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Friday, April 30, 2010

Birthday

Today is my birthday, and it has been a wonderful one. Everyday this week the mail brought another greeting from a friend. I honestly can't remember when so many of my friends and family remembered.

Part of the reason for this is that I have made so many good friends in this community. It's the best move I've made in years. Because of the internet, I've also reconnected with old friends who sent their wishes.

My Scrabble group took me out to lunch today. We had a very good time, then came back to my house for dessert. I experimented with a recipe and wanted to get their opinion. It's not that much of an experiment. I just made a lemon pound cake into a lemon lime pound cake. But that little change was a major step for me. I usually follow a recipe to the letter, never use my imagination.

Yes, it's been a wonderful birthday. So good, I think I'll have one every year.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

German Lesson

I'm surprised with myself. I'm still setting aside an hour a day for my German lesson. I'm using Rosetta Stone and it seems to be working well.

I'm not doing as well as I would like, but since I haven't studied anything in about 15 years I guess I'm not doing so badly.

Two years ago I did try to learn French for my trip to Alsace Lorraine. I must admit that I didn't take it seriously. I listened to the cd's whenever I thought of it. I did try to learn by osmosis. I listened to the cd's as a way to go to sleep. I thought I might learn in my sleep. Didn't work. I do know that I can order a ham and cheese sandwich in French, that's about it.

The German vocabulary is coming to me quicker than the grammar and writing and that really disturbs me. You see, I consider myself quite the grammarian, in English of course and my spelling is very good too.

Even though it's getting harder, I have to keep at it. It's a matter of pride. I won't let it beat me. I'm determined to be able to speak, even if it's only a little, for my riverboat cruise in Germany in October. Today is Donnerstag.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dryer Update

The repairman got here today, almost on time. I explained the problem and the fact that I had had the vent hose cleaned out about a month ago. He took the front panel off the dryer and I was shocked to find that it was full of lint. I now know that when the hose is cleaned, the front panel should also be removed for cleaning.

Then he went up in the attic to check the hose up there. It seemed that that was the problem. When the builder put the hole in the roof for the vent, he neglected to fully open the flap on the vent. The repairman fixed the flap and said that now the dryer should work perfectly.

It had worked so poorly before they put the hole in the roof that even the little improvement was appreciated. Today, after he fixed the flap I could feel the difference. The air in the dryer was actually hot. Now, maybe my clothes will dry in less than 2 or 3 hours.

At least I don't have to buy a new dryer - yet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Appliance Life

Ever since I moved into my house almost five years ago, my dryer hasn't worked properly. After about two years, I discovered that while the vent hose went from the dryer to the roof, no one put a hole in the roof for the vent.

After that was fixed, it worked well until about the last two or three months. It takes about two hours to dry a small load. I must add here that it doesn't get all that much use, about 3 loads a week. I decided to get the vent hose cleaned, maybe that was the problem. It wasn't.

I finally call for a repair today and was surprised to hear that the average lifespan of a dryer is 7 years. I couldn't believe it. They don't make things like they used to. My first dryer lasted about 15 years and it got a lot more use. A repairman is coming tomorrow. If it will cost more than $100, I'll forget about it and buy a new one.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Inconsiderate People

They say you shouldn't write anything when you're angry or annoyed. This is why I waited a day and after speaking with someone similarly affected.

The problem occurred yesterday in church. This woman came in with three children ages 7 and under. She was 15 minutes late. I'm sure someone would say how hard it is to get three children dressed and out on time. I would answer that by saying that if she had tickets to a performance of the circus or Sleeping Beauty or Shrek, she would be sure to be on time, no matter how early she had to be there.

The children were restless the entire time, yet she only chastised the oldest and never said a word to the other two. The middle child, a girl, brought a stuffed animal to church. I hate to sound like a cranky old lady, but back in the day when my boys were young, we brought books that had bible stories aimed at children. My boys called them, "God books". We were always on time and they behaved themselves, sitting and standing still, no wiggling.

Back to this family. She also brought this horrible smelling hand cream with her and, of course, the children had to use it. One woman, after shaking the boy's hand as the Sign of Peace had to wipe her hand off. Then, after making everyone step over her and the youngest (she allowed the middle child who was about 5 to go up for communion, even though she was too young to receive) at communion time, she packed up and left early.

