Friday, February 19, 2021

Giving Up

Two Sundays ago my car was covered in ice, and the doors were frozen shut. We had just had a discussion about my tendency to ask himself to do things for me that I could do myself. So instead of asking him to solve the problem, I got the brilliant idea of getting a pitcher of hot water and pouring it over the door handle and around the rim.

It worked and I was able to open both doors. Yay! I went back in the house very proud of myself and told himself, and he laughed and said “Well, they will just freeze up again…” So I went racing out there, and the passenger door opened (barely) and I was able to get my driver’s license out of the glove box (it locks), which is where I keep because I do not normally carry a purse. The driver’s side had indeed already froze shut again. I drove one of the cars that lives in the garage to church.

More weather came, and the car hasn’t moved since. I haven’t left the house except to feed the birds since last Sunday (church was cancelled). Richard has managed to get out to the highway and go to town, and we will leave a little later to get the second COVID shot and make a pass at the library to return books, which would have been overdue yesterday except she renewed them for me over the phone.

I have had no exercise at all since last Friday. I have not been to the aerobics class (although I do plan to go back Monday), I  have not  taken a walk (when we had the dog, I would bundle up and take her for a walk when it was single digits, but not now), and I have not gotten on the recumbent cycling machine. I feel like a blob.

The church I grew up in did not “do Lent” and I don’t recall any of the Baptist churches we attended mentioning Lent either. However, the Presbyterians do “do Lent” and so this has been a new experience for me. Lent is a time for personal reflection that prepares people's hearts and minds for Good Friday and Easter and often involves “giving up” something to help remind folks to focus on their relationship with God. However, in past seasons of Lent I have not given up anything with that purpose in mind.

This year is different though. I can see that I do need to deepen my relationship with God, and I have figured out what I am giving up to help me do that. Or at least will try to do. And that is uncontrollable snacking after dinner. About 2.5 hours after dinner (we eat very early), we usually have a salad, which is mainly vegetables and usually no lettuce (not at $1.99 a head). And we eat that while we watch television. Then I sit in my recliner and read for another hour or so. But I don’t just read. I graze – peanuts…crackers and cheese… and then yogurt with fruit.

I have decided to stick with the salad and yogurt and give up the “grazing.” Perhaps I can lose a little of the weight I have put on by exercising my elbow.

Thursday, February 11, 2021


Once upon a time, if I mailed a letter on Monday to my parents in Gardena, CA (a suburb of Los Angeles), it often arrived there by Thursday.

But times have changed.

My little brother’s birthday was on Jan 21 and I remembered to send him a birthday card with some money.

Here he is on Super Bowl Sunday. 

I imagine he was disappointed at the outcome of the game.

Last year when I mailed his card, I left one number off the address on the envelope, and even though I had included the extra digits on the ZIP code that should have sorted the letter to his house, it did not arrive. I got it back in the mail several weeks later.

This year I was very careful to write the correct address but was little late getting it in the mail. I forgot the post office would be closed on the Jan 18th for MLK’s birthday, so the letter was not postmarked until the 19th.

I knew it probably would be a little late.

A little late?

My brother called me 2 days ago (on the 9th) to let me know the card had arrived. It took 20 days.

Now when the Pony Express was delivering mail in the 1860s, they managed to get a letter from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, in 10 days. That’s about 1800 miles. It is 1500 miles from here to my brother’s house in Lakewood. 

We obviously can’t reactive the Pony Express, but my goodness. Something definitely needs to be done about the U.S. Postal Service. And I don’t think we can blame it on COVID.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Silence is Golden

Thursday is our meatless meal day. I fix things that have a complete protein but don’t use meat. Frequently what I end up making is vegan, but we are not vegans. We like meat. A lot. 

I usually end up making enough for 6 people, so I eat the leftovers for lunch for the next several days. 

Tonight we had dal (Indian recipe for rice and lentils), which I got from a great vegetarian cookbook that I have used so much that it is starting fall apart...

last week we had black bean and quinoa salad, which I got off from the Allrecipes website.. and the week before we had vegetarian chili and cornbread. 

I used two different recipes when I made the chili and got the spices fouled up. I’m not sure what I did exactly, but it was probably the worst-tasting chili I have ever made. 

After we finished, I asked Himself what he thought of the chili. “Oh,” he says, “it was great.” All I said was “Good, I am glad you liked it.” 

As my sweet sissy says “I have found if I don't point out flaws, he won't notice either.” 

