Monday, June 27, 2011

First Harvest

Every spring I plant herbs, especially basil, on my patio. Every year it's the same thing. The plant doesn't look full enough and I don't want to completely cut it back. I wait a week or so for more leaves.

When I finally decide it seems full enough for me to cut some leaves, I look and see that it has started to go to seed and blossom. No basil for that year.

This year, I had a lot of plants in one pot and they were doing quite well. It started to look as if the blossoms might be starting. On Friday, I went out and cut quite a few stems. I really didn't feel like cooking, so I decided to make some pesto. I harvested enough basil for two cups of pesto which I froze.

Now, when I feel like my favorite, shrimp and basil pasta, I just have to reach into the freezer. Speaking of the freezer, I wonder how basil ice cream would taste.

I also have a lot of oregano and mint out there. The strawberries haven't been too productive this year, but the sage is doing quite well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What do they Know?

I just heard someone from the administration state that they (the administration) are just 1/4 of the way through their plans for our country.

Correct me if I'm wrong. The term of a duly elected president is four years. The election was in 2008, this is 2011. According to my math, we are a little more than 1/2 way through Obama's reign.

It looks to me as if the president and his administration know something about the 2012 election. How can they be so sure that we will be "blessed" with another four years. What sort of plan do they have? What kind of October Surprise will we get next year. Will the unemployment rate suddenly drop to 3% and housing values raise? Are they going to "fix" the election, or do they truly believe they will be reelected next year.

I shudder to think about it. We can't afford four more years.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Glad She's not my Neighbor

I volunteer once a week at the desk in our Clubhouse. It's usually very quiet and I get a chance to read. My main job is to take reservations for various events, then I get a chance to visit with friends and neighbors.

Today was a little different. A woman came in complaining about a lack of response to a complaint of hers. She went on and on because no one was available to take care of her. She had complained about this several times before. After a while, she stopped complaining and started talking.

Then she went on to complain about the solar panels some residents have put on their homes. They're ugly, they look like space ships, etc. She heard about a new company who had a better idea. They were putting thick aluminum, similar to astronauts' suits, in the attic which would block the heat and cold from coming into the house. She insisted that it's not insulation, but very thick aluminum.

From there we got into a discussion about she and her husband (poor man) use only natural products around the house. Her daughter also uses only products, they are "going green". She was so proud of that, and said we should all "go green". It's better for all. Then I reminded her that solar panels were also a way of going green. Since she was no longer complaining about conditions in our community I felt comfortable in gently arguing with her.

From living green she jumped to all the "junk" the stores sell especially around Halloween. The stores shouldn't sell that, that is just poison for the children, those poor children. I reminded her that the parents didn't have to buy it, they could say "NO" to their children. If no one bought it, they'd stop making it.

I'm a firm believer in the parents' responsibility to their children and I kept reminding her of that. The children don't go to the supermarket, they don't buy the food, they don't pay for it. The parents don't want to say "no" to their children, it's not the manufacturers' or the stores' faults or responsibility.

I told her that I never had a problem saying "no" to my children. At Halloween, they were allowed to have 3 pieces of candy each night. After about a week or so, they got bored and forgot all about all that candy.

Then she went on and on about being invaded by ants that must have been in a bag of potato chips one day, and even the next day after she had disposed of the bag. It seems that she has a problem with stores, management of our community, chip manufacturers, etc.

I had such a good time gently arguing with her. I love a good argument, but I'd hate to live next door to her.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How Hot is It?

The east coast is going through a heat wave. Temperatures today are expected to hit 97, and it's still early in June.

This morning I read an interesting piece in the New York Daily News by Michael Daly. I was surprised at one of the points he made. He explained why the NYC subway stations were always so hot in the summer. It seems that for every good thing, you have to give up something. Since the subway cars are air conditioned, the heat from them is expelled into the tunnels and stations. Mystery solved.

The main point of this article, though, had more to do with a comparison beween our conditions here in the east and that of our forces in Iraq and Afganistan. There, the daytime temperature may go as high as 140 degrees. If it ever got that hot here, I could wear shorts and sleeveless tops, go shoeless or jump into a pool or even take a nap. There, our forces have to wear body armor and carry an automatic weapon, ammo and gear, all the while staying alert for their own safety and that of their buddies.

It must be discouraging for our troops that while they are suffering in this heat and risking their lives for us, our Congress is worrying about the costs of the wars in terms of dollars and cents and not lives. In the past few days, 13 Americans have been killed in attacks in Iraq and Afganistan.

After reading this article, I think I can manage to get through a few 90+ degree days with all the conveniences I have - air condioning, fans, pool. I also don't have to worry about stepping on a bomb or being shot at. Yes, we have it good.

Thank you Michael Daly for putting our little heat wave in perspective.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Never go food shopping when you're hungry.

How many times have I heard that? How many times have I ignored that simple rule? On Monday I realized it was time for my monthly trip to the supermarket. I had two cans of cat food left, so it was time.

The store had some good deals. If I bought one package of split chicken breasts, I could get another package free. That was a good deal. Along with the chicken, I also picked up several freezer items. When I got home, I faced the challenge of fitting it all in the freezer. There was room for everything but the Lenders bagels. Oh well, they'll make a good breakfast.

