Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015

I have been reading reflections on the year about to pass, 2015.

Some do not mourn its passing in any way, can't wait to slam the door on that one.  Others muse philosophically on the lessons learned over the past 365 days. Still others look forward, making prediction for the unfolding of 2016.

You other bloggers!  You make me wish I was clever and thoughtful and smart so I could sum up 2015 in an entertaining way.

Truth is--I can barely remember 2015.  Did it actually have 365 days?  Because it seemed a heck of a lot shorter than that.  I have some advice for 2016: Slow Down!

I spent the winter in Florida--did some volunteering, did a lot of yoga, did some writing.  Five months gone in a blur.  When I got back to Vermont, I noticed that my grandchildren, babies when I left, had grown.  I guess I really need to update those pictures on my sidebar.

I know I spent a lot of money, starting with the installation of a new furnace. Thinking about what I needed to update and repair in order to eventually (I was thinking spring of 2016) sell my house escalated into a whirlwind of activity with a long string of contracted electricians, chimney guys, plumbers, environmental engineers, and carpenters making their way through the house and relieving me of a sizable amount of cash.

My house sold in five days and then I found a new place to live.  I had to pack and downsize.  It was stressful, I do remember that, but I was happy with my new town house closer to town and with no large yard to mow.  I only spent six weeks there, so it is justifiable that that time seems pretty short.

I did not have the time nor the money to take my grandkids on much of a vacation, but we did make a couple small trips.  We went to Ausable Chasm, Lake Champlain (many, many times), and played a lot of soccer--enough so that my grandson has dreams of going to the FIFA World Cup someday.

My grandson eventually forgave me for selling the house.

My friends continued to sustain me throughout the year.  I know that I am truly grateful for family and friends, including blogger-world friends, who add so much to my life.  Florida friends, new friends, are great; and some will be enduring.  Long time friends are the best.

So that is the blur that was 2015.  Now I will have to contemplate the start of a new year.

Be safe, everyone.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Smiling

I got concerned that I was getting just too blase (don't quite know how to tick that e,  but you know what I mean) about being near the beach.  I arrived on Tuesday.  Granted, I felt the need to sleep for practically two days but, still, it was Sunday and I had not been to the beach.

I had to fix that.  I slathered myself with extra sun block and went for a walk on Sunday afternoon.

The beach erosion continues to be in evidence, but there is still beach to walk on.
The beach was cobbled with shells and the waves were gentle, winter cool.  The sky was clear blue and a couple large herons fished from the shore.  There were many young families taking advantage of the entertainments of the sea shore.

I was struck by the number of people who smiled and greeted me along the way.

In particular, I carry the image of a small, dark-haired boy, maybe three or four years of age.  He gave me a distinctly three part smile--a small upturn of the lips, a wider smile, and then a full on grin that lit his entire face.  Wow!

I was blessed.

Perhaps it was the smile on my own face being reflected back to me.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Deck the halls...

I did some Christmas decorating here is Florida.
Paper trees I made.

Candle tree

Angels

 Fake palm tree filled with German bells that I made last year.

Pine cone I made out of an old                                    sweater.

And more angels.



One little guy I know will not be so impressed with my efforts.  I "ruin Christmas" by going to Florida where there is no snow.  I think that means I ruin Christmas by not being with him.  Moment of sadness...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Afternoon Tea and Cookies

It is quite a rainy day here in Florida.  I went out to run a few errands and now, mid afternoon, I am relaxing with a cup of fruity tea and two cookies.

These are my current favorite cookie:


I get them in Vermont at the small town market and at the Healthy Living store.

I was surprised to see them at the Amish market here in Venice because they have a large in-store bakery operation and offer very  good homemade style cookies.

These are Ginger Zingers and they are so delicious.  I snapped them right up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Then and Now

 The photo above was taken on December 14, 2014.  We had a lot of snow and it was pretty cold besides.  It served as a good reminder of why I like to leave Vermont in winter and head south with the rest of the snowbirds.

