Friday, May 29, 2009

One Man's Meat...

Years ago when I was in junior high school my English teacher assigned me the book by E. B. White titled "One Man's Meat." I read it and I am pretty sure I got an A on the book report, but for the life of me cannot remember what the book was about! I am sure it was about something very intellectually compelling because I remember I had asked to read some other book for the assignment and was assigned this one. (The title is based on a quote with the meaning that one man's meat is another man's poison. A theme we can all understand.)

Anyway, this post is a variation on that theme. It could be titled one man's cabbage is sometimes another man's/woman's weed. This post is about Aralia spinosa or what is commonly called the devil's walking stick.

A blog that I have read regularly is Robert Brady's PureLand Mountain. This blog was noted as a 'blog of interest' back in the infancy days of blogging and was one of the first blogs I started reading. Bob lives on the side of a mountain in Japan and his very well written blog is about that life. In Japan they routinely use wild plants to add richness to their diet just as we do with our wild mushrooms and fiddle head ferns in the spring. I read about his early spring search for the rare and reclusive tara-no-mein in this post .
The Bradys have to go deep into the woods to their 'secret' place to harvest this delicacy.

After harvest they prepared the new spring shoots by frying them in a light batter like tempura. He followed the original post with another that discussed how he was surprised that the devil's walking stick can be found freely throughout the Eastern United States. It is not the exact same species but very close.

I was clearing some weeds around some young fruit trees my husband had planted along our driveway and I discovered that I have a whole grove of these plants growing at the edge of my forest. They have sprouted from a large devil's walking stick that I kept last year not knowing what it was.
The plant stalk is thorny and certainly the reason for the common name it was given. The tiny white clusters of summer flowers were so attractive to pollinators and the bouquets of hanging purple berries that appeared in early fall were so lovely, that I purposely kept the plant when I was clearing the weeds. The plant grows tall with a cape of fern-like leaves that are attractive on their own. I counted 25 of these plants along the hill falling away into the forest, yesterday. One is 8 feet high and the rest are three to four feet. Since the plant can grow to 30 feet...this grove will be interesting. I hope that I have not encouraged an invasive weed here...

Now next spring I have to read up on harvest of the young shoots, as Bob says they are as valuable as caviar in Japan.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Thoughts #26---I Am a Very Bad Girl

Sometimes I just can't help myself.
  • While spending time babysitting with my grandchildren I was watching another little boy chase ducks near the playground. His smaller brother, perhaps two, was trying hard to follow but got distracted by a small mud puddle just a few feet away from me. The little guy proceeded to stomp and splash with perfect joy and abandon. The exhausted and distracted father glanced back in pain. I looked across at the young dad and said "When was the last time you got to stomp in a mud puddle?" I then smiled and headed for the slides.
  • I was shopping for bubble bath the other day, and while in one of those suds and muds stores that focuses only on ones self-indulgence, the sales girl offered me the deal that if I bought 3 bottles of bubble bath I could get another 3 free! I am at the time in my life that I think 6 bottles of bubble bath a bit too much and so I said: "Who on earth can used 6 bottles of bubble bath before their expiration date?" Of course her trained response was to get them as gifts. I left the store with the one bottle I needed.
  • I have been watching the chickadee go back and forth like a crazy parent feeding her little ones with insects. The house sits above one of my garden beds. I finally could not resist and stepped into the middle of the bed and peered close into the birdhouse. I saw little moving cute. But I won't do that again as the momma chickadee almost had a heart attack when she returned.
  • When I went to pick up my vacuum and was told that the circuit board had to be replaced at a cost of $107 plus $40 in labor I actually said "D##n!" under my breath.
  • When I struggled once again with the handle to my freezer and was able to snap it back on the first try I said "Hot d##n." out loud in my kitchen.
  • Last Sunday after spending two days washing windows and window screens, I did absolutely nothing all day other than read, nap, and watch some really bad movies.
  • After grocery shopping I always step out into the yard just to 'check' on things and fifteen minutes later find I am out weeding in my good shoes and go-to-town pants. (I am such a fashion would be surprised.)
  • I still get email from certain rather disfunctional colleagues with questions about how I handled stuff in my previous has been over a year since I retired. I take my sweet old time in answering. (Why I bother, I do not know.)
  • I have been eating waffles, whipped cream and fresh strawberries for breakfast for the last three days. BAD GIRL!
  • I finally saw the Star Trek movie and I swear I almost cried when they brought up the theme music at the end. I am such a silly Trekkie.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Everyone needs a quiet corner or a small space that sits waiting for them at the end of the day...waiting with 'open arms.' It does not have to be a fancy place with damask and lace curtains, but it should be a quiet and clean place where one can put down their burdens and put up their feet. The corner of my recently completed patio meets that qualification during the milder weather of the year. The chairs shown are old and from my mother-in-law's Florida room many years ago. Of the original four chairs only three are left and the cushions have worn thin. The cushion colors are faded and the ties are mostly broken. The chairs do not really fit the style of the patio, but they are too useful to toss away. They remind me of my M.O.L. who was a special and loving woman. If the cushions are not damp from a recent rain, I go out there with a good book and something to drink and perhaps my binoculars or camera and put my feet up on one of the chairs and sit back on the opposite chair and claim my corner of the world for an hour or so. (When I had toddlers the corner of respite was the guest bed when they were napping.)

