Sunday, May 31, 2009

Family vs. Friends

This weekend I've been taking care of a friend's cat while the family went out of town. On my first trip to feed the cat and clean her litter box I began to think about how differently we treat friends and family.

I did things for this cat that I don't do for my own, or that I ask friends to do for mine when I go away. On every visit, two a day, I cleaned her box, changed her water, played with her and of course fed her. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't take such good care of Crash and Burn. I do feed them, of course, but the box isn't always clean and I don't always play with them. In fact, sometimes I get impatient when they come to me for attention. That has got to change. I'm going to try to treat my cats as if they belong to someone else.

Putting that on a human level, do we give family the same respect that we give our friends. When my son started in nursery school, my husband and I, along with other parents were required to attend classes on Parent Effectiveness Training. I had subscribed to many of the ideas of this program. There are two basic ideas. One is "active listening". What is the feeling behind the words, really listen to what is said, how it is said, when it is said, etc.

The other idea is to treat our family the way we treat our friends. I cringe when I hear the way some parents speak to their children, or the way spouses speak to each other. If they are rude in public, what must their home life be like, because I'm sure they're not rude to their friends.

I have always tried to treat my family with the same respect I give my friends. I hope I have succeeded.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Birds

Today was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, it wasn't too hot, just pleasantly warm with a refreshing breeze. After a week of dreary days, it was wonderful to see the sun. I opened all the windows and allowed all that fresh air into the house. Everything now feels and smells so fresh and clean.

The best part though was the birds. This is a very new community, only about five years old, so the few trees we have have been very small and uninviting to the birds. But, this year they're bigger and more birds have set up homes here. They were singing away all day. Until today, I hadn't heard many, just the occasional robin or blackbird and, of course, the Canada geese.

I can't wait to open the windows again tomorrow so I can hear them again.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Scanner Problem

A few weeks ago I installed a scanner so that I can scan all my old photos and keep them forever on my pc. It's a huge task. It's a lifetime of pictures.

Anyway, I followed the directions carefully. I installed all the software. I was so proud of myself that I did it. On the first try, nothing happened. I tried again, still nothing. I made sure all my connections were tight. Power was getting to the surge protector so I assumed it was going to the scanner. I felt all around it, but couldn't find a power switch so I assumed it was automatically on when it was plugged in. Big mistake.

I kept feeling every surface of the scanner and finally found the switch. Of course, it was off. Once I turned it on, everything worked like a charm and I've been scanning ever since.

I'm so embarrassed about this that it took me weeks to admit it in print.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's All In the Attitude

I feel so young.

Today I travelled to Woodhaven, Queens to get my hair done. I don't know whether I don't want to completely leave Woodhaven or I really don't want to change hairdressers. I could probably get as good a cut here, but Connie really does a good job with the cut and styling. Anyway, I digress.

While I was waiting for the gray to disappear, two women came in for their appointment. They appeared to be sisters. One of them had trouble walking, so the other helped her. We all started talking, or rather I listened and they talked. One of them used to be a court stenographer. The other had a bleeding ulcer about 30 years ago and completely changed the way she ate. Now she eats lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The younger sister was telling us about the remote control she thought she had lost. She called the company to request a "clicker", the person on the phone didn't understand what she meant. Eventually they figured it out. The younger sister told us what she said, "When you're as old as I am, you'll understand about being forgetful". She then told us that she's 92 and her sister is 94.

Except for the older sister's difficulty walking, which stemmed from a hip replacement quite a few years ago, I wouldn't have guessed them to be much more than 80. They both had a wonderful attitude. The older admitted that life is hard, but she added, the alternative is much worse. By the way, she still smokes at 94, but she added that she's like Bill Clinton, she doesn't inhale.

She also told us that they had gone to a local restaurant while their favorite one was undergoing renovations. Because of the language barrier she didn't understand the people in the restaurant so she had eggs every day for a week.

It was refreshing to see such contented and happy people. I hope when I reach that age I'm able to enjoy life as much as they do.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pool Opening & Dollhouse

Yesterday we had the official opening of the pool. All week we kept checking the weather forecast. The forecast for yesterday was that it would be hot with a chance of thunderstorms late in the afternoon.

When we started setting up, the wind was blowing and there was a dark cloud hovering over the clubhouse. Being the optimists that we are, we planned on being outside. It's a good thing we did. The day turned out beautiful. It was very windy, but sunny.

