Monday, April 28, 2014

Such an Incredible Book

I read a lot of light weight books, mysteries, fantasy, family chronicles, but I try to balance that  out by reading more substantial books too.  Reading Lolita in Tehran was such a book, absolutely stunning.  Of course I know about Iran, that it's a theocratic republic run by the Ayatollahs and Mullahs, but those are just words.  This book is Azar Nifisi's story of the reality of being a woman and living in this nightmare.
She was a professor at Tehran University when the revolution came and the Shah was ousted, and though she'd been a very left-wing student herself while attending the University of Oklahoma (marching, shouting death to capitalists, taking part in demostrations), she stayed out of the fray in Iran and waited to see what life would be like after the Shah.
 Quickly she discovered that "death to the unbeliever", "death to our enemies", "death to the all who defy us" quickly became more than a threat as people disappeared and died for little or no reason.
She'd grown up in a liberal country, under the Shah, where women had equal rights, but this quickly changed.  She lost her job because she refused to cover her hair with a scarf, so she stayed at home, but had to cover herself in order to go out on the street and there she'd meed Morality Patrols that searched for women who might have a hair or two showing or be wearing make-up or nail polish.  For these offenses they could be hauled off to jail and lashed.
She finally returned to teaching, but at a different University after being assured that she could teach what she wanted and how she wanted.  Her classes were now segregated, men on one side, women on the other, and frequently the men would denounce the books she was teaching, saying that all immoral women should be stoned.  And the women would just sit there, afraid to speak, if they defended the books they might be reported to the authorities.
Feeling the need to provide a place where female voices could be safely heard she and some of  her old students who'd studied literature with her  formed a "book club" that met at her house to discuss the books they'd studied:  Lolita and other of Nabakov's works, The Great Gatsby, Daisy Miller and other works by Henry James,  Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Jane Austen.
How the core of these books relates to these women and their lives was a fascinating story.  I hadn't read all the books they discussed, but a bunch of them are on my Amazon Wish list now.
This was a harrowing story and a cautionary tale about what happens when any extreme element takes over a country.
Wonderful book.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Well At Least I Know Why I Hurt

We went out dancing last night like we've been threatening to for months.  When we first retired and moved here nearly 11 years ago we felt like we'd been let out of prison and we went out 3 or 4 nights a week.  I don't remember it hurting quite so much, either it didn't hurt or we went so often our bodies were numb.
Doing that much dancing we met a lot of bands and became friends with more than a few of them.  That's who we went to see last night, a band we've known forever.  Great band, they play mainly Southern Rock, think Leonard Skinner, Allman Brothers, with some Journey, Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones thrown in.  We had quite a workout, it felt good to move that much.
Of course this morning my poor old bones and muscles are whistling a different tune----You Always Hurt the One You Love.  But it was worth it and if the weather stays this nice we just might do it again.

On another note, my vacuum cleaner is so full of cat hair (our short-haired Miss Kitty was bad enough, but now with Yohji--Himalayan?) that it no longer hums, it purrs.
Look at this book I found, do you really think people do this?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trying to Get Myself Going

Finally got my B-12 shot last week, boy, what a convoluted process.  The doctor sent a prescription to our pharmacy, I had to pick it up, take it to their Minute Clinic, give them a complete medical history, find out they couldn't give it in the hip (company policy) and took it in my thigh.  Hoped it would increase my energy, but so far it hasn't, probably have to have couple of them before I'm feeling back up to speed.
Our flower garden is starting to look good, still a few more plants to put in.  It's quite warm today, supposed to get to about 84ยบ  so I won't be outside a lot.
My Easter Lilies bloomed, just a couple of days late, but they do look pretty spectacular.




Happy Earth Day, I'm doing my part to make things greener.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Just Plain Lazy


Sat down a dozen times to blog last week  and didn't have the energy to do it.  It rained for days here, we got more than 3 inches over the Easter weekend, if the bunny hid any eggs I assure you they floated away.
I looked through the cupboards to find my food dye so I could color my eggs on Saturday and discovered I had no food coloring.  Mac suggested I use some of my craft paints to color them, so I did, not very successfully, but at least they were colored.  I made sure none of the egg shells were cracked, didn't want paint getting to the eggs.
On Sunday I deviled the eggs, they were great with the lamb and roast veggies, and then fresh strawberry shortcake to finish it off.
It's the first Easter we've had without our daughter in a long time, that made it a little sad.  We Skyped with her Saturday evening, still getting use to her being 13 hours ahead of us, so if we call in the evening it's morning there.
Beautiful sunshine today, finally got to get outside and plant some flowers we got last week. The ground it saturated, hope we don't have any more rain for awhile.

Looking out the window last week we saw a young deer in our backyard nibbling away on the weeds that pass for grass there.  We told him he was welcome to them.
Deer
Then we were out looking at our roses in the front yard, they'd been putting on a spectacular show, but not any more.  The deer had eaten our rose buds!  We found chewed off stems and deer prints, not good.  Mac had to spray them with deer spray, here's hoping that will slow them down.

Damage
Evidence

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Whose Job Is It?

