Sunday, June 30, 2013

Technology Tweaking is Tantamount to Torture

Well, I ignored all the news blurbs on Google Reader and the concerns by select bloggers recently, because I try to keep my internet social activities to a minimalist experience when discussing coding.  I have not felt any need to make my blog commercial or to make sure it is discovered by many readers.  In my cases and with my subject matter, that effort usually results in more spam rather than more insightful comments from new readers who do not have the advantage of a depth of experience with me.  Yes, stunning writers capture you at "Hello," but writers such as I have to grow on you a bit.  I get less Zen and more Zeitgeist if I try to be innovative in a technological way.

Years ago when I taught HTML to myself just to get through web development at my job, I was glad to be nearing retirement and more able to ignore each new version and change and added acronyms such as XML!  I was the go-to person for many software projects, but it was all a false front because we were the blind leading the blind, and most of us had other things we wanted to accomplish with or without the ever changing technology.

So, is this death of Google Reader, which is something I do not really understand, some type of RSS feed that affects the setting on my Blogs I Follow feed that I set up under Google Blogger years ago?  Is this why I can no longer get new blog post feeds from my blog pals and scroll and select as I did in the past sometimes and can get it other times?

Yes, I get post updates if I go to the Blogger dashboard behind my blog page and peruse the Reading list that falls below...but I am not sure this includes all the blogs I now follow.  What about those under a different service?

I have a wedding to go to and do not have time for this falderal (not a code).  It is like all of the blogs that I follow have fallen behind the iron curtain of coding.  Is this what I deserve for getting this for free for so many years and for naively believing it would continue forever?  I need to be archiving select posts!!

Friday, June 28, 2013


I think we all have them.  Whether we are born with them or they come about because of our lives, we feel compelled to do something a certain way at a certain time.  We react in a certain way to certain people.  Some compulsions are stronger than others.  Some people can control their compulsions...but  if they are accepted by society, some of us find we must do them or explode.

My compulsion is cleaning and beautifying.  I can live in a fairly messy, dusty house for months on end, but if company is coming I must get every dust bunny and streak and errant article of clothing out of sight.  If company is coming to stay...and if company is family...then I cannot control my whirling dervish energy dust bunny.  Yes, I can get a little testy during these times, but I think I try to realize that others are not as crazed with such goals as I, and I let them go cower somewhere until I am back to normal.

For instance, I took the leaf blower and blew our the garage yesterday.  But that was not enough, because I then attached an ammonia cleanser to the hose and washed down the inside windows, the garage door, the garage floor and the steps to the house.  I straightened all the garage shelves and garden shoe and boot piles and assorted odds and ends by the entry.  Yes, I could have rearranged all the shelves in the garage and not just the most visible and really do it up proud, but I found my finished work acceptable.

As my 'fans' know (and the rest will have to catch up) I will be leaving for the wedding soon and bringing relatives back to the empty house after five days away.  This presents a challenge regarding food.  What can I prepare ahead of time and leave in freezer or fridge?  Do I arrange the cut flowers for the bedrooms before I go, or will they all be wilted and petal-dropped when I return.  Thus, do I make a quick cutting trip to the garden while guests unpack on the late afternoon of our return?  Perhaps, since I am an early riser, I can cut and arrange small bouquets the next morning before breakfast?  I have checked the soaps and shampoos and conditioners.

I will have laundered every single floor rug that can be washed.  The rest are vacuumed to within an inch of their nap.  Yesterday I hose washed the outside of all the windows and showered away the webs in corners.

Today I will select the CDs that are most appropriate for dining and pleasant conversation and have them ready in the player for our return.  I have purchased a case of red and a case of white wine, a little more expensive than the wine I buy for myself.  I need to buy beer, but am at a loss, as I don't drink it.

Now I am wondering if I should go through my shoes and straighten those...just kidding.

