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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Senior Moment?

Today I went to lunch with some friends. The plan was to meet in the parking lot of the community and we would carpool to the restaurant. And it worked very well. No problem there.

After lunch I went home with one of the other women, that might have contributed to my problem. We were busy chatting all the way home. When we got to my house, she dropped me off.

As I was walking to the front door, key in hand, something just didn't feel right. Something was wrong, I didn't remember locking the front door when I left. I looked at my hand and saw that I was holding my car key. Then it hit me. My car was back at the parking lot. No wonder I didn't remember locking the front door, I left through the garage.

My friend was kind enough to drive me there where I got in my car and drove home.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Weekend - Part II

On Sunday my cousin, her husband and I made the trip to Mass at the Monastery in Livingston Manor, NY. The full name of the order is Monastic Family of Bethlehem and the Assumption of the Virgin. Saturday afternoon, my cousin called to find out the time of Mass. She was told it was between 7:30 and 8:00 AM. We arrived at about 7:30 and they were still doing morning prayers.

They were doing a kind of chant, which I love and find so relaxing and peaceful. The church or chapel was very small. We went upstairs where there is room for no more than 20 people. The nuns were the only ones downstairs. I noticed that there were no statues, only icons. After doing some research, I found out that the Eastern traditions of Christianity are very important to them. They combine the Eastern traditions with the Roman traditions including some Latin.

It was a lovely Mass, made more so by the chanting of the nuns. It felt very much like the Masses of my childhood, before Vatican II. I felt very peaceful and serene. In fact, the area is so peaceful that we didn't speak louder than a whisper even outside of church. I asked the Prioress or Mother of the community if I could take some pictures of the area. Naturally (and unfortunately) I don't have any pictures of the interior.

The church is inside this enclosure. You can see the bell that they sometimes ring. I didn't hear it on Sunday.


Here's a better shot of the church.


There is a lawn sprinkled with yellow flowers surrounding the church and then there is a lake just beyond.
This is a picture of the old church. They have a newer one, although it is just as simple. I prefer a simple, country church.

The Monastery is in the mountains. We took a lot of country roads, even some unpaved roads. The countryside there is beautiful. We even saw some wildlife - several deer.

It was a wonderful, restful and peaceful weekend. Now I'm ready to return to my busy days, at least I think so.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Wonderful Weekend

This past weekend I went to visit my cousin and her husband in upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains. They have a lovely home with a fantastic view. I was quite surprised when she moved up there since she was raised in Queens like me. I never expected that she would enjoy country life so much. But she does, they do.

On Saturday we went to a fair in another town. The trip there was wonderful. There is so much open space in the area, so many farms and gardens. If I were younger and did not live alone, I would certainly move up there.

At the fair we saw an exhibit of quilts. I only took one picture, wish I had taken more. This quilt was made from Japanese kimono material. The woman who made it said she had the material for about 14 years before she decided what to make. I thought it was just beautiful. Of course, it wasn't for sale.

We also saw an exhibit of antique household tools and kitchen items. My record at guessing was pretty good, considering I've never seen them before. Of course, a lot of my guesses were wrong.

Later, when we were sitting on the deck admiring the view,

I heard a very loud buzzing around my head. I was going to try to swat it, thinking it was a bee. I'm so glad I didn't, it was a hummingbird. They have two feeders and the birds come every day for their snack.

The birds were just like so many of the other animals I've encountered or heard about, on my various trips. As soon as my camera is ready, they usually leave. That is, the ones who actually come out of hiding when I'm there. If you look really, really hard, you can see the hummingbird on the red feeder, just about in the middle of the picture. My persistence paid off. Of course, when we went back into the house, there were two of them sitting on the feeders.

On Sunday, we went to Mass at a monastery for cloistered nuns. More about that tomorrow, or the next day, depending on the weather. If we have thunderstorms, my computer is off and I can't do any typing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pictures and Books

So there I was the other day happily scanning pictures. As I scanned each picture I saved it, identifying the subjects. I was listing all the girls in the picture when I got a message that that picture couldn't be saved in a document file. Then I realized I saved them to a file called "Thoughts". I didn't even know I had such a file and at that time I couldn't even find it.

So, of course, I started scanning more pictures, this time making sure they were going in my "Pictures" folder. This worked for about 25 pictures when I realized that they were being scanned in black and white and they were in color.

I took these two errors as a sign that I should not be scanning pictures that day and that I should be doing something more constructive. So, I left the computer, went into the living room and sat down to read a book. It's called Winter Study by Nevada Barr. The main character is Anna Pigeon. Evidently this is a series about this character.

