SFJ 1/12/2020

Busy, busy, busy week. The first week back to work after the holidays and there was a ton of stuff to catch up on and over 280 emails waiting. It took me until late a Thursday just to catch up with those while the world didn’t stop spinning to wait for me. Had hoped to get to two book clubs but only made one as a data emergency forced a few of us to work some long hours to fix about 2400 service call entries (sigh).

So much of what I do is with my friends about events around food. The Wednesday book club regularly meets up at a restaurant for dinner and drinks before. This is a small five-person clutch group who have (and show) lots of love and share as much as possible in about an hour-and-a-half. The book discussion is generally second to that. However this time the book was A Gentleman in Moscow and it was so beloved that this second event of the night was just as sweet.

As it turns out, now that I have tons of things to do, I finally started to sleep late. Okay 7 am is late for me, but you’ve got to admit that 7 am is absolutely later that 4:30 am which is mostly how early I was waking up while on holiday.

Yesterday we had the book signing for my friend Melisa. I am completely proud of her for getting her dream published (and had forgotten that she had already published a couple of other ones). It was way down south in Miami at an independent book seller–one of the only ones left in all of south Florida. Never having been to one, I guess I thought she’d just be sitting at a table signing books. Actuality was more of an introduction to the whole idea of manifestation and the power of positive thinking. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just, I don’t know. It’s a bit “woo-woo” for me. I want there to be magic in the world. I just done know how far I believe that 8t truly exists. Regardless, a contingent of six of us made the trip,down to show our support. Then, we went to The Local, which is somewhat of a phenom on the area to talk it all over. Saturday night in Miami for dinner, but we were so much earlier than what Miami does for dinner (more like 9 pm) that we had no trouble getting in and having some great food.

And, then today. Today, I met up with a pool contractor to talk about the pool. Due to a number of factors, the correct choice is to have a fully above ground pool. This is NOT what I had wanted. BUT, the placement now appears or I be properly on more of the side yard than behind the patio. So, I have a real decision to make–put the pool above ground so it’s not as aesthetically pleasing to me but better for its ultimate longevity in my climate and weather patterns OR don’t get one. I guess I could go ahead and put it in the ground and risk flooding the pit and ruining the liner and my investment. Or, just not get a pool. I’m not fond of that option. I’m ready to spend some large cash on myself for the now rather than wait for some spot in the future to open up and provide me some entertainment. Don’t I get to have some personal satisfaction? I don’t even take vacations so I actually SHOULD spend money on myself. #endlesspools I really, really want something spectacular for myself. Is that just too selfish?

Freezer Fill: Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes

Video Find: AJ and the Queen. Not great writing, but a great deal toward my need for drag queens between seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race. And very sweet. #ajandthequeen

Next week is more heavy work and one more book club meeting. I’m meeting with my old gardener to see if we can’t get something going with the garden before the whole pool thing gets to happen. (The contractor isn’t back until winter.)

You know what I miss. I miss good, long hugs where you get comfort from people who love you. Actual human contact. I’ve cried some real tears over this.

SFJ 1/5/2020 The new decade begins

And, it begins with me mis-typing the year…of course. There’s already a scam warning about how to write the year, so there’s that, too., so there’s that reminder that we have to be ever vigilant. https://www.al.com/news/2020/01/police-warn-against-writing-year-as-20-as-opposed-to-2020-heres-why.html

It turns out that I might have actually taken too much time off. I had almost 3-and-a-half weeks off what with company holidays and vacation days. It’s entirely possible that I don’t have enough hobbies to occupy my time at retirement. I found that I was spending a lot of time binge-watching crime TV shows and making one weaving after another.  There was enough rainy days that when I did feel like getting out, the weather was not complying.  Because of, well most everything, I didn’t go out New Year’s Eve. One bonus of having a mostly-deaf dog is that the fireworks no longer mess her up. Aside from a couple of really loud booms (where she raised her head, looked at me, and laid back down), she was oblivious.  Sure made it easier to go to bed earlier. I did get some things accomplished though during this long holiday. I started and finished 10 books, made 9 weavings, visited a park that is close by where I hadn’t been yet, and gave myself some lovely gifts (Italian handbag and a beautiful illustrated book of letters to young readers). Out on the patio, I discovered a pretty blue racer snake (wonder what he eats, hope it’s bugs).

Vella and I are both showing our age pretty well. Me because of overweight and inactivity. Vella from just being a German shepherd with what was always going to be hip problems. She really struggles to get up off the floor when she doesn’t have something to make some traction–tile floor is her favorite for sleeping but not great for traction. As for myself, I can’t get the pool project going soon enough–money aside, of course. I’ve been experiencing something I call my legs “fainting” or a few seconds. Can’t be good.