Some of us have compulsions of a more personal watching that television series at a certain time, arranging the remote and coffee cup just so each morning,  combing their little boys hair in a certain way before he races outdoors, feeding the cat the exact homemade food formula, or insisting on sorting and reading the mail/newspaper first in the household.  Think about it a minute.  What are your compulsions? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Devil is Always in the Details

Regarding my prior post, please note that I am old enough to know that drawing battle lines over this wedding issue helps no one.  Least of all me!  My brother is the sweetest most hardworking and loving guy!  He is a really good looking and tremendous man and his first marriage was a disaster with a woman who cheated on him!.  Seriously, I had better never meet that witch face to face in the future or there will be blood...hers!

Therefore, I am frustrated that this second marriage is far less than he deserves.  But I will not point this out to him...or anyone else.  I just had to point it out to you-all.  His wife is not a bad person.  Who knows what her childhood was like with divorced parents?

Anyway, got my wedding haircut today and it is a little shorter than I hoped, but she spent 45 minutes and really layered it and it is probably the best haircut I have had in years.  Cost $50...which is more than the $12 I usually pay at the walk-in, but worth it.  Maybe I will post a photo of me at the wedding, if I can get someone else behind the camera lens.  I probably cannot post wedding photos as those are copyrighted.

We are driving my son up after work next week three days before the wedding as his car cannot make the trip.  (There is another story in that!)  Since it is a 6 hour drive, we will not be getting in until midnight.

My son has said absolutely nothing about the mother/son dance which concerns me a little.  I guess we are going to wing it.  Pray that we look divine as I can dance well only with a strong lead!

I have finalized the rehearsal dinner number at 80...but since most guests are coming from out of town, that is not unusually large.  It is a BBQ on a beach catered by a BBQ place selected by my future DIL since this is in a town where her parents live.  When I had first called them months ago, they thought I had said the 3rd of July...not the 4th.  When I called again last week, they said they were closed on the 4th!  Yes, I had a mini-heart attack...but they said they could do it if I was willing to pay holiday overtime.  I threw caution to the wind and said I was...thinking this might add hundreds to the bill.  She said overtime would cost $50.  Don't you just love doing things outside the big city? 

I do think Son has picked a '+10' when it comes to his bride-to-be.  We really lucked out on that and I could not be happier for him!  I will next look forward to my grand-children's weddings...and yes, I do expect to be here for that!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Family!  I think that the best of us, and the worst of us is brought forward at weddings and funerals.  I love each of my brothers (2) and my sister (1) and my dearly departed sister (1) tremendously.  I like my brother-in-law; I like my sister-in-law; and I tolerate with patience my other sister-in law.  None of us are perfect and we all come from various backgrounds and relationships, and if you love someone you tolerate those they love.  I am lucky in that I do not live too close, and therefore, find it easy to keep my opinions to myself. 

When I used to fly out to visit them, I would have to stop by my "baby" brother's house, because he could never get away to see me the entire week I was there at my parents farm only 8 miles away.  He would fix me and my husband a lovely dinner and we would visit and enjoy each others' company.  His wife would never be there, though.  She was always off visiting friends or doing something vague which never was clear in my mind.  Years later I learned that her first child had arrived her Senior years in high school and resulted in a quick wedding that did not last.  She never went to college but I really think she never wanted to.  One marriage and two more children later, she married my brother.  That was when I believed her insecurity at being with us college educated types without such divorce histories was her reason for avoiding us.  I went out of my way to make her feel I was not judgmental in any way and made sure that she understood I thought her three children from two prior marriages were shining examples of good people...which they really are!  Yes the first two have illegitimate children and have never married, but they are basically good solid folk.  The last (under my brother's stronger influence) did make it through college without getting pregnant and seems to have a solid relationship with someone and without children at this time.

Anyway, the stimulus for this diatribe post is my brother's public comment on FB (not the private messaging venue) that he did not have a suit for my son's upcoming wedding.  I thought he was joking and we commented back and forth over a few days until I finally explained that a shirt and tie would make him more comfortable than those in suits sitting in the late afternoon summer sun...the wedding is outside and a suit was not compulsory. 