The next photo was taken outside my new Vermont town house on December 14, 2015.  The little garden area had been prepped for the winter, but I noticed that the rose bush had suddenly popped out green leaves.  It could be that the record will be broken for the warmest December on record and for the latest snowfall of at least one inch.

Wouldn't it be something to see roses bloom on Christmas!  El Nino at work disrupting the world's weather.

I left for Florida the next day all the same.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

JFK

Here I am at the airport waiting for my flight to Sarasota.  Oh, whoops!  I don't have a selfie to prove that statement.  I am sure I may have photo bombed someone else's though because the phone cameras are snapping all over the place.

There are two people who are not taking selfies besides me--one is sound asleep with a tiny little dog also sleeping on her chest and the other is softly playing the ukulele.  I am busy people watching.  Also bird watching as there are at least o half dozen sparrows flying around and scooping up dropped food crumbs.

I was in the cab and heading to the Burlington airport at 4 a.m. but I have had some coffee now so I am feeling somewhat functional.

I had the two grand kids for the weekend.  I also had my brother, sister, and brother-in-law for dinner on Sunday.

Before and after of the
promised crackers
grandson, granddaughter, brother, brother-in-law
(camera shy) and sister

Monday was the real treat for my grand kids.  I took them to do their Christmas shopping after we met my friend for a breakfast out.  This involved them missing a school day (bad former teacher!) and having to go to the University Mall.

They picked out presents for their mom.  I gave them each twenty dollars to buy a gift for the other.  Kristen was a little (or maybe alot) unsure abut Dane picking a good gift for her, but I was super impressed with the job he did.

He really looked and considered his options, clutching the $20 in his hand the whole time.  We went by Sephora in the middle of the JCPenney store.  He announced we were going to look in there because it was "the girliest place in the whole mall!"  A young salesgirl came up and asked if she could help.  She saw the money and asked Dane if that was his budget, then took him around making suggestions.  He kept track of prices and made his selections with great confidence.  He got his purchase gift wrapped.  It was so cute and I think his Sissy will be more than happy on Christmas morning.

Since their mom had to work, I drove them all the way home, 150 mile round trip.  I got home at 7 p.m. and had to clean the house before leaving so that 3:15 wake-up alarm was pretty darn rude.  But it was a fun weekend for sure.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Good-byes

I am making the rounds of good-byes to Vermont family and friends as I try to keep up with the details of getting ready for my snowbird flight to the southern clime.

Details include:
-notify the post office about mail forwarding (seems like I just did that.  oh, I did!)

-notify the bank and credit card company about travel plans

-arrange ride to airport

-are the bills paid for the month now?

-get some cash for travel

-make sure I have all the things I need to pack in my carry-on bag--computer, phone, chargers, my tax records, medications, my checkbook and credit cards

I do have a complete household in Florida so I really don't have to bring much, but the small list still contains some important stuff I wouldn't want to be without.  My son will be here at the Vermont place through the winter months so that takes some worry off my plate.  Although I did wonder about hiring someone to come in and dust and water plants once a month.

I have been doing this for ten years now.  Why do I always feel so frantic about it?

It is bittersweet.  I will miss family and friends here, but I also look forward to friends in Florida and those from home who will visit while I am there.  I really have a blessed life.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Crackers

My grandkids are coming for the weekend.  My daughter is being driven crazy by my grandson.  First he was devastated about my selling the house--where I had lived for his whole life.  Now he is wanting to move in with me (and prevent me from going to Florida which is too far away!).

I had already planned to have the brother who lives nearby and my sister and her husband for dinner on Sunday.  It will be a full house.

I have not decorated for Christmas so I thought the kids and I would spend some time viewing decorated places.  We have no snow yet, but lighted shops and houses look festive at night all the same.  And I got the idea to visit a nearby garden center from Linda Reeder.