I know I should be charitable and be glad that at least she brought her children to church with her, but I don't feel very charitable. She and her children were a distraction to all around them.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Crash here

There's something suspicious going on with my mother. All week, she's been going out for about 1/2 hour. TWICE A DAY!!! When she comes back, she smells different. I think she's seeing another cat. I can't understand why she'd do that. Aren't I good enough?

I tried talking to Burnie about this, but he couldn't care less. As long as he gets his food on time he's not worried. It looks like I have to take matters into my own hands.

I think the next time she goes out I'll block the door so she can't get past me. OR, maybe I'll just ignore her, that'll teach her. I'll show her she can't cheat on me and get away with it.

What if she really likes that other cat better than me? Who'll take care of me? I can't open the can of food, I can't turn the water on either. Maybe, if I'm real nice and purr a lot, she'll forget about that other cat.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Garden

Even though we might have a frost tonight, I can tell that spring is in the air. Everything just looks brighter, the grass is growing, the trees are starting to show their leaves. I'm even getting the urge to garden.

I really don't care for gardening. All that getting down on your hands and knees to plant and then to weed. For some reason, my house seems to attract a particularly strange weed. It grows very tall and has thorns very close together on every branch. The man who occasionally does my weeding (when it gets out of control) said he doesn't see it anywhere else in my development. Just my luck.

Anyway, I'm getting that urge. So, I ordered a bunch (12) of miniature rose bushes and they came today. I have no idea where I'll put them. Fortunately, they can be planted in containers. I also bought a couple of basil plants, some coriander, rosemary, parsley and Texas tarragon. The herbs will be kept in containers, but the tarragon may go into the ground. I read that it has yellow blossoms and attracts butterflies. Oh, and I also bought a strawberry plant which already had berries on it. That too will stay in a container.

I hope to have a nice garden with lots of herbs and berries and roses. Now all I have to do is remember to water them and harvest the herbs before they go to seed. What are the chances of that?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Travel

The other day I was speaking with my cousin and the subject of travel came up. She asked if I had any plans to travel soon. I don't, and I'm getting very restless.

I am glad though that the trip I had hoped to take next week was unavailable. I would be so worried. You see, I wanted to take a Mediterranean cruise. With all the air travel problems of the past week because of the volcano, I'd be wondering whether or not I'd actually be able to fly.

But, back to my conversation with my cousin. I mentioned that I am in great need of a road trip. I'm still trying to get to Gettysburg. My major problem with that trip is being able to find three consecutive days without meetings or other responsibilities. After working so many years and only being able to do things on a weekend, I now avoid weekend activities as much as possible. Besides, places are less crowded during the week.

Every Tuesday I volunteer at the desk in the clubhouse, every other Wednesday I have Creative Writing. That leaves a very small window for travel. Now I'm looking into day trips. Maybe I'll meet a friend who lives on Long Island for lunch. I doubt that would be a day trip though, she's about 150 miles away, one way.

I will be getting a City fix next week when I meet another friend for a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and lunch or dinner at one of the few remaining German restaurants in the city. Maybe I can try some of the German I'm learning.

After hearing my tale of woe, she said I have a very bad case of cabin fever. I never thought of it that way.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Friends and Family

Years ago I heard a psychologist saying that we should treat family members with the same consideration and respect we show friends. If a friend spilled a drink, you wouldn't chastise them, you would just say that it's OK, don't worry about it. But if a family member did the same thing, we would chastise them and ask how they could be so clumsy.

Thinking about that method made me realize that I don't treat Crash and Burn the same way as I treat a friend's cat. You see, I'm catsitting this week. Yesterday when I went to see Dali, she was afraid of me. I tried to play with her, but she wanted no part of me. I just gave her her food, fresh water and cleaned her box. This morning, she was a little more friendly, she even played a little. Again I gave her fresh food, water and cleaned her box. I felt sorry for her so I tried to give her some attention.

Then I came home and got impatient because Crash and Burn were under my feet, looking for more food. If they are too slow to play, I give up. And, I'm ashamed to admit this, I don't always clean the box every day.

When dealing with friends I guess we never give up being nice, we don't want to hurt their feelings lest they leave us. With family, we seem to take them for granted. Family will always be with us, no matter what. Just like Crash and Burn, they are very forgiving.

Friday, April 16, 2010

He Who Hesitates is Lost - But Not Always

A local university had planned an evening discussing Mary Cassat along with a full course French dinner. Our Artists and Writers group made a reservation, but unfortunately we were too late.

Rather than just sit back and be disappointed, we decided to have our own Mary Cassat night. Each of us volunteered to make a course and bring it to one home for dinner. It was a wonderful night.