Now this week, just 12 days before the wedding he PUBLICLY comments on FB that there is a 'snag' in their plans to fly out for the wedding and the later drive to my house.  The dog sitter they had arranged for could not come and they hope to find one that "they approve of" before they have to leave!  He has never come out to see me in all the years I have lived on the East Coast except for my daughter's wedding ten years ago.  Although I have been to visit him at least three times since then.  I do love him, but think this is all someone else's insecurities coming forward.  I think someone does not want to spend time with all the in-laws and is hoping she will not have to.  Unfortunately, even her first born son had said to me years ago that she is a very selfish and self-centered person. 

Do I sound just a little annoyed?  Well, I am.  This  is not a big deal to anyone, but me, of course.  OK, got it off my chest, now I can enjoy this wedding.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Taking It One Step Further

A few days ago Grannie Annie had posted a question on her blog asking her readers to name the historic figure they would most like to meet if they had such powers or opportunity.  It could be a celebrity or a dead historic person...whatever.  I said that I wanted to meet my great grandchildren and my great, great grandchildren in the future and not go to the past.  Why?  Because I have an ego that would like to know if any of my loves, beliefs, etc. filtered through the generations. Did I have the right perspective?   I would also be curious as to where they were in the grand scheme of things.  How they made a living, what they loved, what they fought for and how the world was treating their generation.  Did they still have the freedoms we fight for today?  Were they able to live their lives as they wished?  Did I recognize anything in their personalities that touched a chord?

One of Grannie Annie's readers/responders (who is in the music industry) posted that they had met celebrities and found that they were just regular people.  I think that is true with most of the famous folks.  They are not super smart, super strong, super beautiful...they were just in the right place at the right time and made the right decision or history rewrote their story and it seems to us that they made the right decisions.  Or they were given a great talent and they were smart enough to nurture it.  (Then, of course, I would pay money NOT to have to meet some of these celebrity idiots that woman who just had a baby and is married to a controversial rock star and whose accomplishments consist of pouting and sticking out her (plastic?) chest.)

About 20 years ago I was watching a street festival in the Bahamas as part of a happy crowd. I glanced up at the over 6 foot thin black man standing next to me.  I recognized him but could not for the life of me place him.  After a time, I realized it was the man my children had watched on the TV show, The Electric Company.  It was Morgan Freeman, whose fame is far greater than that educational program...although he still works on education with a TV space science program today.  He even attended an international conference of physicists recently as a guest.  I was both too intimidated and too polite at that time to interrupt his Caribbean vacation and act like a fan, and therefore, I let him be.  I glanced at him now and again, and could have touched him we were so close, but we both had our privacy because it was dark at night.  I do sort of regret that, but I am sure he does not!

We have all had these mental exercises of whose brain we would like to pick.  One fun exercise I read (or heard about) a few years ago was a dinner party guest list.  If you could invite 5 interesting people to eat dinner with you...who would you invite?  I would most certainly include Morgan Freeman because he is such an eclectic and good person.  Also at that time I  read about this exercise I was younger and enjoying and thinking of inviting the humor columnist, Erma Bombeck, early woman's liberationist's advocate who used a laugh instead of a bat to make her point. She could keep us laughing right into dessert.  Two down and three to go...whom would you invite?  And perhaps a neat additional question...what on earth would you serve?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gives Me Pause

Today is Father's Day and with the monumental job of being responsible for the successful journey of a child from infancy to adulthood no father can take total blame if things go astray.  Fathers can only be thankful for what went right and accept the lessons learned and then start over.   

In my role as a mother, I remember that my son and I had a somewhat rough time together when he reached his teen years.  He is blunt, like me.  He has a strong creative muse that does not let him rest and comes before others, like me.  He is stubborn in his ideas, like me.  He had periods of depression, unlike me. We grew apart for a while with a mutual peaceful understanding after some heavy discussions as he entered adulthood.  Then in his late 20's he returned to the fold and we fell in love with each other once again and became good friends and best supports for each other.  We still are finding our way on this winding journey.