Do you have a corner that you can claim?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Canvassing by Weary Hag

Weary Hag posted the following questions on her blog a while back. She has taken a respite from blogging and rarely posts anything, so I had to read this and give it a go. Feel free to tackle and then let her know you answered.

1. While typing - do you prefer classic or italics?
Same answer as #2 below.

2. While reading - do you prefer classic or italics?
Classic always. Italics for me is for emphasis or scientific names.

3. Worst experience while blogging? [i.e. page froze, lost data, caught using dated or false info, typos - what made you gasp - even a li'l]
I sent out several comments while logged in as ME. As you may know I have a weird fear of being ‘found out.’

4. Best experience while blogging? [i.e. new friendship/relationship formed, wrote a post that was just short of genius, learned new com tech skill, etc]
Writing something that makes me feel good and then having one or more of the readers tell me it made them feel good as well. Or getting compliments on how well written it was. I am an addict for that kind of stuff. Words are powerful when they can change feelings or help someone make it through the day.

5. Let's assume you're an avid blogger - someone at an intimate dinner or party suggests that blogging is for idiots. In what way do you beat the dog meat out of them - [read: handle the situation] - if at all?
I might answer that I often thought **** (you fill in the blank) were idiots, but I now can see their side of the story. Or perhaps I might say that blogging is so vast in scope and participants represent most of mankind, so there are no more idiots in blogland than in any other activity. (Now twitter is another story.)

6. Do you pass your blog URL out to people like sneeze molecules or do you generally keep it to yourself and your own group of mutual blog buddies?
I keep it very secret and only those who stumble upon it and stay become my personal treasured readers. ;-)

7. Do you share your blog with family [children/spouse/siblings/parents] or do you deliberately keep it from them?
Nope. No one knows and when I die, I will have to leave the password in my will so that someone can let my readers know why I stopped blogging! (Besides my family never comments on stuff I post on the family blog...why share the real me?)

8. This is for those who only use a fabricated name when blogging: Do you ever wish you could tell people just exactly who you really are or are you content to remain anonymous to the masses?
I am very content to remain anonymous. I am a coward and would not be as honest a writer if people knew who I really was.

9. This is for those who use their true name when blogging: Do you ever wish you had remained anonymous or are you pleased as punch to get your real self out there?
See #8.

10. Of these - which is your favorite genre to read in the blogging community: [choose ONLY one]: a) how-to & advice, b) brief topics covered with a comedic edge, c) personal adventures or experiences, d) photos with captions, e) up-to-the-minute newsy type stories told with blogger's perspective or spin
I really like reading all genre’s but personal experiences/adventures tend to grab me the most.

11. From one to ten, when reading a blog post ... do spelling & grammar really count? (not the occasional typo). One: they don't count in the least .............. Ten: stop reading midstream and move on.
I guess about a 7. If the post is really good, I can ignore the errors. I am a terrible speller even though I almost made straight A’s in school…hard to believe, huh? But Blogger has a spell check so there is little excuse for that kind of sloppiness. My grammar has gotten very sloppy and I wish Blogger had a grammar editor.

12. Have you been approached to write a book or magazine article or to contribute to an existing publication in any way, solely based upon your blog? (and I don't mean by smokinbettylou or tedthetool)
Hah! Don’t I wish!

13. Do you prefer the read & comment type of post or the interactive style (like this one)?
I like this type once in a while. I prefer the read and comment because it is easier to read and shoot from the hip.

