Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Good Bye to 2017

In lots of ways, certainly not the best of years.

It started off with a flurry of knitting -- pink  hats to wear to the Women's March in January.
My family was represented in Washington, D.C.,  Montpelier, VT, and Sarasota, FL.
A knit hat didn't last so long in FL though.

Eventually, I tried to ignore politics and news generally --  although I am ready for action should Mueller be fired.  So that didn't work out so well.  Also I keep up interest in Move to Amend, working for an overturn of the Supreme Court determination that corporations enjoy the protections of individuals.  A corporation is not a person IMHO.


I took some watercolor painting lessons



I volunteered at Instride Equestrian-Assisted Therapy during the winter months in Florida again.  I work in the literacy program which is built around the life and times of this guy, Little Red:


He was looking particularly handsome this day.



 In VT summer months, I took in a couple of Vermont Lake Monster ball games with my grandchildren.

 It was at one of the games that I started coming down with symptoms of Lyme's disease. Fortunately I got prompt treatment. 

My friend Diane visited me in FL in February and I visited her in New Hampshire in August.

We visited the Ringling Museum



and relaxed at her cottage.
We also walked, biked, talked and talked, ate well, and laughed and cried together.



I finished three quilts:
for my brother's new granddaughter
for my step grandson's new son

and for my sister (completing a quilt top that my mother had started years ago).

I amused myself with various other crafts.

Origami chickens I took to Easter dinner at a friend's.

I get together each mont with a group of card making friends.
I get together with painting class friends and one  us hooked on Zen doodles.


we also painted.



I don't have pictures of my reading and writing groups, but they are probably the most precious.  I have three wonderful women I meet with to discuss writing here in VT.  I belong to a poetry group in FL.  Deep friendships have come out of both these groups.  I also started, recently, attending some Burlington Writers' Workshops.  Some day I will get serious about this writing thing!



I leased a new car.


Considerably less fun was a new roof I had done at my Florida home.  I do not complain.  Who would listen when I have the luxury of two homes? Seriously . . . I am most grateful for a full life.


I went to Florida in October to take care of some Hurricane Irma related things, but mostly just had  party time with friends there.



And then back to Vermont for holidays with friends and family here. 
My daughter's and grandkids' tree.




AND

WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW

YES,

I started dating with fear and trepidation  in 2017.
Late this past summer I met a nice man who quickly became a person of interest.

So I am still in Vermont even though it looks like this outside my back door:



Of course, I do plan on going to Florida (January 9).  
I can't change my life completely after all!

But I do look forward to what 2018 might bring.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Ho Ho Ho

A very happy Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

On Readiness and School Expereinces

So one of my friends asked me if I had more shopping to do and when I told her I was all set, she called me a bad word.

I am just not now, nor I have I ever been, a person who can work under pressure.  It's not something I feel any superiority about.  Quite the opposite.  I cannot work under pressure at all.  It's not a good thing.

I was the student who always had papers completed a week before the deadline.  If I didn't have it done in that timeframe, I would be unable to do it at all.  One time I had a research paper due for an audiology course.  The topic was Meniere's Disease. Life circumstances were conspiring against me at the time and I finished that paper that the day before it was due -- all except the bibliography.  Do you think I could sit down and whip out that bibliography?  No I could not.  I just. Could. Not.  The professor was not at all impressed and I got quite the dressing down for my lack of time management.

In high school we were assigned a research term paper in chemistry class.  I did a paper on plastics manufacturing.  I researched like crazy, including writing to various manufacturers who sent me information and different samples.  I had a stack of notes on index cards, footnotes on every page, and a quite impressive (and completed) bibliography of sources.  I got an A on that paper and a positive comment from the teacher (Miss Lemon).  However, there was another student in the class who also received an A and positive comment in class.  That girl had written the entire paper the night before, almost entirely plagiarizing form a World Book Encyclopedia.  I partly felt all my efforts had been mocked, but I also had a certain amount of secret admiration that anyone could pull that off.  I would have had a complete and total nervous breakdown if I woke up one morning and had the thought, "Oh, crap!  I have a deadline tomorrow."  At the very least I would have stayed in bed for the day and probably for the whole week.

