29 March 2016

Out and About

For today's Ten on Tuesday, Carole wants to know 10 Things I Love to Do Outside.  I'm taking a page from Kym's book, and going to say this list is things I love to do outside right now, at this time of year.

It's actually funny to me that I spend as much time outside as I do.  Growing up, I probably spent as much time as the next kid did outside, playing, riding bikes, and who knows what else.  But in high school, college, etc., I spent most of my time indoors, at classes, studying, working at my many jobs.  Anyone who knew me then would be surprised that I like being outdoors at all!

Anyway, I do, and here is my list.

1.  Listening.  No matter what time of day, I like listening to birds, train sounds, the wind in the trees, squirrels chattering, dogs barking, etc.  If I am walking along the river trail, I like hearing the ducks and geese discuss varying topics, and the sound of the water sloshing.

2.  Looking.  I love seeing who else is out and about, any dogs on walks, architecture, clouds, trees, flowers, just about anything.

3.  Thinking.  Being outside just for the sake of being outside is conducive to thinking for me.

4.  Walking.  I love to walk, and can fortunately walk almost anywhere I want to go on any given day.

5.  Hiking/trail walking.  Occasionally when The Tim and I are off on a day together, and the weather is agreeable, we'll hop in the car and venture somewhere nearby for a hike or a trail walk.  A lot of the time, we take Dug with us, which means we are moving about in a very leisurely manner ...

6.  Reading - but it has to be the right kind of book!  Some books do not lend themselves to being outside, at least in my universe.

7.  Knit.  I enjoy knitting outside, but only when it is something portable like a sock, hat, etc.  Big projects are too much to carry around.

8.  Sit.  I love to sit and just watch the world go by, whether it's on the front stoop, in our garden, waiting for someone I'm meeting somewhere - it's just enjoyable to me.

9.  Listen to music.  I love to sit in the garden and hear music through the windows, and even better, I like to go to outdoor concerts on a lovely, cool evening.

10.  Ride my bicyle.  I love riding my bike, especially along the river path.  It's good exercise, and it's something fun.

I notice that a lot of people said they like to eat and cook outside.  I enjoy that in theory, but not always in practice, so I didn't add it to my list.  I know you are probably shocked ... ;-)

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

28 March 2016

Easter 2016

Well, it's Easter Monday - overcast and misty rain here, and a little bit cooler than it has been.  Which is fine for a day at home (I always take Good Friday and Easter Monday off if I can).  Time to do some laundry, and get ready for the regular routine again.

We had a great Easter weekend.  As usual, my niece Amanda and her husband Patrick came from Baltimore to celebrate, and also as usual, we had a blast.  Saturday of course was spent creating our Inappropriate Easter Eggs.

We managed to do some personalized eggs for the kitties and Dug, but got carried away and forgot to make any for ourselves!  Oh well.

 Political eggs, from top: Sanders, Trump, the KKK (I didn't quite get that one, but I didn't make it), Sanders again, and Lyin' Ted Cruz (that's what it said above the picture)

Pop culture eggs, starting with the yellow one:  Caitlyn Jenner, the Pope, Pretty Little Liars, Richard Simmons being held prisoner by Paul Giamatti (I didn't understand the Giamatti part, even once explained), and Oscars So White.

The RIP eggs, from top to bottom:  Abe Vigoda, David Bowie (the other side had Alan Rickman), and the Supreme Court.

So as you can see, a fun and inappropriate time was had by all.

Yesterday morning, we all opened our Easter baskets (well, the ones for the kitties in Baltimore got packed away to go to them), and they were a success.

Things deteriorated pretty quickly after this shot.  They all got these little tea bag shaped toys with catnip inside.  That took care of the goodwill.  ;-)

Dug was tired from all of the excitement and the company, but still thought his basket smelled pretty good!

After we went out for a yummy brunch, Amanda and Pat headed home, and we took our annual walk to the bookstore with the Easter Doodle.

Dug loves this whole thing.  He knows the bunny ears get him lots of attention.  The Tim always promises the people who have to work on Easter that he will bring Dug to visit.  On the way there and back, people stop and ask if they can take a picture, little kids hug him, other dogs look appalled.  When we get to the bookstore, Dug is like a rockstar, and sucks up every single second of the adoration and love.  He always hates to head home because then it's just back to normal life ...

