Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Working between the rain clouds

I had to stop painting because it's raining and the kitchen is too dark to see well enough to apply the 2nd coat right now. It rained most of last night, and most of today - a torrential rain. I know we need it and I don't mind rain, but I would rather see an entire week of slow steady rain than the downpours in Sacramento. I don't think I've ever seen a gentle rain here.

I did manage to get a lot done this morning, and can re-hang 3 of the cabinet fronts tomorrow. If it lightens up enough to finish the wall I stopped on, then I can hang the curtain rod and move the table back over to the wall. It is currently in the center of the kitchen and difficult to move around.

Several people commented that my allergies might be connected to paint fumes, but I don't think so. For one thing, I've done a whole lot of painting in this house so far, with little or no trouble. When I pulled into the Home Depot parking lot yesterday I believe I saw the source of my allergies. HD has planted a tree about every 5 parking spaces throughout their ENTIRE PARKING LOT! Those trees are now flowering, which means that trees and other plants all over the city are flowering as well. I don't know why I have the bronchitis-type cough, but I'm sure it's part of the allergic reaction. I'm taking a Benadryl tablet and a tbsp. of prescription cough syrup before going to bed at night, so at least I'm sleeping fairly well.

After writing these words I had lunch, the rain stopped and the sun came out long enough for me to finish the wall I was working on. Now the heavens have opened up again, and that's a signal for me to stop and take a break - maybe even a nap.

What I've done so far looks beautiful, and will be even more so when I get the cabinets finished and re-hung. I'm not going to attempt the bottom cabinets now, although I may have a change of heart and get them done before leaving for NY. The painting is tedious enough, but it's cleaning those cabinets that is the problem. I clean them outside so I can't resume that job until a sunny day.

LATER: I finally got my registration card in the mail from the Dept. of Housing and Community Development. I paid $30 for this year's registration. I think Yvonne told me that when she bought the unit 20 yrs ago, the registration was something like $318 per year. Like auto registration, it generally goes down over the years, and I don't know if $30 is rock bottom but I'm satisfied with it, considering I won't have any kind of property tax.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Moving along

I managed to get an early start so that I could get two coats of paint on the ceiling. I also cleaned and primered a couple more of the cabinet fronts. I didn't want to have to deal with a regular screwdriver and all those screws, so I dug out my cordless drill/screwdriver and it's on the charge right now.

Tomorrow I will get a gallon of satin finish for the cabinet fronts. The hardware and screws are disgusting with all the grease they've accumulated, and I soaked some of them for the past couple of days in a solution of Pine Sol and Dawn dishwashing liquid. I couldn't believe when I pulled the screws out of the solution and started rinsing them, the blobs of hardened grease just dropped off, though I had to use a brush on the handles and hinges. Now I made some new solution in a cup and have some more hardware sitting there to soak.

I began having symptoms of allergies a few days ago, but have now developed a deep cough. This is exactly what happened to me last year a month or so after I returned from Arizona. Back then I even had a blood test to see if I had Valley Fever, but it was negative. I woke up in the middle of the night and took some cough syrup and an allergy tablet, and was able to go back to sleep. Add this to my sore muscles and I am one falling-apart woman.

I'd almost like to say I wish I hadn't ever started all this painting, but down deep I am very happy with it. I knew the kitchen would be a nightmare and it is proving to be pretty close to that. I'm working in a fairly small space while having to use the space on a daily basis for its original purpose. I'm not doing much in the way of cooking, but that's going to have to change pretty soon because I'm getting hungry! I had thought I would cook tonight, but ended up eating two tangerines instead.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What ya gonna do now, Gypsy?

To borrow a phrase from Billy Bob, "Holy Crap!"

Yesterday in the late afternoon, after climbing up and down the two steps on the ladder, reaching and stretching to reach the ceiling, I sat down with a cold Miller Hi Life. I take a long time to drink a beer, so maybe 90 minutes later when I decided to have another one, I tried to get up out of the chair when every bone and muscle in my body screamed in pain. I said to my dog Lady, "Holy Crap". She knew what I was talking about because she has a difficult enough time getting up and down, although a ladder doesn't have anything to do with it.

I spent the rest of the evening in my recliner, got a good night's sleep, and woke up this morning without even an ache. I guess I can attribute my recovery to the medicine I took (Miller's) - I can't even remember if I ate supper or not. Meals present a real dilemma because my kitchen is in such upheaval it wouldn't be worth all the moving things around in order to cook.

I was back on the job this morning, and have primered all I'm going to primer today. Here's a look at my progress, but you have to ignore the clutter. The 2nd picture will give you an idea of what the rest of the walls will look like - that's the wall behind the stove that I painted before hanging the range hood. The hood is covered with newspaper to keep me from dripping paint on it. The next thing to do is to paint two coats of ceiling paint, and then I can get to the walls, and then I can get to the cabinet fronts and hardware and hang them back up!

The wind has died down today, but it looks like there is a chance of rain tomorrow. I don't like to paint when it's raining, but I suppose the newer formulations dry quickly enough they don't absorb moisture. I sure hope so.

On an entirely different note, I want to mention that from time to time I look at my sitemeter stats, particularly location. A couple of times I have noted a visitor from Bala Cynwyd, PA. The first time I saw it I thought what a beautiful name. I know it is a Welsh name but I'm so used to seeing the German sounding names in PA towns I was surprised. A google of Bala Cynwyd informed me that it was founded in the late 1600's by Welsh Quakers. So to the person from Bala Cynwyd, let me say I am thrilled to have you read my blog.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why did I ever start this?

I decided I'd better seize the moment since I don't go anywhere on weekends, and would have plenty of time to get the job done. Of course I forgot to take into the equation the fact that I don't like to do too much at once, and I take frequent breaks.

