Friday, August 31, 2012

Statistics Make Me Sleepy


I worry about dementia.  I have watched two aunts, an uncle and my own mother fade away in that manner.

Maybe you heard the story on NPR.  I read about it on Changing Aging.  Sleep problems are associated with cognitive decline.  Forty percent of American adults have trouble sleeping, and according to Dr. Kristine Yaffe of the University of California at San Francisco, those with sleep disorders are twice as likely to develop some type of dementia in later life.

Of course, her research was done on individuals over 75, a population that seems more likely to develop dementia in any case.  (I don’t understand statistics very well.)  In any case, a connection is there, but that does not mean that sleep disorders actually cause dementia.  Maybe dementia causes sleep disorder.  Or maybe some other factor is at work that might result in both sleep problems and dementia.

It seems to me that there is no reason to assume that the thing to do is sleep better so you won’t get dementia.  On the other hand, sleeping better certainly can’t hurt anything and the article lists the typical sleep hygiene suggestions that I have tried and that really have worked for me.  It also mentions that the best way to strength one’s circadian rhythms is with natural sunlight.  I think I  intuitively knew this is something I need and so I feel vindicated in my trek south each winter.

Or maybe that is what they call cognitive dissonance.  In any case, the light had definitely changed and I am starting to think about heading south with the rest of the birds.

Aug
 
 
Here is another funky statistic that I just read in the September Redbook:

An Ikea survey found that woman who use shoe racks are seven times more likely to be on time for work.  Who cares why--just get one.

Honestly, that is pretty funny.  Wouldn't it be nice if life was really that easy?
 


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sprucing Up


bridge1
This summer, the bridge that I remember as being silver when I was growing up, but that has long been green, was painted red.

Bridge2
My friend Mary lived in that house at the end of the bridge. 

At the other end of town, another bridge crosses the Winooski River.  This one is on a more heavily travelled road and it needed to be widened.  It was quite the engineering feat which involved cutting the metal span in half and pushing the two sides apart, then reattaching them with longer beams.

Bridge3
It might have been cheaper to just tear down the old and build a brand new bridge, but re-using is the Vermont way.  There is a temporary bridge beside the old bridge for the duration of the project.

DSCN2003DSCN2004
The Jericho Town Library has been closed for a badly needed coat of new paint.  That accounts for my ability to finish off a few projects in the last two  weeks.  I have spent quite a lot of time volunteering at this library over the summer.  There was a record-breaking number of check-outs this July.

So there is my inspiration.  I need to get busy with some fall housework.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day in Wallingford


I went to Wallingford on Sunday and took Amy, Kristen, and Dane out to lunch in celebration of Amy’s birthday.

Amy’s present from me was a framed poster I had taken from a 1930’s Grade Teacher magazine.  It showed an owl exhorting everyone to “USE GOOD ENGLISH.”  It may sound like a strange gift unless you know my daughter.

I also gave the kids little back to school goody bags.btspresents
These were filled with tissue packets, hand sanitizer, pencils, tape, white boards, book marks, and magnets for keeping track of important papers on the the fridge.  And of course some M&Ms just because chocolate never hurts.

We went out for a birthday lunch.  It was a gorgeous summer day.  I am not saying the grand kids are hyperactive, but it is good when we can get an outside table.Sal'sDane was turning on the charm.  “Has anyone noticed how beautiful my mom is in her new blouse?”

BD
K. will be starting grade six this week.  D. starts full day kindergarten after Labor Day.  Time flies.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Busy Work

Bookcase1I bought this bookcase as a yard sale for 5 bucks.

Bookcase2 (1)I did a little sanding and gave it a few coats of a primer, which I had on hand.

Bookcase3
I had the paint too so this did not cost more than the $5 plus some labor.  I will take it to my daughter’s house for my grandson to use in his room for books or toys.

I also bought a wooden paper towel holder for 50 cents.  Mike mounted it under a cabinet in my craft room and I am using it for ribbon storage.                                  
Ribbon storage
Bird house
I painted the little bird house and added some branches and a little bird on top.  I hung it in the breezeway where I have set up my sewing machine for the summer.
Staples scoreStaples started its Back To School sales a while ago and I have been picking up little things here and there.  Some will be in the Advent baskets I make for the kids and some will be a back to school present.  Kristen will start sixth grade next week and Dane will start kindergarten on September 4th.

