Monday, April 27, 2015

Mary's Lilacs

Mary's cleaning woman, Eneida, made this arrangement from flowers in her yard, including the lilacs.

And another:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Dinner

Tom and Michelle have arrived in DC and here are two pictures from their first dinner.

Mary writes:

Did you ever go to Crisfirld's? Absolutely wonderful food in an old time diner type setting.  I think I was there 30-40 years ago.  I had lobster and crab, Michelle had lobster, crab and shrimp, and Tom had stuffed shrimp. Everything was delicious and now we're home, stuffed.
[Pat replies: I don't remember Crisfirld's-- Crisfield's? but that doesn't mean I haven't eaten there.]
Tom photographing dinner


Spring in Texas

Melissa says that all the rain has made things lush and green. Here's her garden:


No Spring for Barbara... yet

She writes:

Spring is soooo late here.  I decided to take a picture of my lilac bush so that you'd understand why I am so so jealous of Mary's.  In case you can't find it, it looks like a couple of sticks with some tiny green sprouts at the ends. The picture also shows how even the early daffodils are drooping their heads because they have had to deal with 32 degree overnights.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mary;s Yard

Mary sent these photos of her lilac (which I love) and her dogwood tree. I believe dogwood in NY State official tree.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Garden of Earthly Delights

Tareyn was here and did her thing. I am totally happy with the results. Here's what my garden looks like, and it will be fun to watch it get lusher:

What's going to be fun is that I told her I have always wanted to have those "cascading" petunias and I have them here -- the purple ones above... Also I have about six Morning Glory plants which grow like weeds... so I'll have to send periodic updates over the summer.

Ok, so I've shown you mine; you show me yours!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Miscellany for Thursday

Tareyn, my gardener, called to say she will be here at noon tomorrow. Can't wait to see what she does.

My new obssession is following "NYC Alerts" on Twitter. A little story in 140 characters such as this:

New York City Alerts @NYCityAlerts 2 hours ago
Manhattan: 2 E. 61 Street at the Pierre Hotel. Male found dead inside the hotel on scene investigating
and this:
New York City Alerts@NYCityAlerts 10 hours ago
NYC: is still searching for a Coyote in Upper west side
The coyote invasion is a big story -- it's no longer just one stray animal dazed and confused in Central Park. As it turns out, coyotes eat mice and rats so maybe that's a solution!
For these alerts, I have to learn some of the lingo and abbreviations -- the other day, the alert talked about "one green tag victim" which turned out to be a medical triage designation... green tag is the least serious. Am still wondering about MOS.
I am such a Jeopardy nerd that I am excited about Celebrity Jeopardy week which starts on Monday. No really big celebrities -- some names I didn't even know... one is Penn Gillette of Penn & Teller. I think it takes bravery to go on, celebrity or no, but I can't help think about the Saturday Night Live takeoff of Celebrity Jeopardy.
I saw that older woman from Glee on a game show -- and she was supposed to guess the word ICE and her partner was saying things like "frozen water" and "it comes in cubes" and "its water in a solid form" and she didn't get it -- kept yelling, "Pass!" Really, are you that dumb?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Garden Progress

My outdoor water got turned on at the first request, so unlike last year when it took weeks (months?) of pleading. That was nice.

The gardener is coming on Friday. Will send pictures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What I'm Reading

I can't say I know much about the sinking of the Lusitania, but in the past two or three years I've become more interested in World War I. I think, growing up, World War II loomed so large that WWI seemed an unimportant distant second.

But then I watched some episodic BBC drama from Netflix from that time period and became more interested. There was this whole shaming ritual of giving men who weren't doing their duty a white feather and that indicated you are a coward. Later, of course, WWI was part of Downton Abbey.

Erik Larson is a favorite author -- one of my favorite books is "The Devil in the White City" which is about the Chicago Worlds Fair, and simulataneous serial killer in the city. Wow, a combination of two of my favorites -- history and true crime!

The book jacket describes his style as "narrative non-fiction" and how every quote and incident is true... so we'll see what this Lusitania is all about.

Good News Tuesday

The very best news today from Mary who had her first mammogram since her surgery and it's "clean."  Yippee.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

More Progress

I found this great gardener on Craigslist whom I immediately liked. In her ad (well, to be honest, I thought she was a he until I met her today!) she asked for photos of the garden which I sent. We emailed back and forth and she came today to see the space firsthand. Her name is Tareyn (pronounced Tare-in) and she is just lovely.

