Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Annoying things

I woke up in the middle of the night last Friday with throbbing pain in my right ear.  It has not cleared up yet--although it does feel a bit less stuffed.  Honestly, I totally know why babies cry so insistently when they have an ear infection.  I wanted to howl a little myself.  I took ibuprofen instead.  And keep on taking it at night.

I remember having an ear infection as a kid.  It prevented my mother from attending a cousin's wedding with my father.  I cried hysterically for hours and kept demanding, "I want my daddy!" whenever my mom tried to comfort me.  Even at the time I knew I was being unreasonable, but, by golly, if I was going to be so miserable, others were going down with me.

Ever since then I just want to be left alone if I am really feeling sick--like with the flu or a stomach upset.  I did not feel sick like that with this ear thing.  It is just annoying.  Right now it itches.  Let me assure you, it is impossible to scratch the inside of your ear drum.

Another crisis has been averted.  I saw a couple of really large beetles around our property and was afraid that they were the dreaded Asiatic longhorn beetles.  After a little research, I now believe that they are .spotted sawyer beetles.  Our trees are not likely to be wiped out.  I am not fond of insects although I suppose they have their place.  They are mostly annoying.  Maybe there is actually an insect in my middle ear.

It sure feels like full on summer today.  We have had thunderstorms rolling through last night and this morning.  It has cleared now, but it is steamy and hot.  It's a good thing today's chores include grocery shopping--time in air conditioned space.  I keep a sweater in my car along with my cloth grocery bags for just such occasions.

The rain has encouraged the weeds in the garden. Our house needs a pressure washing badly. The carpet needs a shampoo.  The windows are due for a good wash. I better get on some of the day's chores before I am feeling completely overwhelmed.  Too much to do.  That is annoying in itself.

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Yeah, I am tempted!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Long Weekend

We are expecting my sister, my brother-in-law, and my son for burgers and salad on the deck.  It has been quite windy all day so we may have to move the food indoors.  I am hoping this is not a taste of how our summer activities will go this year.
I went to the cemetery this afternoon.  I usually plant some annuals by my parents' grave stone, but there is also a hosta that someone put in and it is now taking over the entire area and even covering up   the names.  I will talk to my sister about whether or not to take it out.  It sure is a healthy plant, and it keeps the weeds at bay.  Still, it would be nice to see my parents' names on the stone.
Tomorrow we will head to Connecticut for a cookout.  It is a triple birthday celebration and a send off for  the brother-n-law who has now sold his big house and will be moving into a condo.
 I have been having a hard time with picture on my new computer--getting them onto my blog, but this one worked!  I have a forest of lily-of-the-valley beside the deck and smells so wonderful.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shingles

This isn't a post about our roof.  The shingles there are in fine condition and I am hoping that they will stay that way for some time to come.

It's the other kind of shingles, the sudden wake up of a dormant chicken pox virus.  I am hoping to avoid that bundle of misery.  I had the vaccination.  My neighbor had a bout of shingles last summer. That convinced me to talk to my doctor about the shot.  Shooting pain and body blisters really do strike me as something to avoid if possible.

There was a bill before the Vermont legislature this past winter that would have eliminated philosophical exemptions to vaccination requirements for school entry.  It turned out to be quite controversial and got a group of parents very active in fighting against this change in the law.

I was interested in one parent's argument -- vaccination is not analogous to seat belts but to air bags that can malfunction, go off with too much force and result in injury or death.  Although, we have all heard stories about injuries from seat belts as well.  I have to say, though, I was a bit alarmed by those claiming they were not informed that a vaccine could have side effects.  Clearly, they were just not listening or they live in la-la land.

The legislation did not pass.  In the end, it is kind of a shame that the issue even came up and consumed so much time.  Vermont has a very high immunization record.  The one vaccine that is most often opted against in chicken pox.Oh, well.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another New Toy

 Some times you plan for a big purchase; sometimes one is forced upon you.