14. Which applies to you most often? a) I read and comment, b) I read and move along ...
About 50/50.

15. Are you involved in any other networking venues or is blogging your one and only? [i.e. FB, YT, MSpace, LiveJournal, Classmates, photo hosting sites, etc.] No need to name them unless you want to ...
I have a family blog, I am on Facebook but rarely visit there, and have several photo sharing site(s)…but most of my computer time is just blogging here.

Your turn.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Non-Fixer

In a prior post I wrote about how I fix things... at night... in bed...while I am trying to fall asleep. In reality, I do not have a lot of talent for fixing things in the harsh light of day.

The world is full of many interesting people, but I think we are we losing those all-important tinkerers. Today young men and women can work a software package, work a complicated blackberry, program a GPS, and plan a project. But can they change their own oil? Can they fix a clothes dryer? Can they install a window AC? Can they get that old rototiller running again? Can they reset that stupid door hinge that sticks every year? Can they take a machine apart and through examination figure out what is wrong and what can be fixed and what needs to be replaced?

Of course not! Who has the time? Who has the patience to break a nail in these stressful times. And so our land-fills will continue to expand as we toss things that cannot be fixed.

I think tinkerers are really cool people. My 75-year-old neighbor, who was an executive for a well-know company years ago, fixes everything on the farm that he rents out. He also rents out two trailers on this farm and repairs everything that goes wrong inside them as well. His church loves him as he can figure out anything and fix it even if he has to take it home and work on it all weekend! He likes the satisfaction of repairing something rather than throwing it away and replacing it by something new that is probably not as well made.

My dad could fix almost anything. He knew that we didn't have the money to buy new and so he made it work. Both of my brothers (one who owns a small construction company and one who is a retired teacher) also have the ability and patience to fix things rather than toss them. I did not inherit that fixing gene.

This photo above is the refrigerator in my kitchen. Perhaps in my frequency in getting access to my favorite ice cream I opened the bottom freezer too often this week and the refrigerator is trying to tell me something...the handle came off in my hand yesterday! I got out the manual (which anal retentive Tabor filed away carefully) and read it and it does appear that one should be able to slide this handle back on the two clamps without much struggle. It is NOT broken. I have read the directions twice and with a Masters degree still cannot figure it out. I am taking a deep breath and going to tackle it again later when I am more Zen. I can still get into the freezer so there is no panic.

This contrivance in the back seat of my car is my in-house vacuum cleaner. It stopped working also earlier this week. I unplugged, reset breakers, and reset the button on the bottom of the vac resulting in no success. I got out the manual and researched on the Internet. I am guessing that the starter motor on this two-year-old beast is the problem. I called a vacuum repair place and the nice man said I really needed to bring it in if I wanted him to work on it. He proceeded to tell me how to take it off my basement wall. The canister had been installed about 8 feet high, and so, standing on a chair, I managed to lift this heavy piece of machinery, carry it upstairs to the garage, and battled it into the back seat of my car. ( I may not know how to fix things, but I sure as hell lift weights and that does come in handy.)

P.S. For full disclosure, my darling husband, whom I love dearly, could not fix a squeaky hinge if his life depended on it.

P.P.S. If things do come in threes, I wonder what is next.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Diet

My husband has been gone for several days on a business 'junket' to Hawaii. I have eaten all the leftovers that were sitting in the refrigerator from the meals I had cooked before he left. Yesterday I finally went food shopping. When my husband is gone I tend to ignore meal times and just graze throughout the day when I feel hungry. Grazing may sound healthy but I decided to list in order what I ate yesterday as I ran around doing stuff just to remind myself of something---like my lack of self-discipline.

1/2 blueberry muffin
2 cups of coffee with cream and sugar
1 banana milk shake (to use up some coffee ice cream while cleaning out the freezer before shopping)
1 small yogurt (just past its due date)
A roast chicken leg and thigh (from a whole roasted chicken I purchased at the grocery store and tore into while still warm)
1 chocolate covered and filled Bismark doughnut (ditto as immediately above---I did only buy two doughnuts to my credit)
A glass of club soda
8 strawberries (from the garden that I picked while weeding)
2 pieces of dark chocolate (to reward my garden weeding work)
1 glass of red wine
1 piece of string cheese followed closely by a piece of blue cheese
2 Pepperidge farm cookies
1 ham sandwich with lettuce and tomato and mayonnaise
A handful of peanuts
2 cups of tea
2 more Pepperidge farm cookies