My job was to check in the attendees and give them their coupons for food and ice cream. We had two check in spots. After a while I began to feel like the unathletic and untalented kid who is put in right field for a game. Hardly anyone came my way, so I spent the time visiting with the few people who stopped by and checking out the sky.

This was the first time I've spent any length of time outside in the sun. I usually avoid the sun, I remember all those painful sunburns I had as a child. My arms got burned, mostly around the elbow area. Of course, there's a line where my shirt ended. I think that's the most color I'll get this year.

It was a good day. At the end, there was a drawing for the dollhouse. Fortunately, I didn't win it. One of the ladies who works in the office did. I hope she has grandchildren who will appreciate it. She had just left to go home when the ticket was picked.

We received over $600 for a charity that helps runaway children.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Botanical Experiment

The great experiment did not work. I guess you could say it was a failure. The pot of basil that I put out on the patio has died. The other herbs that I put out at the same time are thriving. I discovered that the pot that I kept in the house had some tiny flies flying around, so that one is now outside.

I've been having terrible luck with basil over the last two years. I have one plant from three years ago that, while not thriving, is still alive even though it has only a few leaves. But, I will not be discouraged. I love to put basil in my pasta sauce, salads and pesto so yesterday I bought about four new plants, along with a lot of other herbs.

When I finished my shopping yesterday I just didn't feel like transplanting them even though they were very dry, so I put them in the bathtub with about an inch of water. I'll take care of them on Monday and will probably put some more outside.

It was so nice tonight when I made my salad. I added some freshly chopped parsley and a few of the remaining leaves on the very old basil plant. I hope I get a good crop from these new plants.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Government Waste

Do you know of anyone who has received their social security stimulus check?

A friend of mine has. I haven't. But, a man who was never in the system, never received a social security check and died in 1973 did. According to a report I just saw on the TV, about eight to ten thousand social security stimulus checks have been sent to dead people.

Maybe many of them are recently deceased. If not, what a colossal waste of money. No wonder the social security system is in deep financial trouble.

It kind of makes you wonder what will happen to the auto and health care industries when they come under control of Washington.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Dollhouse

One of the ladies in the art group of our community had an old dollhouse taking up space in her home. She and two other ladies in the group decided to renovate it and raffle it off for charity.

Here is a picture of a picture of the original house, front and back. They repainted it, wallpapered it, reroofed it and decorated it. This weekend they will pick the winning ticket.

They made the doors and painted them in in trompe-l'oeil fashion. The panels look so real.

They even have some flowers and plants on the astro-turf in front of the house. I didn't get a picture, but they have bird's nests on the chimneys.

Here are some of the interior shots. I'm sorry that some of them didn't come out so well, I was sick the day I took the pictures.

They even sewed the bed linens themselves. I couldn't get a shot of the towels in the bathrooms. They have tiny roses embroidered on them.

They did a wonderful job, it took a long time, but it was well worth it. There is so much detail. They had some of the furniture, the other pieces they made.
Good job ladies!
I wouldn't mind winning this, but I'm afraid Burnie would probably curl up in one of the rooms and make himself at home while crushing the furniture.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Last Word on Notre Dame

I'm so glad that my son didn't go to Notre Dame. It was not high on his list of preferred colleges, but it was on mine. And I'm glad to admit that he made the right choice. His college experience was right for him. Darn, he was right again.

Now, back to Notre Dame. I understand their inviting President Obama to speak. Since President Eisenhower's time, the president has always spoken at their commencement. It's a tradition. However, this year they should not have given an honorary degree, or any kind of honor. Obama is in favor of abortion, he's even spending our (the taxpayer's) money for abortions. He is in favor of creating life in the laboratory, then killing that life for stem cell research even though it has not been proven effective. Adult stem cells are much more effective. And, again, he's using our money.

I don't see how a Catholic university can honor any person with these beliefs. It's time for Notre Dame to change their name and become just any public, taxpayer supported university.

Again, I'm not against Obama's speaking and following the tradition, but the school should not have given an honorary degree and condoned his beliefs.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I was doubly disappointed today.

First, I had wanted to watch the Preakness. I got so involved in watching reruns of NCIS that I completely forgot about it until about 7:30 PM.

Then I found some news and learned that Rachel Alexandra had beat Mine That Bird. She's the first filly to win the Preakness since 1924, so I guess that's cause for celebration. I so wanted Mine That Bird to win and then go on to the Belmont.