My, now 30-something, son said to me the other day...not his exact words but the gist of it..."All of my friends like you guys.  I told them you are a little crazy, but they like you anyway."  Is this a left-handed complement or what?  Should I avoid analyzing it?  Should it be taken seriously?  Have you received any strange complements from your adult children that give you pause although they make you smile?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Planned or Unplanned Obsolescence

Things your great great grandchildren may ask about:

What were postage stamps and why did people collect them?
What was a telephone?
What was a wall clock?
What was a radio?
What does the word 'cash' mean?
What was a hard drive?
What was cork and why was it used?
What was a book?
What was paper? And what was a newspaper?
What was a love letter?
What was an address book?
What was a photo album?
What is a FAX machine and why does it have that odd name?
What was ironing?
What was a power line?

Here are things I hope they do not ask!

What was spaghetti?
What was privacy?
What was a swing?
What was a nursery rhyme?
What was a butterfly?
What was a bumblebee?
What was a board game?
What was a sing-along? (NOT Karaoke)
What was retirement?
What is a misspelled word?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Asian Woods

Many of my readers were more impressed with my rattan furniture than any of the hours and hours (and hours) of work I completed.  I guess some were speechless, others felt guilty, and the rest of you just ignore a braggart.

Therefore, I thought I would discuss my rattan.  First, rattan is a type of solid vine and wicker is type of weave that can use any number of materials such as rattan, bamboo, willow, rush, etc.  Rattan is the most sturdy as it is solid core and related to the palm tree.  It grows straight up and then winds down and around for a loooong way.  My furniture came from the time I lived in Indonesia.  I cannot remember how much it cost, but I know it would cost a lot more to purchase it in this country today.  Hubby's employer at the time, the State Department, shipped it back for free as part of our household goods.

It is best used indoors, and for a number of years I had a sunroom, where it was used.  For the last five years it has been under this deck of my new house.  The deck leaks to this patio below in spite of the protection.  Therefore, I try to keep the rattan sheltered in the winter with a plastic cover and make sure I paint it every few years.  It is still in pretty good shape with only a few places where the rattan has started to crack although I have owned and used it for over 20 years.

Yes, I used a spray can to paint it as Peruby suggested.  It took 7 or 8 cans and I had to spray two coats as well as a touch up after turning the furniture upside down and seeing places that I missed.  My fingers were stiff!!

I bought two cheap (very cheap) plastic chairs at the hardware store that sort of compliment the color and help add more seating.  I say they are cheap both in structure and price, because they are not all that solid when you sit on them in spite of their appearance and I will have to lock them down if a hurricane comes this way.  Behind is an Asian-look water fountain and on the other side of the steps toward the far back is my black bamboo that I planted years ago and must keep in place each year.  It does not spread like crazy as real bamboo does, so just a spring cut back seems to work although the early spring growth can dust your face with rain dew when you descend the stairs.  I can cut away some of the inner bamboo once it turns black and it makes an attractive support structure for plants.

Yes I changed the color of the outdoor rug because that red rug was falling apart...and I have company coming after all.  The contrast color is red, because my window trim is deep red all around the house and when the furniture was white, that was cool.  We will see how long I like this spring Christmas theme.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Pace of Retirement - Part of Just One Week- Who Knew?

So, after my last post one might envision me sitting on my deck with a camera and a book and contemplating the summer dancing shadows for several afternoons while sipping a favorite wine.  Fat chance!  I have decided I am my own worst enemy.  With company (6 adults for 3 days) coming immediately after my return from a distant wedding the first week in July, I am determined to have a spotless house and yard it seems and I made this list to see what I could accomplish and actually surprised myself!  I am bats++t crazy...just a little.