He better get home soon or he will not recognize me!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Life Story #29 - Getting There

A number of years ago, when I knew that my daughter was close to becoming engaged and my son was close to graduating from college, and I was trying to suppress another empty-nest panic attack, I organized a family trip. I knew this would be the last trip we might ever take with just our family of four and I wanted that time together and that memory. We spent a week on an island called Ambergris Key in Belize. This was before the island became so famous by being a location for the TV show Survivor. It is (was?) a low key resort with small hotels and lots of long beaches and hole-in-wall restaurants of various quality and cost. This first week was filled with beaching, snorkeling and bike-riding. The second week was to be our adventure into the jungles of Belize staying at an eco-lodge. This post is about the adventure of getting to the lodge.

The airport on Ambergris Key is small and busy with various small jets shuttling tourists to and fro. We arrived early for our 'chartered' flight inland. We were told that no regular commercial flights went to the lodge. After waiting 30 minutes past our departure time and seeing jets take off and land, my husband went to the charter counter and asked about the delay in our flight. The uninterested clerk explained that our pilot was just running late. His demeanor indicated that this lateness was usual. We have traveled extensively and are quite familiar with the pace and attention to time as it is interpreted in other countries. You have to go with the flow or get an ulcer.

We continued to sit in the increasingly hot sunshine watching tourists while a small dented prop plane puttered up to the departure area. It was one of those scary, little one prop things that when you see it you wonder why anyone would place their lives on board. Well, as I am sure you have guessed, that was our plane.

It was the smallest plane any of us had every seen. Only six seats inside and no room for much luggage. The pilot was a tall, skinny and a scruffy representation of his profession. He had holes in the pockets of his jeans and his greasy cap looked as though he was the mechanic for the plane, as perhaps he was. He did not say one word to us and the only way we knew it was our flight was when the clerk indicated it was time for us to board. The only word we heard out of "Chuckles" the entire flight was prior to departure when he said, "Vamonos!"

Tucked inside beneath gray and frayed seat belts we truly understood the expression of 'sardines in a tin can.' Our luggage was piled unceremoniously in the back. The door on my side did not close completely and I could see about half an inch of daylight all the way around. The take off was breathtaking. Just the type of experience you would have if you put an airplane engine on a tin outhouse and took off with two wings and a prayer. The noise was too loud for talk and the vibration of the plane was loosening not only my teeth fillings but kept sliding my glasses down my nose preventing me from clearly seeing all the dangers we were missing.

I put on a brave face for the children although I was close to wetting my pants as we took off low over the Caye and the ocean and the open savanna. Before we reached the jungle we entered a low hanging cloud and moisture began to form on the outside of the plane and started to spray me through the crack in the door. I was soon quite damp in addition to being completely massaged.

Eventually we made it through the cloud and I gathered my courage to look out the side window and saw we were following a river up into the jungle. Hubby who is a social bunny (as you know from reading my blog) was attempting to use his Spanish and make small talk with the pilot who did not respond to a single thing he said. Daughter was taking pictures of the scenery outside the moist windows and son was taking everything in including keeping an eye on the gauges in the front of the pilot as they seemed to be varying their readings rather dramatically. I just kept very still as I was getting cold and wet and afraid any movement I made might dramatically shift the weight in the plane and alter our course for the worse.

At long last, and after I felt I had aged several years, an open gravel area appeared in the jungle beneath us. The plane began its descent as this gravel path was our landing strip. We landed on the path in a field with squash plants on either side. There was nothing in sight except a narrow gravel road leading somewhere off in the distance at the end of the landing strip.

(In the photo above the tall skinny guy is the pilot ogling my daughter who is standing at the tale of the plane. Do not let this photo deceive you, close up the plane was a piece of junk.)

The pilot got out and opened the door on my side and indicated that we should get our luggage. We unloaded everything and placed it on the ground. Then without word he got back in the plane and took off into the blue sky. The sound of the plane's engine died away in the distance and here we stood in complete and stunned silence as the jungle surrounded us. We sat on our luggage thankful we had all our limbs and not eager to go anywhere. There was not a sign or a single house in sight and we wondered, if like some wilderness movie, we were supposed to carry our luggage down the lone dusty road ahead.

We waited for about five minutes until we finally heard the sound of a vehicle approaching.