The story takes place on Isle Royale National Park in the middle of Lake Superior in the winter. The cover of the book caught my attention. It shows a wolf howling and I'm fascinated by wolves so of course I had to buy the book. It's a mystery and the descriptions by Ms. Barr are so graphic, I was getting cold just sitting there reading.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery and also likes learning about winter in such an isolated area. Now I have to look for more books by Nevada Barr and about Anna Pigeon.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cats

Cats really are creatures of habit. Every night when I turn the TV off and shut off the lights I announce that it's bedtime. Crash always heads right for the bedroom. Burnie sometimes follows, but mostly I have to wake him up and carry him into the bedroom. I keep them with me at night because I don't trust them to have the run of the house when I can't see them. And, of course, I don't want my sleep to be disturbed, they can't get into too much trouble in one room.

Last week I went to dinner at a friend's house. We had a wonderful time, but I didn't get home until midnight. Both of them immediately walked into the bedroom, but I had a few things to take care of before retiring for the night. Both of them came our, circled around my feet and went back to the bedroom. They did this for a few times, until I finally decided to go to bed. They were so happy, they went right to sleep.

They are such nags. A girl can't have any fun.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Travel

I am soooo jealous. I went to Queens today to have my hair done, she did a wonderful job by the way. I can't remember when it looked so good. But I digress.

While we were chatting, Connie mentioned that she heard about a friend of a friend who is an artist and teaches art. This woman is 86 years old and is driving from Long Island, NY all the way to Alaska by herself. She plans on doing some painting there. Of course, she will have some wonderful subjects.

Just hearing about her convinces me that I'm not too old to do it again. Maybe next year I'll fly to Seattle, then drive to Alaska. That should be fun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Discovery

Today I think I made a disturbing discovery.

Here's some background. I have always had very dry skin. For as long as I can remember I have had to use hand cream and moisturizer. Lately it's gotten much worse. I just thought that since I'm getting older, this was normal.

Sometimes the itch on my legs gets so bad I've actually drawn blood. This was the case when I mentioned it to my doctor. He gave me a cream and it helped. Lately though, in addition to my legs, my arms have been starting to itch. There is no outward sign of irritation.

I had been fine most of today, then this afternoon I had two chocolate peppermint patties. Then the itch started with a vengeance. Could it be? Is it possible that I'm allergic to ....chocolate? I've never had allergies, except one year when I had poison ivy. I know that allergies can develop at any time, but now?

I'm going to give myself a test. I won't eat any chocolate for a week just to make sure this is the problem. And, if I am allergic to chocolate, there may be an upside. That would eliminate a very large part of my snacking and then maybe I can stick to a diet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why I Am the Way I Am

Several years ago when my company was getting ready to be bought out by a competitor, my boss decided that we should all take a test to see what fields we should consider next. The results of my test showed that I am an Introversion (I), sensation (S), thinking (T), judging (J) type of person. In short, I am an ISTJ personality.

The other day I decided to retake this test to see if I had changed. The results were exactly the same. Some of the characteristics of this type are decisiveness in practical affairs, dependable. Their word is their bond and they experience great uneasiness by thoughts of a bankrupt nation, state, institution or family. The thought of dishonoring a contract would appall a person of this type.

This explains why I'm so troubled by the size of our national debt and the fact that it keeps growing. There seems to be no end to the plans of this administration to spend money. Even our vice president said last week that we were broke and the way to avoid bankruptcy was to keep spending even more money.

It also explains why I'm so bothered by the recent auto bankruptcy. I don't remember whether it was Chrysler or GM where the bondholders, who are supposed to be the first in line for repayment in a bankruptcy, were required to take a small percentage of the money they loaned as repayment, while being pushed behind the union, and the government. The contract (bond) was completely disregarded.

Now we all know why I'm so hard lately on this administration and their waste of our money. I can't help it, I'm genetically programmed to be careful with money, my own and our country's. It's my nature. Maybe someone is working on a pill, or stem cells to cure me of my fear of bankruptcy and desire to fulfill a contract.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wine

We have many clubs in our community. One of them is the Wine Tasting club. We meet once a month and usually taste one particular grape from several different vineyards. Tonight our meeting was slightly different. We had a speaker who explained the various terms and grapes. We also tasted two white wines, sauvignon blanc and a riesling. Then we tasted two reds, Chianti and a pinot noir.

Usually I can't pick out the various flavors. I'm very good at noticing the oak flavor in a chardonnay, but can't pick out the fruits, herbs, flowers, etc. Tonight, however was different. I was able to notice a black cherry flavor in the pinot noir.

