Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moving In

The house we bought came "partially furnished."  This means that there was a furnished master bedroom. spare bedroom, living room, dining area, and all the major appliances.  There was a patio set of table and four chairs and a few decorative items.  But of course we want to make the place our own and then are are the little things we needed to furnish for the kitchen and the stuff of life.

We have a budget and a set of priorities.  We want to be able to cook and clean before we start adding some decorative color.  We wanted to use the one completely empty room for an office/work space.  But we find that we have to be flexible.  Venice, Florida is a good place to score deals at consignment shops and charity resale shops.  They are everywhere.  Some places are like dumpster diving and others are so high end we can't even afford the used stuff.  So we might set out looking for one thing (a bookcase for the office) and come home with something that was slated for a year or two down the road (a better patio set).
This set was used, but very lightly, I would say.  It was really clean and included the two swivel rockers with ottomans, two regular chairs, a dining table and a small table and we got it for merely half our furniture budget.  The guest bedroom goes down the priority list now.  We may have to ask people to bring their own towels.

The place we happened upon that had this set is Pelican Cottage in Osprey, FL.  I have the feeling I will stopping in there again before the house is done.

Fortunately, I found a Bissell vacuum for ten dollars and this cephalon pan for eight at the Venice Goodwill store.  The vacuum is purple, but I was feeling a need for more in the way of color so we picked up this bench for the master bedroom.

And, of course, there is always room to indulge the craftsy side.

You may well ask, "Why glue shells on a paint brush?"  Well, this is handy to have in the car and/or hanging by the door after a trip to the beach (it's only four miles away).  We use it to brush sand off our feet.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Venice, Florida

We arrived at our new home on Saturday afternoon and have been keeping busy getting settled in.  We have contacted Florida Power and Light and signed up with the county Water & Sewer Department.  We have been hitting the resale and consignment shops along with Target and Big Lots, but we are taking our time about making decisions.  Although, some of those decision come fairly easily.  Mike found a Lazy Boy recliner at the Goodwill store that is the exact twin of one that was already in the house.  He has put the new recliner in the office along with his closed captioned enabled TV and is relaxing a bit today.

We looked down our street last night after a rainy day and caught a glimpse of the sunset.

It reflected pink off the fence to the east.

In addition to getting the house itself settled, I noticed that there is some weeding to do out in the yard.

This tree was in the morning shade, so I weeded under that.

I'll have to learn the pruning requirements of the trees and bushes in the yard.
This is a different kind of garden than I am used to.

This bottle bush may not need any pruning.
A spritz of Windex now and then?

I am not in love with this cactus but how will I take it out of there?

I'll have to learn what some of the plants actually are.
This one has wicked looking thorns.

The grapefruit tree is loaded with fruit that should be ripe when are back in the winter.
I wish it were an orange tree.  We maybe eat two grapefruits in a year.
Grapefruit is probably to Florida what zucchini squash is to Vermont.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On the Road Again

The car is just about all packed up.  Mike approaches the job of car loading like some kind of giant jigsaw puzzle and every little nook and cranny has something stuffed into it but nothing interferes with visibility.  We will leave tomorrow morning and arrive in Venice Saturday afternoon.  We plan to be back in Vermont in about three weeks time.  A lot of car travel, but we are kind of excited about spending some time in our own vacation home.  Most of what we are taking this time will stay down there.

I should get a air miles credit card because eventually the car trip will has lost its appeal.  Anybody recommend a good one?

I have a last minute load of laundry to do and I'll give the house a quick dust up, but I am pretty sure Mike is wishing we were on the road already. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Watch Out

I hope everyone in the whole world reads Arkansas Patti's blog, the New Sixty.  She is a woman with an interesting life, an interesting take on life, and a wicked way with spinning out a story.  I just finished reading "The Circle of Life."  Please check it out now.

