Friday, November 29, 2013

Post Thanksgiving

I am hoping that everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving.

I made the trip to Connecticut on Thursday morning.  The first 60 miles or so were slushy and I was glad I had those studded snow tires.  Then the rest of the way was clear and dry and I had to listen to the thunk-thunking of the studs.

The table may have been diminished in terms of place settings and attempts at toasts were teary, but the room was crowded with the spirits of those we love.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

That Busy TIme of Year

Really, what was I thinking?  Taking on a big kitchen cabinet project just as the holiday season shifts into gear was a moment of insanity.

Sunday I made pie crust and went to a poetry workshop and then a reading. Monday I helped my son with a car loan application, went to my "Welcome to the Wonderful World of Medicare" wellness visit, did my volunteer thing at the library, and then had writing group.  Tuesday was do a load of laundry, go grocery shopping, go to the poetry group meeting, then work on finishing up the grand kid's advent baskets.

I am making all the little bags and boxes and filling them with little treats.  Some of the treats are dollar bills that I folded into rings, butterflies, little elf shoes, and bow ties.  (Pinterest is a dangerous place, a slippery slope.  Why, oh why do I fritter my time playing there?)  I need this to be ready for this weekend.

Tomorrow I will need to put together the pies and bake.  I had thought about heading to Connecticut in the afternoon, but the weather seems to be telling me that is not going to happen.  I bought rolls at the market instead of making them as I had planned.  I small dose of reality hit me beside the head and I had a brief moment of clarity--all to fleeting.  I do hope we do not get the nasty weather, or at least that it will be over with by Thursday morning if it does hit tomorrow.

Now there's the buzzer from the dryer.   I have to go fold.  Good grief.  It looks as though the kitchen will be a torn apart mess for a bit longer than I had planned.

Well, I really am hoping to make it to Connecticut.  If not, the Heberts will have no pie and I will have too much.  Pie and wine would have to be my big meal. Hmmm.  Is that a bad thing?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Light oak cabinets are so the 90's. So I am staining them with Java gel. Why I start these projects is beyond me. I wish someone would save me from myself!

I posted this on my Facebook page yesterday.  It was day #2 of my project.  All the cabinets are washed and lightly sanded and about a third of the them have the first coat of the new stain on.  This should take me at least two weeks to complete.  This of course means two weeks of major mess and disruption.  I am trying my hardest to pace myself because if I keep pushing, I will end up with a mess.  
I am trying to "enjoy" the process.  That was the advice from my major handy-with-home-decoration neighbor.

My plan is to repaint the kitchen and the bathroom when the cabinets are finished.  We shall see how long the steam lasts.

I really have been wanting to update the kitchen in a minor way for some time.  And, although I have painted both the kitchen and bath fairly recently, I have never been happy with my color choices.  

The wind is howling outside today.  I do have to go out later, but right now I am kind of happy to have a project that is keeping me inside but busy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Vermont Reading Series

That Vermont is home to more writers per capita than any other state in the nation is a testament not only to the natural beauty of our surroundings and the possibilities for solitude and contemplation, but also to the great traditions and institutions that support our literary artists when the time comes to share their work.  from: New England        Review, Vermont Reading Series handout, November 21, 2013 

We had a literary outing, the women in the writing group I attend.  We drove to Middlebury, VT, and spent time browsing the Vermont Book Shop, one of those small, independent book shops like I remember from the old days.  (Owning a store like that has always been a part of my fantasy life.)  I did a bit of Christmas shopping.  We went out for pizza at American Flatbread which is in the Old Marble Works district.

The hostess asked if we wanted to be seated next to the large brick fired oven.
Now why would anyone ask such a question of three menopausal-age women?
We sat away from the oven, but within view of it, and had a delicious supper.

Then on to the impetus for our field trip--a nonfiction reading hosted by the New England Review that included Jessica Hendry Nelson, Christopher Shaw, John Elder, and Julia Alvarez.

The venue, Carol's Hungry Mind Cafe,  cozy and standing-room-only, was perfect.

Sometimes, at this time of year when it is dark so early, it can be difficult to roust one's self out of the house for an evening--making it all the more important to do so.  I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I wonder if it is just me or is it really different to cook for one?

I mean, I have been cooking for two for the past twenty plus years.  How different should it be to cook for one less?

I had supper with my friend Ginnie last Sunday night and she confirmed that it does seem harder to cook for one.  She said that she wastes a lot of food that she buys with good intentions but ends up leaving in the refrigerator too long.  I think that has a lot to do with the fact that she is still working.  I can remember the nights I would come home from work too tired to cook.  We would have sandwiches or Mike would suggest taking me out.