It was funny that she was interviewing me in a very touchy feely way about my preferences in color, shape, etc. I decided I'm more of a purple/pink type... and that, for whatever reason, I don't want anything orange. She is trying to get me some jasmine which I love as it's so fragrant. I've had it a few times and the smell is just heavenly.

She talked about tracking dirt in my apartment and I told her not to worry about that -- I mean that, really -- and she said a few times "I want to respect your space" which made me think of the stairs guys and me with tears in my eyes -- not that they did anything wrong, but a number of people told me they totally understood how I felt with that intrusive energy.

But the best news is that she is coming back to do the work on Thursday. Will definitely send photos.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blessings on Barbara!

Barbara came for lunch today and she worked like a rented mule. First we had our leisurely ladies lunch from Gracies: BLT for her, chicken salad club for me... followed by Dunkin Donuts and great coffee for dessert.

Then she took on the monumental job of turning a giant cardboard box into my new loveseat. I sat and watched. (Oh wait, I did remove the plastic bags from two of the legs that screw in so I did do *something*) She got it together in the most methodical way, got rid of the box all folded and tied up in twine and took out the rest of the garbage and my recylcing.

The loveseat came with two pillows out of the same material, but we experimented with other pillows I have, including one from Michelle, which looks perfect. I can't thank Barbara enough. Between the stairs being fixed and a piece of furniture rather than a box, I feel step by step I'm getting back to normalcy. What a difference it makes... and navigating past it is no problem... Barbara had measured and we experimented and that's fine.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stairs Guys are Here

Halleluia! Two guys are here working, and apparently are doing a good job. Of course they were late. I find the noise and the intrusion very disquieting (literally) and I found myself about to start crying. Didn't know why other than feeling as if I have no reserve for super-loud drills and two strange men making sawdust. Then Lane called and talked me off the ledge. Told me my sacred space was being violated and how she knew what that felt like. It sounds very dramatic, but it's true. She said I needed serenity now and this is not serenity. She told me to think about the end, when the stairs are fixed, and I know that... it will be one fewer reminder of a horrible night.

Later that same day....

Two guys got here around 10:30, left at 2:30. To my eye, they did a good job... you could tell they took pride in what they did-- the kind of thing where the lead guy told me some extras he did, just on his own... I could see him testing and measuring... then the #2 guy cleaned up really well... lots of sawdust, etc. and it looks clean.

So now it's fixed with one exception.... there are two new pieces which need to be stained. The lead guy told me he's the "installer" not the "stainer" -- and later he said that you couldn't stain today anyway because the glue has to dry... so it's now 80% done.

I have paid for half of this and I wasn't asked for more -- good on two fronts... one I am just about tapped out of $$ following tax day and two... the balance I owe will be motivation for the guy to send a stainer and get this done. But it does look so much better, even with the non-stained parts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Has anybody here...?"

... Seen my old friend Martin... That song has been going through my mind today as it's the day Abraham Lincoln died 150 years ago.

I was trying to think who sang it... and it turns out it is Dion! And the song came out in 1968. I would have guessed it was about 10 years later, but then I thought that year made sense, of course.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Revolting Food

After seeing the photo below, I wondered what the most disgusting food I eat is... couldn't really come up with anything worse than an everything pizza or nachos. I don't have any secret little unhealthy recipes such as a woman I saw on Oprah who would make fried chicken skin sandwiches with globs of mayo.

Anyway, as I usually say, I like bacon; I like Oreos -- (btw, have any of you ever tried the white oreo where it's a regular orea with white frosting all over it? Love them, but luckily I think they took them off the market.)

So check this out -- bacon-wrapped, deep-fried Oreos:

What I'm Reading

Just started this while I ate lunch. It's the oral history (fiction) of an 85-year old Russian immigrant who lives in Boston and tries to break out of her strict upbringing. Nothing earthshattering so far, but a pleasant read.