I know that for a fact because it is exactly what I did once in fifth grade when I didn't complete an assignment on a visual display different kinds of leaves because we didn't have scotch tape in the house and therefore could not come up with any other plan of displaying leaves.

I am not a person one wants around in the event of a crisis requiring thinking on one's feet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ready

Okay.  My Christmas present shopping is done.  And wrapped.  And ready to go.

Half of my cards are out and the remaining will be getting stamped tomorrow and then they will be on their way.

My Christmas decorations are out.  Meals are planned.  Get togethers are on my calendar.

There is snow on the ground.

I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready!

Not that I'm wishing time away ...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Winter Pros and Cons

There are some good things about winter, even I will have to admit.


  • A bowl of warm soup is good thing.  Personally, I would eat soup in any season, but there are those who think it is only for cold weather and they look at you funny if you serve them a steamy mug of squash soup on a hot day.
  • Holiday decorations, especially lights, add a festive touch on dark nights.  I do not go all out with the decorations myself but I do like to take a ride around town and see the places that do.
  • Some days are so bad I am forced to stay in no matter what I think needs my attention in the outside world.  I can just be appreciative that I have warm shelter and some soup on the stove.
  • Baking.  Again, not something I do a lot of myself -- but how very nice to be thought of by those who do.  When I do feel the urge to bake, there is the fragrance and the warmth from the oven.
  • Flannel sheets on the bed -- especially now that I have a sweet gentleman friend who sometimes slips between those sheets with me.

On the other hand:
google image

  • It's dark all the time (well, most of the time)
  • It's cold and often slippery.
  • Wind chill winds.
  • Winter clothes -- heavy socks, long underwear, thick sweaters, jackets and coats, gloves or mittens, hats and scarves.  Boots. Who enjoys being so weighted down? These things are bulky and itchy and they constantly get in the way.
  • Christmas music, which started playing on one local radio station on the first of NOVEMBER.  Christmas music played on Christmas Eve is quite enough as far as I am concerned.
  • Crowded stores and long lines of traffic on the streets and all the associated crankiness.
  • Discussions about "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays."
  • Flu shots.  Or the flu.
  • Slush and wet feet.
  • Slush and slush covered cars, inside and out.
  • Static electricity.
  • Missing loved ones no longer with us.


Perhaps you can see which way the scales are tipped for me.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Suggested Holiday Schedule

Note: This schedule is not of my devising (obviously), but something I found in a Better Homes and Gardens article.

1. Pick a theme.
Not just it's Christmas -- that's not theme enough.  What is the color scheme?  Modern or nostalgic?  So many options!  Just don't get caught being so last year.

2. Craft your wreath.
Remember that if you forego the traditional greens and red ribbon you can have something that spans Thanksgiving (provided you plan ahead) through New Years.  In any case, be sure your wreaths coordinate with your chosen theme!

3.  Make candles.
Why make your own? Really, you have to ask?  Do you want to be steeped in the spirit of the season or not?

4.  Sew the stockings.
I suppose you could also knit them?  It's all about the theme (see #1).  Or take this opportunity to jump outside the theme box a bit and personalize stockings for each member of the family according to his her special intersts.

5.  Put up the out door lights.

6.  Add other outdoor decor.
Both #5 and #6 should be done with utmost taste and style.  We are not talking a yard full of plastic inflatables here.  Think topiaries, garlands, maybe icicles.

7.  Start indoor decoration.
You'll know you are on the right track if you have allowed at least five full days for this activity.  If you have special collections and treasured ornaments, now is the time to work them into your overall decoration theme.  Their should always be a touch of nostalgia to add warmth and a sense of tradition.  Keep in mind that Christmas or any other holiday does not just occur in the living room.