I was able rehabilitate the chili by adding some more canned tomatoes and some more chili powder and that did the trick.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

A Bite of This...A Bite of That

Along with the instant Idaho potatoes, my brother also sent a bar of 90% dark chocolate. It was rather bitter and not that pleasant to eat – almost like eating baking chocolate. I tried to give Richard half but he declined. It did come at a good time. Part of the instructions the NP sent home with me when I was treated for the “itis’s,” which would be laryngitis, bronchitis, conjuctivitis, and cheilitis (an inflamed upper lip) was “coffee and dark chocolate.”

In the Christmas box my sister sent, was a small bag of caramels. I started eating my half of the caramels along with the chocolate bar. A bite of chocolate… a bite of caramel. Tasted pretty good together.

My sister sent me an e-mail yesterday in which she told me she has found a home nearby for the family piano that we both learned to play on when we were children. My brother also took lessons for about a month but then he decided he would rather go out and play with the boys and so she did not force him. He says now it was one of the biggest regrets of his life.

After we grew up and left home, my mom decided she wanted to do something different with the living room, and so she gave the piano to my sister and bought a small spinet piano that fit perfectly in another spot. Dad could play if he wanted or the granddaughters (one of the granddaughters is very gifted musically) could entertain if they came to visit.

She will be passing it to a family that has two children and lives right down the street from them. The piano is big...

and takes up a lot of room and she wants to do something else with her living room. 

I don’t blame her, but I am a little sad. It is hard though to mentally let go of things that you have had an attachment to.

In her memoir Becoming, Michele Obama writes about being given music lessons by her great aunt on an old piano when she was a child. Her family lived in an upstairs apartment that had been created in an old house that her great aunt owned. 

She learned to recognize middle C because there was a chip in the ivory. When it came time for her first recital, she had no idea where middle C was and was frozen. She was lucky: her aunt came on the stage and showed her middle C and she was able to carry on.

Reading about that brought back a very painful memory. Dad and mom both played, and she began teaching me to play when I was 4. I had an aptitude for it, so they arranged for a teacher and I took lessons. The keyboard was not in good shape. Middle C was chipped, as were the ivories on other keys.

My first – and last – piano recital was a disaster. I was perhaps 11 or 12 years old. When I sat frozen at the piano, which did not have any chipped ivories, I had no idea where to place my hands. My teacher did not come up and show me where middle C was. I floundered. I guess I got through the program I had practiced but not very well. I can’t remember when I was ever more embarrassed. I cried a lot.  

My parents immediately had the keyboard repaired, so when my sister began taking lessons, she didn’t have that problem. Her teacher got me involved in her lessons and gave us duets to play. And she still has the sheet music all these years later. 

We had so much fun. Lots of laughter and joy.

I hope the piano brings the new family them as much joy as it did our family.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Making Up for 2 Months

One can’t hope to develop and retain faithful readers of one’s blog if one lets months go by between posts.

I have left large gaps in the blog before and will no doubt do it again. Not sure why exactly, but here it is 2 months since the last time I wrote. We are about to teeter into a New Year, and if I were to make a New Year’s resolution, perhaps it might be to try to regularly write.

Having grown increasingly disillusioned with some of the laws and regulations coming out of the state government in Sacramento, my brother’s daughter and husband decided they did not want to raise their children in California, and so they packed up and moved to Idaho in September. Daniel decided he wasn’t going to let his daughter and grandkids go without him, so he and his wife also packed up and moved to Idaho. 

It was sort of a shock for the rest of us that they did that… that they’re gone, but I get why they did. We did the same thing in 1979 when we decided we didn’t want to raise our son in Southern California, so we packed up and moved to Oregon and then later moved here.

But it now means that when I am able to travel again, I won’t be able to make a one-stop visit and see both of my brothers and sister. If I want to see Daniel, his wife, and the grands, I’ll have to go to Idaho. They are certainly having some adventures and are experiencing Winter for the first time in their lives. 

I’ve forgotten what it is like to have an adventure, so it might be a very good thing for me to do.

The pandemic had the most affect on our Thanksgiving. We don’t have family here, but for about the last 10 years we been invited to our friends’ house to share the meal. They did invite us, along with at least 1 other person, but at about that time, the number of COVID cases in our rural county had gone through the roof. There was a significant backlash in the next largest town down the road about wearing masks in public and social distancing, and it filtered into our town as well.

We just did not feel safe eating in a group, and so declined the invitation. Other people we know did have Thanksgiving with friends and family and did fine, so I suppose we were being too cautious. We had a good meal and a pleasant day at home.

I did end up getting a COVID test, something I would not care to do again anytime soon, because I got a very bad cold about a week before Christmas and thought for sure I had it. But the test was negative (whew!), and I am better now.

We sent my brother a microwave popcorn popper, which we use and love.