For the dinner, I thought I would get the traditional British crackers to set at each place setting and add a bit of holiday spirit.  I was reading about the crackers and found that a party hat, a joke, and a sweet are included in a traditional one.  I may reconsider that plan after reading some of the jokes.

I also found instructions for making DIY crackers.  Way, way funnier than any of the jokes!  I am still laughing.  It may be way more impersonal, but I do know where I can buy crackers ready made and I can make that an errand to do with the kids as we check out Christmas decorations in town.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Another peek inside the new place

Kitchen

Downstairs powder room

Dining room (painting by my mom)


My bedroom



Living room

I have put up some curtains and will do decorating of living room and spare bedroom next summer.  It is cozy but bright and I am enjoying the new place.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Worth a Read

The title is "I have Nothing New to Say," and you can read it here.  I urge you to do so.

The blog author knows better than most the terror of a shooting.  She was wounded during the assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords in 2011 in Arizona.  Her young companion on that day was killed.

She has nothing new to say and I having nothing to add--except that this message needs to spread and be heard.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sheets

It is no secret that I have a bit of a thing about bed sheets.

When Mike and I rented places for the winter in Venice, Florida, I would usually last about 90 minutes before I was refolding all the sheets in the rental linen closets.  I would tell myself upon arrival that this was a compulsive behavior that I should conquer.  I would tell myself I would just fold sheets properly as I changed and washed them.  I would tell myself there were far better things to do with my time.  It never worked.   I always broke down and refolded the sheets and pillow cases.

There's an advantage to having my own place...I know the sheets will be fine upon my Florida arrival.

But I don't call myself obsessive.

Alphabetizing books, CDs, spices--that's only common sense. The sheet thing is just a kind of tic.

I am thinking about this now because I was helping my friend Ginnie with laundry last week.  Now, Ginnie is a perfectionist about many things...folding fitted sheets apparently is not one of those things though.

Gin, I hope I didn't offend you by grabbing that pathetic, rolled up sheet out of your hands.  I couldn't help myself.

And here is a video of how it is done:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Merry and Bright...

My grandson spent the weekend.  He had been so upset about my selling the house and downsizing.  I think he was maybe imagining one of those teeny, tiny houses that are built on a trailer bed.  He was amazed and pleased when he walked through my door on Thanksgiving and he said a number of times that he really liked my new home.

Now he is upset that I will be going to Florida.

It's not that I spoil him or anything like that, but we do have fun together.

There was a tree lighting in downtown Burlington on Friday night.  We went to see the decorations on Saturday night.

The tree is at the head of Church Street.  There is plenty of room underneath it for kids to run in a circle under the lights and that was an extremely popular activity.  It was a good way to stay warm because there was a definite chill in the air.

The rest of the street was beginning to glow and light up as well.   It was dark within a few minutes of my taking these pictures and the street did have a kind of magical glow.

A young man was playing Christmas carols on a violin.  It added to the evening's ambiance.  Dane ran to put a dollar in the violin case.  We turned down a side street to go back to the parked car and noticed a couple of homeless men -- one pushing a grocery cart full of his belongings and one huddled in a shop doorway.  It was heart breaking, but also made me just a touch nervous.

"Grandma, can we give them something?"  Heart breaking that everyone doesn't have the compassion of an 8 year old.

Friday, November 27, 2015

After the Feast

My daughter and grandson 
 curled up by the fire.
Granddaughter looked up from her iPhone.

Grandson restrains himself from diving face first into a special treat--
A chocolate cream pie that my friend Ginnie bought for him.


On Friday, Dane and I took a walk down by the Lake Champlain waterfront.  He stopped to do a search for Champ, the lake monster.

Champ was not in evidence, but we did spy some mallard ducks a little later.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving History Lesson(s)

 Here is a bit of history about this week's coming holiday--Black Friday!

Oh, no!  I mean Thanksgiving. Although if you watch the video, you will learn of a move by FDR to connect the day of thanks with an opportunity to do your Christmas shopping.

