Sunday, September 29, 2019

WHY Is It So Hot?

At this time of the year, the high temperatures in my area typically average around 80° F. This month Mother Nature didn't get the memo. Every day has been warmer than average. On Friday the high of 92° actually set a new record.  So much for thinking about switching into Fall mode!

Tomorrow I'm going out of town for a couple of days, combining a little work with a mini-vacation. I was looking forward to walking around in the area I'm visiting, but since they're having the same hot weather I'll probably just settle for taking advantage of the amenities of my air-conditioned hotel or heading to a local mall...neither of which appeal to me.

Five years ago today: Internationally

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Looks Can Be Deceiving

The other day I received an official-looking envelope in the mail that warned me DO NOT DESTROY, because this was an OFFICIAL DOCUMENT. Inside was a large piece of paper titled the 2019 Congressional District Census, and a letter indicating the mailing had been commissioned by the Republican Party.

I am a regular voter, but I've never aligned myself with any political party, and I value my independence. My area leans Republican, so I suppose the mailing honchos thought they were safe sending these out randomly. The documents told me that "My participation was urgently needed" to "build a nationwide grassroots network that will help show the President has the support of the American people". Pretty partisan stuff.

Not being part of the survey's target market, my first inclination was to immediately toss it in the recycling bin. However, I decided it would be fun to share my opinions (even if much of them didn't completely match what the group was hoping for).

The Census had five sections. First, it started with some basic information, like my political affiliation, how much I supported the President, and where I got my political news. Next it asked questions about General Issues, Domestic Issues, and National Defense. All of the questions were posed in a pro-President manner. The fifth section asked me to certify if the answers to the questions were really what I thought, and if I wanted to send a donation.

At that point I wondered if they even cared about the answers to the questions, or just cashed the checks and moved on. Snopes said that both parties do this, and the practice of sending out a fundraising mailer disguised as a survey is so common it's referred to as Fund-Raising Under the Guise of Research, or FRUGing. Based on that information it wasn't worth it to me to waste the money on a stamp to express my opinions to the Republican Party. I followed through on my first inclination and tossed the whole thing in the recycling bin.

Five years ago today: Chocolate Milk With A Twist

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Childhood Clutter Clearing

It took most of the day yesterday, but the new carpet installation was finally complete. When the workmen packed up their things and left both the cats and I were relieved. It was wonderful to be able to walk around the house without feeling like I was disturbing a workman, and I may or may not have done a little dance in the newly-straightened kitchen as I cooked dinner.

Today the handyman company came back to see if the closet doors needed to be adjusted on top of the fluffier flooring. About the time he left another special visitor arrived. Son Tony was in town to attend a work conference that started at noon today, but he flew in from Dallas last night to spend some time with his friends. One of them dropped him off here, and I took him to his hotel a couple of hours later.

Since Hubby Tony and I don't know how much storage we'll have in our new house, Son Tony's big task was to cull through his collection of childhood and teenage mementos, which we've stored for him in the basement and the closet of his old room since he left home.

To make the job easier, Hubby Tony and I carried everything into the kitchen last night. After Son Tony walked in we exchanged pleasantries, then he opened the first box and got down to work. I watched him excavate school and sports logo shirts, high school buzz books, plastic trophy sports awards, and some miscellaneous tchotchkes. A second box held mementos from Scout camping trips, Troop activities, and his Eagle project and ceremony.

Tony ran out of time before he made it through all of the boxes, but in the end he decided he could get rid of a banana box full of memories. He brought an extra suitcase to carry some of the things home. When he left it contained his high school yearbooks, several t-shirts, and a box of baseball cards. With my permission, he left two boxes here to retrieve at a later date.

Five years ago today: Who Can Understand The Mind Of A Cat?

Monday, September 23, 2019

Adventures In Flexibility

The last big piece of getting our house ready to go on the market is new carpet. A crew of three installers arrived yesterday morning to complete the job. They removed all the doors from their hinges, then crammed the majority of the furniture from three of the bedrooms into the fourth. The overflow went into the master bathroom. After unplugging my beloved internet connection they moved the living and family room furniture into the dining room and kitchen, which turned into a maze of tables, chairs, couches and entertainment center pieces.

I wanted to stay out of the crew's way, and that pretty much meant staying in the kitchen. Without the ability to do anything online I cleaned up my computer hard drive, ultimately removing more than 2,000 obsolete photos and files. Hubby Tony picked up some carryout Chinese for dinner. We still ate at the kitchen table. It was just pushed over to the preparation side of the room, right next to the dishwasher. The slight change made the meal feel like an adventure.