Out of the jungle a white bus appeared. A friendly driver emerged from the bus above and helped us load our luggage. It appeared that we had survived and now were looking forward to more jungle adventures at the lodge.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Magnetic Personality

I am married to someone with a magnetic personality. He can stand in line waiting for tickets to the movie theater and come across an old long lost friend. He can be picking up a cup of chai tea at a Starbucks and meet and make a new friend. I didn't really think about this much until I retired and I realized how low key I am in public and how energy high he is. I am not complaining except I know that if he was in a field other than science we would be very rich by now. He is a born salesman and if it something he believes in...look out!

Years ago, my husband and I traveled to Korea for work-related activities. During the project he actually was briefly on Korean national TV talking about the work he was doing.

Later in the trip we did manage to take a few days off and play tourist. While touring one of the historic parks in the city of Seoul we stopped in the cafeteria for some quick refreshment and were approached by the three Korean college students in the photos above. While their accents were thick they did appear to know enough English ( and certainly more Korean than I) to communicate with us very well. They were working on a project where they had to find people and interview them. I think they were communication majors.

Naturally they instantly decided to interview my husband instead of me. He was the better pick as he can talk for hours on end about almost anything and when the subject is himself he can go on for days. They wanted to know what he was doing in Korea and how long he would stay, etc. As I look as these photos, I wonder what grade they got and if they did go on to work in television.

Do you know someone with a magnetic personality?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Thoughts #25---Brain Dump

  1. You know that it has been raining way too many days when you wander into the kitchen to turn out the overhead light and realize it is the sun shining through the skylight.
  2. On gray rainy days do not attempt painting trim when the color of the paint selected is antique ivory and it is going over builder's white. I guarantee you will end up touching it up at least three times.
  3. You have reached Zen when your daughter explains that they had made too many plans to celebrate Mother's Day over the weekend, but could you come up and babysit next Tuesday?... and none of this really bothers you including not hearing from your son until Mother's Day late afternoon.
  4. I actually saw a catbird land on a stick near the bird feeder and the stick flipped and ended up 'goosing' the nearby squirrel. That was so immature funny.
  5. You know that you are an elder when most arguments with your husband are about who forgot what.
  6. I could not remember the name of a place my hubby took me to a few months earlier and so I said "Aren't you glad you married me for my figure and not my brain?" (This is funnier if you know I am mostly angles instead of curves---well maybe sorta funny.)
  7. Then this brought up a discussion of a prior girlfriend of hubby's who did have hooters and long blond hair and no brain and who actually got a degree in medicine by using those assets. Makes you think about looking at your doctor more carefully before you choose 'her'.
  8. I am using the dog whisperer's advice on mental energy and body language and it seems to work as I was the only one that did not get head-butted by the goat at the farm we recently visited. Next I try this on my grandchildren.
  9. I never ever in my life thought I would say I would have time to actually see spring in all its stages, but I had time this year and I am very glad.
  10. I have been an ardent science fiction fan since back in the days of Asimov, Bradbury and Clarke. But I am especially fond of Rosenberry and am wondering if I will like this new Star Trek movie. It appears the director was not a fan of the Star Trek series that came after Captain Kirk. Ahem? Oh well, I am going to see it anyway.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Are you Jealous?

Seems I might have fed a green-eyed monster by pointing out my hubby cooks breakfast for me quite often. (Just to let you know that my life is not perfect, I don't always want breakfast!)

Below is a shirt that came out of the laundry recently. (Yes, it is an old raggedy thing that I garden in, but that is not the point of this post. Yes, you have to tilt your head sideways because Blogger is being tempermental.)

Below is the same shirt after hubby volunteered to fold the laundry. Actually I don't let him fold laundry but this ended up with some stuff he had to wash for a trip. You can see why I ask that he not fold laundry.

Below is the shirt that anal-retentive Tabor refolded before she put it away in the drawer. Not so jealous anymore, are you?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Busy as?

I attended a plant sale over the weekend and in the process signed up for the master gardener program. I have been wanting to do this for a number of years, but always put it off. It probably won't start until fall. Now I have no excuses. While signing up I met the instructor and asked him if there were bee keepers who needed places to leave their hives.

He smiled indulgently and explained that most beekeepers will charge you to keep their hives on your property as it is a lot of work to maintain the hive. I mumbled something about just trying to keep the honey bees population strong.

He continued by saying that the honey bee is not indigenous to our area ( I think they were brought over from Europe) and they end up competing with a number of natural pollinators such as the solitary bees, the fly that looks like a bee and a number of pollinating wasps. There are about 4000 species of pollinators in the U.S. Clearly he saw honey bee colonies as an agricultural invader for woodlands. While they are important for agricultural crops, they are not important for gardens.