Apologies about the ads, but hey, it is the holidays.  We are all used to them.

I like the kids' interpretations of the first Thanksgiving here.

Hope everyone has a happy day.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Confessing What I Know

Oprah used to have this thing about "what I know for sure" (and maybe she still does?).  It made my uncomfortable.  I never feel that I know much of anything for sure. But certain things do seem clear to me.

And having the news on most of the day for a few days has me convinced that those who think they know for sure are misguided and dangerous.

And I am not just talking about the terrorists and the threat they pose to the world.

I am not a Christian.  My personal religious symbol is a question mark.  Still, it is clear to me that this is my country too.  I was born and raised here, as were my parents.  Before that, not so much.  I guess there are those, some of whom are running for president of our country, who would say for sure I should pack my bag and leave.

I am not strictly an atheist.  I don't believe in an all-powerful God, but I do believe in something, akin to a spirit of Godness in the universe.  I guess those who do know for sure would say, "She is totally an atheist!"

I do understand that what I think and feel and experience in life has been shaped my soul's journey.  I don't know for sure, but I do believe with all my heart, that we are all here for a reason.  And I am hoping with all my heart that that reason is evolution toward peace--the Garden of Eden story in reverse.

Obviously, sadly, we have a long way to go.

Doesn't history demonstrate over and over that to fight hatred and evil with hatred and evil only means that hatred and evil will always win?

So what I know is not very much...but I will continue to treat people with compassion and kindness in the hope that the pool of love and compassion will grow.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Peek

I took some snapshots of the outside of my new home.

The front and the back:



The end unit side:

And as I enter the main drive:

It was a gorgeous day last week when I took these, although the morning had been heavily frosty.  I took a walk in the new neighborhood and spotted this bit of color from yellow crab apples still clinging to the tree near the river:

Friday, November 13, 2015

That Time

It wants to be November today.  The winds is blowing and it is a wet, raw wind.

The lights are on because it is dark already--4:20 p.m. as I write.  It is that drawing in time, get into warm pajamas as soon as it is dark time, eat hot soup time, wrap up in a soft throw and sip cocoa time, read a good book time.

It's also get ready for the transition to Florida time.

I gave myself a treat today.  My friend Ginnie of the broken pelvis wanted to get her nails done so I offered to drive her--and, hey, while I am waiting why not get my toenails done too.
Beach ready!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Settled In.

I am pretty much settled in for the time being.  There are a few things I want to do, but they will wait until the spring.  First of all, I will be heading to Florida in mid December so I have to get Christmas done before then.  Second, my son will stay here for the winter and I will have to wait until he moves into his own place in the spring before I can tackle furnishing the spare bedroom and the living room.

But for now, my space is the way I want it.  I think it kind of scream ME.

My craft room work table


My toys


This space was a selling point--a bonus room that is only available on end units.
And above this room is a storage room--something I very much needed even with all the downsizing.



Well, I needed to store what eventually will go into the spare bedroom and a space to tuck away cleaning supplies.

So, there is the first peek at my new place.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Trial of Moving

You have seen them, right?  Those ads about someone about to move and all his/her friends have excuses about why they cannot be around to help.  Then the person moving calls Comcast--"No Problem!"  Easy peasy.

 Well, I gave Comcast advance warning that I would be moving and they did indeed say, "No Problem!  Just give us a call closer to the actual move date and you will have to be given a new phone number."

So the day after I moved I went to Comcast.  The woman who helped me said it would be easiest to close the old account and take new, updated equipment on a new account.  She gave me a new phone number and a big bag of equipment and told me to return the old stuff at my convenience. 

Oh, but in order to open the new account I needed to give a phone number.  Well my new number is not activated.  That's okay.  Give us your cell number.  And off I go.  My son and I hooked up the new modem and cable box.  No problem... until we actually tried to a) watch something on television, b) connect to the internet, and c) use the phone.