I have realized that I need to spend less time shopping and more time exercising.

I have not been too creative with knitting.  I make washcloths to practice different patterns and that has been about it.  I tend to knit while watching the television but I have been way more into reading this summer.

felted scrap2I did make this felted sweater jacket out of an old wool sweater, yarn scraps and assorted buttons.

Then, there is my new hobby.
Table runnerXmas wall hanging
I made a large table runner in anticipation of the holiday season and I had scraps enough to make the Christmas tree which will end up as a wall hanging.

Idle hands being the devil’s workshop, I should be safe from temptation.  However, I need some new fabric.  Maybe I should walk a couple of times around the parking lot at the shopping center.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Say What?


Rape Statistics …  Sexual assault…it’s not about lust and desire, it’s a violent crime of POWER, CONTROL and DOMINANCE.  These are not pretty, but the consequences of rape can be even less so.

I really do not want to hear another word that comes out of Todd Akin’s mouth, but I would like to know exactly what it was he apologized for.

Surely, he did not mean by “legitimate rape” to imply that the crime is ever legally justified.

He meant “forcible rape”?  meaning where the victim vigorously fights back as opposed to passive acceptance in the hope of less injury? or worse yet, consents or somehow invites the rape?

God forbid, he meant legitimate in the sense of real or actual (actually how I interpreted what he said upon hearing it the first time) as opposed to those times when the victim falsely claims rape maybe  as the easiest way to get an abortion.

Really, I am so disgusted that this is the pole-star issue of the upcoming political convention.  I don’t think that the media—liberal or conservative—have  served the public well through this debacle.

I do think we should be looking pretty hard at our candidates though.  I’d say some have definite issues with power, control, and dominance.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Falling


It is that time year once again—just keeps circling around, doesn’t it.  A tinge of fall is in the air.
VT had a real summery kind of summer this year with plenty of sunshine and plenty of warm temperatures, even warm nights.  Inevitably, though, that has to change and this morning the thermometer read in the 40’s.  Since I was still running a slight fever yesterday (from that nasty stomach virus) I had been alternating heat waves with shivering episodes.  I was shivering when I got ready for bed so I was dressed warmly and I slept through the night—a blessing indeed.
There are spots here and there of the trees in their changing process.  This tree is across the road from my house.  It used to be that I was thrown into a depressive episode at a sight like this in mid-August.  I actually like the fall, but that first hint of it would always feel like a knife impinging on my soul.
fall flowers12 003
Since retirement, this seasonal depression has not been so strong.  I can now chase summer.
In all honesty, the thing that I like about Florida—and this holds true year round—is that the daylight hours remain pretty steady throughout.  I don’t like the wild fluctuations.  Dark at 4 p.m. in the winter, the sun never getting much above the horizon, bright daylight at 5 a.m. through 10 p.m. in the summer.  I think my body does not adjust well to the fluctuations.  Even as a kid when summer meant we could stay up late and run around outside for hours after supper (because it is still light out, the ultimate childhood argument), I remember being the one who ran inside crying because I just wanted to go to bed.  Yeah, I like the 50/50 split so much better that even the heat and humidity don’t put me off.
Fall flowers are also all around now. Along the roadside we are seeing
fall flowers12 008purple thistles
fall flowers12 010plenty of goldenrod
fall flowers12 011Queen Anne’s lace
fall flowers12 012red clover (VT state flower).

In the garden, thank goodness for rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) and filling in annuals like cosmos and cleome.  I want the color.

fall flowers12 006
fall flowers12 004        fall flowers12 014  fall flowers12 015

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weak as a Kitten

Mike had a touch of a stomach virus over the weekend.   It slowed him down but did not stop him completely.  Then the bug hit me on Monday morning.  I was knocked for a loop--cannot remember being that sick for ages now.  Hope it will ages again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

ORANGE CURD


Some one asked about orange curd.  Like lemon or lime curd, it is a mixture of juice, butter, sugar and eggs.  It makes a nice cake filling or a filling for tarts.  It can be spread on toast or muffins, but it is especially yummy on shortbread cookies.