I was taken with this:

"Then the years pile on and I believe they do not pile on evenly. I think they pile up all on one side, causing our balance to become suspect. "

Safety Yellow ChuteDenivellation

I would almost like to be able to explain my total lack of coordination as another one of the of aging, but, alas, no.  I was simply born with a clumsy gene...a very dominant clumsy gene.

I actually have two vivid memories of my toddler years.  Details were filled in by my parents: we were visiting maternal relatives in Toronto.  I had to go to the bathroom so my mother took me upstairs.  I was old enough to be toilet trained, but young enough and sleepy enough so that my mother felt the need to pick me up at the top of the stairs to carry me back down.  This is the memory part--I get scooped up in my mother's arms and we step down once and then start to roll on down.  That's it.

I also remember being in our house in Olyphant, Pennsylvania (so I was under three years old) and standing at the top of the cellar stairs hearing the washing machine running.  I was calling my mother and stepping down the rather steep stairway.  The filled in detail about that memory is that I landed on my face and broke my nose.

After I broke my nose a second time when I was ice skating at age six, my mother gave me lessons in how to fall without  breaking the fall with my face or my hands.  She was worried about facial disfigurement and broken arms. 

And so is the story of my life.  Spills without thrills.  One spectacular tumble  on the icy drive right in front of my high school school bus stop  even got catalogued in the year book.  Do people remember I might have been valedictorian of our class?  No.  Do they remember I landed on my butt and went sprawling across the ice in front of a bus, books and papers flying everywhere?  Oh, yes, they remember that.

Bicycles, beds, skis, motorcycles, stairs, carpets, tables, chairs, school desks, doorways, level sidewalks, my own feet--I have fallen off, over, into or on all of those.  I wasn't a great basketball player, but I kept the floor dusted and polished when I played.  When I am not falling, I am bumping into.

Now, here's the thing about Arkansas Patti--she can take life's foibles and turn them into uproariously funny vignettes.  I can't.  My lack of grace is just truly sad moving into dangerous.

When Mike was in the hospital last week for his cardioversion, they let me wheel him out in a wheelchair.  Wide hallways--so far, so good.  Whee, ya wanna see how fast we can push this baby?  Ha! Ha!  Then the elevator where others are waiting.  Uh oh.  A door opens and I swing the chair around to pull it back into the down elevator...knocking into a young woman who miraculously managed to stay on her feet...miraculous because she had two prosthetic legs...and she was all apologetic to us...can one feel any smaller??

Friday, September 16, 2011


It's not often that I am ahead of any kind of trend.  I am not even sure that this counts.  I've written about my old Opal Kadette and my yellow VW bug--small cars that got me through the energy crisis and the escalating price of gasoline right on into the 80's (remember--went up to a dollar!).  I was into small, fuel efficient vehicles while others were just rolling their eyes at my toy cars.  I liked small cars--putting up with the lack of room and family loading conveniences for the ease of driving and parking.

So when it was time for the yellow car to go to the car assisted living facility, I bought a Ford Fiesta.  A likeness can be seen on this video if you look quickly--except mine was white.  This was a small car.  Very small.  Another standard transmission, stripped down model, but it definitely got us all where we needed to go.  This was a time when I should have had a minivan, soccer mom kind of vehicle because I spent nearly all of my time chauffeuring kids--not to soccer but to swimming lessons and skiing and gymnastics and piano and baseball and friends' houses and trips to the mall and in between that running to the grocery store for gallons of milk and loaves of bread that I just couldn't seem to keep in the refrigerator/cupboard for more than two hours at a time.

The Fiesta did have one minor quirk.  The windshield wiper motor shorted out every time it rained.  This was an improvement over the Opal that completely stopped all together whenever it got wet, but still quite inconvenient in an area that gets its full share of rain.  After a loooong trip home from my sister's with my two kids, driving through a pouring rain in the dark, I got it fixed.  They replaced the motor and that was that.  I do remember it cost about 120 dollars--about 15 bucks of which was labor charge.  I was worried that it was going to be an expensive car to maintain.  Remember those days?  Struggling on a budget?

