Monday, October 16, 2017

Dear Reader

My posts have been pretty sporadic lately. I have no real excuse other than the fact that once I let a day or two slide, several more slither away right behind.

          Then again, maybe I’ve been frightened off by some of the word salads I’ve received on my posts.

          In response to my post Ladies’ Night, about a gathering of minds in my town, I received this:

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          Can’t say I did much research. I mostly just sat around and swilled wine.

          Better than that, though, regarding the same post:

All the police and fire still do thai porn.

        Who knew?

          On my observation a few years ago that professional sports sometimes seem to be the male version of afternoon soap operas (The Guiding Light and the NFL):

There is SHOCKING news in the sports betting world. It's been said that any bettor must watch this, Watch this now or quit betting on sports... Sports Cash System - Robotic Sports Betting Software.

          Um – I was writing about soap operas, folks.

          In September, when I wrote about retractable claws for coeds on the go (Back to School with a Vengeance), I received:

I am in fact thankful to the owner of this website who has shared this enormous paragraph at this place.

          It was barely a page, hardly an enormous paragraph.

          In Where Men are Men and Women are too, I confessed to a fascination with the sudden glut of reality shows that take place in Alaska.

If you want your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (even if they're dating somebody else now) you need to watch this video right away...

          Thank you Blogger, for reaching out.

          Ladies Who Lunch was just an accounting of my introduction into our condo community, but it apparently had deeper meaning for this person.

This is the right site for everyone who wants to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want to? HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that's been written about for years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful.

          No, I’m not concerned at all. Really.

          I’m sure that reader is juuust fine.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Money Pit

Today it came close to 80 degrees, but still you can feel the change that’s waiting around the corner. It’s almost dark by dinner time and leaves are drifting down from the trees.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Rolling along

Condo living may be designed to simplify life, but it still requires some adaptation – even in the dog world.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lawn ornament

     Today I popped over to the house to see what shape the chrysanthemums I'd bought for the front pots were in. I decided they could make it a few more days and gave them some water. 
   But somehow I don't think the prospective buyers coming for the open house on Sunday are likely to pay them much attention. 
   Now we have a new ornament gracing our lawn. The septic guys are starting their magic tomorrow. Kinda wish they hadn't parked that behemoth right on top of our well, though.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Yes, you really can get there from here

     While we’re happily transplanted into the condo, the homestead on the other side of town is still on the market. There’s yet another open house scheduled for Sunday. Yes, like everyone else with a house for sale, we’ll make sure the grass is cut and the mums in the planters are watered, but before that we’ll first be checking the weather as obsessively as a prospective bride planning to trade vows in a pasture. Over the past couple of years the driveway has decided to form a puddle rivaling Lake Michigan with every rainstorm.
          Meanwhile, we also have another challenge – our road. As I may have mentioned before, when we bought our house over twenty years ago, we saw on the description that it sat on a private road. “Private road?” we thought with child-like naiveté, “How lovely!”
          It wasn’t until a few years later that the other shoe fell. A private road means our town is under no obligation, in fact has no intention, of repairing it. Since to create it, the developer originally slapped a layer of asphalt the thickness of pancake batter over what I suspect was a half-hearted sprinkling of pebbles, things have deteriorated over the years.
          Yes, with the frost heaves and thin spots, sensible travel on the road is limited to less than five miles per hour, but come on folks, the street is only three houses long. Plus, if you went any faster, you’d be headed right into the buttress of trees at the end.
          Our former neighbors (and sadly, maybe us, too) are looking into the cost of repairing it ourselves, but no one around here is pouring asphalt in the fall so it’ll likely have to wait until spring.
          Although the town does plow and sand us faithfully, maybe the snow season will begin in November and put down a glorious layer of the white stuff that will mask our problems until someone signs on the dotted line.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ladies' Night

          Last night I went to an evening soiree (fancy name, but we’re usually in jeans) that a friend organizes periodically.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Men at Work

   Today in the course of my errands, I traveled down Main Street in our little town, where there’ve been ongoing bursts of construction all summer.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Back to School With a Vengence

     I can still remember the orange corduroy jumper I made for my daughter’s first day of school.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Ladies who lunch