8.  Start the Advent Calendar.
This official countdown to Christmas day starts on December first.  [You can, of course, purchase an Advent calendar, but so much more fun to make your own with the help of small children.]  Here's a homemade Advent tree made with  wooden dowels and walnuts:

9.  Put up an artificial tree.
You are in the mood for the tree but you know it won't last from Thanksgiving to Christmas, let alone New Year's.

10.  Cut a real tree.
Two weeks before the big day venture out with ax and saw to cut your own tree.  Bypass the gas station stands.  Who knows when those trees were cut?  Frozen fingers and toes, wind chapped face, and probably the need for a stitch or two at a nearby ER, all enhance the true spirit of the holiday.

11.  Decorate the tree.
Make sure the lights are in working order.  Load on the theme specific decorations.  There are those who like more than one tree -- a tree in every room.  
[I personally suspect these people overly nostalgic and too attached to every single tree decoration ever crafted by their children and grandchildren (hoarders), but then who am I to judge?]

12.  Use extra decorations.
Decorations that don't fit on the tree can be used elsewhere.  Arrange in bowls and around candle holders.

13.  Put out the poinsettias and the mistletoe.
Support your local plant nursery and add another layer of festivity. Pay homage to the classics.

14.  Dress up the dining table.
Add a festive tablecloth and themed table runners.  Set out the candles, greenery, bowls of fruits and nuts.

15.  Do a house walk through.
Take a look all though the house.  Are there spots bare of decoration?  Make the necessary corrections now.

16.  Make your luminaries.
Lighting the path to your door will make holiday guests feel especially welcome.

17.  Light those homemade candles.
We are celebrating the return of the light.

18.  Play carols.

 You can see my reference HERE. 

Well, I don't know about you, but I am exhausted by the very thought.  And I am already sadly behind schedule.

I think I will wait to read up on how Martha Stewart prepares for Christmas and the holidays for some other time.

NOTE: I am sorry that this post has nothing to offer those who may celebrate a holiday other than Christmas, but we are, after all, under executive order to focus on Christmas.  Wanna bet our fearless leader and and self-proclaimed greatest Christian in the history of the world has a theme of gold in each of his residences?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cooking



I think the a big part of cooking successfully is paying attention.  There have been times in my life when I have been really into cooking.  There have also been those times when I am just not that interested and it is easy to get distracted.  Distracted cook = failed dishes.

I remember a time I was in a drug store with my first husband.  I found him looking at greeting cards.  He had one in his hand and his efforts to keep himself from guffawing loudly had his whole body in a kind of concerning tremor.  The card face: I wanted to get you something useful for your birthday. Inside the card: but you already have a smoke detector.

Yeah, so amusing.

I did manage to get through Thanksgiving dinner without burning anything, although the mashed potatoes were not hot enough.  The next day I set of the alarm with burnt toast.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all who celebrate this day the warmth of family and friends around the table.
A toast to your good health and happiness

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Traffic Woes

For all of the past summer there has been ongoing road and utility work all around my immediate neighborhood.  Needless to say, traffic has been a nightmare for months.  One stretch of road was complete between the interstate exit and the left hand turn to access a large shopping center was completed and drivers were raving about the improvement in the traffic flow.

Previously, the two northbound lanes were set up so right hand turns had a designated lane while the other lane was for cars going straight as well as cars turning left.  Cars turning left have to wait for oncoming southbound traffic which means straight through traffic had to wait behind any left tuning vehicles and, as one would imagine, this often resulted in back ups.  The contractors painted the road markings to indicate that the left lane was dedicated for left turns and the right lane was for right turns and straight through.  Makes sense, right?

No.  Vermont Agency of Transportation said this lane change was a mistake on the part of the contractors.  The old configuration was the way the road was designed (for whatever reason) and so that is how it is going to stay.  After three weeks of smooth traffic flow, the lane designations were switched back just in time to frustrate the h#!! out of Christmas shoppers and work day commuters.