We started with champagne, cheese and fruit while we watched a dvd of Cassat's life and works. Then we had some onion soup and French bread, followed by salad and a wonderful chicken, tomato dish with a side of roasted vegetables with balsamic vinegar. Of course, there was wine.

After a little while we had coffee and dessert. That was my contribution. I made a deliciously high calorie coer 'l creme with raspberry/strawberry sauce and an almond pear tart.

It was a fantastic evening, I think even better than that university had to offer. We tried to decide on the next artist. We might do an evening on Georgia O'Keefe with a southwestern menu.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Important Lesson Learned

Tonight while I was preparing dinner I received a phone call. They wanted my opinion, particularly on the upcoming republican primary election. Since I'm always ready, willing and able to give my opinion on anything at any time I took the call.

Throughout the call the girl had trouble reading the questions. Certain words such as constituents, political and even some smaller words gave her problems. I was getting annoyed and impatient with her inability to read. I even had to finish some of the words for her.

About three quarters through the call I realized that even though this girl had trouble reading, she at least tried. She was working and not sitting home complaining that she didn't have a job and it was someone else's fault. I'm sorry now that I was so impatient with her. She should be commended. She's trying.

I learned a lesson tonight. I should not judge a person so quickly.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Party Time

Yesterday our Singles' Club had a wine and cheese party with a view to welcoming new members. We had a good time, but unfortunately we only had about four new people. On the bright side, however, there was one man brave enough to join the party. I doubt, however, that he will come to any meetings, they rarely do.

Everyone was asked to bring some type of food and we had so much, most of it some kind of cheese. I brought my spicy sausage balls which went over well, probably because they were different.

In order to add to the fun and encourage mingling, which unfortunately we rarely do, each person had a sticker on her back with the name of a famous person. We had to ask questions and try to guess who "we" were based on those questions. I was Madonna and had a hard time with that. I drew a blank on popular singers, I don't follow pop music that closely. Give me a country singer or someone from the 50's and I can figure it out, but popular music and I'm lost. Some of the clues were clever. One of the women said this was a female singer who was "up front". I immediately thought of Dolly Parton. It wasn't until they mentioned controversial adoption that I realized I was Madonna. It was a lot of fun, and I got a prize - a lottery scratch-off ticket. I actually won $5.00, so it was a good day.

It looks like our new officers will be more active and planning all sorts of good things for us. Our next event will be a tea and show at a local university. More on that after the show in May.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Want vs Need

Have you ever seen something in a store and been tempted to buy it, then decided that it wasn't practical. That happened to me today.

I went up to the mall to pick up a few things. While there, I wandered over to the AT&T store just to see what was new. I saw a new phone and because they no longer carry my model, I can get it for the same price as a new customer. My phone still works even though it doesn't hold a charge as long as it used to. I really don't need a new phone, but I'd really, really like one.

The only reason I didn't buy it today is that I found it would add $20 to my phone bill. That doesn't seem like so much, but I really hardly use my cell phone. I got it solely as a security thing. I often go places alone and the cell gives me peace of mind. I've always thought of my cell phone as insurance.

So far today my practical side won, I don't know about tomorrow or the next day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Organization vs. Sentimentality

I had some shelves put in the closet in my office. This is supposed to solve my clutter problem.

I decided to go through some of the boxes before putting them back. There were a few things on top that belonged to my son. This was good, I could just send them off to him, maybe even get rid of the box. Unfortunately, there were just a few of his things, the rest belong to me.

I started going through them. Maybe I can throw something away. Here's a picture of my father and his family when he was about 9 years old. That stays. There are cards that my boys made for Christmas and Mother's Day, how could I possibly throw them out. I know some people are so organized that they would scan the cards, save them in the computer and throw out the originals. I'm not that organized or unsentimental.

But, I do believe someone will be getting a package soon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

German Lesson

This morning I had to leave the house for a 10:00 am meeting, then it was scrabble time and I was at the desk all afternoon. Because I was pressed for time I didn't have my German lesson. After dinner I had a strange feeling. There was something missing. Then I realized my problem. I was feeling guilty about missing my lesson.

I managed to put 1/2 hour aside, after all NCIS with Mark Harmon and David McCallum was on at 8:00 and then NCIS LA with Chris O'Donnell at 9:00. I just couldn't miss them. I am just so surprised at my feelings. Just last week going to a lesson, even just in my office, was a chore. I went, but I didn't feel like it.