Today was my first condo event. It was the ladies luncheon, which happens once a month and which I’d completely forgotten about until someone at the Y asked me if I was going.
          I canceled all thoughts of an afternoon of painting away the giant and ubiquitous flowers in the downstairs bathroom. Food or painting? Easy decision.
          I knew only one or two people there, but I was on familiar ground after all those years of belonging to other ladies’ groups. Name tags were handed out, printed slips about the next card gathering circulated, and someone else sent round an announcement for an event with a ladies club in the next town.
          I was seated near a woman who used to live a few streets over from our house. Her husband had been in the military and she reminded me of other army wives I’ve known – self-possessed, straightforward, and if you needed someone to organize a luncheon for 250, you knew she could put it together in an afternoon.
          Next to me was a tiny older lady no bigger than a minute. When they delivered her shrimp scampi in its fashionably giant bowl, her chin just barely came up to the edge of it. I spent much of my time smiling and nodding at her whispery conversation since I only caught about every seventh word. During a discussion of the storm in Florida, she revealed that she owned several condos down there, one of which was in the process of being sold, and she hoped the new buyers weren’t going to back out. Not a person you would have taken as a real estate mogul.
          Across from me was someone who’d moved to the complex a year ago. I enjoyed her story (told behind her hand because “T” two seats over is a member of the association board) of sneaking an entire sitting area in back of her unit. She’d been told that the condo land managers couldn’t clear out the scruffy area in the woods in back. So she hired a landscaper to go about ten feet into the woods and saw down the scrub trees. The next spring, she cleared away the weeds and shrubbery that had hidden the work, and whataya know, there was a cleared area just right for her lawn furniture!
          The median age of the group was probably 78, but the rebels are alive and well.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Afternoon terror

     No, I'm not packing a miniature sheep for the trip to this weekend's Bar Mitzvah.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Once a teacher, always a teacher

I’ve started down a slippery slope. I’ve just accepted gifts under false pretenses.
          There I was in Staples yesterday, picking up a plastic file box for tax paperwork, a pack of gold and silver Sharpees for kids to sign in at our grandson’s Bar Mitzvah this weekend, and most important of all, a bag of dark chocolate bark with coconut.
          I stepped up to the register, handed over my Staples Teachers Rewards card, and the clerk gave me a knowing look.

          “Have we given you your goody pack yet?”
          (What on earth??)
          “Um, no.” Whatever it was, I knew I hadn’t received it.
          He whipped an envelope from beneath the counter, informing me that I would also receive 10% off my purchase.
          I’ve been retired since 2011, but I hadn’t invited Staples to the party so I guess they thought I was still in the trenches.
          I felt a little guilty as I left, but then I remembered all the money I've spent every September to prep my classroom and my students.

          The envelope turned out to only have a bunch of Staples coupons and half of a Post It notepad.

          And besides, the 10% off paid for my chocolate.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Disappearing Skill

Back when the earth was still cooling, I signed up for driver’s ed class at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Come on over

The best way to entertain is to tell yourself sternly that you’re not going to fuss. You’re going to keep it simple.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wallflowers at the Dance

Absolutely no one showed up for the open house at our place on Sunday – granted the weather that day was spectacular, but still. . .no one?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Country girl to city girl

Mamie is adjusting nicely to condo living, although I’m sure she misses her favorite patch of pachysandra back at the house. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Land management

Our move is complete.

          That is, as long as you don’t count the boxes filled with tools of his father and his father before him that My Guy is still hauling over from the house. And the many pictures we’ve left on the walls to brighten the now-empty rooms for buyers. Oh, and the shed and garage treasures still to be disposed of – anyone interested in a cross-buck for sawing wood, or perhaps a vinyl panel left over from building our outside shower?

          Our neighbor took the wheelbarrow and my hairdresser came over on Sunday for a big roll of tar paper for the roof of the mudroom he’s adding to his house. How serendipitous that I got my hair cut last week.  At this point, any conversation with us can be dangerous: “Really? You’re thinking about chickens? Well! We just happen to have a length of fencing that would be perfect!”