Our installation crew worked at a steady pace, but we knew in advance the job was going to take two days. At the end of the day the crew leader told me that two of the four bedrooms were done (neither of which was the master), and asked if Tony and I would mind sleeping in those. We agreed.

Tony had to leave for a meeting, but as soon as the installation company vans had left the driveway I found the cable box and router and re-connected the internet, placing the equipment on the floor. There was no seating in the family room, so I went back into the kitchen and settled down into 'my' end of the couch. When Tony got home he sat at 'his' end of the couch, which made the whole thing feel more normal.

At bed time I started to gather everything I would need for the morning, starting with a set of clothes, and discovered that my dresser was inaccessible. However, the tub containing my travel clothes was, so I pulled out what I needed from there. I also discovered that my toothbrush was in the master bathroom, buried behind a cedar chest and some closet doors. I figured one night without good dental hygiene wouldn't make my teeth fall out, so I put toothpaste on my finger and 'brushed', then took a swig of water and swished the foam around my mouth. I followed up with a swig of hydrogen peroxide to kill any remaining bacteria.

After Tony and I retired to our separate rooms we texted back and forth a bit, which made me feel like I was back at camp and breaking the lights out rule. When I didn't get a reply to my last message, I decided it was time to hit the hay. The installation crew was going to be at the house bright and early to finish up the job. Thank goodness.

Five years ago today: A Bite Of A Bell

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Life Lessons For Aging

A friend sent me these pearls of wisdom...thought I'd pass them on.
  • It's time to use the money you saved up. Don’t just keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it. Remember there is nothing more dangerous than a son or daughter-in-law with big ideas for your hard-earned capital. Warning: This is also a bad time for investments, even if it seems wonderful or fool-proof. They only bring problems and worries. This is a time for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.
  • Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren, and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself. You’ve taken care of them for many years, and you’ve taught them what you could. You gave them an education, food, shelter and support. The responsibility is now theirs to earn their own money.
    • Keep a healthy life, without great physical effort. Do moderate exercise (like walking every day), eat well and get your sleep. It’s easy to become sick, and it gets harder to remain healthy. That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical and physical needs. Keep in touch with your doctor, do tests even when you’re feeling well. Stay informed.
    • Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your significant other. The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then. Enjoy it together
    • Don’t stress over the little things. You’ve already overcome so much in your life.You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you. Feel good in the now. Small issues will soon be forgotten.
    • Regardless of age, always keep love alive. Love your partner, love life, love your family, love your neighbor and remember: “A man is not old as long as he has intelligence and affection.”
    • Be proud, both inside and out. Don’t stop going to your hair salon or barber, do your nails, go to the dermatologist and the dentist, and keep your perfumes and creams well stocked. When you are well-maintained on the outside it seeps in, making you feel proud and strong.
    • Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age, but keep your own sense of style. There’s nothing worse than an older person trying to wear the current fashion among youngsters. You’ve developed your own sense of what looks good on you – keep it and be proud of it. It’s part of who you are.
    • ALWAYS stay up-to-date. Read newspapers. Watch the news. Go online and read what people are saying. Make sure you have an active email account and try to use some of those social networks. You’ll be surprised what old friends you’ll meet. Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age.
    • Respect the younger generation and their opinions. They may not have the same ideals as you, but they are the future, and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today.
    • Never use the phrase: “In my time.” Your time is now. As long as you’re alive, you are part of this time. You may have been younger, but you are still you now, having fun and enjoying life.
    • Some people embrace their golden years, while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days on the latter. Spend your time with positive, cheerful people. It’ll rub off on you, and your days will seem that much better. Spending your time with bitter people will make you older and harder to be around.
    • Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren if you have a financial choice. Sure, being surrounded by family sounds great, but we all need our privacy. They need theirs and you need yours. If you’ve lost your partner (our deepest condolences), then find a person to move in with you and help out. Even then, do so only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone.
    • Don’t abandon your hobbies. If you don’t have any, make new ones. You can travel, hike, cook, read, dance. You can adopt a cat or a dog, grow a garden, play cards, checkers, chess, dominoes, or golf. You can paint, volunteer or just collect certain items. Find something you like and spend some real time having fun with it.
    • Even if you don’t feel like it, try to accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings, or conferences. Try to go. Get out of the house, meet people you haven’t seen in a while, experience something new (or something old). But don’t get upset when you’re not invited. Some events are limited by resources, and not everyone can be hosted. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time. Go to museums, go walk through a field. Get out there.
    • Be a conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you. Listen first and answer questions, but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to. Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much unless you really need to. Try to accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through the same things, and people have a low tolerance for hearing complaints. Always find some good things to say as well.
    • Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on them, but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we’re all going through. Try to minimize them in your mind. They are not who you are, they are something that life added to you. If they become your entire focus, you lose sight of the person you used to be.
    • If you’ve been offended by someone - forgive them. If you’ve offended someone - apologize. Don’t drag around resentment with you. It only serves to make you sad and bitter. It doesn’t matter who was right. Someone once said: “Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Don’t take that poison. Forgive, forget, and move on with your life.
    • If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don’t waste your time trying to convince others. They will make their own choices no matter what you tell them, and it will only bring you frustration. Live your faith and set an example. Live true to your beliefs and let that memory sway them.
    • Laugh. A LOT. Laugh at everything. Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You managed to have a life, a long one. Many never get to this age, never get to experience a full life. But you did. So what’s not to laugh about? Find the humor in your situation.
    • Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They’ll do it anyway, and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved. Let them talk and don’t worry. They have no idea about your history, your memories and the life you’ve lived so far. There’s still much to be written, so get busy writing and don’t waste time thinking about what others might think. Now is the time to be at rest, at peace and as happy as you can be!
    Five years ago today: Where Do I Start?