I had not thought about honey bees in this way, and now like many environmental causes/fads, I must re-think this.

We ended up buying the "solitary bee house" shown in the photo above, which probably was not needed unless I am detracting the carpenter bees from the wood in my house! And yes, an idiot can make this in 30 minutes. Is my face red!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Breakfast

Eating homemade French toast instead of going to I-Hop saves about $20.00 and you can eat in your PJs.

Having it made and served by a husband with a sense of humor, priceless!

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Here's to those who got it right and to those who at least tried.

What a nice present from Mother Earth on the day before Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

You Will Not Leave Orlando Alive: The Rest of the Story

Our recent Disney Cruise was better than I had hoped, but as I indicated the departure was more adventurous than we had anticipated. (Get some coffee as this is a looong story.)

I will begin with the facts. There were 14 of us on the trip: 5 grandparents, 4 parents and 5 children. One set of the grandparents and all other parents and children were staying on in Orlando for a few days. We and another grandmom had flights out the day the cruise ship docked. The New Jersey grandmother's flight was mid-day and ours was 5:00 PM.

The traveling grandparents had hoped to catch an earlier standby flight, so at 9:00 we headed for the airport in our two vans, one of which was rented, and both packed to their brims (and overflowing) with luggage and children in car seats.

Arriving at the airport, we said our goodbyes to the various folks in the two vans and gathering baggage the three of us headed to the ticket line. It was VERY long, but when we told the airline personnel that all three of us were looking to grab earlier flights she moved us to the very head of the priority check-in line! We all got checked in as standbys and we separated from the other grandmother who was flying to another city and then headed to the security.

Things started to unravel while standing in another long line at security when my hubby remembered he had forgotten his small black bag in one of the vans. It had his cell phone, day planner, etc. Our kids were flying out in three days so we guessed that they could check it or carry it for us on their flight. We couldn't call anyone because my cell phone was dead and I had forgotten my charger. While waiting in line, hubby realized he also had his car keys to our big car in that bag. A small sour fear emerged as we saw ourselves arriving at our airport and not being able to get into our car? In a panic we left our place in line and found an Internet access place and tried to send an email to daughter but remembered her blackberry was also out of power. We would try to email my S.O.L., but after logging into my hubby's email, realized we did not have the S.O.L.s email address in the email address folder. (All this time the little money charger is ticking away at the bottom of the screen making us even more irritated and panicked.) I tried to log into my email, but realized my provider had required a recent change to the password and I couldn't remember exactly what I had changed it too since I auto log-on from my home PC. The little counter like a deranged clock was continuing to tick away...$2.00---$5.00---$9.00!!

Then some of hubby's brain cells activated their cell connections and he exclaimed "MAZDA!" I looked at him and realized that the car we had parked at the airport was the smaller one and I did have the keys to THAT car. We stopped the ticker.

We got back in what was now an even longer security line. While standing there, hubby pulled out his passport with the standby ticket inside and immediately realized he did not have his driver's license! He had used it at check-in and at the pre-gate...where was it? Again we pulled all of our bags out of the security line--we were getting so good at this-- as he ran across the airport and back to the first check-in area. The day was moving on without us and it was almost noon. The security lines were now snaking their way into the empty spaces in front of the stores as huge crowds were leaving Orlando.

Finally, after fifteen minutes had passed, hubby returned, sweat dotting his brow, and with driver's license in hand! By now all hope of going stand-by on the only two prior and fully booked flights was nil. We decided to eat an early dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in the terminal and then head for our gate. We boarded our flight without further incident (after all we had arrived at the airport 8 hours early)...BUT the gods of travel were not done screwing around with our family just yet.

The rest of our group that had stayed on in Orlando left three days later. Two groups of parents and children were flying out and the grandparents were driving their car back up north with most of the baggage. As my daughter's family was the last to check out of the resort she noticed a medium black bag remaining in the apartment. She checked and found this was the bag of the OTHER grandfather that had now been forgotten. (What is it with grandfathers anyway??) The bags owner was eating breakfast not far from the area and using her husband's cell daughter called them about it. They asked if she and their son could drop it off on their way to the airport. Since daughter's family was running only 10 minutes behind, they did so (!).