          Since we’ve only now put the house on the market, we’re wearing a path over the 1.8 mile stretch of Main Street between it and the condo. Sanity prevailed over thrift and we hired someone else to paint two rooms that were looking a bit battered, but we’re still bopping back and forth. I spent much of Sunday morning weeding, but with an acre and a half of land, the process had a teaspoon-and-ocean kind of feel to it. There’s an open house planned for next weekend, so that means back to the homestead for more yard work and touch up.

          Today I hope to get outside here and gain control of the flowerbeds surrounding our condo.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Moving Experience

No, I haven’t fallen into the failing septic system out back or collapsed after the umpteenth trip carrying boxes from the old house to the new. We’ve spent the last two weeks in a different dimension.

Monday, July 17, 2017


As if putting every blessed thing we own into a box, and then cleaning every blessed space where those things sat isn’t enough fun, we’ve had visitors to the back yard today. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Real Estate Glamour

It’s 60 degrees and raining – not very July-like – and so today will be a good packing day. After our flurry of whipping the homestead into a state of unrealistic tidiness for all the real estate photos, I may even welcome the return of boxes everywhere.
          Yesterday we sat with the real estate lady and sorted through documents for a good portion of the morning. I had on a more presentable pair of black shorts and a new-ish tee shirt, now that I had a reprieve from the back-breaking work of shoveling mulch, handwashing the green film from the shadier parts of our siding, and vacuuming and scrubbing floors.
          Before beginning the heavy paperwork, we settled at the kitchen table with her iPad and viewed the photos she’d taken the previous day. Our house, which is a fairly unpretentious place, gleamed invitingly in the pictures. The kitchen beamed back at us, the dining room glowed, and light ricocheted off the living room floor. The upstairs bedrooms somehow had gained at least three feet in square footage and even the Pepto Bismol tile in the guest bathroom wasn’t so bad.
          A small frown crossed the realtor’s forehead when the second bathroom popped into view.
          “I’ve noticed . . . see the tile there? The grout is a bit darker here.”
          I’m sure she’d reviewed all the photos before coming to see us, but as though the thought had just occurred to her, she said, “You know what? If you could just scrub that with a little bleach, I could re-take that before I go. Oh, and if we put some of those beautiful tiger lilies you have on the counter it would look terrific!”
          It was already a humid 85 degrees outside, but we need to sell this house. 
          I dug around through my stripped kitchen cupboards, found something that could pass as a vase, put on my sandals, and went outside. Pickings were a little lean so I climbed the hill next to the house and clipped two tiger lilies and one day lily, along with a few ferns.
          My morning shower was already proving to have been pointless. Perspiring, I left my now-muddy sandals outside and carried the flowers and the vase upstairs.
          I dug the bottle of Clorox out from under the sink. Black shorts and a black and white tee was not the best uniform for this job.
          Hoping she wouldn’t suddenly decide to come up and oversee my efforts, I stripped down to my underwear and got to work.
          I didn’t see a huge change in the grout but I was a little cooler.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Bucket List Revelation

     Thanks to the wild range of jobs I've held over the span of my life - waitress, ice cream scooper, CIA clerk, television production, hospital secretary, teacher - I've had a few experiences I might not have had otherwise.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Stress versus a stroll with a little dog

So that snowball has started its roll down the hill and it’s picking up momentum and objects at an alarming rate.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday Errands

Leaving the YMCA today (my water aerobics was class back to normal, thank heaven), I stopped my car for one of the many walkers who hoof it around the complex.

Friday, June 30, 2017

All Wet

It’s official.  I’m a humorless curmudgeon. Maybe not all the time, but I have my moments.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Purge Continues

As we try to clear the decks for The Big Move, some furniture just needs a home other than our basement 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Laura Ingalls Wilder has nothing on us

Remember that chapter in On The Banks of Plum Creek?  
"A cloud was over the sun. It was not like any cloud they had ever seen before. It was a cloud of something like snowflakes, but they were larger than snowflakes, and thin and glittering. Light shone through each flickering particle."  

Well. . .

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Extra! Extra!

“A good newspaper is a nation talking to itself.”
Arthur Miller

Nowadays, it’s a busy time to be a reporter.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I’m developing a routine here in the land of downsizing. I spent this morning sifting through our 47 years of detritus and boxing up the items for donations.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

They're Baaaack!