Mary's Trip to Florida

Mary took the autotrain to Florida for paddling/Go Pink and she had a good trip. I do have a desire to do a sleeping car, especially after a report like this:

I had dinner (very tasty but the fish was dry) now I'm back in my room. I asked the attendant to make up my bed while I was at dinner so I could stretch out my back and she did. It is so delightful. I stretched out completely with a bunch of pillows - extra to put under my legs. I'm watching nighttime out the windows with the train going at a good clip.  It had been very slow before.

followed by this:

I just took a shower. I figured it would be good to do it tonight when demand is low. It feels good. They provide soap and washcloths and towels and there was plenty of water although they have signs posted asking that you conserve. The water didn't get hot so it wasn't hard to conserve.  Now I'm back in bed watching out the window.

Here's her bed which was waiting for her:

This is the James River right outside of Richmond:

And now she has arrived in Sanford, Florida. More to come.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Things that go bump in the night

As if my multi-time trips to the bathroom during the night aren't enough, last night I had two new things that woke me up.

As my semi-asleep brain tried to identify a noise, I realized it was water dripping. My paranoia about this is based on some reality. The very first night I spent in this apartment, years ago, when I was still unpacked, worried that I was going from rent to a mortgage, I woke up to the water dripping sound and it turned out that my upstairs neighbor had caused a flood and I had water streaming into my kitchen. What a mess.

Anyway, thank God, last night, when I finally was awake-awake, I realized it was just rain. It has to be raining pretty hard for me to hear it and last night it was. Once I identified the noise, it was so cozy to be in a nice warm bed and listen to the rain and doze off again.

But not for long...

Back to sleep again when the night sentry in my brain perked up to some unidentified sound which I wondered if I were imagaining.... couldn't place it.... would go in and out of sleep until I realized it was my smoke detector chirping about a low battery. Out of bed again to fix that. No wonder I was pooped this morning.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I'm not sure if I spelled that right, but Thursday is the 150th anniversary of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appommatox.

One of the most memorable TV moments ever for me was during Ken Burns' documentary on the Civil War where famed historian Shelby Foote describes the surrender in very human detail. It was hypnotic to listen to his soft-spoken words and the human emotions involved. Lee came all dressed up in his finery while Grant was in work clothes and muddy. Grant treated Lee with dignity which surprised him -- to the point that when Lee left, Grant instructed the assembled soldiers to salute him.

I looked for this segment on YouTube and then ran out of time -- hate when work interferes with my historical research time! But I'm going to go back and see if I can find it. Shelby Foote died a few years later and I felt bad. He was just so amazing describing this scene.

I've been to Appomattox which is not that far from DC. You can see the actual room in the courthouse where the surrender took place... plus they have rebuilt a little village so you can see what the town actually looked like. I remember being alone in the general store and it was like being in a tine warp... somewhat eerie as if I could snap my fingers and go back in time.

April 15th also marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assasination.

Monday, April 6, 2015

More Easter Memories

After reading Fran and Mary's memories, here are more of my own:

Getting patent leather Easter shoes and trying them on in the store and how slippery the soles were on the rug.

Me, too, with the smell of the vinegar.

My mother would make her annual Easter cake which was an angel food cake and she would dye coconut green for grass and frost the cake with thin white icing and then make little tufts of grass and put a few jelly beans in them so they looked like eggs.

Speaking of eggs, I love the marbly-covered or are they speckled? eggs that are actually malted milk balls. I know they still sell them.

Having a new pair of white anklets and I would put them on while keeping the cuffs turned down so they'd be extra neat.

Going to church on Good Friday and having it bleak and dark with no flowers and everything was draped in black... then returning on Easter Sunday with hundreds of flowers and all the ladies dressed in their Easter finery. Each kid could go to the alter and get a little begonia plant with colored foil wrapped around the little plastic pot.

The big coming of age transition and I remember pleading with my mother was to get Sunday shoes that had no strap. One year there was a style of shoe where the strap would either go across your arch or you could push it back and it would go around the back of the shoe... I remember my (older) sister was allowed to get those shoes, but I was stuck with the kiddy strap shoes.

And, finally, a more modern day memory. I had taken my assistant who is Jewish to Oshkosh around Easter time and one of the Oshkoshers asked her cheerfully, "Did you buy your Easter ham yet?" And I just smiled knowing that the fact that she is Jewish would not compute and so she honestly answered, "no."

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Memory

I've been thinking today about an Easter when I was in high school and we had company over for Easter and there were a bunch of little kids -- my brother and sister and other kids their age, but little ones, like all under 8 years or so.

