Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sudden Storm

Busy around the house today--tidying up, doing some laundry, filing or tossing the accumulation of papers on my desk, taking care of some bills, making those insurance calls--I took a break and sat outside to read for about a half hour after my lunch, then came back in to continue with the chores I'd set myself for the day.

The sun was bright and warm.  I kept my head in the shade but I stretched my legs out in the sun and relaxed.  I thought I would go back out a bit later and I left my book on the lounge chair near the garden.

How quickly things can turn!  The sky turned black.  The trees were swaying, trying to reach their leafy tippy tops to their roots.  I ran out to grab my book just as the first drops fell.  In a few seconds there was a deluge, lightening flashing and thunder rumbling.

My chores are done.  It has turned out to be a good day for curling up by the lamp and reading.

Do you think I can count saving that library book from a soaking as part of my library hours for this week?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Bounty

My neighbors brought over a bag of green beans and assorted summer squashes from their large vegetable garden this morning.  That simplifies meal planning for the week.  And lucky for me that they stopped by before I headed out to the grocery store.

I have a couple of casserole recipes for summer squash that I like.

My brother gave me blueberries.  A loaf of zucchini/blueberry bread will go in the freezer.

I will have to freeze some of the green beans, but I do love fresh picked green beans--just don't know that I would eat them three meals a day for the rest of the week.

My mother made a creamy soup with green and yellow beans that I really liked.  I will have to spend some time tracking down that recipe.

I love summer meals!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Insurance Games

It is no secret that I hate the very concept of insurance.  HATE it.

Here is a sacrificial goat I am burning at the altar.  Please don't let bad things happen to me.

Here is a big pile of sacrificial money, that may as well be burning at the altar because I will likely never see it again.  Please don't let bad things happen to me.

A quote from Kristin Cashore, author of young adult fiction/fantasy:
 “Q: Why do you use swear words on your blog, but never the F word?
 A: Because I'm saving the F word for the day when I write a blog post about the for-profit health insurance industry and the way its CEOs become wealthy by not only preying on, but exacerbating, other people's personal tragedies.

When my daughter was little, she used to play a card game with my mother.  It was called, "Amy Wins."  So you can guess how that went.

The insurance industry has become a gambling game of "You Lose."  But we can't guess how that is going to go.  We burn the money and never see it again while an industry benefits or it pays off because something bad happened.  We "win" the bet by losing a house or a car or our health.  This is not a fun game.

I've said all this before, I know.

So I hate the concept, but the reality of it is I have to have it.  So I need to get over it.

I have good health insurance.  I want to stay healthy, but I also know too well how quickly costs for medical care can escalate.  I am not messing with health insurance although I do agree with Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) who said we need universal health care, not universal insurance.

I don't have dental insurance.  I could get it but the expense seems out of proportion to any hope of benefit.  Usually I get two cleanings a year.  That doesn't cost nearly as much as insurance would.  Sometimes a filling falls out or x-rays are recommended, but I still think I am better off without the insurance.  I suppose I could start going to a clinic instead of a private dentist and save that way.  Of course, I am saving a bundle by not having the $11K worth of cosmetic work done.

I just got done paying home and car insurances and I have been advised that I can make some savings here.  This is why I am spinning into angst--I have to think about insurance and go so far as to talk to insurance agents.  I can up my deductible and pay less for the car insurance.  If I sock away the savings, I will be able to meet the increased deductible should I have have the bad fortune to "win" the "You Lose" game.  So I will have to look into that--but not while I am using a car to travel between VT and FL.

Maybe I will save some money if I shop around.  Hey, all this time I thought I was being rewarded for loyalty.  Hmm, apparently not.  I need to investigate consolidating with one agent/insurance company maybe as well.  I may have to be making one of those "I unfriend you" decisions.  I do LOVE this commercial.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

War on Pests and a Politican Statement

Arkansas Patti apparently feels a bit guilty about giving her new pup rein to indulge its hunting instincts.  She has a problem with voles.

There is a lot of that going around.  I went to the hardware store just the other day and asked about traps, poisons, machine guns, anything that might get rid of these little pests.

Wikipedia image.
Much cuter than a mole.

We did not have this problem when our cat was alive.  Perhaps he was more of a hunter than we ever suspected.  Now there is such a system of tunnels in the yard that I sink when I work in the garden.  The tunnels rim the perimeter of the house.  I live in fear that the place will sink into the center of the earth.

Our neighbors old cat saunters over to lie down under the shady astilbe and seems to just watch the voles scamper around him.  Useless.

Poison all over the yard is a bad thing for other forms of life while the voles a happily pulling the grass down from the roots.  Traps are distasteful when you have to empty them and supposedly don't always work that well.  A machine gun would not really do much more damage than a vole colony as far as tearing up the lawn, but I believe our town recently passed a noise ordinance.