What to do on a rainy day when you don't want to clean house, you've finished your puzzle, you've done your exercise and you're feeling too lazy to do anything else?    I balanced the check books.  In a weird sort of way I actually enjoy doing it.  I handle the small "books" here and Mac does the big ones.  Which means that I pay the bills and keep the check books in a reasonable state.
He handles the investment accounts and deals with the taxes.  I would hate doing that--keeping track of investment expenses and figuring out how to get some of our money back from Uncle Sam--too much math.  But I think he just taps into his inner Uncle Scrooge.
I don't mind the day to day expenses, getting everything paid on time or early, making sure we carry no balances on credit cards, deciding when we can afford some new item (a new computer) and budgeting for it.
He likes scouring through obscure tax laws and finding us the most deductions he can, figuring out which dividends we don't need to declare and which losses we can deduct and how he can keep the government's hands off of as much of our money as he can.
When I took early retirement and was filling out all my paperwork with my employer they suggested I hire a personal finance advisor.  I laughed and pointed to Mac, who had retired a year ahead of me, and told them he was the only advisor I needed, that he was the reason we could take early retirement.
We make a good pair.  We never argue over money, never have.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Rather Mixed Sunday

We had our first Skype call with our daughter today, we started it, then she called us.  It was so extroidinary, I know I'm a  low tech soul (my smart phone will hardly talk to me---I guess because I never play games with it and that hurts its feelings) and that Skype has been around forever or at least since 2003 when it was it was started by 2 Danes and 2 Estonians before it was sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion dollars, but we'd never used it before.   It felt very Star Treky talking visually to someone over 7,000 miles away.  And better yet for free, I love it.
So I was feeling so 21st century, went out to mow the lawn, got a Wisteria vine wrapped around my neck and thought I'd garroted myself.  No real harm done, but it sure made me feel stupid, just when I thought I was so clever.  You never expect your perennials to turn on you in quite so spectacular a manner.
Then it was time for lunch, roasted chicken quarters with roast potatoes and brussel sprouts. We ate lunch while watching the Masters, a beautiful day in Augusta as it was here.
All in all a pretty good day.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Long Day

Up WAY too early today, our daughter's flight to Japan was this morning.  It was a tearful good-bye, we're happy for her, but we'll miss her so much.  She has to fly from Savannah, to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Seattle and from Seattle to Tokyo.  Her last Tweet, 2 hours ago, said she was onboard in Seattle and waiting to take off, she'll still have nearly a 10  hour flight ahead of her.
Her kitty is here with us, so far he and Miss Kitty have not come to no blows, just a few hisses and tails fluffed up.  He's staying upstairs, which is what we figured would happen and Miss Kitty goes up to bug him ever so often.  Today she went up and used his cat box, ate his food and all but blew a raspberry at him.  He didn't seem too upset so that's good.
Mac is already scouring the airlines for flights to Japan, we  can't go this year, we already have several trips scheduled and she'll be back at Christmas.  But we'll definitely be going over next year, maybe in the Spring.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tipping

Huey's On the River
Our daughter is here and asked that we do lunch at Huey's on the River down in Savannah while she was here.  It's one of our favorite places so of course we said yes.  It poured here on Sunday, Savannah was absolutely heaving with tourists, but we'd called ahead, they don't do reservations, but if you call 30 minutes before your arrival they'll put you on their list for seating.  This is an absolute must for a weekend during tourist season, which is pretty much all year long down here.
So Mac dropped us off and April and I checked in at the door and within 5 minutes we were led to a table though there were throngs of people waiting and I heard one lady being told it would be an hour wait.
Waiting for Mac we ordered coffees around and a double order of beignets, an absolutely heavenly concoction of fried dough and powdered sugar.  It took nearly 10 minutes to get to us,  arriving just before Mac showed up.  Didn't mind the wait, they were busy, it was understandable.
What I don't understand is why we had to ask 3 different people for coffee refills, our waitress---when she finally reappeared out of the blue--for plates to put the beignets on, why Mac had to go and track down his own silverware, and why we weren't asked it we needed anything else, just had out bill handed to us.
Mac says a tip is like a taxi meter in reverse, the longer you wait the lower it gets.  We're usually good tippers having both worked in the restaurant business as teenagers, but I was not a happy camper.  I don't hold a waiter/waitress responsible for how long it takes for the food to get to us or how it tastes, those are kitchen matters.  But if you don't refill my coffee and my water (my glass was completely empty half way through our meal) I hold you accountable.  If you're busy with other customers I understand, if you disappear from the dining room for lengthy periods of time I don't understand.
We still tipped her, but not nearly as much as we would have had the service been better.
Am I wrong?
Beignets

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Glorious Day

Wisteria on the Garden Fence
It is indeed a glorious day, bright sunshine, gentle breeze and our daughter will be here in a few hours.  Her boxes have been shipped off to Japan, yesterday was her last day of work at her old job and she's driving down from Maryland.
She's staying with us for about a week before making her move to Japan.  We're very proud of her, moving to Japan has been her dream for years and she never gave up on it.  Now she'll be starting the next chapter in her life, that's exciting.
She's bringing her kitty with her, Yohji, he'll be staying with us until she finds an apartment that allows pets.  Her new  job has found her an apartment for now, but it doesn't allow pets.  We've told Miss Kitty that her cousin is coming to visit, but  I'm not sure how thrilled she is, she's use to being an only cat.    He'll live upstairs and she'll live anywhere she wants, after all she owns this place or thinks she does.
Miss Kitty Surveying Her Garden

All Wrapped Up

Started early, finished late.  I started wrapping presents way back in November and except for a few small things due in the mail I'm fi...