After a yummy Easter dinner, we just cleaned things up and took a breather, watching some TV shows that we had recorded and just hanging out.

Holidays are fun, but they can be exhausting.

I hope your Easter was wonderful as well!  And for those who don't celebrate, I hope you had a lovely weekend and had a chance to relax.

22 March 2016

Report From Last Week

Well, I didn't mean to be incommunicado for so long - I didn't even realize until today that it had been a week since my last post!  I'm guessing that you all managed to survive nonetheless, so that's good ...

Since I couldn't come up with anything even close to ten things for this week's Ten on Tuesday, I decided to tell you about the highlights from my birthday week.  Due to a clerical error at work, I suddenly had five days of vacation I didn't have before - however, the catch was that I needed to use them before the end of March, or I would lose them.  The thought of LOSING vacation days is a complete anathema to me, and since I was planning to take my birthday and St. Patrick's Day off anyway, I decided to use last week for my five days.

It was amazing.  Not in any way that is thrilling to report, but it felt like a nice long time, and I found that I was sleeping better, not having anxiety attacks, not stress-eating - you get the picture.  What a lovely break it was, you know?  I just wish I had more vacation time in general so I could do it more often.  But I enjoyed it while it was there!

My birthday was lovely, if a little weird.  First of all, it turned really cold, and rained pretty hard all day long and into Tuesday morning.  Ick.  The Tim was not able to take the day off with me, which in and of itself was not a big deal, but he had to work inventory at the bookstore, which had been scheduled months ago, and no one was excused.  So he worked from 4:00 p.m. on Monday until about 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning!  As a result, we went out for a lovely birthday lunch instead of dinner, and had birthday cake before he left for work.  Then on Tuesday, he slept for a while (obviously) and then had to work the closing shift that night (3:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.) - so I was on my own for most of Tuesday.  But I got a lot of reading done, got a haircut, and hung out with Dug and the kitties. Very nice.

Thursday I made a batch of Irish Soda Bread, which turned out particularly well.  I also met a friend whom I seldom get to see for lunch, and we had such a great time catching up!  She can really only meet during the week until about 2:00, and not on the weekends at all, due to being the primary caregiver for her husband, so we don't get to talk in person very often.  We had a lot of laughs and some pretty amazing food.

Saturday, it was St. Joseph's Day, so we headed to Termini Brothers in South Philadelphia to get a couple of zeppoles.

SO YUMMY!!!  (We had ours that night with a cup of hot tea.)

After that, I stopped at Loop to see the spinning exhibition they were having.  I am fascinated by spinning, and would love to know how.  They are having a three-Saturday spinning class since there was so much interest, so I signed up.  I sincerely doubt I'll ever become an amazing spinner, but I would at least like to know the basics.

Then on Sunday morning I met with another friend for coffee and some knitting.  After which I went home and watched a couple of March Madness basketball games.  Some of my favorites were already out of it by Sunday, but some advanced, so it was a good day overall.  :-)

Now of course, it's back to the usual, though Easter is this weekend (how is it here already?), and my niece and her husband will be visiting from Baltimore, so I have something to look forward to; plus, I am trying to come up with designs that are actually doable for me for the Inappropriate Easter Egg decorating that will ensue.  I have lots of ideas, but since I am not too great at drawing, I end up letting most of them drop by the wayside.

I hope someday that I will have the chance to take an unexpected, nice long break again.  Sometimes not having all kinds of things planned for every minute makes the time even more enjoyable, you know?

Finally, a huge THANK YOU for all of your kind birthday wishes!  I so enjoyed reading them, and it was a lovely bright spot on such a rainy day.  Thank you thank you thank you!!

15 March 2016

Just What You Need

For this week's Ten on Tuesday, Carole wants us to list My 10 Favorite Comfort Foods.

Granted, a lot of food that is comfort food is not health food for your body - but often it's just what you need for your soul, right?

Here's my list.