After nearly 23 years of keeping the riding lawn mower chugging along and beating down the grass and weeds, Mike was forced into the realization that too much time was being used up on keeping the motor running.  Yesterday, the mower would not start.  He had put in new spark plugs the week before.  He decided he needed a new electric igniter.   That was an $80 part that he had to travel 40 miles round trip to obtain.  He put it in, started the mower without a problem, and mowed half the lawn before it died once again.  Defective part?  Something else going on?  Oh, bother!

"Come with me to get a new lawn mower."  So now we have a new John Deere riding mower.

qxi1172.jpg (275×275) google image of a tree ornament, not our actual new machine

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rhubarb

There is an old Vermont saying along the lines of  "Hope the rain don't hurt the rhubarb."

In fact, though, there is not a thing in the whole entire world that can hurt rhubarb.  Floods?  Drought? Toxic waste spills? Nuclear plant meltdown?  Rhubarb will survive.

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(Honestly, Stephen King, I hope you read my little blog because I am just full of ideas for horror story ideas lately.  And they are free for the taking!)

Mike has his own food classification.  It includes a category called 'nuisance vegetables' which are not to be eaten and preferrably not to to ever appear on the table.  Rhubarb appears in that category--more than once, actually.  So it is kind of too bad that we have rhubarb growing in the back.  (It came with the house, and as I have mentioned, there is no way to get rid of it.)

Mike also likes to have it pointed out that not even the neighborhood woodchuck will touch the rhubarb.  Make of that what you will.

I saw "Local Rhubarb" for sale at the local market.  $3.99 a pound.  I laughed out loud.  People around here lock their car doors at night so the neighbors don't sneak a bag of rhubarb into the back seat.

Here's a recipe stolen from the Burlington Free Press:

Rhubarb Cake
(serves 8)

2 teaspoons orange zest
juice from half an orange
2 cups of sliced rhubarb
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (8T) unsalted butter at room temp.
2 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350, grease 9" springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, toss rhubarb with 1 tsp.orange zest and 1 tsp of the juice, plus 1/2/cup of the white sugar.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the baking powder, salt and 1 tsp. orange zest.
  4. In mixing bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and remaining sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy/about 3 minutes.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  6. With mixer on low, beat in dry ingredients just til blended.
  7. Scrape batter into prepared pan and level the top.
  8. Scatter the rhubarb mixture and juices over the top, but avoid too close to the edge of the pan.
  9. Bake in center of preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes.
  10. Cool for 30 minutes, then remove from pan and wrap in plastic to let mellow for several hours.
  11. Refrigerate left overs.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Too Much

Do you ever think that the i technology is just getting way too far ahead of you?  Is there such a thing as just plain too much information?  Well, I do...and I realize that I am in a minority.

But, really!?!? as they say on SNL.  Sunday, I skim through all those ads in the morning paper.  In Best Buy's  ad,  I noticed iScale.  It is a Bluetooth enabled body weight scale that allows you to track calories and your daily activities that burns them up.  You can organize these records and make graphs.  Isn't that just so special?  And here is the fun part--you can share this information with your fitness buddies!




As if the bathroom scale isn't evil enough on its own, there are those who feel the need to spawn diabolical little gremlin offspring.

Hey!  Stephen King take note.  I think there is a the seed of a true tale of horror here.  Feel free to use it.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Random Picture

Between getting to know my new laptop and spending time at my volunteer library duties (which seems to be a distressingly rapidly growing list of things to do), I have not come up with much to post here.






So, I dip into the bizillion travel pictures.  Here we are, Mike and I, in California, a few years ago.  We're doing our best to look like tourists.  We visited Mike's son and family before and after a tour of Yosemite and Death Valley.  Lots of great trips in our memory banks.

I have neglected writing after finishing up a short course on writing.  The advise was to write a lot, read a lot, and write some more every day.  In the past week or two, I have read The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, and the War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  They all had the same basic message--write and read and write everyday.  Maybe today...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New Toy! Oh, Boy!