I'm from the State Agency of  Transportation and I'm here to help!


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Trip Home

I left Florida for Burlington, Vermont this past Wednesday.  I flew Delta airline which pretty much guarantees a layover in Atlanta.  The layover was quite a long one this time, which is fine with me.  I much prefer having the time I need to get from one gate to the next.

When I got to Atlanta, I looked at the departure board and went to find the gate for my connecting flight.  There were only a few people sitting at that gate so I dropped my bag in one chair and settled into another.  I checked e-mails and read for a bit.  Then I plugged in my earphones and listened to a guided meditation.  I did not fall asleep, but I did slip into a nice, relaxed space in spite of the airport noise.  At the end, I opened my eyes.  The gate area had really filled right up.

I looked around, people watching in my zoned out state.  I could hear lots of Southern accents.  Well, I was in Atlanta.  Most of passengers in waiting were Black and I didn't think anything about that.  There must have been quite a number of Hispanic people as well because in addition to the Southern accents, I heard a lot of Spanish.

I swear it was fifteen minutes before the penny dropped.  This is very unlikely -- a crowd of this particular make-up and of this size particularly going to VT?  In November?   Why am I going to VT in November?  And i live there.  I looked at the Gate display which no longer said flight to BTV but Jackson, Mississippi instead.

I found another departure board.  The Burlington flight had been switched to another, much smaller gate.  Fortunately, it was a gate not too far away.

I went to the new gate and immediately recognized that I had the right one.  I was surrounded with people in plaid flannel shirts and fleece vests, Boston Red Sox caps, running shoes or clogs, and rumpled hair. Yep, this was a crowd clearly bound for Vermont.

I should know by now that flight gates are often switched around in the Atlanta airport.  It's a real trick to be able to meditate in a noisy airport, but probably not the wisest thing to do.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Vacation is Over.

The "Snow Birds" are definitely drifting back to Florida homes.  There are noticeably more people in the stores and the restaurants and the streets.

I will be heading back north soon,  I considered my trip a working vacation.  I had a lot of little projects to get done, but I had a lot of fun things to do as well.  Yesterday there was an art fair downtown.

The main street was closed so artisans could set up shop.


Someone got tired of the family silver and decided to make clocks.


There were lots of colorful offerings.


Paintings and photography, of course.



I just like this plant by one booth.

I doubt that these mailboxes would pass muster with the HOA.
The park was pretty quiet.  I sat here awhile and enjoyed the warmth and a bit of shade on a sunny day.

It doesn't seem much like fall,

but if you go in any of the stores they are all pretty much decked out for Christmas already.

Where does the time go?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween Party

My friends and neighbors, Ken and Annamarie, are very social and hospitable types.  They enjoy going out and they enjoy throwing parties and they are fun people to be around.

I am much less of a party person.  I like to not invite more people than I can comfortably seat around my table and six is pushing it.  I find it nearly painful to mingle at parties and like to find myself a nice almost out of the way spot to sit until most of the crowd has left.

Perhaps their biggest party of the year is the Halloween party they throw.  I arrived on time and enjoyed myself starting around 10 when it was down to the close friends.

There were superheroes, doctors, nurses, a priest and a nun, kittens, witches, skeletons, sexy French maid, hippies, and Ozzie Osborne.  I went as a snowflake.

Lots of people thought it was a cute reference to my Vermont home.  One astute gentleman made the political connection.  Probably just as well.  Parties are not the place for political discourse.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rainy Day


When my daughter was a teenager she and a friend would get up to some very strange antics.  They called them "boredom games."

I have been enjoying some Florida weather and lots of outdoor activities, but then yesterday was rainy.  Not just a passing shower, a steady all afternoon into the night rain.

My first thought was to be happy that I did not have to drag out the hose to water newly installed plants.  My second thought was what will I do with myself stuck inside on a rainy afternoon?