The Ford Fiesta disappeared from the American driving scene, but I understand that it has been reintroduced.  I have not run out to get one yet.  I have the soccer mom car now, although I guess it should be called a soccer grandma car.  No kids to transport to various activities unless the grand kids are visiting, but it is packed up full for the trip to Florida.  Maybe when we get the new place all furnished, we'll look at a smaller car.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Birthday Cake

In spite of the signs of autumn all around, nice weather has been hanging on in defiance of the weather forecasters and their dire predictions for frost and chilly rains.  I suppose it won't last for long though.

I made chocolate cake for Mike's birthday.  Let me rephrase that...I made CHOCOLATE cake for Mike's birthday.

Here's how:

  1. Butter a 9" cake pan and line with a circle of parchment paper.  Butter the parchment paper too.
  2. Melt 7 ounces of good quality baking chocolate and 7 ounces of good quality butter over hot water.  I used 4 ounces of unsweetened and 3 ounces of bittersweet.  Or maybe it was the other way 'round, I don't remember exactly anymore.  Stir chocolate and butter together.
  3. Add the chocolate mixture to 1 1/3 cup sugar in a mixing bowl and allow this to cool a bit. Then beat lightly.
  4. Add five large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Stir in 1 (that's one) tablespoon of all purpose flour.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  It will look like chocolate mousse.
  7. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.
  8. The middle may look still moist when it is done, but don't over bake.
  9. It keeps well in the freezer--maybe even slightly improved after a day or two in the freezer.
  10. A slick of frosting, a spoon of whipped cream, or a spoon of ice cream--all superfluous, but a little bit of excess never hurt anyone around here all that much.

Now, here's the thing.  The cake is good and very, very rich.  The recipe is from A Homemade Life.  We had each had a piece on Saturday and I knew that we would have another on Sunday and that took up a third of the cake.  I figured it would be a good idea to wrap up the rest and put it in the freezer--save it for another time the urge for chocolate hits, save ourselves from pigging out on the whole thing in just a couple of days.  I thought I was doing the responsible thing.

So Mike went to get himself a slice of that cake on Sunday.  He found what I had portioned out for the second helping and thought to himself, "Wow, it's almost all gone.  She has really been hitting this cake pretty hard."  He thought I had eaten an entire half of a cake over the day on Sunday!  Honestly!  I'm outraged.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thoughts on 9/11

Today was meant to be a somber day--although I don't really understand why the tenth anniversary is any more significant than the first or the seventh.  It was a tragic event, the bombing of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. We should remember it and especially those who rose as heroes to deal with the crisis and its aftermath.  We should also learn from it and bring the human race to a higher plain.  Since that does not appear to have come close to happening in the past ten years, I do consider it a very somber day indeed.

I don't know if this was planned, but the VT air guard was flying overhead at 8:45 this morning.  Was it a tribute or was it an emergency?  I found it quite disconcerting but when I turned on the television we were all observing a moment of silence (except of course in my sky).

I spent the day in  garden related pursuits.  I tidied up around all the garden beds.  I picked green beans and Italian peppers.  I canned three jars of pickled peppers, froze three bags of green beans, froze two bags of tomato sauce and froze a large bag of peppers.  I dried my winter's supply of rosemary and Greek oregano and packaged that up.

I suppose, and the thought did occur to me at some point, with all the hand wringing and terror alerts that accompanied the news coverage over the past week or so I should really have canned everything.  Frozen food will not be of any help if the electric grid is shut down.

But I am choosing not to live with fears like that.  It's not that I have my head completely in the sand.  I know bad things can and do happen.  I try to be prudent.  But for every day that I can, I will pluck what is good about life just like I plucked green beans off their vine today.