Moles tend to be fairly solitary critters.  They are easier to trap successfully and you can impact their food supply to some extent.  Voles eat grass and garden plants--hard to eliminate.  Voles give rabbits a real run for their money in the family planning (or lack there of) department.

Oh! Oh! I just thought of the solution.  I will set out have-a-heart traps and send all my VT voles and my FL rabbits to Ted Cruz.  (You know, because he is the expert on reproduction...even though I am still convinced he himself is, in fact, a Disney animatron.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Good News!

Good News! That is how a letter I got today from my credit card company.
I can request an increase in my credit card limit--instant!  No hassle!  Ask and it is mine.

Good news indeed.  And how lucky am I?  The opportunity to sink myself into debt is as good as winning the lottery.  Really, there is no need for me to want for a single thing.

So you won't be able to call me because I have no cell service...but I will be out shopping anyway.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Personal Journey in Technology

For years and years, I never felt the need for a mobile phone of any kind.  What would I have to say to anyone on the planet that could not wait until I was home.
I certainly never overheard a conversation on a cell phone in a public place that did not sound as though it was considerably less than urgent.

Then we got stuck at an airport after a weather-related flight cancellation and I noticed that those who were whipping out their cells phones were at a distinct advantage over those few of us (basically Mike and me) who were searching for a public phone to make the needed arrangements.

A few years later, when we started to travel to Florida for the winters, I decided to get a phone for travel purposes.  I had seen an ad in the AARP magazine for Consumer Cellular.  At the time is a free phone and $10 per month for a very basic service.  I called them.  They informed me that they could not send me a phone because there was no service in my area.  I tried to explain that I did not really need service in my area, I wanted it for travel.  I got switched over to a supervisor.

I explained that I wanted the phone for our time in Florida.  We had had some problems with the phone systems in rental houses, and of course there was the travel time itself.  It was about emergencies.  "Oh, you have an address in Florida?"  I thought I was getting somewhere.  I gave the address of the rental.
"Oh, but that is not your credit card address.  We can't send you a phone there and we can't send a phone to your home address because there is no service there."  Seriously?

It took some negotiations,but I finally received my little clamshell phone that allowed me to make and receive phone calls once I realized it had to be turned on and if I could remember to keep it charged.

A few years later, Mike decided to get a phone for himself.  By this time the basic clamshell was about $35, but it had a little camera and rudimentary texting capability--a real upgrade.  Also by this time, even though there is still no service in our area, it was not a hassle to convince the company to sell us a phone--I assume some corporate shake-up and a new business strategy.

Last summer,  I learned to text.  This was a necessity brought on by the need to keep family updated about Mike's condition.  We had the standard telephone dial setup.  That means 3-4 would drop down when you hit the key and you scrolled down to the letter you wanted and selected it.  It was a laborious process--far more so than those flying thumbs I see other people using.

So then I took the trip with my grandkids.  I could not find my phone the whole time I was gone--thought I must have left it at home.  I could not find it anywhere when I got home.  I needed to get a new phone and I caved to peer and grandchildren pressure and ordered a "smart" phone.

Then, of course, I found my old phone safely tucked away in the secret compartment of my travel bag--even though I thought I had completely emptied it at least five times over the two weeks we were gone.

I bought a Motorola G from Consumer Cellular for about $150.  It arrived yesterday and befuddled me for most of the day.  It was all about getting it hooked up to wifi--something my granddaughter does successfully every time she visits.  I finally left it alone and went and got a pedicure where I sat in one of those back massage chairs.  Ah, all was well when I got home and I got right onto the wifi and could start playing a bit with my phone.

Like my dryer, something new that I really didn't need, but there you have it.  So I am sure it doesn't do the things of an iPhone or more expensive Androids, but it will keep me busy for a while.

You still cannot call me though--no cell service here.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Too Smart for Me

I finally did it, made a step into the 21st century!

I bought a smart phone.  So far it is way too smart for me.

And I hate being outsmarted by something the size of my hand so I may have to give it a full body smack down.

Or perhaps I should go see my grandchildren to have them explain it all to me.

I have the "getting started" videos, but they seem to have no relationship to what actually happens when I turn on my phone.

I have to stop and go listen to my anti-anxiety tape and I will probably fall asleep as a result.

Don't anybody try to call me for a few days.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


My friend Ginnie sent this to me.  I had to pass it along because it made me laugh:

Bertha and Betty
Two 90-year-old women, Bertha and Betty, had been friends all of their lives. When it was clear that Bertha was dying, Betty visited her every day. 