Our mom used to call Daniel “Mr Sobersides” because he was always so serious, but my brother has a mischievous sense of humor, which played out on Christmas day. We received a small box from him and when we opened it…

We laughed and laughed. It made for a very happy Christmas

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

To Buy or Not to Buy?

When I went to the market on Friday to check on the price of lettuce (at $2.99 a head? I don’t think so) and buy a few other items, I noticed this huge, rather spectacular fruit nestled there next to the grapes, pears, and kiwis.

 It had a rather spectacular price too, $29.99. $30 for a fruit!!??

My birthday was Saturday. One of the women at church always says "well, it's the xxx anniversary of my 39th birthday..." so I spent some time trying to figure out how many anniversaries of my 39th birthday this was. I finally e-mailed my pastor, who has taught mathematics at the college level, and she was kind enough to explain how to figure it. I believe this makes the 32nd anniversary of my 39th birthday. Either way, I may be an old woman chronologically but I feel very young inside.

I got telephone calls from both of my younger brothers and my sister. The older of the two brothers moved to northern Idaho about a month ago, and he was very excited. "It’s snowing!!!” He has never lived where there is “real winter.” They are in for some interesting experiences. I doubt he will be as excited about the snow come January.

I opened birthday cards and found a generous gift card from my younger brother and his wife. Now I am debating how to spend it.

I could have an adventure and spend it on that fruit. It was still there when I went to the market today. My cousin’s oldest daughter, who lives in Hawaii, sent me Internet links on how to open the fruit and ideas for preparing it.

Or I could put it toward some “Sunday go-to-meetin’ shoes,” which I need. Birkenstocks work okay for some things, but not always too well when trying to “dress up” a bit. There is a large shoe store 25 miles down the road that I am sure will have something that I like. I just have to decide whether I want to risk going in the store.

Or I could get a pedicure. Two of the women in the aerobics class have had pedicures and were raving about how wonderful it is to get your feet and lower legs massaged and pampered. I was encouraged to do that. It sounds good, but I am not sure I can bring myself to let someone look at my awful toenails. Yes, I have the horrible toenail fungus on a couple of my toes. “Oh, they don’t care. They see all kinds of feet…”

Decisions, decisions.




I think the shoes have it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Mars Connection

I had errands to run in town this morning so it was very convenient to drive to the park and walk on the walking trail. They have planted a number of fall foliage maple trees that are starting to turn scarle,t so it is quite lovely. It did my heart good to see two young moms with their children in strollers making the circuit. One of my earliest memories is being taken on a walk around the block with my mother pushing the stroller with my baby brother.

But, that has nothing to do with Mars.

All of our computers are hooked up to uninterrupted power supply (UPS)  devices to protect us from damage to computers from "brown-outs" and surges and loss of data from sudden power failures. These have saved our bacon many times.

Periodically there will be voltage irregularities on the lines, usually not enough to flicker the lights or cause things to shut off but enough dips in the voltage that cause the UPS units to click on and off. The last time we had a problem with this, we called the power company and they came out, but couldn't find anything causing it. The crew thought perhaps it was the electrical panel in the house.

It happened again yesterday. There is UPS unit at my computer and another one on the other side of the partition that separates my work space from the bedroom. We watch television off the internet using a computer that is hooked up to our wide-screen TV (not a monster one but a nice sized one).

So off and on nearly the entire day…. click click….. click click… Very annoying.

We finished watching our Monday night program (Yorkshire Vet on Acorn TV), at about 7:45ish, and I thought I would step outside to see if I could see Mars.

So I did. We usually can’t see much going on in the sky at night because there are so many trees around the house, but there was a perfect gap in the trees so I could see Mars from the porch. So I went in and told Richard, “You gotta come out and see Mars.” Normally he won't come out to look at "dos in the sky" but he did this he did come out.

He took a look and said he needed to go back in and get different glasses. I glanced around to see if anything else was visible, and I noted this "flashing." At first I thought it was a UFO (I really did -- I have always wanted to see UFO), and then wondered whether it might be a clump of fireflies in the tree, but then I saw that it was actually coming from the power line on the pole.

Went in and told him he needed to see something. He looked and was very alarmed and immediately called the power company. He told the person he talked to that the connection from the transformer to the power line was arcing. This was about 8:00. 

They came with two trucks at about 9:00. One man went up in his amazing bucket and fixed it and both were gone by 9:20.

If I had not gone out to look at Mars, we never would have seen the arcing, because it wasn't visible in the daylight. Who knows what might have happened. The line could have burned through... and in the meantime Richard would have spent a lot of time reconfiguring the electrical panel that wouldn’t have solved the problem.

So we are very happy and sort of amazed at that interesting coincidence and how it all worked out. The power company is great. Can't say enough good things about them.