First step was to take down some of the cabinet fronts. There are 17 cabinet doors with 2 hinges each (4 screws each); 11 drawers with handles (2 screws each); and handles, or pulls, on the cabinet fronts (2 screws each). This adds up to about 63 pieces of hardware, attached with 194 screws, all of which are greasy and dirty and will have to be scrubbed with a brush. I figured this stuff in my head while I was working and my math might be off, but it's close.

I might as well show some "before" pictures:

I took down 7 of the overhead cabinet fronts, and you can see them stacked in the second photo. What you might not see is the awful stuff I will have to clean before painting. Yuk! Depending on how the paint job turns out, I might end up replacing the cabinets when I get around to replacing the countertop and sinks. It all takes money.

So I switched the TV to channel 812, which is bluegrass music. Soon I was enjoying the fiddles, banjers, dobro, and the high lonesome sound of my favorite music.

I now have the ceiling ready for the first coat of primer, and I may get around to that today or maybe not. Since the light has a loose wire and isn't working at present, I'll have to get off my chair and do it now if I don't want to wait until tomorrow. I'm really hungry for lunch and wish I could enjoy fast food, but I don't, so I won't.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shock at the fuel pump!

I haven't fueled up for several weeks; the last time I paid $3.459, and today it cost $3.959/gal. I don't believe what is reported as the reason for this kind of increase. The higher the price, the more the oil companies profit, and if there was a genuine shortage we would use less (which we are), and companies would make less. It just doesn't make sense.

I got the cleaner I need to start on my kitchen walls, ceiling and cabinets, but I need to muster up some energy. Maybe this weekend instead of sitting in front of the TV watching BookTV, I will work in the kitchen and turn the TV up enough to hear BookTV. The past two weeks I have had no energy and very little motivation, so I'm hoping a project will get me going.

I filled a prescription this morning for eyedrops - I had been paying about $19 for 10ml of brand name drops. I received a letter from Blue Cross telling me they would pay what they did for my first refill this calendar year, but now that the coverage has changed I will have a 75% copay for non-generic prescriptions. I'm not fighting that so I switched to the generic, for $2.69 for 10ml. I have no idea what the brand name would now cost. I'm still trying to figure out how I can work in a trip across the border for meds on my way to NY, but it's so far out of my way I really hate to do it. I'd pay way more for the extra fuel, but at least I wouldn't have to jump through the hoops required to get the doctor to write the Rx to begin with.

It is an absolutely beautiful day here, reaching about 71F. It's interesting to me to see the way the track of the sun changes through the seasons. Sitting in my recliner I can now see the sunset, whereas a few weeks ago I had to get up and move a few feet to see it. As always, the sunsets here are always magnificent. I thought they were beautiful when I was in Ireland watching the sun set over the sea, but that was nothing compared to Sacramento, CA. Who woulda thunk!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I saw the eye doctor this morning, and he promised to write a prescription for glasses when I go back on March 26. That will give me time to have the glasses made before I leave for NY. It was a short trip from there to pick up the dog food, so I can relax the rest of the day. Maybe tomorrow I will try to buy more TSP so I can get started working again.

This is the ceiling fixture with all the blades removed. The ones I took down today went a little easier, probably without all those other blades in the way. The other picture is a close up of the top part of the blade. It is supposed to be white, as you can sort of tell from the edges, but it hasn't been white for years!

As far as letting the person who is installing the new fixture take down the old one, it will be one of my sons or my son-in-law. They do so much for me as it is, and it isn't like I'm paying a stranger to come and get this awful thing down. So now I've done all I can, and the rest of it is sticky enough to be a distasteful job.

Today is a beautiful day except the wind is blowing something fierce. I'm thinking about a nap.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two down, three to go

I have been trying for several days to remove the blades from my kitchen ceiling fan. It is so greasy and sticky to touch, I wanted to make it easier for the person who will take the rest of the fixture down and install the new ceiling light. It has been very difficult for me to reach the screws holding the blades in with the size screwdrivers I have, but today I actually removed two of them. My neck hurt from looking up and my arms hurt from holding them over my head, and I think something happened to my knees from the tension of standing on top of the 2-step ladder. I actually held my balance very well though. You can see the 3 remaining blades, plus the manner in which the entire fixture has moved from its original position, no doubt because everything was unbalanced.

Now, should I try to get another one this afternoon, or let well enough alone and try it tomorrow. With no accidents or near misses, I should probably count my blessings and wait until another day.

The last few days have been great - my niece from Milwaukee was in town with her husband and daughter, staying at Jeannie's house. This is the darling niece who took my dental xrays last year, which gave me the impetus to correct a few serious problems. We all had Donald's home made pizza on Sunday evening, and on Monday we met at my sister Amy's house for lasagna. Several of the Central CA relatives drove up for the day, and it was nice to get together. After gathering in large, spacious homes for two days, they came to my place with Jeanne and her family yesterday afternoon. I wasn't sure I could put together enough sitting space but managed to do it. I drove to Jeanne's house this morning to say goodbye for now, as they are leaving for a few days in the Monterey Bay area, including Santa Cruz, which I always thought was a fun, laid back place. I have no interest in going there now, however, but it's great for younger folks.

I haven't blogged for a couple of days because I haven't really felt all that great. I've been noticing an erratic heartbeat now and then, and have had a pain and some swelling in my lower leg. Don't know what it was, but it has eased now and I don't feel any pain when I'm walking.

Tomorrow holds another visit to the eye surgeon, and I hope he tells me something good. My sight is definitely getting better than it was, and I am looking forward to getting glasses to help me read close up plus street signs, which I can't see until I'm nearly past them. I've also driven after dark a couple of times in the past few days and was surprised at how easy it was. Not that I like to do it, nor would I want to drive in a lot of traffic and oncoming lights, but the conditions were just about as good as they could get.

