In weather like this I could walk forever, it's in the 70's with a light breeze and skies so blue they look phony.  We walked down to the bridge that goes over the lagoon and as we were looking around I heard a sound like a very unhappy bull frog and asked Mac if he had heard it.  He said it wasn't a frog, and right about then two big, blue herons flew up in front of us.   At first I thought it might be some kind of mating ritual, but it quickly became apparent that it was a territorial issue.  One finally flew off and the other came to rest in a tree just above us and I tried to get a picture, but some dogs began barking and I had to settle for a picture of it flying across the lagoon instead.
Returning to our house I saw that the lilies were blooming, just in time for Easter, and I have a whole wall of red roses.  They, the roses,  had not done well last year and Mac pruned them back severely so they look  much better!
Some  raccoons have discovered the canister of birdseed we keep on the back deck and have been opening it and having a bit of a feast late at night.    Mac has a motion-activated camera and is going to set it up tonight and see if he can catch them in the act.
On the armadillo issue, the moth balls have worked and I now have a lovely, stinky, green lawn.


Off to the garden to enjoy more of this weather.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tybee Island

The Pavillion at Tybee Beach
Made it to Tybee yesterday for a beautiful day in the sun. We were out on the fishing pier but  the fishing wasn't too good, I blamed it on the fact that the tide was out, but Mac managed to catch 4 whiting and I caught 2.  No one else fishing caught anything so I guess we were lucky to catch anything, even if they were small.  After all it's the thrill of the hunt.   We strictly do catch and release and as  most of the the fish we caught were rather small they definitely needed to do some serious growing!
 I love Tybee beach, you can walk for miles on it and except for holidays and the dead of summer it's never crowded.
We ended up at the Crab Trap for lunch but that's probably our last trip there.  The setting is so pretty but the food  is  so blah and over-priced.  How can fresh shrimp be blah, I don't know, but they were.

Tybee Beach

Largest Fish We Caught

Water View at the Crab Trap

Hope to make it back out to Tybee  before summer comes and it gets too hot.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Golf

We're not huge golf fans but we always enjoy watching the Masters on tv, and this year was exceptionally good because you didn't know who the winner was going to be until the final hole.  Talk about drama.
We first became interested in the Master's Tournament when we lived in Augusta the home of the Masters . Though tickets for the tournament itself were impossible to get ( you had to inherit them practically), you could get tickets to the practice round known as the Par Three that takes place the Wednesday before the tournament begins.
One year Mac took our daughter, who's actually the one who got us interested in it, and one year I took her.  We haven't been back since  and that was in the mid-80's, and quite frankly we  never thought we would, but lo and behold, for the first time in nearly 50 years the Masters is having a lottery and giving people a chance to buy single day tickets to the event.  So I signed us up, we'll know by July if we get tickets.  I asked for tickets for the final Sunday round and for the Par Three.  We'd be thrilled with either.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thank You But No Thank You!

Does This Look Healthy To You?
A Principal at a school in Chicago has banned all lunches brought from home because she decided that too many of them were unhealthy.  She saw colas and chips being brought and decided that the school lunch would be healthier.  Healthier perhaps but probably horrible tasting and very salty or at least that has been my experience  with school lunches both as a student and as a teacher.
When I was a student I brought a lunch from home until my Mother went to work and then I was given money to buy my lunch.  Well that didn't last long, the lunches were horrible, heavy on starches and overcooked veggies, frequently there was creamed tuna, macaroni and cheese (something I still won't eat), soggy chicken, and cooked to death meatloaf.  Now I'll grant you I was a picky eater but what kid isn't . I started going home at lunch time and making my own lunch there.  Then I discovered that one of my friends wanted very badly to eat the school lunch but her Portuguese Grandmother made her a sack lunch, in my opinion a wonderful sack lunch.  So I would give her my lunch money and she'd eat the school lunch and I would eat her very tasty homemade lunch.
Flash forward a number of years and I was a teacher and I could buy a school lunch or bring one from home, there really wasn't time to go out to lunch (40 minutes) and after sampling the school lunch, again, heavy on the starches and overcooked veggies, corn dogs, absolutely disgusting pizza, or greasy nachos covered in a faux cheese sauce, so  I began packing my own lunch, usually a salad.
The kids at the school in Chicago are very unhappy,  many boycotting the school lunch or buying it and throwing most of it in the trash.  The healthiest lunch in the world won't do you much good in the trash can.
What a child eats for lunch, or any meal for that matter, should be a parent's decision, I absolutely hate it when officials of any type make decisions that aren't theirs to make!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Was In Error