With everything else happening over the holidays, my iPad was steadily and progressively losing the capacity to run apps. For a week or so, I was able to offload and app or two to get some space. But, there is something about Apple that makes their ‘ Other’ files inaccessible. I wanted to get into those to remove some crap, but that was not possible. Finally, it would run nothing at all and kept directing me to make more space…somehow. Ultimately I had to replace it (which is what I’m using right now). I wonder if there is any use left to it other than an awkwardly shaped paperweight.

Freezer Fill: Once again, I’ve done no cooking. I actually ate out too much and had too many leftovers to make space in the freezer for more.

Next week, I’ve actually got three book club meetings. Normally, I would opt out of a couple, but I need humans right now, so I’ll probably go to them all. Tuesday and Wednesday are book discussions and Saturday is a book signing where one of the members is the author. #melisacaprio #postcardstotheuniverse

Hair Affair: I’m contemplating going white-white. Wish I had seen it done so well before I had color applied Saturday, but super white platinum is far different from the steel gray I recently tried and dropped. Well, not red, either.But, ITS ONLY HAIR!!Besides, I keep thinking that at some point, old skin need something bright rather than ruddy to look better. It’s only hair.

SFJ 12/30/2019 and so the decade ends…

The week began abruptly. Now, I’ve got loads of time off so I have all the time in the world. In some sort of contrary attack, I’ve been waking up well before 6am very day so far. Monday was no exception. In fact I got up about 4:30 or quarter to 5. The first thing I do is to get the dog outside and check on her food and water in the laundry room. When I stepped down the four inches to check, I splashed. Well, shit. The washer has sprung a leak, I thought. Turned on the light and saw no obvious leaks. And then I remembered. The night before, there had been a forecast of heavy thunderstorms overnight. Must have been quite a rain to fill up the laundry room. Before doing anything else, I went back to the den and looked out front and there was water up in the yard and might even be up on the porch. Next I checked the patio and it was filled with water, too. So, it’s not yet 5am and I’m pushing water out of the laundry room with brooms (and thus out of the Not A Garage as there’s a lip there keeping water in that space too). Got most of it out and then laid all the spare dog towels down to soak up the excess. I pulled on my Wellies, retrieved my little pump, dragged a portion of water hose to the patio, and proceeded to pump out about 100 gallons of water over the next hour or so. No damage except for losing a cardboard box that I had somehow made a receptacle for spare kitchen hardware; no great loss. UPDATE: It appears that the vacuum was killed. Thankfully, most of what needs to get cleaned is dog hair.

Christmas Eve, Di and I took our traditional drive up to Deerfield Beach to see Nancy and Dennis. Nancy made the entire dinner and it was odd not to contribute other than a ginger cake that was somehow over-spiced with ginger. It’s so comfortable there that we just all talk without seeming to catch a breath. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Di and I were tired quicker than either Nan or Den. Came home with more leftovers. The ones from Thanksgiving lasted four meals and there were another three or four meals again. What with those and the cookies from Phil and Amie (although I know for sure that Phil made them himself this time) and my own gift cooking, the fridge portion is as full as the freezer portion.

Then Christmas Day, five of us continued the tradition of having lunch on the beach at a restaurant at Margaritaville. The food was mediocre, the service was barely passable, but the company was terrific and the weather was grand–breezy and warm. A friend had sent a big bundle of costume jewelry she had made and we dug though the pile and found pieces for ourselves or others (and gave away a piece or two to the staff). A great way to spend the day. .

The plan for Boxing Day was to go to The Norton Museum, but there were enough cancellations due to injury, personal emergency, and a disagreement to the start time that I just cancelled out. Five hours after I cancelled, the time issue gal tried to get back into the game. By that time, I was OUT. Don’t try to play an ante after the hand has been played! I need to remember that organizing a group of more than three people is better done by those who are paid to do it. Not me. (And yet somehow I am organizing a group to go for a book signing next weekend… I opted in well before this and it’s for a book club member who is now an author, but still…)

Instead, I did some more weaving–really got into it. the whole time, I’m watching true crime shows on TV. I’m thinking of making a crazy quilt kind of thing so I can use all my different colors of yarn. I’m getting better. I’m taking care of the ends better in the weave. They’re mostly all the same size so I should be able to connect them together eventually.

December Reads: all fiction. A couple of 5-star reads As the year ends, I have read 134 books for over 46,600 pages of text and images. Of them, 23 were non-fiction, 11 were five-star Reads.