Well, needless to say, that ten minutes was the most important ten minutes of the entire trip. The lines on Sunday afternoon at Orlando airport are phenomenal. Upon finally getting through security daughter and S.O.L. grabbed toddlers, bags and all and ran to the gate arriving 10 minutes before departure and finding the airline policy was the gate closed at 10 minutes before and absolutely no boarding was allowed after that. (It was in the small print on the ticket and this is how they meet their departure times.) Yes, they had missed their flight and the airline was not sympathetic to their problem.

My daughter is a whiz at blackberrying and using her husband's device she tried everything to get a flight. Nothing was available until the following day and she ABSOLUTELY had to be at work on Monday.

So they called the grandparents who were driving home and explained their problem. These grandparents, who were now two hours north of Orlando, turned the car around and picked up the family of four and all of their luggage and crammed everything into the now overstuffed van. One would think that the day had been saved...but this was not so.

Outside of St. Augustine the van broke down. Smoking and belching strange smells it came to a complete stop beside a very busy highway and far from anywhere.

Now the scenario involved calling for a tow truck, taking the van to a garage, and since the van parts would not arrive until the next day, checking into a hotel for the night. The greater problem was that the tow truck driver could only take two of them leaving the rest with small children beside a busy highway. Well, this would not work for daughter who ABSOLUTELY has to be at work on Monday--I think I mentioned that. So, daughter and family spent busy time calling for a rental car and ended up driving non-stop all day and all night to their home. Arriving exhausted they unload the car and returned it and she headed into work hour late...but where she was supposed to be.

Kind of takes the rest and relaxation part out of the vacation doesn't it? (Long story, and I didn't even tell you about the canceled flight and plane mechanical issue on the replacement plane that the other family had to deal with at the START of the vacation!)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Are you rich?

I am not going to write about richness of one's soul here, but actual money rich.

I have just spent a week at a nice resort on Hilton Head Island. Lots of rich people live and vacation there.

I grew up poor and have blogged about that in the past. I wasn't Dolly-Parton-poor, but close. There were five kids and only one blue-collar income, so we became masters at stretching the dollar. Food was in abundance from the garden and small farm, but everything else was make-do. I knew we were poor, but many in our small community were in the same boat. In spite of this income level, my parents were able to send all five of us to college and 4 of us graduated. We all became successful in our own ways and one of us (maybe two) (not I) is a millionaire.

I have never seen myself as rich, but as comfortable and middle class. Yesterday in a conversation with my son-in-law he said that he admired that we were conservative people even though we were rich. (Both he and my daughter make six figure incomes, so I was certainly surprised that he saw us that way.)

And yet, I guess if I think about it, by many standards we are rich. Our house is finally paid for, we have a steady retirement income--small but one of us is indexed! We have health insurance. Our 401ks have shrunk by 50%, but we can actually survive without them if we live like a normal retired couple. Due to this recession we won't have the international travel we had dreamed about, but we are not like some in worrying about health bills or other important issues.

We also have many small luxuries we could cut if needed as inflation will certainly rear its ugly head when the piper must be paid. Yep, we are rich.

This last photo was taken from our bedroom at the resort. If you click on the photo you will see why I was taken by the body language of the middle-aged couple in the lounge chairs. Being rich has its price and this photo may tell part of that story.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bok choi soup

She's back! (Doing laundry, weeding, going through a pile of snail mail and a bunch of electronic mail, washing and re-filling the hummingbird feeder. ETC!) Here is something to keep my garden converts busy.

Tabor's Bak choi soup

Heat about 2 teaspoons curry powder, two or three star anise and 1/4 cup chopped onion in a little oil in a dutch oven or medium to large saucepan. Do not over-heat or burn spices.

Add to this:

One quart chicken broth
, a bunch of chopped fresh basil, a dash of chili pepper (or lots depending on taste), some freshly ground nutmeg, salt to taste, a huge bunch of chopped bok choi, and any other vegetable that you like (edamame, edible podded peas or frozen peas come to mind). When the bak choi is tender add one half can of coconut milk (stir to blend fats and milk - you can add the whole can if you are not into good health). Heat gently until steaming. (This is also good if you add fresh oysters or small parts of cooked chicken, but is not necessary.) Add water or white wine to taste. Wine can curdle the milk so do not add too much. You can try to find the star anise and remove since it is not edible.

Serve with fresh basil, fresh bean sprouts, and/or fresh cilantro for toppings and perhaps some nice warm garlic bread.

Eat slowly as I do not know when I will have time to get back here!