And finally, tomorrow I will also pick up the case of dog food that I ordered. Now to figure out where to store it. Something has to go in my kitchen!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shopping online

I read a magazine article last night that had such an impact on me I'm determined to alter my shopping habits. The article was written by a woman who worked briefly for a temp staffing agency that provides workers for a giant warehouse that assembles and ships orders placed online. I believe, though not absolutely sure, that Amazon has its own warehouse/shipping facilities, but they might also use other such companies especially for non-book purchases.

The rules for holding these jobs requires 12+ hour days, impossible to meet goals that require people to run on concrete floors to assemble merchandise in the time allowed by the management, multiple safety violations and equipment malfunction, and much more. For this, complaining could get a person fired, but there are many reasons to be fired. One man was fired because he took the day off that his wife gave birth to their child. He had to go through the whole application process again to be re-hired.

The article referred to workampers who take these jobs especially during the Christmas to supplement their retirement income. I remember a few years ago reading Rene's blog, a woman who worked for Amazon and wrote of unbelievably bad treatment during the weeks she was employed. There is also a blogging couple on my list of blogs I read who recently worked for Amazon, and while they weren't as explicit about the conditions as Rene was, the story came through for anyone who is aware of the working conditions.

I really prefer to buy local anyway, and to see and touch the merchandise to examine what I am buying, but now I am even more determined to avoid contributing to companies who profit at the expense of the workers so necessary to the success of the companies. We are appalled when we hear of inhuman conditions in the sweatshops of the third world; we disapprove of unsafe and unfair conditions in China, but we have just as bad in our midst, and I for one, am not going to support this. It just isn't worth violating my own sense of justice to save a few cents or even a few dollars.

The sun is out this morning and it looks like a beautiful day ahead. The weather channel reports of snow in my favorite part of the world, the VA/NC/KY/TN area. I almost wish I had the opportunity to enjoy some snow this winter but it probably won't happen. Maybe next year.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Foiled again

This was about the 4th or 5th time I've tried to find the liquid TSP at Home Depot and it still isn't on the shelves. I then went to Lowes and they were out of it as well, as was K-Mart. I may have to eventually find a paint store.

I did buy something I've been wanting to try out - a Brita bottle. You fill it with tap water, put the cap on the bottle (the cap contains the slim filter), and you're good to go. It has the sport top that I'm not crazy about - you have to squeeze the bottle to get the liquid out and into your mouth. I've always preferred the regular screw on cap. The directions that came with the bottle said to fill it with water and squeeze all the water out to get rid of the loose carbon particles in the filter. I don't always follow directions to the letter, but I'm glad I did on this one. The first third of the bottle came out very black from said particles, but the rest of it came out clean and clear. I refilled the bottle and put it in the fridge so it's ready to use.

I think it mostly removes chlorine taste and smell from tap water, plus "Class VI Particulates", whatever they are. I'm happy with that because when I travel I hate the chlorine that's always noticeable in tap water. I'd much rather filter the tap water than to pay Coca, Pepsi, or Nestle's for the privilege of buying their filtered tap water.

The sun is bright today and I think I'll walk Lady soon. I've been letting her off leash to do her business in the grassy area between the fence and the road, but this morning she kept wanting to cross the roadway and go into the dirt area that extends over to the industrial section. I take her there once in a while, but she always picks up something in her paw and comes away limping, so I kept pulling her back and threatening to put the leash back on. Damn stubborn dog wouldn't listen, so I used the leash the rest of the way. I think her few days of a little freedom have gone to her head and those days are just about over. For some reason she has really been irritating me lately - don't know if it's me or if it's her.

So sad

I drove to the hospital today to visit my cousin. She was sleeping when I got there but opened her eyes after about 5 minutes had passed. She was in a lot of pain and I think the meds made her too drowsy to talk. I held her hand for a while as she went in and out of sleep, and then I told her I was going to leave so she could try to get some decent rest. I think she was feeling like she had to talk to me, and I would have stayed except I was worried about the distress it might be causing her. I really feel bad for her, and I don't do very well in these kinds of situations, but I'll check to see how she is in a couple of days and then go back to see her again.

I feel like I need to get back to my painting, but the reason I've put it on hold is that Home Depot is out of the TSP I use. I don't want anything I have to rinse, and I don't want the ready-to-use formula because that would be too expensive. Just want the kind you mix 1 part to 7 parts water. So tomorrow morning I'll go back to HD to see if they have it on the shelves again, and if not I'll travel over to Lowes which isn't too far away.

My youngest (Joe) stopped by with his youngest daughter, Keira, this morning. He doesn't have school today so he took Alyssa to her pre-school and he said Keira didn't want to go go home - she wanted to go to "Dah-ma's" house. All the granddaughters are so cute - first thing when they get here they go to the coloring books & crayons. Then they visit the snack cabinet in the kitchen, and Joe's daughters always want to look at the knick-knacks in my bedroom. I have a gorgeous ceramic dragon I used to keep on my kitchen windowsill in Asheville, a little ceramic fairy, a ceramic mermaid, lots of pretty tumbled stones and quartz, and they are all fascinated.

It was nice to have a chance to visit with Joe and hear about his classes. He's in a Respiratory Tech program and loves it. He will be extremely good when he gets into hospital work. He and my d-i-l lost twins, one stillborn and one who lived for 7 months but never got to breathe on his own until the last 30 minutes of his life when they disconnected all the tubes, etc. Joe will certainly be able to empathize with parents in a similar situation and will do his best for the babies and children. I'm assuming he wants to eventually work with that age group, although maybe he will feel differently when he's been given other options to explore.