I remember in 1978 at our last house coming home at night after my 3 – 11 shift as a secretary in pediatrics at the hospital. With two young kids, these hours worked out well. I only went in two days a week, either Friday and Monday or Saturday and Sunday, which meant I only needed one of the teens in the neighborhood to sit a few hours until my husband got home from work.

          I was a little short on sleep those years, but that wasn’t the hard part about getting home late. Our trees and our house were under attack that year. To reach the front door I had to first travel under the giant maples in the front yard and then under our portico. Both were festooned like a steamer covered in bon voyage streamers, except these were sticky and ended in a creepy caterpillar and they were impossible to see in the dark so I ended up a bit festooned myself.

          The gypsy moths had arrived and they were on everything.

          Our weapon of choice was masking tape and Vaseline, the plan being that the creepers wouldn’t get past the barrier to nest and eat the leaves up.

It worked pretty well except the trees didn’t appreciate the tape either and we lost a few anyway.


 So it was not good news when I looked out the window and saw this.



 And when I looked above the clematis and saw this.



 And even when I looked down on the bedroom floor and  - you guessed it.


Monday, June 5, 2017

A Walk and Random Thoughts

          The weather here being distinctly un-June like, I put on my fleece and took Mamie for her afternoon walk.

Friday, June 2, 2017

I Know All the Best Places

We are on the verge of a major life change here, and before it even happens my day-to-day life is filled with new experiences. I’m now not only spending an inordinate amount of time at liquor stores (source of all the best free boxes), but I can now speak knowledgeably on thrift stores in our area.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

And the battle goes on.

     At the last Town Meeting we passed a warrant item allowing chickens in suburban yards, a ruling apparently embraced with enthusiasm.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Fuzzy Afternoon

It probably says something about our social life that the highpoint of our weekend was a picnic for dogs.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What global warming?

     Yesterday I climbed out of bed, pulled on socks, sweatpants, sweatshirt, sneakers, and parka, hitched up the tiny dog to her leash and took her out for her morning pee. 
     This morning at exactly the same time of day, I climbed out of bed, pulled on shorts and t-shirt, and stepped into my flip-flops and took the tiny dog out. 
     Today it's in the 90s, 
     Tomorrow night it will be 46 degrees.
     New England is a whimsical place.
      On the plus side, Mamie got a bath today minus the scary hair dryer, but the rest of the day will feature lots of sitting for everyone.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Before Nutrition

 I remember my grandmother telling about her shame at school in Mangum, Oklahoma when she had to take “dirty bread” out of her lunch pail. Even back then my forward-thinking great-grandmother Lucy Wilson had already figured out the benefits of whole wheat bread.
And I like to think my mother approved of watermelon for breakfast because of its antioxidants and amino acids. (In reality, a grumpy kid in the blazing hot Virginia summer mornings could have been a factor.)
But John Gray’s recent post at Going Gently about his sheep and their love of white bread triggered a couple of memories from the 1950s food pyramid.
It’s been years since I’ve had one, but every now and then I’m tempted to pick up the ingredients for a baloney sandwich: spongy white bread, Miracle Whip, and the ultimate illicit pleasure, a big pack of baloney.
Granted, your peanut butter and jelly sandwich was usually bleeding grape jelly through one side by the time you opened your metal lunch box in the cafeteria, but the bread itself was great for wadding into grey balls and flicking at your neighbor.
And in spite of my mother’s offerings of a crunchy peeled white turnip or celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins for a snack, just as common as an after-school treat at our house was white bread spread with margarine and a generous sprinkling of white sugar.

Emptying the Basement

      In spite of a monsoon weekend, our tag sale went off without a hitch. Miraculously, the morning was chilly but dry – a good thing since we had cleverly positioned several things on the lawn to lure shoppers farther in to our garage.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Begging for Boxes

We have a tag sale on Saturday, and of course the weatherman is tossing around predictions of four straight days of rain beginning guess when.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hoover Horror

Sorry – I didn’t mean to drop off the edge of the blog world. My absence is due more to mundanity and inertia than a madcap social life.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Public Service Announcement

     It's not often I have a chance to use this blog for good rather than just blowing off steam.
     (The fact that it's a slow news day here could be a factor, too, so maybe I'm not all that altruistic after all.)