Freezer Fill: Orange Glazed Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

There’s one more week left of vacation. It will likely be somewhat quiet. No desire to be anywhere out with the crazies on NYE. The rainy, spitting weather has kept me out of the garden, but I do want to finally take the call from Endless Pools contractor guy so I can finally get moving on the pool–meet with him anyhow sometime in January. I also want to get to the Mini dealer to find out why I can’t listen to my podcasts in the car. I don’t take many long drives, but when I do, I want to have some kind of entertainment as the drives I take pass between about three different radio zones. Unacceptable for a modern car to have this restriction.

Had a little spare cash and bought myself some NEW books! Normally I just get books from a thrift store or discount warehouse, but this time, I wanted a (some) beautiful new thing with that new book smell. I got a little out of hand. Can’t imagine how Karen can work amongst those books every day and not just swim in them at home. Five non-fiction! I feel like such an adult!

Commercials That Make Me Laugh Every Time: an eyeglass company where the characters for the Other Guys says they will (won’t) repair your glasses; a Velveeta commercial contrasting something like the LSU mascot at a home game with some guy in a tiger pajama with a tambourine.

SFJ 12/22/2019

Seems that the time spent on HomeMade Christmas was well spent. For the book club members, I gave a combination of woven bookmark, ginger-infused sugar, Buffalo Ranch Popcorn salt, and a soap made by Deena. Given that most of the members are Jewish, it truly went better than expected. Because it was homemade and a bit unexpected, I got away with giving a gift without having to get one in return.  For our December meeting, we forwent a book discussion. Instead, we came ready to exchange a gift for $25, dirty Santa style. I came out with one of those new umbrellas that opens opposite from the original with a street scene of Paris! Winner! I’m going to catch up with Marjorie because she and Heather are my Bravo Buddies—the gals who got me addicted to those Bravo shows that I NEED to discuss. Look out, girl. You are way too close.

Two book clubs this week. So few had read the actual Jungle Book stories that we really didn’t discuss the book. Didn’t matter, though, because we had too much fun taking over the restaurant. With this group, we are always looking for reasons to get together again. In addition to the things going on this week, we are trying to find a short cruise to the Bahamas. (As close as I am, I haven’t ever been.)

Freezer Fill: Minestrone Soup. Outside of that, I seem to be filling it with leftovers from book club. We went to an Indian restaurant and I came home with enough Lamb Biryani and samosas for another four meals. Went to the grocery store this morning and couldn’t make myself buy any proteins. There’s just no space in the freezer to store anymore meals…and I’ve got a week full of eat-outs.

  • Christmas Eve with Nancy and Dennis, taking Di with me
  • Christmas Day is a tradition we’ve had going on about three years—lunch on the beach at Margaritaville. There’s always been a mixture of me and Di and our friend Donna. This year we might get to add a few more orphans who are looking for some society to spend to spend time with.
  • Boxing Day we are driving up to Palm Beach to visit the Norton Museum #nortonmuseum. We’re taking a convoy of a couple of cars for about six of us (some of whom might have been at the Xmas Day Social).
  • Friday I might be inviting myself to Maddie’s for real Latkes and homemade applesauce. She is the queen of applesauce!

For Nancy’s I still need to make a dessert. I think it will probably me gingerbread—mostly because I love cake and also cake is easier than cookies and ginger spices.


SFJ 12/15/2019 Bird-y

What I had originally thought was a monk parakeet has turned out to be a mitered parakeet or mitered conure (no blue but red around the head). It took a real birder to interpret that. In addition, a new visitor has turned out to be one that she hasn’t even seen–a spot-breasted oriole. Here’s what they look like online:

And, here is what I see:

See my dilemma? I’m a terrible photographer, particularly when I’m rushed and trying to grab something without scaring them off.

It took me a year after his death, but I finally watched the last four episodes of Anthony Bourdains’s Parts Unknown. Was there ever anyone cooler than him? He helped me to see other cultures in new ways. hell, he helped me to see my own culture with new eyes. An episode from Far West Texas made me rhapsodic about a part of the state that isn’t even one of my parts. (Whole ‘nother country, ya know.) I always learn something–useful or not. In that one, I learned that I had been toasting by holding the drink in the wrong hand. According to Mexicans, you toast with your left hand because that is closest to your heart. I love that there is a kind way to share a celebrations and not merely traditional.

I had so many things to make for my year of homemade gifts. So many. I spent the entire weekend on it. I’m tired at the end of it, but tired in a good way. I’ve got a variety of homemade things to give and that makes me happy. There are the beginnings of gifts all over the den. It’s as close as I’m getting to putting up Christmas decorations, but it does have me in the holiday mood.