There hasn't been a Triple Crown Winner since Affirmed won in 1978. That's much too long to wait. I don't follow racing, but I'm always interested in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. There's something so special about having one horse win all three races.

Oh well, as they used to say in Booklyn, "Wait'll next year!"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Who is the Government?

I heard today that the "government" may bail out the life insurance companies. First, the "government" bailed out the banks, then some finance companies.

Doesn't it sound comforting to hear that the "government" is helping all these companies. Have you ever stopped to think about the government. Who is the government. Is it just the president, the courts, congress? If that's all that makes up the government, how is this small group bailing out so many companies.

It's time to stop and realize just who the "government" is. We are the force behind the government. It's our money that gives the "government" the ability to bail everyone out. I just wish that the media would tell it how it really is.

The government in this case is us. We, the taxpayers, are the ones who are really bailing out all the banks, insurance companies and finance companies. We, the taxpayers, are the ones who will soon have to bail out the other states who, because of overspending during the last decade or so, can't pay their bills. California is giving IOU's instead of tax refunds to its citizens.

We, the taxpayers, are the "government". Every time you see or hear that the "government" is helping this group or that group, substitute the word "taxpayer" and you'll know where all your money is going.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Impotant Discovery

I made an very important discovery this week!

But before I tell you what that is, a little background. Before I retired, I wasn't much of a TV fan. My house was either quiet or I had the radio on for talk or music. When I was living upstate in NY, the radio reception was so bad that I occassionly put the TV on.

It was a gradual thing. Just a little TV at breakfast and lunch. Then I started getting hooked on different programs - Regis and Kathi Lee, Tony Danza, one soap, etc. Gradually, each show blended into another and all morning was spent on the couch. Soon it was the afternoon, then prime time.

When I moved to NJ, radio reception was better and I was back to listening. Again, I slowly started back to the TV. I didn't consider myself hooked because I still did my work around the house, the TV was just background noise. Soon the TV was on all day through prime time.

Last week I decided to get organized. I wanted to organize my Pictures folder, breaking it down into subfolders according to topics. Then I wanted to neaten up my desk, making paper folders for my various projects. There were a lot of other projects I wanted to do.

My discovery? The "off" switch on the TV actually works way before 11:00 PM. Once I discovered that I accomplished so much. The pictures got organized and I made some folders and filed some papers. And, the house is so quiet and peaceful.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Garden

Several years ago, while I was still living in Queens I stopped at a local nursery just to look at the plants. I saw some basil and decided to buy it. I also saw some mint which I hadn't seen since I was a child. Of course, I had to buy some. I planted both in the yard. That was a big mistake.

The basis grew well and I made pesto for the first time, it was delicious. I was hooked on an herb garden. The mint was another issue. I didn't realize that mint grows and grows and grows. I planted two small plants. They soon spread all across the yard, all 20 ft. of it. I even put some plants in the front, they thrived there too.

Fast forward to last year. I bought several different herbs, basil, oregano, parsley and more mint. Since I don't have any growing space in back of my house, I grow them in containers indoors. Soon I discovered tiny flies all around the mint, which was quickly banished to the patio. I didn't want any of my other herbs to be affected. I basically ignored the mint, never watered it, didn't even look at it. Until yesterday.

This year I again bought my herbs (basil, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) and potted them. I bought more mint this time to put on the patio. I also wanted to do an experiment. I've got two pots of basil. I'm keeping one in the house and the other on the patio just to see which grows better.

While I was putting the mint and basil on the patio I saw the pot of mint from last year. It was growing beautifully in spite of my neglect. It even survived snow and freezing temperatures.

It seems you just can't kill mint.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lake George Trip

Earlier this week a group of us from the community travelled to Lake George, NY. It was a short trip, one day up, one day there and one day back.

The day got off to a bad start. I had set two alarms, but didn't hear either one. To make matters worse, Burnie didn't even wake me up. I guess he didn't want me to go. And it was raining when we left. As soon as we got there we saw several New York Sheriff's cars in the parking lot. I thought either there was a convention or there was a real problem there. Fortunately, my first thought was right.

This is the view from my room. I was lucky enough to get a corner room.

The second day we took a boat ride around the lake. It was bigger than I expected and some of the homes along the shore were just great.

I wouldn't mind living here.

