Friday, January 29, 2016

What Happens in Flint

My daughter accuses me of making things up.  Actually, she accuses me of having lied shamelessly to her throughout her childhood.  I try to convince her that I am merely talented at speaking metaphorically.

 I don't know.  I find myself asking myself, "Did that actually happen or did I make it up?"  Let's just say I have complete empathy for Brian Williams and his suspension for exaggerated stories of his ride in a helicopter.

But I do think this is a real memory.  Why would I possibly make this up?  I think the news about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, stirred up a memory of an old grammar book from elementary school days in the late 1950's.  Because I had the feeling I had experience with the place but I don't believe I have ever actually been there.   I remember writing letters--lessons about proper form, etc.--to people and businesses with  Flint, Michigan, addresses.  I remember writing and punctuation sentences about things going on in the daily lives of sixth graders in Flint.

Does anybody else remember something like this or have I made it up?

In any case, it was in some ways a very different world then because it seems to me the point was that '50's Flint was just the embodiment of the American dream.  But then, in other ways, it is not such a different world, because then as now, no one would have gotten away with poisoning the entire water supply of a prosperous, predominantly white city.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winey Wednesday

It has been an all day rain here today.  I had planned a walk on the beach.  Instead,  I caught up on a dozen little chores.

  1. cleaned the kitchen and mopped the floors
  2. tidied up the office
  3. did a load of laundry
  4. found a lost button and sewed it back in place
  5. read some blogs and e-mails
  6. chatted with a friend
  7. read, finished a book a friend had loaned to me
  8. finished two poems I had been working on
  9. home yoga practice
  10. gathered up the recycle to put out later
  11. gathered together some tax information
  12. swept out the lanai (which I have barely used this winter)
I am thinking I can just kick back with a glass of wine and listen to the rain on the roof this evening.

J'aime boire du vin rouge.  I practiced my French lessons as well.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Kitchen Experiments

Perhaps you recall that I recently made a 'pizza' with a cauliflower crust.  I wouldn't call it a real substitute for pizza, but it was not a bad dish in its own right.

My latest cauliflower experiment was baked Buffalo cauliflower.  There are lots of recipes on the internet so I won't repeat one here--basically oven roasted cauliflower with Buffalo hot sauce.  It was really tasty though.  I eat less and less meat as time goes on.  I will definitely keep this recipe.  Maybe even sometime add chicken wings or shrimp to it.

I made a rice and lentil salad to go with it.  I cooked Jasmine rice and some lentils earlier in the day.  Then I added scallions, a seeded and chopped piece of cucumber, chopped parsley, fresh lemon juice, and some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Tomatoes might have been nice, and I may add some to the left over.  Fresh Florida lemon juice is so much better than the lemons that make their way to Vermont.  The lemons at the market today were very small and thin skinned compared to what I am used to at home, but the flavor was so much more bright.

Good thing I liked it because I will be eating that salad for the rest of the week.

Ooo...maybe I will get a bag of lemons and make some limoncello.

Friday, January 22, 2016


I started an adult education class last night--French for travelers.

I was the only one who actually did not have definitive travel plans, but one can dream.

A fellow student recommended some phone apps.  One was duo lingo.  It has any number of languages if you are so inclined.  I did the most basic lesson and I was informed, with a bit of computer fanfare, that I am now 1% proficient in French.
But, I have to start somewhere and I can say, "Je parle un peu francais."  Unfortunately, I do not know how to put the little beard thingie under the c.

I have homework to do.

I think I will also assign myself to re-read Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Busy Bee

Today was a busy day.  I had to go get the blood work done that I was supposed to get done before my annual wellness visit.  I had to be on fasting so I wanted to go as early as humanly possible even though I am hardly an early bird by nature.
I got there in a timely manner and went right in to provide my three vials of blood.  It took a couple pricks, but I managed to not faint.

I was a bit distressed that when I went into the bathroom the sink was covered with plastic and the toilet tank was wrapped in caution tape.  This is exactly the condition it was in from last year.  I decided I would definitely look for an alternative lab next year.

I rushed home to get my coffee started, noting as I left that the waiting room was now standing room only.

I signed up for a class at a local quilt shop.  I signed up a few days ago and the shop owner said, "Oh, I went to high school with an Olga. Olga XXXX."  Today she told me that the next day she had a friend request from Olga XXXX, now in
California, on Facebook--had not heard from her since high school,which had to have been at least thirty years ago.  I said I was glad I could facilitate the reconnection!

We made these wallets--

Every one's was different of course.  It took almost three hours to complete, but we had to share cutting space and  one iron.   The picture is not so clear, but one side has credit card slots and the other side has a pocket for bills and a zippered compartment for change.