I got out some card making supplies and spent the afternoon coloring, cutting and pasting.



I will donate these sets to St. Francis Consignment Shop which donates all funds from their sales to cat rescues and clinics.

It's good to have hobbies.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Why do they even make these things?

In my travels around the Venice, Florida area I have seen a couple of strange and curious things.

A Cadillac pickup truck.

I am sure it's expensive.  I am sure it is posh to sit inside it.  But why? Why does it even exist? Aren't pickups working vehicles?  How practical does this look?  What kind of person ever feels the need for something like this?  

(If you have one enlighten me, but I think it is just plain wrong.)

And this:

An SUV by Jaguar!!

Again, certainly very expensive and very posh, but it kind of looks like every other SUV on the road. 

If I ever get to own a Jaguar, I for sure want it to be a whole lot sexier looking than this.  If I ever even ever in my life get to just sit in one, I would want it to look a whole lot sexier than this.

(If you have one enlighten me, but I think it is just plain wrong.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Snow Flakes

I am going to a Halloween party.

I am going to wear a white shirt and white pants and go as a snow flake.

So I was at Michael's yesterday and I bought glittery plastic snow flakes to decorate the outfit and make it clearer as to what I am meant to represent.


It did make me wonder why the US price is 3.99 and the Can price is 5.99.  They were made in China.  Is it some kind of indication of the gross unfairness of NAFTA?

Anyway . . .  It was incredibly easy to find snowflakes as all the Christmas decoration are on full display.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Day in The Sun

They say that the unofficial start of Fall in Florida is the day that the daytime temperature drops below 80 degrees.  There are Halloween decorations here and there.  There are piles of pumpkins at the markets.  But it is not Fall, in spite of the Autumnal Equinox and the recent harvest moon.

There has been a great deal of beach erosion since I have been coming to this area.  These kids were enjoying their own little pool though.

I don't suppose brown palm leaves count as call color.

Things are pretty green and tropical looking in town.

Last evening the occupants of the five houses on my immediate corner got together for beer, wine, and snacks.  We sat outside, talking and laughing (trying not to be too rowdy) until eleven p.m.
The temperature did not fall below 80 but there was a most pleasant breeze stirring and we were all happy to have spent another day in our little bit of paradise.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bites

Well, at least these are not tick bites although I never did see what it was that had a feast on my leg.
There are four welts on my leg and two on my big toe.  The whitish areas are just reflection.  I have to conclude that I need to slather on sunscreen and then spray myself with insect repellent before any move to go outside.  I bought some Skeeter Screen at the health food store.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Another Trip

I left my new car behind and flew to Florida.  I was wanting to see for myself what damage vixen Hurricane Irma brought to Venice.  There are still piles of fallen trees and other brush along many streets just waiting for pickup from the county.  There a number of fences down and some of the street signs were crumpled and bent. People who were here say it was scary but it could have been so much worse.

My place has a little bit of water damage -- a spot on the ceiling and the front door frame.  I have a can of Killz Premium ready to apply.  The screen door is a little askew, but I am not having much luck getting anyone to attend to that.  Eventually I will probably just have it replaced. Area handymen are out straight.




Outside, my bougainvillea was sheared off but it is already sending out new shoots.  It's a survivor (aka weed).  The frangipani I thought was uprooted was really not uprooted.  It just was bent over and is blooming away as it reclines on the lawn.

I can't move it.  My neighbors tried to pull it upright but they couldn't move it either.  Good luck finding someone to tend to this in the near future, I suppose.  I think I will take some cuttings and try to root them and just replace this tree entirely as it has gotten quite large.  YouTube shows how it's done.

Other than the aforementioned water stains, things look good inside.



I have yet to take a stroll around the park to check out how others fared, but my immediate neighbors all look to be in good shape.

My heart is definitely going out to those affected by the brunt of hurricanes this season and for those who can only watch as their homes go up in a flash of flames and smoke.