Tuesday:  2 hours working with my volunteer gardeners at the museum, three loads of laundry done, transplanting plants into pots at home, cooking dinner.
Wednesday:  1.25 hours running, lifting weights and stretching, cleaning the big closet, dusting upstairs bedrooms in the corners and cornices and under furniture, weeding flower beds, washing off deck, watering plants on deck, cooking dinner.
Thursday:  Meeting on the children's garden at the art museum, grocery shopping, cleaned carpets in basement, cleaned sectional sofa and the loveseat and one rug on main floor (with hubby's help), returned carpet machine and did a little shopping at the small mall and ate out at the Thai restaurant.  Insomnia woke me at 2:00 P.M. so finished reading "Me Again"on my Kindle.
Friday:  Put all furniture back in place on slightly damp carpet, washed down the elliptical and dusted other stuff, one hour heavy exercise, brief update on blogger, called Toyota dealer for appointment, sorted the dozens of magazines piled on and beneath the huge coffee table in the main room, cleaned out the laundry room cupboard under the sink and threw away a bunch of stuff, folded one load of laundry, checked off stuff on my list and added stuff to my list, took a nap, washed out and re-arranged the coffee cupboard in the kitchen, and cooked dinner (popcorn).  (It poured rain all day so this was easy!)  Doesn't it all look so shiny clean down there?

Saturday: Washed upstairs bedroom windows (6) and screens and dusted the trim.  Changed the sheets in one bedroom.  Fixed (after 20 minutes of work) a stupid casement window that would not close--the left one in the photo below!  That is the area where we keep the kids books and toys.  (I hate Eagle windows.)  Cleaned the upstairs bathroom and put out new shampoos and soaps.  Selected two photographs and hung them in the upstairs guest bathroom (talk about tooting my own horn!) but they matched the orange accents in that room and believe it or not, I just eyeballed the placement.  Vacuumed and mopped the tiled areas of the basement outside the carpet and rug areas (in photo above), mopped the landing and stairs, cleaned up hubby's grow light area, cleaned basement bathroom and shower (and discovered the shower sprays everywhere when you open the door to use it so got a quick shower!!).

Grow light unit.

Sunday: I will clean the guest bedroom downstairs, wash the two basement windows and the one set of french doors in the basement, dead-head roses and sundry other dead-heading after the two days of rain. There is one hour of regular exercise that I have promised myself to complete.  

Last week I painted these...they used to be white!  My goodness what a slump I will be in when I finish all on the list!  I realize I have to quit beating myself up on not getting organized for this...cause I guess I am moving it forward regardless once I started listing all that I do get done.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Charging Around or Re-Charging

My daughter has invited me to a belated sharing to celebrate Mother's Day now past.  I have told her time and again, I just want time...perhaps a lunch at a cafe and a movie matinee.  But, she is bringing along my 5-year-old granddaughter who sometimes seems more like 6.  It will be a girls day and I am not sure what it will be.  At first I thought it was the rose show in her area, but she said we would be spending the time in-doors and not walking much and I am sure my granddaughter is not (yet) into roses.  All will be revealed later and it will be fun.

BUT this post is not about that.  It is about how busy my life seems these days.  With a wedding, various holidays, a field trip I am planning for my volunteer group, my volunteer work, my own gardening, relatives coming back from the wedding to my house for several days, babysitting the grandchildren for three days twice this summer, and a schedule next week for an oven repair, I am beginning to feel like life is too busy for me.  Many of these are necessary time sumps and others are things of joy that I love.  But as a creative soul, I find they take away from my reading, my photography, and my writing and my re-charging.  With age I am finding that quiet time is so essential to my soul.  I need it like most people need water, and now that I am retired, I really want to cram as much quiet time as possible into my days...those few thousand days that us old folks treasure.

Those of you who are young wonder why two or three days full in an otherwise empty week can be so draining, but someday, if you are lucky to live a long life, you will find that bouncing back is just a little harder and greed for this me-time is just a little stronger.  Perhaps it is a rebound from all the hours, days and weeks we sacrificed for our family and job when we were younger.  OR you may be like my husband and have a passion for filling every single hour of every single day with some project or activity and totally forgetting many of these things when they collide on a calendar!

Yes, I can still juggle three grandchildren, their meals and fun times, and my email and bills and housecleaning and travel and exercise and hobbies.  But once I get a day of unscheduled breathing room, I tend to stare into space and breathe slowly for hours or read poetry or watch a good British mystery on TV while I slowly fold clothes.  I am like a cell phone that needs to be plugged into the wall and not used for hours.  I can't even carry on a conversation as that is too draining!

So if there are greater gaps in my blogging you will know that I am downloading some energy somewhere.