Saturday, May 28, 2016


Within days of my return, the lilacs came out and have been scenting the air at my back door.
Three weeks is about their max and they are quickly fading now.

But peonies that were barely visible three weeks ago are getting ready for their show in June.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Joy of a Clean Oven

Are you ready for this?  Because this will seriously change your life!

Oh, no wait.  This is just a sign that I spend far too much time browsing household tips on Pinterest.  If every little tip promising to change my life actually did, I would certainly not even recognize myself in the mirror each morning.

I wouldn't be able to cope with that. As it is, I am often startled beyond words to look in the bathroom mirror and see my mother staring back at me.  I have to turn around quick to see if she is there.

By the way, my favorite are the pins that pop up  on my home feed--Secrets of People Whose Houses are Always Clean.  Can you guess the secret? DUH...they clean every day.  I think that even an intractable horder knows that deep down inside. 

None of which is what I set out to share this morning.

When I got back from Florida there were two big blobs of black carbony gunk on the floor of the oven.   I can't blame Kevin as he uses the oven solely for baking bread.  No, these blobs were left over from the family Christmas dinner when I prepared and served roast beef.  That was just before I left for Florida so I didn't deal with it at the time.

Now my oven has a self cleaning feature, but except for those two blobs, the oven was fine with a wipe down.  I sprayed the blobs with my homemade oven cleaner--vinegar, baking soda, and a drop of dish detergent.  I sprayed in the morning and again in the afternoon and then again before I went to bed.  I sprayed them the next morning and then forgot about them for a day or two.

When I remembered again, I looked in the oven and say that the blobs were not so blobby.  I wiped the floor of the oven with a paper towel.  No scrubbing and rubbing, just a swipe with a wet paper towel.  Rinse. Done!

Ick, ick, ick!

It didn't change my life, but clean does make me happy.  We take our joy where we can find it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Yet another failure of our public schools?

We are not taught classes on character qualities and ideals, love and relationships, or even conscious communication in our school systems, miserably at relationships and marriage so it's no wonder why we fail so miserably at relationships and marriage. --Bess O'Connor, Ayurvedic and Holistic Health Practitioner
This quote just made me angry when I read it.  It only lasted for about thirty seconds, but I can get my gorge to rise again just by looking at it.

Really are we to assume that the only place anyone learns anything, especially about life in the real world, is in school?

Maybe the article had something useful to say, but I was too prejudiced by this bit in the introduction that I struggled to keep an open mind.

I guess I still have work to do on acceptance and a non-judgemental attitude.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Watching Grace and Frankie

I didn't exactly binge watch the second season of Grace and Frankie on Netflix.  I spaced it out, savoring each episode.  Still, I am in withdrawal.

If you have not seen it, it stars Jane Fonda as Grace and Lily Tomlin as Frankie.
Their husbands of forty years were partners in a law firm, and apparently, partners in another sense as well.  When same sex marriage is legalized in California, the husbands confess to an on-going affair with each other and announce that they are seeking divorces so that they can finally marry and share a life together.

Grace and Frankie are devastated.  Although they were never close, never had anything in common, they end up living together and trying to adjust to lives they had never planned on living.

I really love the show.  This season dealt with infidelity, unexpected illness, assisted suicide, sex and dating in one's seventies, an adopted child seeking out his birth mother, substance use and abuse, and just the stuff of life and family relationships.

The thirteen episodes were just not enough for me.

Here is a trailer of the first season.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Life in VT

Well, I am "home."  I have spent a week looking for my stuff.  I accused my son of hiding everything on me, but I do know that I just had to relearn where I put things.  I only spent six weeks in the new condo before leaving for the winter--which, yes, really does extend into May here in VT sometimes.

I went outside without my winter jacket for the first time today.

I worked on some May birthday cards:
Watercolor by moi.

Punch and die

In spite of the fact that I have been shivering for a week, it does look like spring around here.  The crab apple trees are lovely.

I am not sure what this is but the blooms are pretty,
like cherry blossoms.

I was missing my herb garden so I bought a planter for the deck and filled it.

And I cannot believe that my calendar jottings are going into June already!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why I Practice Yoga

I still walk for exercise and (when in Florida) ride my bike, but lately my exercise of choice is yoga.

That is certainly not because I am so flexible that I can twist and bend and stand on my head.  I started taking yoga exactly because my muscles are tight and inflexible.  Slowly, I do notice changes.  I am a little more flexible now.

For me, the biggest benefit has been just being more aware of my body and how it moves through space.  I think about standing tall and keeping my head up.  My posture is better.  My breathing is deeper.  My balance--well, not perfect, but I do recover if I trip instead of falling.  I don't have significant aches and pains.