After that class, I rushed to the book discussion group I joined.  We are discussing a collection of essays on aging and spirituality.  It is a lively and engaging group.

I still need to fit in a little yoga time and maybe some writing time as well, but right now I think I maybe better concentrate on getting something to eat.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Venice was host to a soaking rain and extreme wind yesterday morning.  A roof was ripped off a shopping center building on Route 41 in what they called "thunderstorm wind,"  wind of considerable force moving in a straight line.  It only lasted seconds but the damage was done.

It happened here in the park four years ago to friends who live here.  Their sun room imploded and the roof landed on a car down the street.  Again, only seconds in length but the damage was done.

This morning the puddles have dried up and dew is glistening in bright sunshine.

The big news in Venice is that the library, built in the mid 1960's, will be torn down.  They have been unable to pinpoint the source of moisture causing mold throughout the building.  They have given up trying and will knock the whole thing down.

Building are so expendable around here.  Most of us snow birds come to Florida for the weather, to escape the raw cold and snow of winter, but in its own way the climate here can be most inhospitable.

It used to be a common car bumper sticker--Venice is Paradise.

Still, like anyplace, when it is beautiful, it is beautiful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Letter

A somewhat unusual event occurred yesterday.

I got a letter in the mail--a handwritten letter.

I still get handwritten notes from time to time, even the occasional letter from a particular friend who does not own a computer, tablet, cell phone. (Can you imagine? Perhaps I should have said peculiar friend.)  I suppose that is all quite telling about my age.  This letter was from a younger cousin, though.

His mom, my aunt, is the last of my known extended family's "parental generation."  It also is alarmingly telling of my age that now I am being too often informed of the death or serious illness of someone who is part of my generation. This is requiring a bit of adjustment on my part.  The letter was not about his mom who is 91 years old.  It was about his older sister, the cousin I was closest to growing up.

My cousin was exactly a year older than I, but in the early dementia mind of my own mother, Mom was convinced that J. was my daughter.  That speaks to a link between us that somehow survived, however faultily, as my mom's neural connections unraveled.

My cousin is completely deaf from birth.  There were other organ anomalies only hinted at amongst the adults, never shared with "the kids."  Still, my cousin was well supported by her family.  She was able to get an education, hold down a job, live independently until neuropathy limited her mobility several years ago.  The decline has progressed.  She will be going into a nursing home and the outlook is not good.

I am so very saddened by this news.  And my cousin who wrote to me, being the one who lives nearby, bears a huge burden.  My heart is wrenched.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Well, it seems like a really good time to invite the universe to send me some money.  That Power Ball thing -- reaching a billion.

I guess the chink in that particular plan is that I would actually have to go out and purchase a ticket.  The universe will have to find another way to send me money because going out to buy a ticket, especially if it involves standing in a line, is not at all likely to happen.

I vaguely remember a TV show from when I was a kid about a man who randomly handed out checks for a million dollars to complete strangers.  Then the show went on to show what happened to the recipients.  As I recall, it was not always a happy ending.

This article lists seven stages of dealing with sudden wealth.  I will take the author's word for it.

  1. Disbelief  (makes sense)
  2. Generosity  (mmm, maybe for some)
  3. Puzzlement  (at lack of appreciation or sudden greedy streak in response to one's generosity)
  4. Defensiveness, fear,  and isolation (response to the puzzlement)
  5. Questioning and seeking (I like the part about wealth not changing who you really are--if you were a pill when you were poor, you will continue to be a pill as a rich person)
  6. Acceptance and gratitude
  7. A sense of purpose
I suspect that not everyone goes through all the steps or that they necessarily follow in order just as the stages of grief tumble over each other.  But I did like this from a sense of purpose:

People who don’t go through this final step often end up back at work right away because they don’t know what else to do with themselves. They say they miss the ‘game’, and maybe they do. But they may also be missing an important opportunity to live life with great intention, instead of reverting back to familiar patterns. It takes time to reflect and figure out exactly what you want to do. Take the time needed to make an honest personal assessment.

I am wondering what purpose I would discover for myself.  Maybe, just maybe, I should live the rest of my life as if I have won the it with a sense of purpose.

Friday, January 8, 2016


I think that if I were to let it, my Florida life would devolve into one long, all consuming battle with ants.

Florida has:

  1. Acrobat ants
  2. Argentine ants
  3. Big headed ants
  4. Caribbean crazy ants
  5. Carpenter ants
  6. Fire ants
  7. Ghost ants
  8. Pavement ants
  9. Pharaoh ants
  10. Pyramid ants
  11. Small honey ants
  12. White footed ants
A single nest of white-footed ants can contain millions of ants.  The park sprays for fire ants every year.  Fire ants bite and sting like crazy.  I hire a pest control service to inspect and spray as needed four times a year.  I still see them sometimes.  If I really want to see them, all I have to do is drop the tiniest bit of strawberry jam on the kitchen counter and not notice to wipe it up right away.
The white footed ants will find it and remind me!