1. Mashed potatoes.  Any potato is good, but mashed potatoes make everything better.
2. Tea.  I know it's technically a drink, but there is nothing for me that a cup of tea cannot fix or at least help.
3. Spaghetti.  It doesn't have to have meatballs, either, though in our house, veggie meatballs are a treat.
4. Rice.  When I was a little kid, I had a bowl of rice (Minute Rice at that!) with soy sauce nearly every morning for breakfast.  Though I've moved on from Minute Rice, rice itself still makes me happy.
5. Chocolate.  Any form.  Because it's chocolate.
6. Macaroni and cheese.  I make my own, and though the recipe is a basic one, it does vary based on what we do or don't have.
7. Toast with butter.  Tea and toast is the ultimate comfort breakfast for me.
8. Oatmeal.  Hot oatmeal on a cold winter day takes away the horribleness of having to go to work,and warms you up from the inside.
9. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
10. Applesauce.

Sometimes a certain food is just right for a certain time and place, but these come to mind first when I think of the term "comfort food."

And now I'm hungry ...

14 March 2016


(apologies if you have to sit through an ad to see/hear this)

The Secret O' Life

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, there ain't nothin' to it.
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
But since we're on our way down,
We might as well enjoy the ride.

The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
It's OK to feel afraid, 
But don't let that stand in your way.
'Cause everyone knows that love is the only road.
And since we're only here for a while, 
We might as well show some style.
Give us a smile -

Isn't it a lovely ride?
Sliding down, gliding down.
Try not to try too hard,
It's just a lovely ride.

Now the thing about time
Is that time isn't really real.
It's just your point of view, 
How does it feel for you?
Einstein said 
He could never understand it all.
Planets spinning through space,
The smile upon your face, 
Welcome to the human race.

Isn't it a lovely ride?
See me sliding down, 
Gliding down.
Try not to try to hard,
It's just a lovely ride.

Isn't it a lovely ride?
See me sliding down, 
Gliding down.
Try not to try to hard,
It's just a lovely ride.

The secret of life
Is enjoying the passage of time.

Happy Birthday to me.

(photo courtesy of Joan David)

08 March 2016

Isn't It Good?

For today's Ten on Tuesday, Carole wanted us to list 10 Favorite Things I Own That Are Made of Wood.  This was a fun thing to figure out, but the challenge for me was to take photos, since my camera is very near death, and though I can edit the images somewhat, I still can't get Photoshop to load correctly on to my new laptop.  So I did the best I could!  :-)

This picture represents our bedroom furniture, which belonged to The Tim's grandparents.  We have a dresser, mirror, chest of drawers, headboard and footboard for the bed, and two nightstands.  It is dark cherry wood, with dovetail joins, and brass drawer pulls.  Really lovely, and a wonderful legacy as well.

Here are six things in one photo!  From left to right:  a wood framed picture of Doughboy, taken while he and his family were camping in the Adirondacks; a kitty box, sent to me by a blog friend  It has all kinds of secret compartments, depending where you move the kitty's tail, ears, etc.; a glass fishie on a wood stand.  I won it in a blog contest a few years ago, and it makes me happy, particularly since Pisces is my astrological sign;  a canary wood darning egg; a yarn bowl (currently holding my tape measures!), that was sent to me anonymously the last time I was recovering from surgery.  If you sent it, Thank You very much!

This is a lap desk made for me by my father-in-law and given to me by The Tim the second Christmas after we were married.  I was always complaining about using the only table we had, a wobbly kitchen table, to write letter or pay bills.  I wanted a lap desk, but couldn't find one that I liked that we could afford.   So The Tim asked his dad to make me one.  When you open the lid, there are compartments for stamps, paper, envelopes, etc.  It's perfect and I still use it regularly.  When I opened it that Christmas, his daughters and other daughters-in-law were all jealous, so he had to make four more!  But mine was the prototype.  :-)

This picture has two faves:  an antique printer's drawer, with type in some of the sections.  I have always wanted one, and saw this years ago at an antique store where it was being sold for $20.00.  Since others I'd seen were $100 and up, you can bet I grabbed it!   The other item is the top of a chair that has an upholstered seat, and Queen Anne style legs.  This chair came from the orphanage where my father's aunt was the director, long ago.  It sat in her office, and years after she died, and the orphanage was closing, they asked my father if he would like any of her things, and he chose this.  Usually there is a cat sleeping on it.

So there you go.  There are many other things, particularly our random-width pine flooring in our house, that is nearly impossible to photograph!  But it is the one thing that made us want to buy this house more than any others we saw when we were house-hunting.

The pictures aren't great, but the items are well-loved.  And in the end, that is what counts, right?

To paraphrase The Beatles, "Isn't it good?  Things made of wood" ...