Yes, a mistake was made, it wasn't an opossum digging up our yard, it was an armadillo.  Mac caught him  in the act last night and ran him off, but not before he'd put about 99 more divots in our  lawn.
Mac had the trap set up, but it's not recommended that you attempt trapping them on your own.  I looked trapping them on-line and it's not recommended because they carry rabies, but even better LEPROSY.  They say you can drive them off using smells they dislike, such as mothballs, pet fur, pet urine, cayenne pepper or pepper spray, ammonia and strong smelling soap.  To say he's unwelcome is putting it mildly.  This is just a small example of what he has done to the lawn, multiply it by about 50.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

The weeks do fly by  when you're having fun.  Before we retired we wondered if we'd get bored,  but found out we don't have time to get bored.  The weather has been beautiful this week, a wee bit hot, but beautiful blue skies.  My garden looks wonderful it's really starting to fill in, it has taken years to find the right perennials for this area because even those sold for zone 9 don't always do well here, and then we can have a freezing cold winter and lose plants that aren't use to a cold winter.  I lost all of my Hibiscus this winter even though we covered them.  We've replaced the one on the porch with a peach colored one and I'm loving the color.
Doctor's appointments ate up part of the week, we will not talk about the wicked spider bite, and just trying to keep up with the house when the yard is calling took another chunk.    I've been pulling out what I call bind weed, I don't know what it really is, just that it spreads under the grass and chokes it out.  I don't use chemical sprays, too many good critters might be harmed by it, plus I love pulling the buggers out by their little roots, so satisfying!  Wouldn't it be nice if we could pull anything that annoyed us out by their roots!
Today we looked out at the lawn and there were dozens of small holes where an opossum had been rooting for grubs, definitely time for Mac to get the trap out.  He baits it with cat food, and yes we've caught a cat or two in it, and when he catches an opossum he lets it go down in the state park, hoping he's not breaking up a happy family.  They're not the most attractive animals in the world and he says they really smell bad!
Lamb shank bubbling away in the kitchen, laundry to be folded, need to snatch a few minutes to play piano and then watch the last round of the Masters from Augusta.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Bathroom Floors

Love the Floors
The tile is down, the grout is in, now all we need is quarter round for the baseboards and something to  connect all the doorways.  One bathroom has 2 doors and the other has 3!  Talk about easy access.
That only leaves painting the tub room in between them and new counter tops cause Lordy the old ones look really bad, I mean they were ugly to begin with ( the contractor who built this place---do you hear me Joe? didn't waste any money on the kitchen or the bathrooms here) and now they have to go.  I'm hoping we can get out next week to visit a couple of places that sell granite remnants (kind of like material I guess) and if they'll cut for us, and the price isn't too bad then that's what we'll do.  If that's too expensive we may go with 18" granite tiles.  All I know for sure is that I want a fairly light color.

Hate the Counters and Faucets

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Printer

Mac has had 2 printers sitting on his desk for awhile and though he has tried everything to get them to work they don't.  The problem has been the ink cartridges, and he has Googled the problem,  and tried everything suggested for it seems that his problem is not uncommon.  But still he couldn't get the printers to work.  I kept saying buy a new one, but he just kept using mine instead.  Then  yesterday when we were at Walmart he saw that  they had an HP printer he'd had his eye on and it had been marked down to $29.95 so he bought it.  The ink cartridge replacements for it are $30.00, so he laughingly said that when the ink ran out he'd just buy a new printer.  I don't know if he's kidding.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Say It Isn't So!

I love Miss Marple, she was my role model of what an LOL (Little Old Lady) should be and what I wanted to be when I was old.   I've  read all of Agatha Christie's books and stories about her.  Saw Margaret Rutherford play her in Murder at the Gallop and Murder, She Said and enjoyed them thoroughly though they were not very faithful to the books, Margaret made a wonderful Miss Marple.  I've read that though Agatha Christie enjoyed Margaret as an actress she didn't like how her stories were treated when turned into films,  too much comedy and not enough sticking to the stories.
Jane Hickson, in my opinion, was the best Miss Marple and I saw many of her movies and loved how she brought the lovely, old lady with a wicked view of the world to life.  She is just what I pictured when I read the books.
I never saw Angela Lansbury's  Miss Marple, but I like her other work and would probably have enjoyed her as Miss Marple.
All 3 of these ladies were British and of an age to play the mystery solving old lady, but now Disney has decided that Miss Marple must be revamped for a younger generation.  No longer will we have the sweet, old lady knitting away while solving crime, but instead Jennifer Garner as a 30-40 year old Miss Marple.  I'm horrified, they might just as well have Miss Piggy play her.  And even stranger they've hired Mark Frost who wrote for the strange tv series Twin Peaks to write the script.  How bizarre.