The big event for the day for the children was an Easter egg hunt. Where I lived had a big field in front of my house and we were going to "hide" the eggs in this field. Well, the eggs got hidden and each kid had his or her little basket and they were all excited to be let loose to go find the Easter eggs.

But what happened is a crow came and stole one of the eggs. Crows can get really big, and this one was. Soon the crow's colleagues noticed what was going on and as the kids were gallantly trying to go for the eggs, these huge crows were flying away with them. The kids eventually were all crying and the adults were trying in vain to chase away the crows but to no avail. In retrospect it was kind of funny -- I remember the little kids tearfully looking at their parents as if to say "do something!" but therse crows were clearly not afraid of people and loved those eggs.

I do also have fond memories of having a new outfit for church... a spring coat... like a winter coat with no lining in pastels and light wool... a hat, new shoes, new white anklets, and a little purse that I never had anything to put in. My mother would give me a handkerchief to put in my purse, but I never had to use it.

Anyway, look out for those crows!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Milo Relaxing

Friday Thoughts

I had progress on two of my other procrastination items. The rehab woman called me back, told me I've have to talk to the business office and transferred me. The man was totally on my side, told me to not pay the bill, just ignore it and said it's "disgusting." Ok. I didn't argue with him. I have paid every paper bill I have received, but have not paid any "leftover" or denied bills that have only appeared on my insurance webiste under "Manage Your Claims." I have seen that some of them do just go away so I'll ignore it unless I get a paper bill in the mail.

Meanwhile the steps guy emailed me. He is Mr. Molasses in January.... OMG... he is now saying that the materials are arriving next week and he'll do the work the following week. This will make it almost two months, but at least he replied to me in a timely way.

It was mild today, but dreary, and DC was the same, but more spring like as evidenced by these photos from Mary and Fran.

Mary/s camelia

More daffodils with Mary
Fran's pansy up close

Fran's pansies on Connecticut Avenue

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tackled Three Procrastination Items

Wondering why I procrastinate sometimes, and I think it's because I predict a negative outcome which I have so say rarely happens, but I revert to that fear... so here's what I did.

Stairs Guy: Am still trying to get my stairs fixed... it's been weeks since the first contact... finally got an estimate and then a request for a 50% deposit... did that and the check has cleared for more than a week with no word from this guy... so I have contacted him again - did it in a neutral tone.

Income taxes: I had my helper hand-deliver my tax prep and documents to my accountant and that was two weeks ago, never heard anything back. I knew she had delivered them and I purposely had her do it so we didn't have the "lost in the mail" syndrome... so now I have called (after having negative fantasies about having to reconstruct the paperwork) and of course they have it, spoke to my accountant who is on top of it and said he'll be calling me soon with questions.

Got a bill for $400 from a doctor in the rehab hospital - a podiatrist who was there to see my roommate. He asked me if I wanted him to cut my toenails and I said, "not if it is going to cost me $200" which is what I got stuck paying when I was in the other rehab hospital so I'd learned my lesson or so I thought. He said, "Oh no, this is free" and so I said OK.

He literally could not have worked more than 60 seconds on me... snip, snip and that was it... but now I have an "out of network" bill for $400 which is $250 for "doctor care" and $150 for "removal of excess thick nail."

So now I've called the social worker at the hospital (my contact) and left a detailed message about this. At least it's something.

Thursday Thoughts

I can't get this woman out of my mind who I saw on TV... it was a news report about the Indiana law and this young woman... maybe mid-20s... worked in a pizza place and she is filmed saying in her really dumb way that if someone wanted pizza for a gay wedding she couldn't sell them the pizza. Her look, her tone, her words were all such a throwback to the 1950s and I could just imagine her saying the same thing about African Americans. No pizza for them! She stuck in my head because she was so pitiful, really, and if you asked her one probing question about why no pizza for gay weddings I know she couldn't articulate an answer.

Although I really grow impatient with people with their noses in their smartphones, I really enjoy when they capture something on film as "proof." The most recent case is a NYPD detective just whaling against an Uber driver who had the audacity to toot his horn at the cop. The passenger filmed the whole thing -- it's abusive, angry and wholly unnecessary. He even makes fun of the driver's foreign accent. I just love that there's proof.

But now some of the cop's colleagues are coming to his defense, saying he is under great pressure because that day he had come from the hospital where a friend had suffered a heart attack. To me, that's no excuse.