I don't know where the days go, but they are speeding up and I feel like a spinning ice skater - you know how they bring their arms in close and spin so fast. I'm grateful for every day though.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good shopping deals today

As soon as I thought the morning commute was over I got on the freeway to drive to the Sacramento Food Coop. It is senior appreciation day, which means 10% discount on all purchases. I actually bought more vegetables than anything else, and my supper menu will feature greens and cornbread! The greens will include collards, kale, and red chard, and I'm not sure what seasonings I'll use this time - but I always include a little cayenne.

I took this photo of the red chard when I was washing the greens. I think it is the most beautiful vegetable, with the deep green color and red veins and stalks, and is prettier than many houseplants.

I couldn't make up my mind which of two photos I would use, so I'm showing you both of them. I normally don't post food pictures, but I'm making an exception today.

I stopped at the customer service desk on the way out to inquire about buying dog food by the case. They carry the Castor & Pollux brand I feed Lady, and the shelf price is fairly close to what I pay at Petsmart. I found that if I ordered a case that consists of four bags, I would get a 15% discount plus an additional 10% for seniors day discount. Of course I did just that. They will call me when the order arrives, and Lady should be set for a while.

The morning is sunny although it is very windy, and the drive was ok. The traffic was heavier than I expected, both ways, but I did fine. I'd take Folsom Blvd except I would run into traffic jams at Sac State University, so the freeway was much quicker and easier.

Shortly after getting a couple of comments yesterday that there was a problem with the link to Susan's blog, I fixed the link and it is working fine now. As far as my comments on solo travelers, they pretty much can apply to both men and women, except for possibly more of a security issue for women alone, and that is true whether you travel or live in a stix & brix house. Solos have ALL the jobs to do, outside and inside, and so they miss not only the sharing of the journey but the sharing of work as well. For me, personal freedom carries a high value as well as a moderate cost. That's my opinion, and if yours differs I would like to hear about your experiences.

I still have the ceiling fan in my kitchen but the light must have burned out and I can't figure out how to get to the bulb. I need to figure that out today as I need all the light I can get in the late afternoon when I'm cooking.

Jeannie stopped by yesterday evening with a gift for Valentine's Day - a box of chocolate covered strawberries made by Donald. I ate two of them when she left, and had two more for my lunch today (fruit is beneficial!). I'll polish them off by tonight.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lunch with Susan

After running some errands this morning I visited Susan who is getting ever closer to realizing her dream of traveling in her RV. She has been living in the Bighorn 5th wheel for several months, and will soon hit the road with a workcamping job already secured for the summer.

She served a delicious spaghetti dish, with a luscious dessert which was a cake with blueberries and whipped cream topping. I really enjoyed the visit as well as Susan's hospitality.

Here are a couple of photos of Susan with her dog, Angel.

It is always exciting to see new RVers start out living their dream, and for me it is especially meaningful when the newbie is a solo woman beginning the journey. We face many issues that are unique to the solo female; I am on the cheering line for all RVers, and send especially the women out there my best wishes for happy trails!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My surroundings

I took my camera with me this morning when I walked Lady, and shot some photos of what lies beyond the fence in back of my house. The scenery isn't all that great, but it's what I look at morning and afternoon, and it's actually a lot better when the sun is shining.

This is looking north, and the Park is to the left.

This is the view looking south, and if you enlarge the picture you can see the freeway - US50 that runs from Ocean City, MD all the way to San Francisco, CA.

My house is just left over the fence, with the blue tarp covering the swamp cooler.

And this is the light industry to the east of the Park.

It was a dark overcast morning as shown by the photographs. After loading three of them I used the enhance feature on the 4th which lightened it up considerably. With all the problems I have loading pictures into blogger I didn't want to go back and enhance the others and then have to re-load. This "trail" was actually once a street that ends in a cul de sac just before the freeway, but has now been closed off to motor vehicles. If you walk over to the main trail that runs along the river from downtown to Lake Natomas, it is much more narrow. The American River is about a mile to my north.

I took a break in my walking regimen today, reasoning that all muscles need a break now and then, so I'm giving mine time to heal.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday already?

I'm not burning up the streets, but at least I'm consistently walking every day. Today I went around most of the outer perimeter of the Park, and I'm so glad I live where I do. Those who are along Sunrise Blvd have a concrete wall and their access street between them and all the traffic. Almost all the other houses - there are 450+ in the entire Park - are back to back, whereas I have a very small backyard and a wooden fence plus a grassy area behind it that is between me and the walking trail, then an empty field between that and the industry that I can hear once in a while. Surprisingly I don't hear much of my neighbors on either side, but only the yapping dogs as they go by and the folks talking on their cell phones. Some of them use the speaker setting, I guess so everyone can hear that they are talking to someone who answers back. It's almost always men who do this, and only once in a while do I see a woman walking and talking at the same time. I can't even chew gum and walk at the same time!

Some of the houses in the Park are very nice, and I was thinking this morning that I wish I had a double wide, followed immediately by the question to myself, "WHY?" - I certainly don't need any more room than what I have. I think tomorrow I will take a count as I go along of the garden gnomes, and maybe the statues of angels. The tiny little spaces in front of our houses can hold a lot of gnomes it seems, as well as bird baths and all kinds of statuary. I really haven't done anything with the outdoors area, front or back, because my limited energy has been concentrated on the inside.

Although it is only 64F, and that's where the thermometer has hovered for the past couple of weeks, it's the first day I could just use the screen door. And I'm wearing a short sleeved shirt to boot! Pretty soon I'll be opening windows, and then I will have to buy a couple of fans. I'm determined not to use that swamp cooler!

Having 2 different email programs that I use every day I can say my preference is AOL, although the look and feel of the old gmail program make it easier to use, probably because I just got used to it. One thing I've always disliked about Gmail is that no matter what you write in an email, you will soon be finding ads on the subject all down the right side of the page. It makes me feel like someone is reading my emails. I know it isn't a human reading them, but they ARE being read (call it what you like), and I feel it is intrusive on my privacy no matter what the stated noble purpose is - to enable me to find ads of interest. Thanks Gmail, but I don't need your help.