    Sunday, September 15, 2019

    Flies Be Gone!

    Last week we had crews of handymen and painters in the house, and the doors were constantly being opened and closed. At the end of the first day I noticed a couple flies in the house. I did my best to keep the doors closed after that, but the task wasn't a priority for the workmen. By the time all the workers wrapped up for the weekend there were at least six flies that had taken up residence inside.

    It used to be that Jackson the cat would make short work of any insect that he came into contact with, but now that he's a senior 17 years old he just sits and watches them go by. I really could have used his help; I didn't have any luck swatting them.

    Having flies in the kitchen makes it feel dirty to me, and I resolved to get rid of them. I stepped up my kitchen cleaning, making sure that there was never any crumbs or dribbles of food on the stove top, counter, or table. Didn't matter. The flies somehow continued to find sustenance and buzz around happily.

    Next I mixed up a apple cider vinegar/sugar solution and made a fly trap in a jar covered with a piece of plastic that had a small hole poked on it. The theory was that the flies would find the aroma of the mixture irresistible and drown when they went into the jar to sample it. Didn't work. I watched a couple of flies walk across the plastic to check out what was inside, but none of them were adventurous enough to go in. After two days of waiting for the flies to drown it was time to try something else

    My third attempt was to make some homemade fly paper. I cut a brown paper bag into strips, punched holes in the top, and added a loop of twine. After boiling a mixture of sugar, molasses, and water I coated the strips with the mixture and hung them up to dry with a rag underneath them to catch any drips. The mixture was quite sticky, and the flies were supposed to get stuck on the paper. Didn't work. Hubby Tony watched one fly approach a strip, walk on a corner of it, and fly away. The rest of them ignored the temptation. Later in the afternoon Tony hit the strip with his arm while he was cooking dinner. The paper ripped and fell. I threw it in the compost pile and went back to the Internet for more suggestions.

    A website I found said that flies don't like the scent of lavender or peppermint oil,. I had both, but found the lavender first. I pulled out my electric diffuser and fired it up. Several seconds later I noticed the nice floral scent, then got busy and forgot about it. It wasn't until Tony and I were eating dinner that I noticed there weren't any flies trying to share our food--and I didn't see any in the kitchen when I was putting dishes in the dishwasher.

    The diffuser ran for three hours. When it stopped the flies started buzzing around again annoyingly. Unless I can figure out a better solution I'll just keep trying to swat them and scent up my house.

    Five years ago today: Fun In The Mall...For Almost All

    Thursday, September 12, 2019

    An Assortment Of Apples (Redux)

    So remember my post that got lost?

    When I found out it was gone I sent a frantic request to help to the Blogger Help Community. Over the last day I got several answers to my question, but two Platinum Product Experts (Adam and PeggyK)  were particularly helpful. Thanks to PeggyK, who sent me a link to the cached post, I have my words back!