Toward the end of the meeting we had a blind taste test of pinot noir, Chianti, shiraz and California cabernet sauvignon. I was quite surprised that I was able to pick all the right wines. I guess I know more than I thought about wine.

At the end of the meeting I had a chance to speak with our "teacher". I mentioned that I had been to several wine tastings with well known wine experts, but I learned more tonight than I had at the other tastings. We chatted for a little while and someone asked if wine was his career. He said no, it was just a hobby. I was shocked to learn that he is actually a seminarian and will one day be a priest.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Few More Complaints

You may not believe this, but I really don't enjoy my constant criticizing of this administration. Maybe I have to stop reading the news because everything I see bothers me.

One of the latest is the president's appointment of 32 czars. These people are simply appointed, have no background checks (except by the media) and need no approval by congress. It seems that they are taking the place of the cabinet heads. The latest appointment, replacing the present car czar (whose former company is being investigated), is a former union head. You can be sure the unions will demand the return of their concessions and they will get them, thus preventing the recovery of the American auto industry.

Another problem I have is health care reform. We have been given the statistic that there are some 45 million people without health insurance in the US. While that may be true, I would like to know how many are betting that they will never be sick or need hospitalization and simply opt not to get insurance. How many would rather spend their money on having fun rather than protecting themselves? How many of these 45 million are here illegally? I'm sure if we were given these numbers the total amount of truly uninsured and needy would be much less.

We cannot afford this reform at the present time. Unemployment is inching its way up to 10% (after we were told it would reach approximately 9% if the stimulus plan were not passed). If small, or for that matter any, business has to pay higher taxes to cover health care reform, you can bet they will pass those costs along to us in the form of higher prices or layoffs.

Maybe we do need health care reform, but not now. Congress should concentrate on reducing our national debt before promising any more bailouts or reforms that will cost us. We now own a major car company, several banks and insurance companies. Stop the spending, start saving. We, the citizens, have had to. Why not our leaders?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Games

I'm very happy tonight, and also a little shocked.

At our weekly game of Scrabble today, I managed to win two games. The other three women I play with are tops and I usually have the lowest score by a very wide margin. Today though, I just couldn't do anything wrong. I was able to put some nice words together and in the right spots.

It's such a nice feeling to be a winner for a change. I'm going to savor the feeling all week, because I imagine that by next week I'll be my usual self, but until then, WOW, I'M A WINNER!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Friends

Today I had lunch with an old friend. We hadn't seen each other in about 15 years, but we have kept in touch for Christmas and birthdays.

We met on our first job as secretaries at Buell Engineering. When the company moved to Pennsylvania, we saw each other occasionally and as the years went by and our families grew, it got harder to get together.

We spent the afternoon talking about our co-workers and trying to figure who sat where and trying to remember some of the people. She has kept in touch with some, I with others. It was a fun place to work, mostly because we were all very close in age and had similar backgrounds. I made some very good friends on that job.

She remembered her early days on the job. She came right from high school. College was out of the question for any of us back then. She asked me how to spell a certain word and I, acting very superior since I was 4 years older, told her to look it up in the dictionary, that way she would learn the word. It's hard to believe that we would become friends after the way I acted.

Some of us have stayed close to New York and some of us have moved far away, but we all still have fond memories of the job and people we met there.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cats

Prepare to be either amused or bored to death. I realized the other day that cats just love to be in things. This is a small section of my printer table which Crash has just realized is a good place for a nap.

Of course, whenever I open a box of anything, Burnie is right there to jump in.


He also likes the file cabinet. I don't know how he managed to fit in there.

He even went into his carrier voluntarily. Unfortunately, I wasn't planning on taking him anywhere.

As soon as this cabinet was finished, he was in there.

He particularly likes the TV area. I guess it's warm there.


Crash is the more intellectual of the two. She prefers sitting in the bookcase. Maybe she's looking for something to read. Perhaps One Fish, Two Fish?


He found another box.


And another

Crash prefers the sink.


Burnie likes open drawers too.

And suitcases. I think he wanted to take this trip with me.

So there you have it, my cats like to curl up in enclosed areas. Of course, they don't use the beds I got for them. They were nice and round with short sides, but of course they were supposed to go into them, so now they won't.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stimulus & Secrets

I heard on the TV today that there may be a second stimulus soon. How can there be a second stimulus when the first one has not been fully spent. Only a small percentage of the original stimulus has been spent, the rest will be doled out in bits, with the bulk being spent sometime in 2011. Isn't it odd that so much money will be put into the economy just about the time that people are thinking about running for president. This money will be spent just in time for President Obama to become a hero and be reelected.