Yes I know they're doing this because of the success of the new Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr., but it's not the same.  Yes there is humor in these new movies instead of the seriousness that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, but somehow it works.    It had a great cast, incredible sets and a very Holmes like story.   I cannot picture Jennifer Garner as my beloved Miss Marple it's just too sad.  I hope the movie tanks!

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Favorite Smell

Carnations
I love carnations, they are my favorite flower with their warm spicy smell.  They (dianthus caryopyhllus)  don't do well in zone 9, don't know why exactly, they're a Mediterranean flower and like a warm climate, but they like a sunny well drained area and with the water table as high as it is here they don't do as well as you'd expect.  Not even in pots or raised beds.  What we have instead are dianthus plumaria, sweet williams and pinks all from the same family but able to put up with the damp and humidity better.
You almost never see Carnation plants for sale here but I spotted some at Walmarts a couple of weeks ago and bought one.  So far so good and it's covered in buds, as soon as they bloom I've been cutting them and bringing them into the house.  I also have loads of the dianthus plumaria, some 5 or 6 years old.  They take a lot of abuse and keep on going.  They're as pretty as the carnation they just don't smell as sweet or as strong.

Dianthus

Dianthus
I think my love of the carnation's  smell is why I like Opium perfume so much.  The Yves St. Laurent website lists Opim as having topnotes (obviously their word not mine, I mean really...) of mandarin, bergamot, lily of the valley, a hint of jasmine, carnation, myrrh and a base of vanilla, amber, sweet myrrh and patchouli (must not be much of that because that's a smell I do not like!).  But what I get from it the most is the carnation and it's so sweet and spicy.
I get more compliments when I wear it, total strangers ask what I'm wearing because it smells so good.  What's your favorite smell?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

DeadHeading!

Dahlia
No, not listening to the DeadHeads, I've been out in the garden deadheading plants,  It's a beautiful day here, mid-70's and loads of sunshine so I decided to clean the garden up a bit before heading upstairs to fight with my sewing machine.  My thread keeps breaking and one of my friends suggests that it's the cheap Chinese thread that is the problem.  It's definitely cheap thread because I'm cheap, but as to whether China is the problem or how I'm threading the bobbin I couldn't say.  I could check the manual, having read a thrilling one this week, but I can't remember where I put it.
White Azaleas
Anyway, progress has been made, but I ran out of bias tape, so I must wait for that and the blue buttons I've ordered to get here.


My cat and I were working on the edging but she got bored with me and the rotary cutter and decided that rolling in the material would be much more interesting, so we had words, she resorted to violence, I had to lick, I mean clean my wounds and that was the end of the sewing for the day.
My Lemon Tree Smells Like Heaven

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tax Time .... AGAIN!


I've probably  mentioned that we pay our taxes quarterly because we refuse to have taxes taken out of our retirement pay, so April is when the yearly reconciliation takes place with much sighing, grumbling and a few vile oaths being spoken.  Spoken by Mac of course because I could no more do our taxes than I could fly around the room backwards.  I appreciate him doing them, I more than appreciate it, I'm eternally grateful.  And this year, bless his heart, he did a long form for our daughter too.  But the end is near, soon the checks will be written and we'll be tax free, until June that is.
So in honor of all taxpayers I thought I'd look up and see again how the government is spending our hard earned dollars.
Here's my list of some of the worst:

$5.2 million dollars to Las Vegas for their NeonBone Yard Museum a place for old neon signs (I see Harry Reid's fine hand in this one)

$1 million dollars to various zoos (and I love zoos) to put up poetry signs to educate visitors about the environment

$112 million to prisoners who filed  tax returns illegally

$200,000 to the National Science Foundation to find out why candidates make vague statements (gotta love this one)

$500,000 to the XVIII International Aids Conference in Vienna where the first 2 items on the agenda are wine tasting and castle visiting

$175 million to the Veteran's Affairs to maintain unused buildings including a pink octagonal monkey house in Ohio

$1.5 million to spruce up apartment buildings that are to be torn down in Louisiana

$615,000 for a "free" Grateful Dead Archive in California


I wish this was an April Fool's joke but unfortunately it's not.  While the politicians in Washington fight over cutting the budget, acting like it's all to sacred to touch, we're all paying for pooh!