We did get a tv message saying I needed to call 1-800-XXXX.  I did.  Using my cell phone, the number that is on my Comcast account for Florida as well as, at the time, my new place.  The automated voice recognized my Florida address and asked if that was the account I was call about.  I said no, it was not.

I was connected to support and led through a number of options to try, none of which worked.  I finally said that I needed someone to come to my home and troubleshoot this situation.  This was last Sunday.  The kindly voice set up tech support for Tuesday between 5 and 7.  So at 6 p.m. on Tuesday I get a call asking me why I was not answering my door since I had scheduled tech support.  I said, well funny thing is I am standing here at my door waiting for said tech support and no one is ringing my doorbell.

Yes.  The tech support was knocking on my door in Florida.

I went to the Comcast office on Wednesday morning.  I was not a happy camper.
I gave them the sad tale of woe and tried to give them the new equipment back.  No, no, that is good.  We will set up tech support here in Vermont for sure this time.  Can you be there tomorrow morning between 8 and 10?  (No, because I was having my colonoscopy at that time.)  Well, then, we can send some one on Sunday morning.

A tech came on Sunday morning.  He found that the external wire was split and needed to be replaced.  He set up the television and said everything should be ready to go.  Fine...except I still could not get online and access voice mail.  Another call the Comcast.

The first call was cut off.

Yet another call to Comcast.  Finally all was straightened out and resolved.  

At least I am hoping.

Addendum:
NOPE. Could not get onto my home wifi this morning.  Another call...reset the modem.  That did not work.  Call of the day #2...The guy was flummoxed by my description of the problems I was having so I was sent to a secret number for wireless support.  The transfer went awry.  Call #3...during which my wifi password was changed, I had to restart the computer, the xfinity hotspot had to be disabled.

I will only say for this particular moment every thing seems to be working as expected.

I am wondering what I will get for my frequent caller points?  In spite of the fact that I had no service for nine days, my bill is for the full month of services.  I think I may have to chat with them about that later today.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bits and Pieces

 This picture was snapped in the grocery store on October 13.  Obviously, it is never too early to stock up on your holiday tissue.

I had some of my daughters dolls that were not going to make yet another move with me and she was thrilled to be reunited with her first children, Nellie Maude and Raphael Milton.  Skateboarder Dane, being an 8 year old boy, was amused by the little cabbage patch butt.

Speaking of which...I have a perfectly healthy colon and I got hours and hours of delicious sleep.  My son dropped me off at the hospital and my friend and now former neighbor picked me up.  The only thing I felt was the IV going in.  I have to say that a colonoscopy is a much faster cleanse that the Ayurvedic.

A former middle school student was the receptionist on gastroenterology--so nice to see former students who are happily successful at doing something in the field where they had an early interest.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Apologies for MIA

Wow, the moving thing is A LOT OF WORK.  I have not been good about getting around to reading blogs, let alone commenting.  I barely remember to eat and brush my teeth lately.
The end is in sight though and I am feeling happy with the way the new place is shaping up.  I expect to be really settled by the weekend.
I am taking an unpleasant break from unpacking now, though.  Colonoscopy tomorrow so I am otherwise occupied.  The fun just never stops.
BTW, have you seen those commercials about how easy it is to move when you have Comcast.  Well, don't believe them for a second.  But that's another blog topic entirely.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Giddy

I am SO exhausted.  I can't even think straight.  But because I am so tired I have been having giggling fits as I survey this scene:


Consider it the the "Before."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

SAD

The movers are here and the truck is filling up.  I haven't wasted a moment feeling sad about the impending move until today When all of a sudden the enormity hit me.

My neighbor came by for a hug.  I said  good-bye to my mailman of so many years.  The house is nearly empty now.  I am having a moment of nostalgia after being flat out busy for the past couple of months.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wrapping Up My Ayurvedic Cleanse

I have finished my ayurvedic cleanse.