One day Betty said, "Bertha, we both loved playing softball all our lives, and we played all through high school. Please do me one favor: when you get to heaven, somehow you must let me know if there's women's softball there." 

Bertha looked up at Betty from her deathbed and said, "Betty, you've been my best friend for many years. If it's at all possible, I'll do this favor for you." Shortly after that, Bertha died. 

A few nights later, Betty was awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to her, "Betty, Betty."

 "Who is it," asked Betty, sitting up suddenly. "Who is it?" 

"Betty -- it's me, Bertha." 

"You're not Bertha. Bertha just died."
"I'm telling you, it's me, Bertha," insisted the voice. 

"Bertha! Where are you?" 

"In heaven," replied Bertha. "I have some really good news and a little bad news." 

"Tell me the good news first," said Betty. 

"The good news," Bertha said with joy and enthusiasm, "is that there's women's softball in heaven. Better yet, all of our old buddies who died before me are here, too. Even better than that, we're all young again. Better still, it's always Springtime and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play softball all we want, and we never get tired." 

"That's fantastic," said Betty. "It's beyond my wildest dreams! So what's the bad news?" 

"You're pitching Tuesday." 

Life is uncertain - eat dessert first!!! Live to the fullest!!And, always be ready!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Luray Caverns

I had planned to stop to take some tours along the long ride home from Florida, but that plan was largely scrapped when it was apparent that the kids really, really seemed ready for home.  We did stop to tour Luray Caverns in Virginia on the way back to Vermont though.  I knew that they would enjoy that.

My camera mysteriously stopped working.  The battery showed plenty of charge the day before, so I am not sure why it stopped working.  Too much sand and sun?

Anyway, it was a bummer, because I would have loved to be taking pictures.  But it was pretty spectacular and you can see some pictures HERE.

I have hosed out the car.  Now it is time for me to attend to the weeds that had themselves a field day in my absence.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


We have been on the road.  My grand kids are being good travelers, but they like air travel over a long car trip.  I should have them home by tomorrow.

There are far too many cars, trucks, and RVs on the road these days.  That's my take on the situation.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


We took a walk along the river

and found some watery wildflowers.

Then our final afternoon in Florida was spent at Manasota Beach.  Siesta Key is supposed to be the famous beach, but this is my favorite.
 The sand is not a soft, but the water is every bit as clear.  It is more accessible besides.

The two kids were getting along, bobbing in the water together, laughing and having fun.  Time to go home.

We hit the road tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vacation Expenses

I am glad that I am not responsible for raising children in today's world for many reasons--not least among them the incredible expense.

But of course I expected that when I invited my grand children on a Florida vacation I would be assuming some of that expense for a while.  I expected to feed them, to pay for travel expenses, to pay for entertainment.  It's a vacation.  And a grandma can be a little more lenient on the "I want..." items than a parent working to meet the true needs.

Still, there are those vacation related expenses that I had not at all considered in the planning stages.

1.   Toilet paper.  Good grief.  Two children have used what is for me a three month supply of toilet paper in less than a week.

2.   Water.  The dishwasher and hand washing dishes in the sink.  Showers and baths (although to be truthful, it did take a bit of persuasion to convince the seven year old that NO, time in the pool or the Gulf of Mexico does not count as bath time).

3.   Water.  The clothes washer is used at least once a day.

4.   Electricity.  See #2 above.

5.   Electricity.  See # 3 above and add in the fact that the dryer usually accompanies the clothes washing.

6.   Electricity.  Is no one who has never paid a utility bill capable of switching off lights, televisions, other electronic devices?  (I hear my father's voice and Mike's strangely in unison on this one.)

7.    Water.  Hosing off all the beach equipment each day.

8.   Electricity.  Vacuuming all the sand that manages to work its way into the house in spite of the pre-hosing and showers at the beach.

9.   Fast food--completely against all my principles but then it gets to be 7 p.m. and we are hungry NOW.  Watch Grandma cave.  Thank goodness they like fresh veggies.  Some nutrition gets in.

10.  Gas.  The sheer volume of sand deposited throughout the car has the effect of cutting gas mileage nearly in half.

11.   Bandaids.  Every bump and bruise, regardless of amount of blood spewing (even if it is none), needs to be promptly covered with at least one bandaid,  Two is preferable.  All must be re-applied periodically throughout the day.

12.  Cold medicine.  The plane?  The kids?  I rarely get colds, but this is a bad one.  Summer colds are the worst.

Surprisingly, the major area of savings  Who would guess?  By the time they are asleep,  I am far too exhausted to do anything but go to bed myself. Actually the asleep thing only applies to my grandson since my granddaughter is rattling around until the wee hours and sleeping til noon.   A glass of wine earlier in the evening is very tempting, but not worth subjecting myself to the evils-of-alcohol lectures that can come from the mouth of a seven year old.  Honestly, I do wish schools would stick to just the three Rs like the good old days.