I must really want to learn. I'm really enjoying my lessons and making progress. Of course, this is just the beginning. I haven't studied a language since 2nd year in high school and that was Latin. So far I haven't had to face the rules, just words and pronunciations. I see a picture, then hear and see the name.

Crash has to sit on my desk while I'm learning. She may just be a bi-lingual cat. The other day while she was sitting on my desk I suddenly got it. You know the gasp or OH when you get it, while I scared Crash and disturbed her.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Coffee

I don't know how I'll make it through the next couple of days. And they're going to be busy.

After I made my coffee this morning and emptied the cannister, I went looking for a refill. Then, to my horror, I discovered I don't have any coffee in the freezer. I was so surprised since I try to keep at least 2 lbs. in reserve. I must really be drinking a lot of coffee lately. The only coffee in the house is, good grief, decaf.

Regular coffee has no effect on me. I can drink a cup of black coffee right before I go to bed and get to sleep within 1/2 hour. But, when I drink decaf, I tend to nod off as soon as I sit down. It's a good thing that I don't have to drive anywhere.

Maybe I can take a short drive to the supermarket Wednesday after Writing Club and proofreading of the paper.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Reality vs. Denial

Have you ever seen or heard something that makes you realize how old you really are? My husband and mother-in-law would be spinning in their graves if they knew what I'm about to reveal. My age. I'm 70 but feel about half that.

Today on the radio I heard an interview with Christopher Cox who is Richard Nixon's grandson and is running for congress from Suffolk County on Long Island, NY. How can that be? He has to be at least 25 years old. I can still picture his mother as a child when Nixon was Eisenhower's Vice President. Could I really be old enough to remember when Tricia Nixon married his father?

I'm also forced into reality when I see Gidget (AKA Sally Field) talking about osteoporosus. How did these people get so old while I stayed so young (at least in my mind). Can you believe Racquel Welch is 69? Margaret O'Brien, my favorite child star is 72. Dean Stockwell, another favorite child star is is 74. Even Robert Redford is 71.

How did they get so old when I didn't. I think the answer is denial. "Old" always has been and will continue to be at least 20 years older than I. I'm still middle-aged (at least in my mind). So what if I remember events from the '40's.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Structure and Reading

Early this week I tried to put more structure in my life by setting aside about an hour a day to read. Monday while I was reading I had two telephone calls. My phone rarely rings, but twice it interrupted my reading.

The rest of the week I was able to read for an hour. Unfortunately, Burnie saw me sitting comfortably in my chair in the sunroom. Now, he has claimed that chair as his own and I have to brush off his hair whenever I sit down.

This morning right after breakfast he jumped into the chair and took his nap. It was time to read, but he just wouldn't wake up. Since it was a beautiful day I decided to open some windows. First, the bedroom - Crash came but no Burnie, then the kitchen - still no Burnie. Finally I opened the door in the sunroom. Burnie was too comfortable to look for fresh air. Usually, I can't get a window open fast enough for him.

Eventually, he woke up, left the chair and went to watch the world go by and I was able to read and finish my book. If you would like a good read, pick up "Hell Gate" by Linda Fairstein. She's one of my favorite authors in the mystery field. All her novels are set in New York City. Her research is extensive and her crime scene is one of NY's landmark buildings or areas. I've learned a lot about the history of NY, the good and the bad. She has featured the Museum of Natural History, the Public Library, and Poe Cottage

Thursday, April 1, 2010

WARNING!

I'm on my soapbox again. I heard today that some people are petitioning that Ronald McDonald be retired/fired. Their explanation is that this character "lures" children into a life of fat by making McDonald's food and Happy Meals so appealing to the children.

My question is this. Where is the parents' responsibility? Can't they use that old-fashioned word, "NO". An occasional, and I mean occasional, Happy Meal won't make a child fat. It can if it becomes an everyday meal and not a treat.

This reminds me of a situation we had at the pool last summer. It seems that the lifeguards had the nerve to take a lunch hour. The grandparents were miffed that they had to tell the children that they had to leave the pool for just an hour. How could you disappoint a child that way. Again, obviously the children never heard that special word "NO". Of course, it never occurred to them that they could give the children their lunch at that time. Management gave in and now the lifeguards can eat at their post. And no one has to tell a child, "NO".

Maybe I don't understand because I'm not a grandparent, but I am a parent. I did not give in to my children all the time. They certainly heard the word "NO" and I think were better for it.