I really went overboard in the produce aisle. All the fruit looked so good, and I just love all the summer fruits. Because I'm trying to eat more healthfully I bought peaches, nectarines, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. The plan is to make a fruit salad, which I haven't gotten around to yet. I also have a good recipe for a spinach and nectarine salad.

All my good intentions went out the window when I looked at the peaches this morning. I didn't think I'd get around to eating all those peaches, so there was only one solution. Bake a pie. Which I did.

It was delicious. However, just before it was quite done, some of the juice dropped down to a pan I keep in the oven for just such times. Suddenly, there was this ear piercing squeal throughout the house. Yes, I set off the smoke alarms. After I opened a window, all was quiet. But, it was so embarrassing. I hope none of my neighbors heard it.

At least I know that after six years my smoke alarm batteries still work.

Friday, June 3, 2011


There's a group in our community called, "Gals on the Go". They plan all kinds of interesting events and trips. Yesterday, we went to Brooklyn.
I spent a lot of time in Brooklyn when I was younger, but never at most of the spots we toured. The main part of the trip for me was a stop in Brooklyn Heights. This is a very, very expensive neighborhood and I've always wanted to visit, but somehow never got around to it. It is an historic district, some streets are closed to commercial traffic. It is the one of the earliest suburbs of NYC, many of the homes were built in the 1820's, some even before. Most of those homes also have wonderful views of Manhattan.

The above is a view of downtown Manhattan from the Promenade in the Heights. This next photo shows a building slightly to the right of center with what looks like two candles on the top. This is the new Freedom Tower which is being built on the site of the World Trade Center.

From the Promenade, we walked to the Pilgrims Church. This was Henry Ward Beecher's church and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It's still an active church, some of the buildings house schools for the neighborhood children.

This statue of the Rev. Beecher shows him holding a mock auction of children as slaves. The local residents would "bid" on the "slaves" and the money paid would be used for their transportation on the rest of the trip to Canada.

After Brooklyn Heights, we rode around Park Slope, another affluent neighborhood. Back in the 50's and 60's you could have bought a brownstone house for about $15,000-$20,000. Now, you might be able to buy one if you had a few million dollars.

We drove past the Brooklyn Museum which has a very large collection of Egyptian artifacts. After the museum, we saw the Botanic Gardens which has more cherry trees than Washington DC. Then, we caught a glimpse of my high school, which wasn't part of the tour nor was it of interest to anyone else except me and another lady.

Then it was time for lunch at Juniors, another Brooklyn landmark. Yes, this is the Juniors of the famous cheesecake. And, it was delicious.

After lunch we visited Greenwood Cemetery, the final resting place of such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Miller and mob boss Albert Anastasio and regular people too. There is still room if you want to spend eternity there. It only costs $25,000.

This cemetery was established in the 1830's and is also the final resting place of more Civil War casualties than anywhere else in the US, even Gettysburg. This is the entrance.

Many of the masoleums were built into the hillsides and many of them were very elaborate.

There is a non-denominational chapel on the grounds. Since our visit was just after Memorial Day, there were many Civil War artifacts inside.

I guess this is the only place where a canon would fit, but I found it a rather odd spot for one, right in front of the altar.

There are three glacial lakes in the cemetery which comprises 478 acres. This is one of the lakes.

There are now plans to identify the graves of the Civil War casualties. There is a group of volunteers who go over the records, then try to find the original tombstones which may not be
easily visible. They then arrange for new headstones in the same place. Here are two that were found. They are two brothers who fought on opposite sides and didn't see each other until their final battle. They were both wounded and met in the hospital tent. They had a brief reunion and then died and were buried next to each other. I don't know which was a Union soldier and who was the Confederate soldier. I'm sure someone knows, but our guide didn't.

There is such an excitement and energy in New York and all the boroughs, that at times during the day and even since that I've regretted leaving New York. If I ever win the lotto, maybe I'll go back.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

There's Always a First Time

I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later and I just got complacent and careless.

This afternoon as I was about to go out to collect my mail, I hesitated at the door as I checked the weather to see if it was raining hard. There I was, the storm door open just a little when the black flash whizzed by as fast as his three good legs and one arthritic leg could go.

As soon as I realized that Burnie was about to make a run for freedom, I screamed and pulled the door shut. Unfortunately, Burnie was almost halfway through the door. I opened the door a little and pulled him back into the house. I felt terrible all afternoon. I checked him out and he doesn't seem to be hurt.

He spent the rest of the day sleeping which isn't at all unusual. I've never seen a cat sleep as much as he does. I've heard that lions in the wild sleep 20 out of 24 hours a day. Burnie seems to sleep more than that. He only wakes up to eat and check up on Crash and sleep in one of her favorite spots.

He does like to see what's on the other side of a door. In fact, that's how we got him as a kitten. The door was open and he just walked in and made himself at home. I really never thought he'd try to make a run for it. I'm usually very careful, now I'll have to be extra careful.

Maybe I should put a collar with his name and address around his neck in case his next attempt at escape is successful.