For my lunch today, I tossed red peppers and cherry tomatoes with fresh oregano and olive oil, roasted this in the oven, sprinkled blue cheese on the roasted vegetables and served it on lightly toasted Italian bread.  I don't usually have wine with lunch, but this called for a chilled glass.  Yeah, that's how I want life to be.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy Birthday

Mike's cardioversion went well and he said this morning that he feels great.  Frisky, even.  That is good news even though he really hadn't noticed any symptoms previously.  (I admit that I was concerned at his being a bit out of focus, though.)  He is still hoping that the fist full of  medications he has to take each morning will be reduced.  His doctor said, "We'll wait and see." 

I was reminded when my kids would get frustrated when they were given an answer of "Maybe."

He had more Happy Birthday wishes than ever.  Every single person that interacts with a patient in the hospital asks, "What's your name?  When's your birthday?"  We were out of the hospital by 9:15 AM and he took a good long nap after we had some breakfast.  We'll have his cake tonight, so, in a way, he's getting a prolonged birthday.


There are a number of puff balls growing in the back yard.  This is really a mutant looking one.  I can picture some kind of alien space creature evolving out of this at sun down.  Excuse me while I go lock all the windows and doors.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pictures of Vermont

There are a some photographs of Vermont's recent visit from Irene to see at

There are still a number of schools that have not been able to open because of washed out roads.  The piles of soggy stuff outside people's homes is just heart breaking to me.  Of course, most Vermont towns are located along rivers through mountain valleys but few of us ever thought to purchase flood insurance.  It's a sad situation.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Busy Week Ahead

Labor Day was very rainy--but at least there was not the flooding of the previous weekend.  The weather report for today is "cloudy until midnight, followed by more clouds and possible rain showers."  I had a dentist appointment today (replacing an old filling) and then went shopping.  On Friday, Mike has a doctor's appointment for a cardioinversion to reset his heart rhythm.  Routine.  Nothing to worry about...right??  Friday is his birthday #68.  Delightful way to spend it.  They say he will be done and out of there by 9AM.

In between the week's appointments, the dreary kind of weather has given me some incentive to stay inside and get started on some cleaning.  The cloudy weather and Mike stepping in spilled oil in the garage and then walking through the house gave me incentive.  I have mentioned the carpet cleaning product, Argosheen, before.  It really works.

We are also getting ready for a three week trip to Florida at the end of this month.  We'll spend some time getting to know all about our new winter home and getting that set up and ready for our winter stay.  It's exciting.  We bought a partially furnished place so it will be like Christmas discovering what is there and what we will need to be on the lookout for.  I have started packing some things I know I will just leave there and Mike is getting the car ready for the long drive.

I am planning to take him out for a birthday dinner when we get to Venice.  I picked out Mangiafico to go for my birthday and it was so good, any excuse to go again.  It was not just the best Italian food I ever had.  It was the best food period.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Summer's adieu

Not according to the calendar, but there is something about Labor Day weekend that makes it feel as though summer is making its exit out the back door while fall is knocking on the front.  My sister and brother-in-law were over for supper last night--a summery meal of chicken Cobb salad, fresh green beans, tomatoes and corn on the cob served on the deck.  Still, it was dark by the time we got to dessert.
We had finally heard from our brother who lives in a town that was particularly hard hit by Hurricane Irene.  He lives near a mountain stream besides.  The were without electricity and the yard was flooded, but house, barn and animals were all safe.
It was very sad to ride into town the other day and see the damage that has been done.  The next town, the one where I grew up, actually, was hit hard and it seems like everything is just covered with river silt.  My husband's old shop was flooded with four feet of water.  State offices in another town were flooded and so services and emergency response abilities were affected as well.
I don't know enough of the science to understand if this is a hundred-year weather cycle or part of man-made global warming.  I do know that lots of people have asked--about our property in Florida--"Aren't you afraid of hurricanes?"  No body really ever thought to ask that about life in Vermont before.

For those who commented on my last post...I took the Lake George trip the week before the hurricane and actually was blissfully unaware of Irene's existence until we got back on the Thursday before it hit.

And I do think that they appreciated the vacation.  They are polite and thanked me during and after.  Once in a while one or the other of them would say, "You are the best grandma in the whole world."  That is thanks enough for me.