    I know most online community members are not paid for their work, and I really appreciate the time they took to help me. In case you missed the original post, it said:
    According to the US Apple Association, there are more than 100 apple varieties that are grown commercially in the United States, but the 15 most popular varieties account for almost 90 percent of production. I don't see anywhere close to that many in the stores I go to.

    When I was putting my produce run list together yesterday, I took a look at the store ads to see what was on sale and noticed that there were some new-to-me varieties of apples. Their price was right, so I decided to bring some home to try.

    I was able to get two of the three types:
    • Paula Red is a type of McIntosh that is good for both eating and cooking. It's one of the earliest varieties to be harvested in the fall. The ones I bought had a dusty red skin with yellow spots. The flesh was a bright white color and tasty combination of sweet and tart, but it was a little mealy. It didn't surprise me to learn that the apple is good for both eating and cooking (particularly applesauce).
    • Ginger Gold is one of the earliest varieties to ripen. It looks just like a Golden Delicious. The crunchy flesh was a clear cream color and tasted like a Golden Delicious with a tart kick. When I finished the apple I threw the core in the container to take it down to the compost pile. Several hours later when I actually did the job the flesh was barely brown-that would be a real advantage in a salad or on a fruit tray.

    The store's ad expires on Wednesday, and I'll probably go back and get more of these unique apples. They were a nice change from the usual Galas and Granny Smith's I usually eat.

    Five years ago today: And What A Difference A Day Makes

    Tuesday, September 10, 2019

    Freaking Bizarre

    Yesterday I wrote a post about buying new-to-me apples at the grocery store. I hit Publish, read some blogs, watched the news, and then went to bed.

    This morning my email told me that several people (Shirley, Christine, Dellgirl, and Kathy) had commented on my post. However, when I opened up my blog to respond to those comments the post was gone!  All that remained was a very early draft.

    I've been blogging for eleven years and have never had an issue like this. I sent a question about the issue to the Blogger Community, and I'm waiting to see if I get a response. I wonder if the missing post will show up again or if it's gone forever.

    Five years ago today: How Humid Is It?

    Friday, September 6, 2019

    There's A Guy For That

    Our quest to get our house ready to put on the market continues.

    The first thing was to get rid of 26 years of accumulation. For the past three weeks we've set out a stuffed 34-gallon recycling bin and filled trash can. Because I try not to throw things into the landfill unnecessarily, I've posted items on the free section of Craigslist. Most have been picked up. I've offered things with sentimental value to others in the extended family and taken carloads of things we won't need anymore to the thrift stores. (I'm still waiting for the boys to tell me what they want to do with their childhood and teenage mementos. One thing at a time.)

    Our realtor gave us the names of contractors that she promised could do the needed work quickly.  We contacted them and set things in motion. Those two windows with broken seals and foggy panes that we've lived with for years? Gone, along with the broken sash cords that were actually a safety issue. A handyman to update the powder room and replace all the polished brass light fixtures with updated models? In process. Minor drywall repair and painting to freshen things up? Scheduled. New carpet? Measured and waiting to be installed after the painting is done.

    Slowly but surely we're making progress.

    Lights and ceiling fans ready to go
    Five years ago today: Despicable!

    Tuesday, September 3, 2019

    Many Hands Make It Fun

    Tonight I hosted a baking session for group of teenagers who are having a sale at an event this weekend. The baking was open to everyone, but ended up being three young ladies and two adults besides me. The two hour session was a lot of fun.

    Last week I started by finding some easy to make recipes:
    Today I purchased all of the ingredients. Back at home I grouped the non-perishable items for each recipe on the window seat in the kitchen, along with the recipe. Shortly before the group arrived I got out measuring cups, spoons, bowls, cookie sheets, and aluminum pans.

    One of the teens had a previous commitment and came late, but the rest of the group arrived together. I threw some frozen pizzas into the oven and we got started on the recipes that didn't need to be baked. The teens seemed to have some experience in the kitchen, but each paired up with an adult assistant. All I had to do was pull out the perishable ingredients and find things like pots and rubber spatulas. When the last teen arrived I helped her.

    While the cookies were baking (which took four sessions in the oven for all of the dough) I worked on putting things in the dishwasher while the other adults wrote out labels for the products. The girls ate and socialized. At the end of the night the cookies and Krispies Treats were ready to be bagged, but the fudge and candy bars needed a little more time to set up so I will do that tomorrow.

    On Friday I will put everything in my car and transport it to the event, then my part in the sale is done.

    Five years ago today: Hush-Hush