It is usually available in grocery stores right there with jams and jellies.

orange curd 001

Or you can make it.
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp. orange zest

  1. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.  Slowly add the eggs and yolks and beat for 1 minute more. Mix in the juice.  It will looked curdled and that is okay.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a heavy-bottomed medium pan and cook over low heat until the mixture smooths out.  Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes.  Don’t let it boil.  It should be thickened—about 170 degrees if you are the scientific type.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the zest.  Transfer the curd to a bowl and cover with plastic to prevent a skin from forming.
  4. This will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Catching Up


We took a mini vacation and spent a few days in Jerusalem, Rhode Island, where Mike took maximum advantage of the fact that our brother-in-law finally (finally, after years of intense desire) has his own fishing boat.

I forgot my camera and I did not take a laptop.  Jerusalem is a somewhat quiet beach area.  If you think of Newport when you think of Rhode Island, it is nothing like that.  It is a cozy, grey-shingled cottages sitting on the bluffs and fresh seafood.  Lots of fresh seafood—none of it caught by Mike.

Unfair—he did catch some fish, but he threw them back.  He caught a black sea bass but they are not in season.

We went to Spain, a restaurant in Narragansett.  Let me tell you, if you ever are in Rhode Island, do not miss it.  Every detail of the service was attended to and the food was excellent.

Back at home, my sister went into the hospital for surgery yesterday, a hysterectomy.  I went for a brief visit last night.  Every thing went well and she is supposed to be sent home today for a two week recovery period.

I have to go deal with tomatoes.  There must have been rain while we were gone because the grass needs mowing again,  The weeds have enjoyed the holiday by the looks, and tomatoes have ripened.  Lots of tomatoes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Morning


Image from Bing

Mike and I usually start our days with a couple of cups of coffee and toast or a muffin, but on Sunday mornings we like to fix a big breakfast and have a leisurely meal while reading the paper.

This morning I made the breakfast—pancakes with orange curd and blueberry sauce, bacon, and coffee.  We may not eat again until tomorrow.  (Would that were so!)

Blueberry sauce (it is that time of year here in New England):
In a small saucepan mix a cup of blueberries, 1/4 cup of orange curd, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of corn starch, and a splash of orange juice.  Simmer gently until slightly thickened but not so much that the the berries break down.  Add a pat of butter and set aside.

The pancakes:
Combine in small bowl:
  • cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • some grated orange rind
In a larger bowl, whisk together:
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
Add dry ingredients, alternating with:
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of milk
Cook on a greased griddle.  This will make six pancakes.

To serve, spread additional orange curd on each pancake and top with the blueberry sauce.  A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar or a dollop of whipped cream will make this quite impressive looking.

Really, you should separate the egg and just put the yolk in with the yogurt.  Then, you are supposed to beat the egg white and fold that in at the end.  I have made pancakes and waffles this way and they are very light and delicious, but at some point I always look around my small kitchen and think, “This is enough mess for this morning,” so I just put the whole egg in at once.  No body around here is fussy enough to complain.

We had tentatively planned to be in Rhode Island today, but the storms predicted put our plans on hold.  We will head out tomorrow if things look a little better.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book



I like to read.  I always have.  I am not of the opinion that reading is for bedtime, something to put you to sleep.  I never, ever feel guilty that I spend a certain amount of time reading during the day instead of doing something productive.  I have always felt that reading is a worthwhile activity in its own right.

At the same time, I like to thinkthat I keep a pretty good balance in my life.  I enjoy a lot of different things and I like to feel I make time to see people and do a variety things that I enjoy.  Once in a while, though, I get really into something.

 I could not put this book down.  Unlike at least one reviewer, I did not feel the rug pulled out from under me.  I thought the plot was predictable, but at the same time I was completely sucked in.  "Oh! I knew it!!"  If you like a mystery/thriller, this book does it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This and That


The yard:
I try to keep a daily bit of time for pulling weeds from the flower gardens.  When Mike mows  the lawn, I try to keep up with the sweeping.  Monday is my designated day of putting on the the grubby garden clothes and doing a thorough weeding.  Sometimes. I let that go.  Here is the result:

CrabgrassCrab grass
Do you think it is time to do some edging??   The dry weather and the opportunistic nature of crab grass are pretty evident here.