    Anyway, one of my favorite bloggers, Henny,  at Henny Penny Lane  included some helpful advice in her comment about my !!!TICK!!! adventure and I'm quoting it verbatim:

"One easy way to remove a tick that is buried and biting is to rub a little liquid hand soap on the tick and wait a few seconds, and the tick will easily come off."

     I haven't tried it yet, but anyone who spends the amount of time she does in her garden knows what she's talking about.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

From Author to Victim

      Okay, that’s it. I’m ready to return to the artificial world of Florida where everything feels new and clean and landscape people spray away every possible living thing that could bite or sting.

          Yesterday started out well enough. I packed up a rolling suitcase full to bursting with my books, candy for customers, and one dollar bills to make change and headed off to set up my table at the local authors’ fair in our town.

          We authors were a diverse group – my friend Cheryl's children’s bible stories, a graphic novel about a paranormal investigator, a beloved sportswriter and his memoir, Ellie’s new book about her trip to Tibet, a collection of letters from a family in the 1700s, a novel of history and witchcraft, and an ophthalmologist.

          And we actually had an audience, unlike last year when not even family showed up. I caught up with friends, reacquainted myself with others, and went home a few books lighter. 

          Once home, I morphed from local author to yard lady. My Guy and I grabbed our rakes and blowers and started in on the leaves that had gathered over the winter in spite of our marathons of yard work in the fall. Mamie helped by sitting in the pachysandra, the periwinkle, and following me worriedly every time I disappeared from view around a corner.

          After two hours or so, itchy and sweaty, we stopped for a water break. I was scratching my thigh and looked down to find a dark spot surrounded by a red, sore, and unhappy skin.

       We put down our water, stuffed the dog in the house, and took off for the urgent care center.
          Where      time       slowed       d  o  w  n.

          No one there looked particularly sick, and one family seemed to be having a great time, chatting and ribbing each other when they were loudly recounting past trips for emergency care.

          Even though I knew I could feel the tick burrowing deeper, and even I was sure my leg was becoming more and more painful, I sat for an hour and a half while others went in ahead of me. The people with the clipboards were obviously uncaring that my tick was probably spreading its toxin through my system as each minute passed. I tried not to think about the joint pain and loss of cognitive functions and God knows what-all that can happen as a result of a tick bite.

          Finally, finally, I was called in – the last patient of the day – and waited another 15 minutes for the doctor. He came in, took one look at it, and ordered one round of an antibiotic and left after telling me I was his 10th tick bite that day.

          Yes, I knew our area was reported as inundated this year with ticks.

Yes, I was stupid, stupid, stupid to be working in shorts.

          But it was actually Mamie I’d been worried about, since she’d been bitten in the fall and had 6 weeks of antibiotics as a result. Friday I’d sprayed the front yard with tick deterrent (we were working in the back) and yesterday wiped her down with a topical deterrent for pets to augment the drops I already put on her once a month.

          Looks like I’ll be using the same wipes on myself, and the next time I lift a rake or a trowel my gardening ensemble will make beekeepers look like they’re headed to a wanton day on the nude beach.   


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rollin' Home

It must be the effect of those two 12+ hour days in the car that it’s taken me this long to announce that we’re back from Florida.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Familiar Faces

          I’ve grown resigned to the wonky knee, the shock of seeing my mother in an unexpected glimpse of a store mirror, and the difficulty of staying out and awake past 10 at night.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Claim to Fame

I checked in on Going Gently, my favorite blog in the ENTIRE WORLD (and judging by the numbers of comments, the favorite of the entire world) and was intrigued by his topic for today.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Gray Rush

         One of the things that most amazes me about Florida is the huge expanse of undeveloped land interspersed with cattle ranches.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Age and Trust

          So the other day at the pool a neighbor whom I barely know turned to me and inquired whether I had a doctor locally.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The EGGs meet Venice

Looking for shark teeth, one of Venice's claims to fame.

          So, yes, you can fit seven people into a two-bedroom condo. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Condo Etiquette


     Some adjustment is inevitable when you switch from living in a free-standing house on over an acre of land to a condo sandwiched between three other condos and topped by more above.