I ordered a new laptop computer for myself with the assistance of my brother-in-law/computer consultant.
He likes (and uses himself, although one far, far more advnaced and 'tricked out' than I would ever need or want): DELL.  Dude!
My son also has a Dell Inspiron--bigger screen--and really likes it.
I am in the learning curve.  Since my technological skills are still in the stone age, it is a very steep learning curve.
The sound is on.  That was my motivation to get my own computer.  Mike, being quite hard of hearing, always turns off the sound.  This has driven me crazy for far too long.  So, for that reason alone, I am happy.  Still, there is a lot of playing around and getting-used-to ahead.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vermont News

I related the story of the bomb of a birthday greeting. 
In my travels back from Florida, I guess I missed this little item of Vermont news, though.  My sister told me about it.

Early in April, there was a story she caught on the news about a man who had just climbed into his bed when he heard a ruckus outside his window.  Bears were investigating his bird feeders.  He went out to scare the bears away and rescue the bird feeders.  He chased away the bears while himself being bare (because that is how he goes to bed).  Since my sister had just heard the end of this evening news story, she did not realize that the naked man in question was the Governor of our fair state.


You know,  there are things I miss about Florida, but the nightly news is definitely not one of those things.  It seems like there is always a gang murder, an abduction, a child abuse case, or a racial incident in the news in Florida. It is kind of refreshing to have the news be about ill-advised birthday greeting and bare bear chasers.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Memoirs

I have finished reading Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen.  Here is a memoir written by someone who has many reasons to be quite grateful for the hand life has dealt her.  It seems she has a loving family, a successful marriage, and a long, fulfilling career.  Sure there were some trials along the way.  She had to take interrupt her college education to take care of her dying mother for a while, for instance.  On the whole, though, I would say, "a pretty charmed life."  I have enjoyed several of her other books (Every Last One, Black and Blue, One True Thing) so I hope that Anna Quindlen goes on lighting those candles and eating that birthday cake. 

And and the not so charmed life front, I read Jeannette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal?, another memoir by another successful author although I am not familiar with her work.  I found it interesting because she is so thoughtful and forgiving about a fairly harsh life.   The final reunion with her birth mother was poignant if not the healing experience she hoped for.

Memoirs seem to be every where these days.  I admit that I kind of like this take on the genre.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bad Idea for a Birthday Card

Sometimes I laugh at inappropriate things.  Today it was a bomb scare reported in the Burlington Free Press.


It seems that some one who works for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in St. Albans, VT, had a birthday yesterday.  Some thoughtful person sent the birthday boy or girl a greeting card.  Well, you know how fussy the U.S. Postal Service has gotten about size and weight.  The sender put the card in a FedEx documents envelope and blithely sent it off.

Packages get x-rayed at this office.   Since the birthday card was one that had recording capability, the x-ray showed wires.  Wires make government workers suspicious of bombs (and wisely so, I'll add).  Alarms went off, emergency agencies were alerted, the building was evacuated, and workers were sent home for the day.

A bomb disposal robot was sent in.  It retrieved the envelope and the crisis was over.  Isn't technology grand?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trauma?

Oh, dear.

My grand son drew this picture while he was here last week:



Clearly, it is the tick I tweezed off his little chest.

And I totally recognize the dots as bacteria from his favored book, The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts.
Also, we had a conversation a couple of times about the feelers/antennae on bugs.


I am worried that this is a sign of trauma to his sensitive nature.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Picture at Random

 I selected an untitled picture from storage at random tonight.  This picture was taken in 1997. 

Mike and I took a six day raft trip in the Grand Canyon that summer.  The trip was arranged by friends who had made the trip once before and liked it so much they put together a group of friends to go with them the second time.  It was a case where each of us knew some of the others and got to know the rest over the course of the trip.  It was a spectacular vacation and we have hundreds of great pictures.  This one does not do the scenery justice, but it reminded me of the time I spent with these people.  We had a reunion to share pictures and video the following year.  We have not had contact with any of them now for the past ten years.

Sometimes it is sad how people can just come into your life and go without any fanfare at all.  Some of these people I occasionally wonder about.  Some of them, in all honesty, I am just as glad to never see again.  But in any case, having had a raft trip down the Colorado River is really something I treasure in memory.

Cyndie, Diz...where ever you are now, thanks for including us in this adventure!