Even with the edging, things don’t look that great here.  It has been a dry and hot summer, 2012. (Linda Reeder, I am so embarrassed.)
Edged


The harvest has started, though.  This year I planted tomatoes and peppers only.  Late season blight has been noted in the area, but I have not been affected yet. Yet!
Bounty

I had a satisfying supper of roasted tomato and peppers on polenta tonight.
*******
Green clean:
I have a lot of mint in my herb garden this year.  I will try a combination of mint and rosemary as an  all-purpose cleaner made with either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.  Rosemary does have a disinfectant property, and it goes well with mint.

This is a recipe for laundry detergent that I found on Pinterest:
  • 4lb.12oz. box of Borax
  • 3lb. 7oz. box of washing soda
  • 3lb. container of oxy cleaner
  • 2 bars of Zote soap, grated
  • 2lb. box of baking soda
There was a powdered fabric softener in the recipe, I do not use fabric softener so I left that out.  The two loads of laundry I have done using this concoction have been satisfyingly clean with a very mild scent.   I am thinking throwing in a box of Delft or maybe Ivory Snow would save the grating of 2 bars of soap.  It would add to the cost but up the convenience factor.  It really does take very little to do a full load of laundry—1 or 2 tablespoons.  The batch I mixed up will last a very long time at that rate.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Roku

 

I have liked  this show very much on those occasions when I have managed to turn the television  on at the right time.  Now, with my ROKU box set up and working, I have been able to watch it from the first episode.  I have watched the first six episodes.  Even though I liked what I watched, it makes so much more sense going in order.

 

The other show I have started watching in Mad Men.

I missed the whole first season.  I watched the rest of it only sporadically.

 

It used to be that if I liked a TV show I knew when it was on and made a point to watch it.  These days it is more…I think I’ll take a break and watch some TV.  I am enjoying being able to pick something I want to watch rather than flicking through channels and then deciding to have a snack instead.

So I give my ROKU box a thumb’s up.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekend Away

We will be traveling to Boston tomorrow.  It will be a sad trip as we are attending the memorial service for a good friend who died at too young an age.  And in some ways it will also be a happy trip because we will be sharing so many fond memories of so many good times with Scott.

This is a sobering thought.  I have reached the age where I go to far more funerals than weddings...and they are not the funerals of the "older generation."  It's us.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Where’s My Inner Geek?


We bought a Roku, one of those little tiny boxes that lets you stream movies and shows to a television.

No need for a PC, it said on the box.  It connects directly to your high-speed internet wirelessly.  True, but for most of the items on the menu, you need to go on the computer and enter a code to activate.  This wasn’t a big problem, but it still struck me as a tad misleading.

It’s really easy, it said on the box.  plug it in, add it to the home network, and enjoy.  Well, I connected it to the TV set and plugged it in (easy).  I put the AAA batteries in (no problem).  Now we get to configuration of the network.  This little baby was designed to automatically detect wireless networks and then guide me right through the set up steps.  Yes! It detected my network and I selected it (so easy!  I am practically ready for my guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory!)

Not so fast.  Enter your network password, which is case sensitive.  That means having to go to that unnecessary PC and look up the password, which involves wandering about the desktop looking for the hidden list of passwords.  Enter it in that laborious press the arrows across the line of letters and numbers and clicking “ok” for each one.  I am not used to this and it takes a very long time.  I made mistakes and had to start over. Finally hit “connect.”

Nope,  “Cannot connect.”  Try lower case letters.  Nope.  Recheck the password.  It is correct, but still, “cannot connect.”

STEP 4: Complete Guided Setup—It’s the final stretch and hooray—it’s a breeze!  I quote directly there.  My perky little Hi! Let’s Get Started. booklet taunts me with it’s helpful assurances and mini pep talks about this experience bring out my inner geek.

Finally the on screen process politely suggests that I call support.  Fine.  I called.  The technician was friendly and spoke English extremely well.  I had to log onto my supposedly unnecessary computer.  (Honestly, who believes that a computer is not a necessity today?  That’s all I’m saying.)

I handed over control of my computer to someone half way around the world somewhere, and after 45 minutes or so (much of which involved me fumbling to enter my e-mail address and a password, with some swearing under my breath that the tech politely ignored after the first slip) I had a roku account.

The tech had me click on a Netflix movie to test it out.  Then I sat and watched the title just sit there.  “Something is not right.  This is taking too much time, I think.  Let me try…”

“Oh, wait,” I interrupted.  “I’ll bet I have to press start.  Yep, that worked.  Gee, thanks for all your help.”   Inner geek, indeed.  Geez.

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