I have tried different types of yoga.  Some types are physically challenging and others are very calming, relaxing, and restorative.  I have found that I really like the tranquil feeling after practicing.  There is a good balance between the physical and mental--has to be good for body and mind.

And I do love the trappings--the chimes, the essential oils, the Hindu symbols and music, Tibetan singing bowls, the chanting, the Sanskrit names for the poses, the talk of chakras. There is a spirituality that appeals to me on a deeply metaphorical level.

Finally, let's face it, the clothes are really comfy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dream Breakthrough!

A recurring dream is one in which I am wandering a huge college campus either

  1. knowing I do not have enough time to get to the class in the first place, but being beset with obstacles along the way,
  2. not knowing the location of the location of the class,
  3. arriving at the classroom only to find the class has been moved somewhere else.
It is always a math class.  I am always worried that never being able to find the class will result in a big, fat F on my grade report.

Classic fear of failure dream.  Not exactly a nightmare, but unsettling nonetheless.

Well, the other night, I dreamed that I actually got to the math class and met the professor who agreed that he would give me another chance.  Then I sat down and all the students were working on very simple math problems.

with apologies to math teachers everywhere


For the record, I did very well in high school math classes.  The only math I took in college was statistics, once as undergraduate and once as graduate student. Statistics is just about how to use math to manipulate information and I am glad I learned about it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fun with Grandkids

My daughter had a room to paint--a new tenant moving into one of her apartments.  She needed some kid free time to do that and I needed a grandchildren fix.

Isn't it great how these things work out?

I took the drive down.  It was a lovely spring day in Vermont.  I love that tender new green and all the spring blossoms--lots of tulips and crab apples in bloom. Also the ubiquitous dandelion.

I took the kids out to lunch at Applebee's.  We went to the movie theater and watched The Jungle Book.  I loved it!  My tender hearted grandson said it was a lot of violence, but he knew all along the boy would be okay because it was a movie and that's how they work.

After the movie we took a drive to Killington and saw that there are still people skiing.

On the way home, we stopped and played a round of mini golf.  I don't have pictures because I tend to concentrate on the kids and forget about documentation for later.  (A characteristic my former special education directors will no doubt recognize.)

We picked up Amy, who had finished her painting and was just cleaning up, and all went out for ice cream--three vanilla cones and one chocolate in a cup.

It was dark, cold, and rainy by the time I got home, but I had a fun day.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Morning Coffee

As a rule, I drink two cups of coffee in the morning.

Gone are the days when I drank coffee all day and even had a cup after dinner--and never decaf.  When I was a working mom, the sleep deprivation made it kind of necessary in order to function.  These days, if I had a cup of coffee after lunch, I would be awake all night.

But I do like my morning coffee.  Now I mix regular and decaf.  I can't quite seem to kick caffeine entirely.

Wednesday morning there was no milk, no white stuff of any kind.  Thursday morning my sone left a note on the coffee maker--carafe was cracked.  Desperate times!

I was not able to find a replacement carafe.  At least I was not able to dedicate my entire day to finding one.  So I bought a Mr. Coffee--a little five cup one for around 15 dollars.  I was thinking that I never drink more than two cups so why not.

What I forgot about is that the manufacturers of coffee makers definition of a cup is, at best, half of what any normal coffee drinker would consider a cup.  Still it works for me and my kitchen is so small, the little coffee maker looks better on the counter.

I think maybe Kevin had to make two pots so he could have his morning fix and fill up his thermos for work.  His idea of cutting back on caffeine was to stop using his espresso machine every day.

Not for a single second did I even consider those single serving pods.  I have always considered them an abomination.  Over packaging.  Environmentally detrimental, non-recyclable.  Now the inventor is sorry himself.

I know there have been efforts to make the little cups recyclable and that there are reusable little pods.  Economic competition can be a good thing.  But I am still not interested.  For one thing, it's a honking big machine for one cup of coffee and it would totally ruin the feng shui of my kitchen.
And there is no clock on it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Air Travel

You get what you pay for.  So true about so many things.

You take the cheap air fares, you might as well know you are going to be on the flying equivalent of a third world bus.

Still, there are some bargains.  When I went to book a return flight from Florida to Vermont, the first thing I did was look at JetBlue.  They have fairly comfortable planes and the big draw for me is that they have flights from Sarasota to Bulington with only one stop in NYC.  But the available flights for early May were three times what I paid for the trip south.

I looked at Delta and they had an available package for a much more reasonable price.  And their planes are comfortable as well.  I booked with Delta.  The only problem was that there were layovers in Atlanta and then again in LaGuardia.