We cut way, way back on the eating out in retirement.  Mike got more involved in cooking too.

And people seem concerned about someone newly faced with cooking for herself alone.  I have been asked often in the past few months, "Are you eating?"  The answer to that is certainly, yes.  I do like to eat.  And I like to eat "healthy" so I eschew most packaged and processed food.  I keep frozen broccoli and spinach on hand, canned tomatoes, and cartons of vegetable or chicken stock (mostly reduced sodium).  That is not new.

Here are the major difference I am noticing:

1.  I shop less often.  I do not run out to the store to get the special bread that would compliment my meal so nicely.  I eat the bread I have and think about getting the special bread for the next week.

2.   I spend less money.  That is a function of not shopping as much--reduces the impulse buys if you are not in the store--and buying less.  I used to buy a variety of fruits and vegetables for the week.  Now I buy one or two vegetables that I use in different ways through the week.  I do not eat any where near the amount of fruit that Mike did so I don't buy too much of that at all.

3.   I eat way less meat and way more grain and bean dishes with vegetables.  That is a good thing for me.

4.  I eat a less varied diet.  If I cook brown rice and I bought carrots, they are going to show up in several meals over the week's time.

5.  Paradoxically, I eat a more varied diet in the sense that I choose a much wider variety of vegetables than Mike would ever eat.  I experiment with recipes more.

6.  In spite of the pared down shopping, I do less planning.  Mike liked to eat, but he was also kind of fussy and he wanted to know what we were going to have ahead of time (sometimes so he could plan on making himself a hot dog instead).  I know what I have on hand, but I can be creative about how to use that and at the end of the week there is soup--very creative soup.

7.  I don't linger over a meal with conversation and a glass of wine.  That is not such a good thing.  Although, God knows, I do tend to yabber on to Mike.  Out loud.  Crazy alert.  But believe me, he does have a way of answering when I really need him to.

Now having said that, I did have a meal and a glass of wine with Ginnie on Sunday.  My son was here for dinner tonight.  No wine, but we had chicken enchiladas and chocolate chip cookies that Ginnie sent home with me all ready to pop into the oven.   I made a broccoli slaw and there was plenty of conversation.

I am still sad, but I do not feel sorry for myself.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Where does the time go?  It is so elusive.

I don't have that much to do and I can not fit it all into a typical day.  I am pretty sure that I did not even brush my hair today.  I did shower, brush teeth, and floss though.  It was cold so I wore a hat when I had to go out.  So even if I did brush my hair, it would not look it.

It was also so cold that I don't have the outside work to do.  So why can't I get through my "to do" list?

I swear that fewer day light hours means that there really is less time.  Scientist should really look into this.  Twenty-four hours is not a fixed quantity.

Maybe it is because I am continually tricked into thinking it is time for bed, it's so dark, only to realize it's not even 6 p.m. yet.

Maybe it is just that time of year.  Some people love the increasing darkness, the cold, and the gathering in for a time of introspection.

Yeah, I can be introspective enough in the day light.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Why I Love My Sewing Machine

I was in the mood for some sewing and I had some fabric stashed away.  Go figure.  (from Pinterest: No, doctor, it is not a hoarding disorder.  It's my fabric stash.)

As the machine hummed along, I considered how much I love my NECCHI.

It has a cutting and edge stitch capability that gives a nice finished edge to seams.

It does buttonholes with no guessing.

And it makes it so much easier to put the buttons on neatly.

Of curse the cutting step generates a great deal of lint and that requires a good cleaning after its use.

You can see that the dust and lint could build up quickly and cause a problem.

I did not have to figure out how to do this on my own,  Mike taught me how to clean, oil, and lubricate my sewing machine.  He had a job in high school helping to maintain industrial sewing machines in a dress factory.  (Have I mentioned lately, How much I miss that man?)

And the finished jacket:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just in TIme

I had an appointment to get snow tires put on the Prius first thing this morning.
That was pretty timely since we had some snow last night.  The roads were clear, but my driveway is a sheet of ice.  It is good that it is a flat driveway so I did not have trouble getting out.  I did slip and slide later, walking out to the mail box, but I did not fall down.