I thought, when I started two weeks ago, that the first thing I would do upon completion is make a pot of coffee.  I chose to have detox herbal tea yesterday.  I made a pot of coffee this morning and had one sip before letting it grow cold and dumping it down the drain.  OMG! What if that happens with wine too??

It was a great exercise in mindful eating.  I have to confess that I get in the habit of completely mindless snacking as the weather starts to cool down and the days get shorter.  What shall I do now?  Oh, well, why not have a bag of chips while I think about it? Hmm, no, that didn't do it.  Maybe I need a brownie.  And the stress of an impending move did nothing to help out the situation.

I feel really well now.  My cranky skin has cleared up completely, and my energy is back.  I get a little achy in my back from lifting and moving packed boxes down to the garage, but I few minutes of yoga and I am good again.

So I have changed my perceptions of food.  I am not eliminating anything from my diet, but if I choose to have coffee or a cookie, I will enjoy it at the time and think of it as a treat rather than as a necessity.  I will be more aware of why I choose the foods I am choosing and try to be aware of the need I am attempting to satisfy in doing so.  I generally eat healthy meals so I know I am not snacking out of genuine hunger.

I am more convinced than ever that whole foods and organic is the way to go. Of course, these days, organic isn't good enough--it has to be biodynamic.  Nutrition is so much work!



TMI alert.  Continue reading at your own risk.  Part of the cleanse was the suggestion to use a tongue scraper in the morning.  I have sometimes (rarely) brushed my tongue with my tooth brush, but I had to go out and buy a tongue scraper.  Let me tell you this is a thoroughly disgusting activity.  I was both amazed and appalled at the gunk that scrapes off my tongue.  It is so disgusting that I can't stop doing it.  The thought of swallowing the stuff with my breakfast is too much.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Down to the wire now...

By this time next week I may not be settled but I will, at least, be residing in my new home.  I was in a panic this morning about getting rid of some large and unwanted items.  Well, things fall into place.  My son knew a woman at work who wanted a new bureau and the ReStore in Burlington called this morning to say they could come on Wednesday and pick up the rest of it.

An auction house is coming tomorrow to take away some of the large and more valuable items that I do not have room for.

I will take some items that Amy wanted to her on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the movers are coming to empty out the house.  Kevin and I will go out for dinner and sleep in sleeping bags that night.

Friday I will start UNpacking.

I expect my normal life will be quite on hold for the week.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Conversations With My Grand Son

My grand son did not have school on Friday and he wanted to come for a visit with grandma.  My daughter went to his parent-teacher conference on Thursday.  He is doing very well in third grade.  He has rather amazing math skills.  He wanted to tell me all about it.  He said, "And there was some not so good stuff in there, too."

"Behavior stuff, like not paying attention sometimes and being a bit silly?" I asked.

"Yeah."

"Well, you are getting your work done and it's good work too so don't worry too much."

***

After my friend picked on me for doing a cleanse, I asked at dinner time, "So, do you think I am crazy for eating this cleanse food?"

He made a thoughtful face. "Yes, actually I think a cleanse is crazy...But I'm a kid!  You're a grown-up.  I say go for it!"

***
On the way back to his home, he commented, "Grandma, you have your seatbelt on.  That's good.  Do you always wear your seat belt in the car?"

"Yes."

"I do too. but some adults don't.  I am glad you are safe."

Maybe he was worried about saying the cleanse was crazy because then he said,
"I really love you.  I am glad you do things that are so healthy."

I would have given him such a big hug just then, but I was driving so it was not safe to do so.  But that guy just warms my heart.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Another Job Checked Off

I hired a company to dig up my underground fuel tank and they were supposed to come on October 8.  Unfortunately, there was a train wreck in central Vermont and they were called in to help with that clean up.  I had to wait.

Well, they were able to come last Wednesday.  It wasn't a beautiful day.  They got rained on.  (But at least it wasn't snow, which we had on Sunday!)



The tank was rusty looking, but there were no leaks and no soil contamination, for which I am especially grateful.