In truth I would rather have a longer layover than have to madly dash to catch a connection.  Or not catch a connection and then have to go through rescheduling and a long wait anyway.

It was a long day.  But it went without a hitch--well except one small one.

Remember when a meal was served on flights?  Unless you consider a small bag of pretzels a meal, that is no more.

It is really a good idea to have food with you.  I packed some cheese and crackers, some raisins and nuts, and an apple to get me through the layovers.  Buying food at an airport is going to cost so much it hurts.

So here is an example of not getting what you pay for.  At LaGuardia, you could get a glass of wine for for $14.  Mind you, the type of wine you would pay $7.99 for an entire bottle outside the airport.

Along the lines of food...Yes, it's convenient that there is a sub shop directly across from the gate, but that pile of onions on the sandwich?  Really, really not so pleasant for other passengers in an enclosed space with recycled air.

Also, while it is certainly nice to smell fresh and clean, too much perfume, cologne, or after shave isn't any better than onions.

And hygiene related...I can see make an emergency repair on a ragged fingernail, but giving yourself a full blown manicure?  Kind of rude.

That was the one small hitch.  A woman got very sick on the flight from Atlanta to NYC.  The crew did ask if there was a doctor or nurse on board.  I don't think that there was, but an ER boarded as soon as we landed and escorted the woman off the plane.

I don't think the illness was too critical but apparently she did occupy the rear toilet for the greater part of the flight.  I could not see what was going on behind me--well, I didn't bother to look--but I could see that there was a long and constant line for the toilet in the front of the plane.

I was thinking maybe the passengers in the first class section might be thinking they were not getting what they had paid for since their wide aisle was consistently blocked.


Well, I am home.  Everything seems fine here.  I will rest up today.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mothers' Day

I started my day with breakfast and then going to church, where the sermon was "Mothers and Other Mythological Creatures."

I had the modern day communication with both my children--text messages.  I was happy to hear from them.

I had a phone call from my sister who was having a train wreck of a day, entire weekend, I am not really sure exactly how long a time period.  I was saddened to hear the events that she must endure.

Googled image
I love this--
In honor of nurturer's everywhere.

I went out to dinner with fourteen other people from the neighborhood.  I was the fifteenth wheel, but it didn't matter.  I stimulated a lot of conversation about who I could be fixed up with. (Maybe it is a good thing I am heading back north tomorrow. But I do have wonderful friends.)

After dinner eleven of us went across the road to the beach to listen to the drum down and watch the sunset.

Just another day in paradise.
It seemed fitting.

My take away--I have a blessed life.  And I am reading to invite in a new love.  (Universe take note, please.)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dinner Guests and Wine

I cooked dinner for my friends Annamarie and Ken.  It was a most pleasant evening.

Le menu:

Appetizers: cheese and crackers, artichoke bruschetta on French bread
Salad: tomato and avocado on Bibb lettuce with homemade citrus dressing
Main: crab stuffed founder rolls with bread crumb topping, roasted sweet potato, and sugar snap peas.
Dessert: lemon sorbet with raspberries and blueberries

I bought a nice bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse because that is what I like with a fish dish, but I knew my guests prefer red wine.  The young man at the wine shop was very helpful.  He recommended a pinot noir, specifically one from Portland Wine Project--the Willamette Valley "being renowned for their pinot wines." It was excellent.

The dinner stretched out for five hours.  I am taking that as a sign that it was all a success.
They are so adorable.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Leaving

It's beginning to feel a lot like Florida summer.  The humid heat hits full on as I step out the door, the comfort of my air conditioned home lulling me into forgetting that a late morning bike ride might not be the best way to exercise now.

A friend told me yesterday that she had heard the weather for Burlington, VT. Temperatures in the fifties were expected. I know that that means people were pouring outside in shorts and tees to glory in the spring breezes.  I will carry my sweater on the plane when I head back next Tuesday.

I am in the process of saying good-bye to friends and neighbors here--InStride volunteers, poetry group members, people from the yoga classes I have been taking, and people I have met from church.  My next door neighbor, Gayle, left this morning.  As I ride my bike around I see more and more places closed up.  Seems like every day for the last two weeks are taken up with saying good-bye, stay well, see you next season.

I have made my list--all the little details of closing up the house.  I don't have too much to pack.  Florida clothes don't necessarily translate to VT summers, but what I do have to take is important.  I have already had a dream about arriving at the airport without having printed out my flight information.

In the mean time, my calendar is already filling with VT activities.  Soon I will be saying hello once again to family and friends in the north.

As it says on those tee shirts--life is good.