06 March 2016


Tomorrow is the beginning of the last week I will be in my fifties.  It seems weird to say that, even weirder to realize it.  I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about turning 60, which I guess is not surprising since it is a milestone age.  I'm fortunate to live in a time and place where it doesn't mean that I'm being put out to pasture so to speak, but there are still realizations that come with making it this far.

When I turn 60:

I will have outlived my father by seven years.  That's crazy, since dying at the age of 53 seems so uncommon and young.  I remember that even at the time, he didn't seem *that* old to me, but now I realize just how young he was.

I will still be working with no real end in sight and in a job I truly hate.  This disappoints me, I have to be honest.  Not the still working part, because I didn't have any plans for early retirement.  But the job-hating part is the kicker.  For so many reasons, I'm pretty stuck where I am for the duration, and that is depressing.  And since recent illnesses have pretty much taken care of any financial cushion we may have had, retirement is likely a looooonnnng time away for me.

I will have survived three different cancers.  That's both ridiculous (no one should get three different cancers, one is insulting enough!), and wonderful (I am only too well aware of how lucky I am!).  I am fortunate in this as well, that I live in a time and place where surviving any cancer at all is a strong possibility.  My father, mentioned above, died from liver cancer when it was basically a death sentence from the get go, and that less than 50 years ago!  Now cancer can be detected long before you have any noticeable symptoms.

I will remember things like dial telephones, non-remote TVs with antennas, black-and-white TV, party lines on your telephone, cameras that used film you had to send away to be developed before you knew how the pictures looked, and so many other things that seem like distant relics today!  That's so weird, it's like I've done time-traveling or something!  :-)

I will be closer to dying than not.  I don't dwell on this fact, certainly, but it can be sobering to realize that your chances of dying are stronger than they were when you were 40.  Having said that, I certainly hope my time will not be up for a long time, since I have no desire to leave.

I will be able to appreciate the fact that I know myself pretty well.  I've always been self-aware to some degree, but only as I've gotten older have I realized how important that is.  I think it's one of my strengths and I feel bad for people who never seem to understand the concept.

I will be - to some degree - living the life that I want to live.  If you take away the work thing (and sadly, that is a big chunk, but it's not everything), I am lucky to have the life I do.  I have a house that I love in a place that is somewhere I enjoy living, I have The Tim, who even if we are not madly, passionately embracing every minute, is my true companion and partner in crime.  I am surrounded by animals that I love and that has always been a dream of mine.  I have books, music, yarn, TV, and a few true friends.  I have many friendly and pleasant acquaintances.  I've been able to travel, and hope to do some more.

I will have led a good life so far.  :-)

So even if I can't say "Here's to the next 60!" (because frankly I have no desire to live to be 120 years old), I can say "Let's keep doing this, and see what happens!"

Have a good week, and remember to be glad you are here.

01 March 2016

25 Hours

Yesterday was Leap Day, and alas, I did not get to enjoy it as one should when one gets an extra day in their year - an extra day!  I hope I'm around in another four years, so I can plan to enjoy the next one ... but it's March, and that's one of my most favorite months, so it's all good.

Anyhoo, this week for Ten on Tuesday, Carole wants us to list 10 Things You Would Do With An Extra Hour In The Day.  When I first read this, I thought "WHAT - I get an extra hour and I have to do ten things??!!"  Then I decided that I was going to interpret it as meaning, if someone gave you an extra hour in your day, list ten things you could choose from, depending on time of day, time of year, my mood, etc.  So here is my list in no particular order.

1.  Sleep. Though if I sleep during the day, it usually means I'm sick, so this would have to be an extra hour at night.  (Seriously.  I can be dead on my feet, and I decide to take a nap and I AM WIDE AWAKE.)

2.  Take a walk.

3.  Take a bike ride along the river trail.

4.  Read.

5.  Knit.

6.  Nothing.  Hey's it an EXTRA HOUR.  I might want to just sit and enjoy it.  Especially if it's a nice day, and I could sit outside with Dug.

7.  Write a letter.

8.  Make some muffins or scones.

9.  Think.  Remind myself of all the good in my life, so I feel like smiling and giving thanks.

10. Clean up the garden so we can sit out there when the weather permits.

Granted, these are all things I do/can do with a 24-hour day.  But I have to say that the idea of being "given" an extra hour is appealing.  :-)