It's dog walk time! To tell the truth I don't feel like any more walking today, but would rather sit in my comfy chair!

A little later I was reading Trouble in TX's blog where she mentions making brown sugar, and I thought I would post the directions for anyone who would like to try it. You can multiply the proportions and use more or less of the molasses depending on how dark or light you want it to be. The proportion is one cup of white granulated sugar to 2 tbsp dark molasses. My s-i-l puts it into a ziplock bag and squeezes it until the molasses is mixed uniformly into the sugar. If he's in a hurry and it is being used in something that is getting blended or mixed together anyway, he sometimes just puts the sugar & molasses in with the other ingredients. That's what I did with the cookie dough, although I think it affected the texture and next time I will make the brown sugar separately.

That reminds me of back in the day when margarine was called "oleo", was white, and came in a clear plastic bag. The bag had a "button" of coloring inside, and the trick was to break the little button so the yellow color flowed into the white stuff, then squeeze the bag until all the yellow was mixed. Voila! You had yellow margarine! That was probably back in the early 50's so you kids might not have known about that.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baking Cookies!

I bought a huge 72oz bag of Nestle's chocolate chips at Costco about a month ago, plus a 2# bag of pecans. I got the ingredients to make cookies together two or three days ago and decided I'd have to put them all away if I didn't make the cookies soon. I tried something new - making my own brown sugar - with white sugar and molasses. It is so much more flavorful than the boxed brown sugar I've always used, but it made the texture of the cookies just a tad different. They are so good and I quit counting how many I've eaten today. Of course I ate some from each batch to make sure they were ok, and then had to bring a plate into the living room to go with my afternoon "tea".

Speaking of afternoon tea, the term has an entirely different meaning in Ireland and the UK. I was invited to someone's house at 4pm for tea shortly after I got there. I was expecting a cup of tea and some conversation, and walked into a full meal! And of course the cookies are called "biscuits", which I couldn't ever get used to. Biscuits are what my Kentucky grandma made to perfection, to be eated warm with butter and jam. But late afternoon or early evening tea usually means a full supper.

It was difficult for me when I returned from living in Ireland to get back to the American words for things - I no longer call a truck a "lorry", nor is an elevator a "lift". I still refer to catching a ride somewhere as "getting a lift". I will never ever forget asking a pub owner how to go about getting a "ride" to town. He looked me in the eye and said "Marta, don't EVER ask anyone to give you a ride". And I never have. There were many differences in words as well as pronunciation, and sometimes I retained my Americanisms "just because".

I did some trimming of the ugliest rose bush I've ever seen, and Lady enjoyed being out on the porch watching the world go by. It's amazing how she can lie in the sun with all the fur she has, but I suppose it is an insulator for heat as well as for cold. I went on to trim some dead ends off a couple of plants I'm not familiar with, and got stuck by the thorns enough to draw blood. I have come to the conclusion I dislike succulents, except for the aloe plant. I much prefer flowering plants.

Today has been a beautiful one. Although my desktop weather says it is 64F, it feels much warmer outside. I think I will go put some fresh sugar water into my hummingbird feeder now, and then savor the afternoon sun. I'm continuing to add a couple of blocks to my morning walk each day, and my legs can certainly feel it. I could go for a jacuzzi about now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A day of running around

I was glad I did my weights and walk this morning. I increased the walk some distance and for the rest of the day I felt more energy than I've had for a while. If that's the case I think I will try to walk every day.

I went to Costco to fill up the fuel tank, and then to a camera shop about 11 miles away to buy film. What an interesting place! They have incorporated a Museum of Old Cameras into their store, and it is fascinating to see some of the oldies that haven't been around for years. There are also poster sized reproductions of pictures and portraits taken long ago. I thought of the folks in our blogger community who would really enjoy browsing in this store/museum.

I came back home - normally I would have been worn out from facing the traffic and the activity. I called Gladys to see when it would be convenient for me to come and visit her, and she thought this afternoon would be a good time as an old friend is flying in from Baltimore tomorrow to visit. So off to the hospital I went.

She seemed a lot better than when I saw her on Sunday, but evidently the doctors aren't satisfied with test results, blood counts, etc. She has been in the hospital for over 6 weeks, and I think they want to send her home soon. She lives alone and I don't know what she will do, although she has a network of friends in her neighborhood as well as former co-workers, and several grandchildren who live in this area. I asked if the doctors had given her a long-term prognosis, and she told me they thought she could make it to the end of this year. I'm not sure I would want to know that, although it might be a blessing to some folks as they could get their lives and belongings in order. She might surprise everyone and be around a few more years. It happens, you know.

So now I am pretty tired, but I am determined to get completely back into life as soon as I can. With three cameras I need to start recording people and places! Time's a-wastin'.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My cup of tea

I have always loved coffee since I was a little girl and my dad let me share some of his coffee with milk, no sugar. My mom was a tea drinker (milk and sugar) and I intensely disliked the taste of it. I did learn to drink unsweetened iced tea from time to time, but coffee is still the nectar of the gods, to me.

When I lived in Ireland I started drinking tea - not in the morning when I would grind coffee beans I brought from America - but lunch in the pubs, visiting and being visited always called for a cup of tea. Irish coffee was pretty dismal, usually instant, but the tea grows on you to almost an addiction. I think a lot of it was that the buildings are so darned cold that it's pleasant to hold a warm cup in your hands. My tea of choice, with milk and no sugar, was Barry's Irish tea.