This week is both of the best book clubs. Making Brie bites with some of the cranberry jam for the one.

Freezer Fill: Broccoli Chicken and Rice, Beef Enchilada Casserole, Cranberry Jam, Orange Marmalade (which doesn’t seem to be setting up properly and will likely be just orange sauce for pork), Mango Bread

SFJ 12/08/2019

Setting a worlds record, it wasn’t until Monday that I touched my Thanksgiving leftovers. It helped that I was gone up to Cocoa Beach for a couple of those days. That made the leftovers not quite so current. Putting them up in individual meal packets helped too.

Quick week. Took off Monday for some reason and that made the week seem pretty short. That and all the things happening on the weekend. Friday we got together with the group from the book club who has made the most impact on me (plus Karens husband and father). There are a dozen who regularly get together but these five are the ones closest to my heart. Karen, Marjorie, Maddie, Beth, and me. With Beth moving away, we have to work harder to keep in touch. (Thank god for technology.) We met this time at a place called the Hotsy Totsy and had my favorite assortment of foods–appetizers to share across the table. At one point in the evening, when we had broken down into twos and threes. We all found ourselves talking about (as we have done several times before) how lucky we were to have found one another so late in our maturity–every single one of us. I am so lucky to have found a new set of friends.

Although I probably didn’t, it seems like I got a lot accomplished this weekend. I got further along with making my Christmas gifts. In fact I woke up so early on Saturday that I made stuff for the hair salon, too. Infused oils, sugars, salts. Candy. Weaves. We don’t actually exchange gifts in our family, but I do like to give to my good neighbors and the book club folks. Truly, I just probably need an outlet for getting creative.

I’ve been catching up with the Netflix The Crown. Hard to imagine how many British events occurred in my lifetime that I knew nothing about. Also, how carefully the costumers and makeup artists made the characters look like the real people. Then, on top of that, how much my mothers side of the family look like the Windsors. Aunt Kitty like the Queen. Cousin Lynn like a young Charles. Cousin Phillips like a young Prince Phillip. Weirdly, my sister and Diana looked alike to me for a while. So, it’s a bit like looking at my family playing other parts.

Freezer Fill: not a damn thing. What with Thanksgiving and a number of dinners out, that freezer doesn’t exactly have any space left.

SFJ 12/01/2019 So that was Thanksgiving

After spending some time getting over my geriatric dog wandering off, I decided that I needed to show some appreciation to my neighbors. I replayed the whole short conversations with these folks and realized that I hadn’t said much more than “thank you, thank you, thank you” and then just pulled Vella into the house and shut the door on them. I had a couple of bottles of sparkling wine and a mango bread and made a banana bread. Put them into a couple of gift bags and put them outside their doors. Now I feel like I’ve shown gratitude.

It’s a rare week when I get to cram in so much that makes me happy and content. Thanksgiving Day I got to spend with Nancy and a Dennis. (Cousin Barb is still at U of K as a grant writer and Cousin Bill is gone from Tanzania and is now teaching physics in Samoa.) My relationship with them has been steady and constant. Without Gram and without a close relationship with Mother, Nancy has been my source for family advice and it’s great spending time with them. It’s also a bit of a challenge to hang with those two because they are always picking up some new thing to do. Actually Den hasn’t got the new stuff this time, but Nancy has added to her musical instruments. No more oboe. Now it’s just the keyboard and the new VIOLIN! (I glanced at Dennis to see how this was going over; it was hysterical.) I’d say she wins. My futile attempts at ukulele do not compare.

Then, one day off and I make a drive north to see Deborah and Bill closer to the middle Coast. In the same holiday week, I get to be with several people who know me for more than just a few years. It was SO RELAXING! It was also hysterical. Bill kept getting tickled that Deborah and I were practically finishing each other’s sentences and that would set us off. We ate plenty and drank too much and hung out and shared vacation pics. It was glorious. I habit been to one in a while, so we went to an art fair…in Cocoa Beach. New ways to create! Vinyl records with the artist carved in as silhouette. Jewelry made completely of folded paper. Gourds decorated and pierced with wood burners. Table cutlery made into decorative arts. Bits of machines and tins made into little robots. I’m didn’t buy any jewelry this time, but did come home with another #uglymermaid. She is verily a thing of non-beauty. Bill played Uber Driver and Deb and I lorded it over the back seat.

Freezer Fill: Banana Bread. (Actually, I made it as a gift and made an extra one.) I also made some slumgullion–good to have a staple around.

November Reads: 3 nonfiction, 5 fiction. This is way more true stuff than I get in a few months.