On our tour of Saratoga Springs, we stopped at Yaddo. This is an artists' community on the estate of Spencer and Katrina Trask. They donated their home as a place for artists to create. The garden is open to tourists. It must be wonderful in the summer. Right now, the plantings are still new.

These will be roses.

On Wednesday morning the fog was quite thick, and the lake was so still that the fog and shoreline were reflected. These are some of my favorite shots.

We were supposed to take a ride up a mountain that was about 2000 ft. high. At the 1000 ft. level we got out of the bus to take some pictures.

It's a good thing too because the fog was so thick at the top we couldn't see anything.

It was a good trip and I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

Where to next?

Friday, May 8, 2009


On my last trip I learned something new.

For some reason when I was copying pictures from my memory card to my computer, I forgot to return the card to the camera. There I was at our dinner show on the first night taking a few pictures when I saw the message, "Memory Full". I couldn't understand it, I was using a large capacity card. Then I checked my camera and saw that there was no memory card.

When I got home, I tried to figure out how to get the pictures from my camera to the computer. Then I remembered that I had a cable from my old computer, but where was it. I looked all over the place. After two days of searching and trying to remember where I would have put it, I found it and was able to transfer the pictures. They weren't too good, the room was dark, but I do have them. The camera has memory enough for four pictures.

I'm just glad that I took two cameras on this trip.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

I'm back. I was quite surprised at the reactions of Crash and Burn. They both came running to greet me at the door. Last year when I went away for two weeks, Crash just looked at me and turned away and Burnie limped to the door in a bid for sympathy. There was nothing wrong with him.

I had a great time in Lake George even though the weather wasn't too great. I heard that the weather at home was much worse. I learned a few things about the area, but that's for another time.

I really enjoy travelling, really I do. But I truly enjoy getting home. Tomorrow I'll unpack, or maybe the next day or the next.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I was right

Burnie here. I was right last night. She was preparing to leave us again. I couldn't discourage this trip by sitting in her luggage. I even tried to keep her home this morning.

I tricked her. I didn't comb her hair at 5:30 AM like I usually do. I knew that was when she wanted to get up. Unfortunately, around 6:20 I decided to play with Crash, but she didn't want to play and started growling and spitting at me. That woke mom up. Then it was rush, rush to get out.

I think she'll be away for a while. She gave us lots of food, much more than usual. Hmmmm, maybe those geographical explorations aren't too bad. We get lots of treats.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Home But Not for Long

Yesterday I went to my grandniece's First Communion. Since it's a three hour drive each way, I decided to stay overnight in a hotel using points I've earned. It's a new hotel, just opened last July.

I had a wonderful time at the party. It was good to see some of the family again. Because my niece's other aunt and I both celebrated our birthdays last week, she had two cakes - one for her daughter and one for her aunts. My nephew also brought flowers for both of us. It was such a nice surprise.

I like going way out on Long Island because that's wine country. On my way home, I stopped at several wineries and bought a few bottles. I've got a good supply now.

Unfortunately, my trip was a bit longer than I expected because there was a bicycle race in New York and they closed one level of the Verrazano Bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island. It took an hour to go about 10 miles. Two lanes of the parkway had to merge into one, then another parkway's lanes had to merge with us and then everyone who would have been on the lower level of the Bridge had to merge with those on the upper level.

I finally made it home and Crash and Burn were glad to see me. They were running all around, until Crash let Burnie corner her in the bathroom. He just wanted to play with her, but all she wanted to do was growl at him. I had to distract him so she could escape.

Tomorrow, I'm off on a three day trip to Lake George. I started packing, but didn't get too far.

I tried covering him with some clothes, but that didn't seem to bother him. I guess he wants to go with me.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Crash Here

Something strange has been going on here this morning. I think Mom was getting ready for another of her geographical explorations. She took her bags out and she put things in them. She also went out and bought some new dishes, for us I hope.

She took one of her bags with her this morning when she went out and so far she hasn't come home. She even gave us some extra food too. Doesn't look good. Hope she didn't run away. Maybe Burnie and I should not have woken her up with our fighting this morning.

Of course, Burnie couldn't care less. He just slept the day away. It's so quiet here. Hope she gets home soon. I promise I'll be so good, I'll eat all my food, I'll even be nice to Burnie. Better save some of my food for tomorrow.

I wonder how long she'll be away this time. I hope the food will last. I wonder who will come to feed us.