On another note, House Majority Steny Hoyer said that the health-care reform bill now pending in congress would garner very few votes if lawmakers actually had to read the entire bill before voting on it. He actually laughed when commenting on a pledge asking members of congress to read the entire bill before voting and making the full text of the bill available to the public for 72 hours before a vote.

I really don't think it's asking too much to read a bill before voting. After all, aren't you supposed to read a contract before you sign, why can't congress be expected to do the same. I don't think this pledge is funny, I think it's sad that it even has to be put forth.

Why the rush to push bills through congress without their reading them, or their being available for the public to read them. I thought this administration believed in transparency.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Burnie

Burnie here. Crash has been getting a lot of attention lately and I don't think that's fair. That's why I'm taking over here tonight.

Last week, Crash was "sick" and had everyone worried. I think she was just looking for some sympathy because mom cut back on our food. Crash just wanted to be dramatic.

The other night, I just wanted to get close to Crash, but she didn't want any part of me. She just backed herself into a corner and hissed and growled at me. Mom was trying to go to sleep and she yelled at us to stop. I just stayed still, but Crash kept hissing and growling. Mom got angry and locked me (can you believe it - ME) in the guest room. I wasn't doing anything, but I got punished. It just wasn't fair.

Why would anyone want to punish me, I'm so cute. Just look at me. How could anyone think I could possibly do anything wrong.



It's Crash, she's the troublemaker. She always tries to act innocent and get me in trouble. At least now that she's feeling better, maybe mom won't always take her side.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Update on Crash

Here's an update on Crash. She's getting back to her old self. She made it onto the bed the last three nights and for the last four days has made it onto the couch. I even picked her up tonight with only her usual protests.

Looking back, I can think of three reasons for her listlessness and weakness. About two days before I noticed symptoms, she tried to jump onto her sink for her drink of water, but she couldn't make it. I just assumed she was clumsy (I've had a lot of cats like that). The next night when I was trying to get her to go to bed, I tried picking her up in spite of her protests and might have pulled a muscle.


But, I'm inclined to think that the real reason for her "problem" was the fact that I had put her on a crash diet. I drastically cut back on her food because she's getting too fat. She was probably weak from hunger, that's probably why when I was testing her, she ate everything I gave her. It looks like she and I are not able to diet and lose weight.


She hasn't been too happy about her diet. Maybe we should jog around the house, or even walk the length of the house about 400 times. That should make a mile. Exercise instead of starvation.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Statue of Liberty

I hope everyone had a very happy and safe 4th of July.

This weekend, the National Parks' Service opened the crown of the Statue of Liberty to the public. Every channel did a piece on the statue. I learned a few things.

One thing that I did know was that the interior of the statue was designed by Eiffel (of the Tower fame). I learned this last year during my trip to France. But this year, I learned that there are over 300 steps to climb to get into the crown. The staircase is a spiral. There is only one way up and one way down. There are no elevators. The entire statue is over 300 feet tall. There is no fee to enter the statue, but there is a ferry fee of $10.00 for seniors and $12.00 for others.

I've never been to the Statue of Liberty, although I've passed it several times on the Staten Island Ferry and twice on cruises. Maybe some day I'll go.

But, I'll never go up to the crown. Climbing all those stairs would probably kill me before I ever got a chance to see the view. Then, there's the little problem I have with heights.

Ah well, I can always admire it from afar.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bernie Madoff

I'm tired of hearing about Bernie Madoff's "victims". Let me say first, that what he did was wrong, very wrong. He scammed a lot of people. But, he didn't force them to "invest" in his scheme. They saw a projected big profit and put all their money into it.

One of the first rules of investing is not to put everything you have into one thing. Diversify, diversify, diversify. Didn't anyone learn anything from Enron. There the employees didn't have a choice, all of their 401K money went to the Enron stock. Sometimes, we should pay attention to the old proverbs, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket".

Many of those people who lost everything only saw an easy way to make a profit and see their money grow. We all want that, there's nothing basically wrong with that. But, you have to be realistic. No one "investment" will make you rich, you have to spread your money around, some very safe placements (think bank accounts), a few high risk or speculative investments. And never invest more than you can afford to lose. I can understand people's putting a small amount of their money in Madoff's fund, sometimes you have to take a chance. But, they should remember that a high yield is most times a result of a high risk.

There is no way I condone Bernie Madoff's actions. He was wrong, he was a crook. What he was offering was too good to be true. The people who gave him their life savings were just plain stupid. Everyone has a right to be stupid, but don't expect me to feel sorry for you.