When I returned to the US I thought I would continue having tea in the afternoons, but a cup of Liptons or Tetley's brought that idea to a halt. About a year ago I saw Barry's Irish Breakfast Blend at Bel Air, and nearly choked at the price of it. Today for some reason I was buying a few items at the grocery and happened to look at the display of Barry's tea, so I bought a box of teabags. After having lunch I made a cup of Barry's and brought it into the living room to savor. Oh my goodness! What a delight it was, and the same teabag gave me a second cup that was equally wonderful. I guess from now on it's going to be morning coffee and afternoon tea for me.

I finished some touch ups to the paint job - inside door frames, etc. I think I will work on the kitchen next. I bought a small sample jar of paint to see how it would look on my cabinets. The color is called "Sweet Maple" but it doesn't look to me at all like maple. I believe I will go with white for all the cabinets. You may be able to note the slight yellow in the wall paint (and just above the drawer that I painted) against the white of the stove and range hood. I think the subtle contrast will be easier to live with in the long run, and will hopefully make the room look larger.

The blue tinge showing up on the photo of the range & hood is shadow, as the picture was taken yesterday evening. I took a much better one today but can't get it to load after 4 tries.

While I was out today I made a couple of stops to try to buy some 35mm film for one of my cameras. Target still carries a small number of color cartridges, but I wanted black and white. After asking several places I came home and called a camera shop that I think I can find easily, and they assured me they have color and black and white film.

I bought an Olympus Stylus 35mm camera from eBay and want to put b&w film in it - I already have color film loaded in my Minolta. When the Olympus arrived I turned it every way but loose and couldn't figure for the life of me how to turn the darned thing on. Today I purchased a battery and when I inserted it and closed the battery cover I jumped like I'd been shot! The cover zoomed open, the lens popped out, and lights started blinking. I think I'm going to like using this camera and can't wait to get some fresh film loaded into it. Nothing can equal the ease and speed of getting your pictures with a digital camera. For ME, however, I cannot see the screen and it gives new meaning to the term "point and shoot". It's something to do with my eyesight, and maybe that will improve in the future, but I will always prefer the view finder. Yes, there are a couple of digital models that still have a viewfinder, but they are more than I want to spend.

I may visit my cousin Gladys in the hospital tomorrow. How we came in contact a few years back is interesting. I was doing genealogy with a cousin in Kentucky, and we found information about Gladys' grandmother, who was the sister of my great-grandma. Finding her children led me to Gladys' mom and dad, and to their obituaries which listed 5 surviving children, one of whom was Gladys who lived in Fair Oaks, Ca. I found her address through google, and wrote her a letter to introduce myself and ask if I could meet her the next time I came to CA. She wrote back by return mail, and we've been friends ever since. It also led me to find out that her aunt Gladys was a Catholic nun in her order's nursing home in NY. The next time I was in NY my son drove me over to the little town where Sr. Gladys was and I got to spend about 15 minutes with her. At that time she was in her 101st year, and she died shortly after my visit. She couldn't speak to me, but her eyes and expression told me there was so much she wanted to say. I'm glad I was able to see her.

Monday, February 6, 2012

An afternoon with granddaughters

Donald came by with the girls and they entertained me while he installed the range hood. It looks so nice and matches the stove perfectly. I was surprised when I read the box and found it came from NuTone Corp. in Cincinnati. We didn't live far from NuTone when I lived in Cinti., and I'm very happy to hear they are still up and running, and also very happy to have one of their products.

I had gathered all my papers to be shredded, and had them ready for the girls to do. After they finally had all the shredding done, I decided to empty the strips of paper into the bag containing newspapers to be recycled. They helped me and got so into the spirit of grabbing big handfuls of shredded paper and stuffing it into the bag, that I had paper shreds all over. They enjoyed picking that up as well, and I'm happy to have provided them with something to do. They are so much fun.

Donald got on the roof again to see where the leak might be coming from that has been driving me nuts. He added a bit more caulk around the window, but doesn't think that is the source of the leak this time. It may be one of those things I will never figure out, but with rain predicted for tonight & tomorrow I will see if I'm still getting water around the window.

There is an area across the bike trail that has light industry, and sometimes I can hear the noise but most of the time I can just ignore it. Today some kind of heavy machinery has been running that is loud and sending out vibrations that can be felt. Every time I get too aggravated I just tell myself I'm glad that there are jobs for the guys who work there. It almost makes me forget about the annoyance (but not quite).

This morning I walked around a loop in the park that is probably just a smidgen under 1/2 mile. I could have kept going and walked around another loop, but figured I should take an easy start and then increase the distance and pace little by little. I was probably walking close to 4 mph, which I consider adequate for me, and there is room to speed it up a bit in the future. Now several hours later, I'm glad I stopped when I did because I can feel aches in muscles I am not used to using. I also did my weight lifting exercises before breakfast, so I'm hoping to get in decent shape soon. Gotta get ready for bikini weather, ya know.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sad news

I heard from a cousin today who told me she was in the hospital and that things aren't looking good for her. She began chemo treatments about a year ago for leukemia, but her doctors now tell her the chemo is no longer working and that there is nothing they can give her. I drove over to the hospital in Roseville and spent about an hour visiting, and also got to meet two of her sisters whom I've never met before and who are in town to spend a couple of days with her.

As I have said many times, I don't normally drive on weekends, and try to never drive in Roseville which I think is the most confusing place in greater Sacramento. I remember it from when I lived here in the 1980's, but it has grown so much since then I find it very congested with traffic and easy to lose my bearings in. Today the drive over and back was through very light traffic - thanks to the Super Bowl! I don't have any interest in it but had to be thankful for it keeping most folks indoors and watching the game.