One winter day when I was in high school, the school parking lot and side walks were terribly icy.  I had gotten by car and was walking toward the school's front door with an armload of books (Backpacks were for military hikes back then, I guess.  I only remember carrying books in my arms right through college.)   I made it from the parking lot, across the driveway, and I was just stepping up onto the walkway.  As I stepped, I slid.  Somehow in the disjointed dance I performed in trying to maintain my balance, I did a rather inelegant flip and landed on my rump with books raining down upon me.  My immediate reaction was relief.  A bus had just unloaded and all the students had gotten inside.  Maybe nobody saw my accident.  I heard a whoop, though, and looked up at the library window from where a classmate had been observing the whole show.  I am glad he was not taking pictures for the yearbook that day.

So not falling on the ice today was a good thing.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Thanks-you to our Veterans and their families.

There may always be a need for the military and the services each branch provides, but may there not always be a need for war.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cards for the Season

I met with the card making group for lunch and a card exchange on Thursday.  I made a dozen of these:

and I came home with a variety of other cards. 

We also made two cards with a lunch in between.  Fun.

I think my grand son will like the underpants reference so he will get this one for his birthday in February.

The 'get well' card...I hope not to have to use it.

Saturday--used to always be my day to sleep in when I was working.  It is a habit that I still have.  When I was working, though, it was also a major clean the house and run all the errands that needed running once I got up.  That part has changed.  It is such a luxury not to have to run errands on the same day that every one else is.  My house was clean; my laundry was done.  I spent the day making Christmas and holiday cards.  I almost forgot to go out and get the mail.

(in proces)

In the evening, I went with two friends to "Poetry, Music, and Delectable Delights," which is a series of events that another friend is promoting at an area art gallery.  It was an absolutely delightful time.

Now that I am home again, I am pouring myself a glass of wine (my weekend treat), turning out all the lights and sitting at the window to watch the night sky.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Mike always said that you have to have the right tool for the job.  He left behind a boat load of tools.

He also left behind a wife who doesn't even know what most of the are or how they are used.

I figured out this wrench system though and got the battery out of the tractor.

It only took me two days to do it.  I can get so stubborn when I think I should be able to do something.  I will ask my neighbor to put it on the charger and then back in when spring comes because I am afraid of electricity.  Unhooking a battery and hooking it back up are two completely different things in my mind.

The gas tank is filled and the mower is put to bed for the winter season.  I think I must have been paying more attention to the things Mike took care of over the years than I thought.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Little Miss Independence

I got the gardens cleaned up for the winter yesterday.

Today it was windy, but it was warm for November.  I decided to mow the lawn for the last time as the warm is not likely to last through the weekend.  I fired it up but when I lowered the mowing deck, I discovered that the blades were not cutting.  Just another thing going wrong, getting broken.  Oh so annoying!

I remembered that when Mike's son was here this summer and went to mow the lawn for me, he said the belt had slipped.  Well, I turned off the motor and looked underneath.  Sure enough the belt was flopping loose.  Here's the good part--I fixed it myself!  I got the lawn mowed.

And it doesn't stop there.  When I put the tractor back in the garage, I changed the oil and the oil filter.  That is a first.  I was quite proud of myself even though it is a messy job.

My roll ended when I tried to disconnect the battery so I could take that out for the winter.  I could not budge the bolts on that.  I will have to start doing some bicep curls to up the arm strength.  If I am not able to do it when I try tomorrow, I will ask my neighbor for some help this weekend.

Monday, November 4, 2013


I have had no further revelations from my bath towel.  Please bear with me as I travel the path of my new reality.

I would like to assure you all that I will not be sharing anymore startling discoveries brought to be courtesy of inanimate objects, but of course you probably know me better than that.

I was in Bed, Bath and Beyond last week and there were some really lux towels there whispering, "Buy ME!  Buy me!" but I resisted their siren song.

We see what we want to see; we hear what we want to hear.

I had a lovely weekend.  Mike's sister came for a visit.  We talked, ate, and drank some wine.  We went to downtown Burlington and cruised some shops, went out for lunch and took in a movie.  We saw Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks--really enjoyed it.

Now it is back to the "work" week.  I have bills to pay.  I have to call the chimney company again because the caps keep getting blown off the chimneys.  I have to arrange for the garage door to get fixed.  A spring broke on the automatic door opener.  I thought I was pretty darn strong, but I cannot lift it myself.  Luckily it has double doors so I can get in and out.  I have downed lilac branches to pick up and take to the stump dump and more yard and garden bedding to do.  Then there is the library which I neglected last week, card making group, and poetry group.  I will absolutely have to get to a grocery store in the next day or two.  To think--at one time I had a job, too.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Secret Message?

Does any one see anything written on my bath towel?

Or Am just flying off the deep end?  Seriously, does anyone else see it?