I got on this subject because I just had a visit from the friendly neighborhood electrician.  The other night I turned on the kitchen light and there was crackling and popping and the light flickered before turning on.  I thought the house would surely burn down.

The electrician said the ants will sometimes get into the switches and I was frying them.  The switch worked fine when he tried it, of course, but he changed it out anyway.

Google image

Pests, one and all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


I see "hacks" all over the place.  I am not entirely sure what the word means now.

A group of taxicab drivers?

The chops I make at wayward limbs of growing shrubs and vines?

Precocious users who can break into computer codes and cause havoc?  Probably the current popularity of the term derives from that.  The linked article is where I found this definition:
Hacking might be characterized as ‘an appropriate application of ingenuity’. Whether the result is a quick-and-dirty patchwork job or a carefully crafted work of art, you have to admire the cleverness that went into it.
I was wondering about this after seeing news about the company Samsung making an announcement about their new refrigerator.  It is designed to provide its users with "life hacks" throughout the coming year.  This thing is tricked out.

It has a huge screen and touch pad.  You can display family photos or leave messages--gonna put magnets and sticky notes right out of business!

It can track your family's eating habits, or so it claims.

It takes a picture of the contents of the fridge every time the door is closed.  Here's the good part -- you can access the pictures on your smart phone.  You know, in case you are at the store and wonder, "Did those darn kids use up the last of the milk today?"

Five thousand dollars.  I am not spending that kind of money because they have some serious perfecting to do.  That's my guess.

Now, when the refrigerator can respond to a man's question (Honey, do we have any mustard?) with "Yes.  On the second shelf...behind the mayonnaise...move the mayonnaise jar," then I will be impressed.

That would be an appropriate application of ingenuity!

Monday, January 4, 2016


I was listening to an interview of Claudia Hammond, author of Time Warped, on Public Radio this past Saturday.  One of the questions was, "Why does time speed up so much as we age?"

Of course, time does not change but our perception of time passing certainly can vary.  I had just recently mentioned how fast the year 2015.

At the same time, I try to think back to January of 2015, and it seems like ages and ages ago.

Here is a paraphrase (or my understanding) of what Claudia Hammond said about that very issue--
Time seems to speed up when we are busy and times seems to have slowed down when we look back on a period that was busy.  So feeling that time is going by too fast is a good thing in that we can look back with all those memories of a full life.
Guess I had a busy past year.

Some quotes:
Time and memory are true artists: they remould reality nearer to the heart's desire.    John Dewey
Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.  Thomas Hardy
The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.  Bertrand Russell (also attributed to John Lennon)
Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.  Leonardo DaVinci
Forever is composed of nows.  Emily Dickinson
How did it get so late so soon?  Dr. Suess 
And a sentimental favorite, listen here .  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Watching in 2016

I am old enough to remember the days when social schedules had to be arranged around the airing time of favorite TV shows.  I do not have a DVR, but I do have cable with on-demand and a ROKU that allows me to use Netflix or other such services.  I think it is great that I can make up my own viewing schedule.

I used to be quite attention deficit when it came to TV watching.  Making a commitment of Sunday night time to watch Downton Abbey, for example, would have been too much for me.  I might have foregone the whole series in an earlier time.  Now I can watch it on-demand on Monday instead of watching the evening news.

Downton Abbey -- I am looking forward to the final season.  I may even watch on Sunday nights, but, really, anything that distracts me from the national news in the evening is a good thing.  Maybe I will watch each episode twice.

Grace and Frankie -- Surely there will be another season.  The first series ended with a cliffhanger.

Modern Family -- That show never fails to make me laugh out loud.

The Office -- I am binge watching the whole series now.  I rarely watched it before so I finally decided to catch up.  I was born in Scranton so I consider this a part of finding my cultural heritage.  God help me.

Joy -- I went to the theater to see this movie and I wish I had done more research beyond seeing the trailer.  Should have waited til it was on Netflix so I could have turned it off.  Why did anyone think the development of a mop would make a compelling story?

Flawless -- I watched this on Netflix so Robert DeNiro could redeemed himself for Joy in my eyes.  And he did!  Also, Philip Seymour Hoffman was outstanding.  So now I really want to see him in Capote.

Comedians in Cars Going for Coffee  -- how did I miss this before, I ask myself.

What will you be watching in 2016?

Will my mind turn to mush (or is it already there?)