I promised my cousin I'd come back during the week to visit again. Jeannie & Donald re-hung the closet doors for me today, and Donald took a look at the range hood and found he needs something or other in order to hang it. He will come back tomorrow to finish the job, and maybe I can get him to switch out the kitchen ceiling fan with the basic light fixture I bought to replace it. The ceilings are too low for ceiling fans to be all that effective, and I think I will buy several tower fans for the heat of the summer. I'll leave the windows open day and night, and catch the cool Delta breeze that sweeps the city in the early morning. Believe it or not, Sacramento can be cold on summer mornings and then the temps can rise to triple digits by afternoon. Of course if you have to be in the direct sun it gets hot very quickly.

I'm hoping to begin a regimen of walking around the park several times a week. I drove around one area and found the route to be about 1/2 mile, which is a good start. There are many more areas that can be added to the walk when I'm up to it. I'll leave Lady behind so that I can do a more brisk walk - she could stop the momentum every few steps to sniff the pavement, grass, bushes, or whatever. Plus there are hundreds of dogs in this neighborhood, most of them small barkers. I'll have enough of them yapping away at me.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I'd like to thank all the readers who are continuing to offer suggestions for, and their experiences with, various cell phone plans. There certainly are a lot of choices to consider. I think my main beef is with the phone itself rather than the carrier or the plan. I can't understand why I should have to carry around a phone with so many features I haven't used in the 2 yrs I've had the phone, and I remember cell phones from 10 years ago were much lighter in weight than my current version. There is also the fact that when I travel for several months at a time it's the only phone I will be using, so reducing the minutes is not going to help me all that much.

I was sitting here looking out the front door this afternoon and couldn't believe how dirty it was, thanks to the dog. I know that anyone with a dog understands what they can quickly do to a clean window. Now my sliding doors are clear as a bell and will remain that way until someone walks by with another dog.

I'm watching - one eye on the computer screen and one eye on the TV - a program featuring old video of Peter, Paul and Mary. It brings back a lot of memories, but also anguish that when you look over the 50 years between then and now, and some things haven't changed.

Well, the hot dogs have been delicious. There are 3 left out of a pkg of 8. Really good with the chili!

I'm hoping I can get some order in my house pretty soon so I can take some pictures. I cleaned the kitchen yesterday from top to bottom, but then this morning I wanted to get a 2nd coat of paint on the wall behind the stove. That meant moving the bread machine to the small kitchen table, the microwave to the kitchen chair, and all of the paint supplies strewn all over, to say nothing about the newspapers set down everywhere to catch any paint drips. Funny, but the drips never fall on the paper. Actually, I've been pleasantly surprised at how little it drips at all.

I plan to turn in early tonight, although if someone interesting is on BookTV I'll probably stay up to watch it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Returning things I bought

While I was waiting for the kitchen floor to dry I decided to return some items I bought earlier in the week. First stop was Home Depot - the gal. of paint I bought was the version that included primer - a mistake by the guy who waited on me and which I didn't notice until I got home, and a flat enamel when I need satin enamel for the kitchen - my mistake. HD took the paint back, no questions, and refunded the full amount. I went back to the paint dept. and got the paint I wanted. I also needed just a little more paint for the door in my bedroom, so I bought a quart of that.

Then to Petsmart where I returned the glucosamine I had bought for Lady. She is taking one of my tablets with no problem so far. I had several comments on this, including one suggesting I use a marshmallow to conceal the tablet. I looked for marshmallows but couldn't find them, which is undoubtedly because I can't see a product unless I am standing right in front of it, and can't read the aisle signs which they hang in the middle of the aisle so I can't read them from either end. As long as she does ok with my glucosamine tablets I will give her one a day as it is about half the price of the doggie version.

The sunset last night was exceptional. Every clear evening I watch the western sky from my living room, and the sunset each evening is more beautiful than the last. I haven't seen anything to beat it, even in Arizona.

I misplaced part of the nylon do-thingy that holds the closet doors on track, for two sets of doors. I bought a replacement at HD and hope it works out, so I can hang the darn doors back up. One of them has a big, heavy mirror that I took down when I painted, and I want to get that back up and out of the way. It will be nice to be able to walk around the small bedroom for a change. As it is I have to carefully make my way around boxes, the mirror, and various hardware items plus my tool box.

So my house is still half sow's ear, but increasingly becoming a silk purse. I seriously doubt it will ever look like a silk purse, but close is good enough for me. I still can't get over my good fortune in getting this place.

The beautiful sunny weather is speaking to me - "camping trip, camping trip". It is still cold at nights, though, so I won't jump the gun. I'm starting to think about my trip to NY in April and wonder which route I will end up with. When Bill (my ex) died in 2007, I set out with my granddaughter for Cincinnati where he was buried. The rest of the family went by plane, but they sent Ara with me in the Jeep knowing I would probably drive straight to North Carolina if I was alone. We started out on I-80 in early April and ran into closure of the interstate at Rock Springs, WY. I would like to spend a couple of days in Rock Springs, but during a snow storm and knowing I had a funeral to get to made it almost a nightmare. When we finally got word the interstate was being opened up, my battery wouldn't turn over. Thankfully AAA arrived within half an hour, and had me going on my way. So I don't trust April for cross country travel, and going the southern route would definitely be out of my way. I want to spend a few days in NY getting rested up, and then will drive with my d-i-l and 2 grandsons to PA for Ara's graduation from college. It will all work out.

I'm still up in the air about the cell phone issue as I don't have to make a decision right away. While pay-as-you-go would probably be a great choice, I also want a simple phone with no additives! Jitterbug is the only phone I've ever seen so far that has no buttons on the outside of the phone which tend to get pushed by mistake just carrying it, it has no camera, and what few buttons there are have clear marking with NO ICONS. The number keys are large and clearly marked, and it just appeals to me. I want something simple and not hi tech. If I ever have an emergency and need help, I can call the operator (always located in the US) who will get assistance for me.

As one reader suggested, I will have to make sure which carrier is used for whatever phone I decide on. I have had unsatisfactory experience in many places with AT&T as the carrier. I've never used Sprint, and Verizon has been superb, so far, although it does have some dead spots, especially in the west.