I have put receipts in a pile somewhat sorted by category each night.  Dane noticed it.  My math obsessed young man said,  "That's so cool, grandma!  You get to have your own piles of receipts!"  And he touched them lovingly.   Oh, so much to learn!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fishing Pier and Alligators

I took Dane to Sharky's  and the fishing pier yesterday.  He really wanted to do some fishing.  There were poles for rent and bait to be had on the pier, but the discussions stalled over who would be responsible for actually putting the bait on the hook.  I didn't see anyone actually catching a fish anyway.

This guy kept vigilant watch over everyone's bait buckets.  Any faltering and he would have been all over us.  No fishing for Dane.  That's not a grandma thing.

When we first got to Sharky's, Dane's comment was, "OH, wow!  I have waited my whole life to see a place like this!"  Seven long years...

We took a trip to the Myakka River State Park just to see some alligators.  We were not disappointed.
The view from the top of the canopy walk tower.

The gators lolling around.

This guy was mighty impressive in size.
(I have a zoom lens, we were not really close.)

And grand daughter is along on this vacation!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Drummers Circle

I have heard of this but have never actually attended the Drummers' Circle on Nokomis Beach.  We went on Saturday night and it was fun!

Of course, I had tried to convince Dane to get his haircut because his bangs hang in his eyes, but he wants his hair to grow so he can have "headlocks" like Ziggy Marley.  Natural perhaps that we should enjoy the music and dancing on the beach.  We did notice the thickening clouds and headed out early though--a wise decision as it turned out.

He made a sand and palm stem instrument.

Lightening and thunder followed in short order.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Gotta Love the Beach

I am generally a neat person, but they are getting the better of me on that front.

Love the beach so much it comes home with us each day 
and lands pretty much everywhere.
 Lucky for me I had the foresight to select sand colored carpets, floors, and counters.

And the cave:
because who wants to be out in the Florida sunshine until mid afternoon?  It is simply too hot, let's face it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


My granddaughter had her 13th birthday a while ago and my birthday present to her was a shopping trip in Florida.  Well, that was fine.  She likes shopping and is definite about her sense of style--always has been, too.

However...while she is off in shopping land, I have a seven year old to entertain in the mall.  So it turned out to be an expensive shopping trip just to keep him entertained.  He was actually a trooper about it all though.

We did get in some pool time and a trip the the beach at Sharky's.

Tomorrow, I think we will have a chill out day.  I need it.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Aquarium and Another Beach

The Mote Museum and Marine Education Center in Sarasota was our entertainment for today.  It was interesting, educational, and entertaining as well.

I really tried to get my granddaughter to kiss the frog so I could post the picture on Facebook, but she declined.

Do you think seeing all the strange and curious creatures that inhabit the ocean dissuaded them from a trip to the beach?  No!

We went to Siesta Key because we were in Sarasota anyway and it is supposed to be one of the top ten beaches in the U.S. so why miss it.  It is beautiful white sand, but we all agreed we liked Nokomis Beach better.  SHHhh! Don't tell anyone--let the crowds continue to go to Siesta.
Random strangers...the picture of the kids did not take.
The sand is a baby powder white.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Florida Again

The grand kids had their first airplane experience.  My grandson was excited that he got to go one two different planes in one day--a transfer at JFK.  The flight was without a hitch and we arrived in Venice by noon.

My granddaughter went immediately to bed after we had lunch.  My grandson was in the pool and later we went to the beach at Sharky's and found shells then to the South Jetty to watch dolphins.  We checked on granddaughter a couple of times to make sure that she was still breathing.  Her approach to getting up for 4:30 a.m. was to stay awake all night so I understand her need to catch up on sleep.

Grandson has strict adherence to bedtime--a marvelous side benefit to his mathematical/logical order mind.

Today, we went to Nokomis Beach.  The water is about body temperature.  It was pretty choppy today, so we got bashed around in the waves.  Fun!  After supper--they wanted to go in the pool.  We will all be waterlogged at the end of this adventure.  There was no way I could interest them in building a sand castle.

Tomorrow we plan to go to the aquarium with a stop on the way back at Siesta Key.  It is a very popular beach, on the America's Top Ten kind of thing.  It is not my favorite--for one thing way too crowded, but they will be able to say that they went there.

He had a bandaid on his nose because of a tiny little scratch.  No he has a white bandaid-shaped patch on his face.

There have been a few near melt-downs from over tiredness and a few sibling squabbles.  I bought myself a bottle of wine and have extended my own bedtime so I can relax and enjoy a sip.  I hope they are having fun.