I intended to write a short post today but it looks like I've gone way over the mark. Have a nice weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cell phones and other devices

I'd like to ask if there are any readers who use the Jitterbug cell phone. My contract with Verizon will be fulfilled in one month, and while I have generally been satisfied with Verizon I would like to go to a more simple cell phone. My current plan allows 400 minutes a month, and that is just about what I need, although my usage rarely hits even 300 peak hrs. The monthly charge amounts to about $40, which is the same I would pay with Jitterbug.

I know many of you use iPhones and the like, but I simply don't need that kind of service. I don't like to talk on the phone to begin with, and keep it to a minimum if possible. I don't use the camera function, or lord knows what all the other buttons are there for. I just want a simple phone for when I am away from home (and my land line). I especially need something that will work when I drive across the country, which I'm expecting to do this coming April. The coverage map for Jitterbug looks pretty good - no service is available on any network in certain remote areas - and I can live with that.

So I would like to hear from anyone who uses, or has used, the Jitterbug, and what you find are the pros and cons of this phone/service. I forget to take my cell phone with me at least half the time I leave home, but realize I shouldn't do that on a long distance drive.

Also, if any readers can comment on devices that can summon help in an emergency, I would appreciate hearing about that as well. My biggest problem would be where and how to carry a device with me at all times. I don't think I'm ready for it yet, but with heart issues I should probably start thinking about it since I live and travel alone.

After going back to Facebook for several weeks, I have dropped out again, and if I don't log on for 2 weeks they will supposedly delete my account. I'm not sure what happens to any info they have about me as I think it is probably accessible forever to one who knows how to access it. I was never a very active user though, so I'm just going to opt out of this type of social networking. Even after a few short weeks on FB I found I was spending more and more time on it and I didn't want the addiction to develop and grow any further.

Before I get on with today's paint jobs I think I will drive over to K-Mart and pick up a few items. I haven't been there for a while, and it is so close that traffic isn't an issue. I'll just have to stay out of the snacks department - do you know that when I put my groceries away from yesterday I found a can of Pik-Nik shoestring potatos? I guess the little devil that led me to the hot dog and beer departments must have thrown the Pik-Nix into my cart while I wasn't looking. I really do love snacking on those things and they are relatively additive-free, having much fewer added ingredients than regular potato chips. I guess I can look upon them as a "health food" snack!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A little at a time

That's the extent of my painting. Just doing a little bit that I neglected when I originally painted the bedrooms, including the doors on both sides. For the small bedroom I had just enough paint - I remember this was the room where I knocked over a roller tray I had just filled, and it was wasted. I think there will be enough on the bottom of the can to do some touch ups from where I've propped the a couple of closet doors against the wall. Now if I can get Jeannie to help me hang the closet doors I'll be happy. We took the door off that was on the outside of the track, and I was able to paint the inside door from top to bottom without removing it.

Normally I am so virtuous about what I eat - healthy, fresh foods - but today a little devil directed me to go into Raley's and buy a package of Nathan's hot dogs, a can of chili con carne, and a package of hot dog buns. Oh, and a case of Miller Hi Life (it was on sale). I refuse to read the fat content of the hot dogs. Once in a while I eat bacon or a couple of hot dogs, but a package of 8 indicates that I will ultimately eat all 8!

Several readers commented that they tape TV shows and then fast forward through the commercials. Since I have an old fashioned TV and no recorder, I can't do that. I'm glad, however, that I am using this TV - it gets a great picture and is just about the perfect size. I have mentioned before that I don't like the width of the new screens because they are shortened vertically and seem to me to distort the picture. That's in my mind whether they do or not. Someone told me, well you can see more on the sides (I think referring to football games, which I don't watch anyway). If the screen is stretched so that you can see more on the sides, then you must be missing something at the top and/or bottom, and if not, then the picture is distorted. Thus spake Zarathustra!

I recently heard an interesting explanation of how "Captcha" came into being. Captcha is one of the word verification schemes, but it isn't the one blogger uses. I believe the person explaining Captcha was from Google and talking about scanning books into e-book form. When they tried to scan very old books the print was not recognized by the software, although a human can normally read it. The Captcha program was designed to "capture" a random word from some of the old volumes, plus a "regular" word, the theory being if you get one correct then the other one is probably correct as well. In this way they somehow transfer them into the recognition software, and print from older books can be translated into e-book form. In this way, the users of Captcha are doing them a big favor by getting the words correct.

I'm hoping that whatever scam program is attacking blogs will not be able to answer the word verification and thus will be unable to make it to my blog. These scammers are sort of like squirrels though, and no matter how you try to keep them from getting into the bird feeder, it doesn't stop them for long until they figure out another way to get what they want.

It's time to take the dog for a walk, and I haven't even been able to take a nap today. I've been enjoying a snooze on the couch for several days in a row, but it changes my sleep patterns at night. I awoke after 3 am this morning to the sound of rain and couldn't go back to sleep. I always liked hearing the rain hit the roof, but NOT in an RV and certainly NOT in this mobile home. Maybe the mobiles that have shingle roofs would be okay, but if the noise from the rain isn't bad enough on a metal roof, the sound of drips after the rain stops is even worse.

This morning I noticed quite a few seagulls flying in circles over the walking trail. I haven't before seen them here, although the athletic fields next to the local high school has always had them. I always thought it was interesting how thousands of birds seem to be facing in the same direction, sort of like they are having a beatific vision. This afternoon the gulls are still soaring over the park, although not on the trail. I also heard mourning doves on my earlier walk, which I haven't yet heard in this neighborhood. On some mornings there is so much beautiful birdsong, although on other days there is barely a chirp here and there. I'm ready for spring!