Sunday, January 29, 2012

Are You Nuts?

Many of my friends are doing the “back to earth” movement – growing and preserving their own vegetables, raising chickens, goats, etc. Now I see nothing wrong with this but wouldn’t our mothers be saying “Are You Nuts?” to this movement….these women who endured their childhoods during the depression and then as adults, WWII? 

My Mom made all our clothes, even coats, as can be attested in the picture above (I am the chunky one on the left).  We had no dryer and I can remember going out and folding these frozen clothes that were on the line and bringing them in, only to have them draped everywhere until they dried.  And then all the ironing, and one way to get on my mother’s good side was to iron.  She would often sprinkle the clothes but never get around to ironing them, so they would mildew and she would have to start over.  When we got a freezer, they would get sprinkled and then put in there until ironed.

We had a huge garden and the children’s task was to weed.  I hated weeding then, something I love to do today.  And then all the produce had to be preserved, one way or another, for the winter.  No wonder this generation embraced the canned, ready frozen, processed food….the era of Betty Crocker and her cake mixes.

When I first moved here 14 years ago, I planted a large garden.  It happened to be the summer of a drought, so this garden required a great deal of attention to keep it going.  I also planted many flowers in containers and added a few perennial gardens around the house.  Today I have an herb garden and a small perennial garden… vegetable garden.  I have tried to make my place as low maintenance as possible.

So, my friends, I will gladly take your excess produce and eggs.  I will join a CSA and attend the farmers’ markets, but I fear the only “back to earthing” I will be doing is for my final resting place.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I have had some people looking at my house….a woman yesterday and one tomorrow.  I was cleaning like a maniac until I was on the phone with a friend who said “You are way too OC about this, let the realtor do their job selling your place for their 6% commission, your house is fine.”  And after I got off the phone I thought “I have to start thinking like a man”.

Because how many men do you know that would be worrying about whether that shelf is incredibly organized or those few ashes on the floor from the woodstove are there or that the animal bed is a bit untidy?  I cannot think of a one.

Now the animal thing is a bit of a problem as we have been having milder weather which = mud and = Grayling trying to get those little creatures that burrow into the soil.  I looked out yesterday and she was halfway to China, just her yellow, fluffy derrière sticking out.

The cat goes out briefly but comes in and sleeps the rest of the time, but that brief foray = dirty paws and then he climbs on the chair and leaves these lovely little dirty footprints.  I have relaxed a bit about that especially since I have whitish slipcovers, which I want to clean but am afraid if I send them to the dry cleaner, someone will want to come and look at the house, and what is underneath them is pretty horrible.  They are sort of animal-dirty/Martha Stewart chic at this point.

And by the way, what idiot invented the vacuum cleaner?  It is the most cumbersome machine going.  In my next life I am getting central vac.

Monday, January 23, 2012

If This Table Could Talk...........

            I recently purchased a small hand sander. I hoped to find treasures, laden with dirt and paint, and sand them into valuable antiques.  I did manage to do this (although I don’t know about the valuable antique part) with a bench that I purchased for $20.00.  I sanded and sanded and then oiled it and it was passable enough to place in my bedroom (my bedroom, you may note, not the guest receiving living room).  I was so pleased with this project that I decided to sand my round, all-purpose coffee table.  I lugged it to the garage and got the sander out, but…….
             I could not do it.  I looked at this table and was flooded with memories.  My father made this round coffee table from a top he found at the dump.  Many of you may remember that a trip to the dump could be an exciting experience, not like now where everything is neatly organized.  You could find all sorts of discarded treasures.  Well, this table top was one of them.  He refinished the top and made legs for it.
             I was living in a small apartment in New York City at the time and one Wednesday (his day off) he drove down with the coffee table on the top of his little Corvair.  It fit so nicely in that tiny apartment, serving multiple functions… table, dining table, boudoir table, desk, telephone table, etc.
             When I married and moved to a larger apartment, the coffee table came with me.  We were quite social then and had many a party.  We all drank and smoked to excess, often missing the coasters (if there were any at all) and ashtrays.  All of this is well documented on its top.
             When I was pregnant with my daughter, we moved to a house in the suburbs of New Jersey and the coffee table came along, by now showing much character.  My daughter learned to walk around that table.  Around and around she could go and never fall, her little hands leaving imprints.  It had no sharp edges to hurt her.
             Within a five year period, three very important people in my life died. My best friend died of cancer, my father died suddenly, and my husband developed a brain tumor and died within two months.  I spent many a night on the couch with my feet on this table, in a grief-generated stupor, contemplating what to do next.  By now the drinks had been replaced with herbal tea and a more sensible way of life.
             After 20 years in the house in the suburbs, I remarried and the table moved to a house by a lake in Pennsylvania.  Here it sat in a sun room, more civilized in its function….drinks with coasters, coffee table books, bouquets of flowers, and no ashtrays.  And here it stayed, well dusted and cared for, for 6 years, until I finally realized the staid life was not for me and I longed for my freedom.
             So now I have brought this table back to its origins.  As I was about to attack it, sander in hand, I realized I was about to perform a major face lift… erasure of every character line that so enhanced its surface. 
             I don’t want to bring this table back to its youth. I want it to grow old with me and show every one of its 40+ years, and then some.  I want my grandchildren to walk around and around it.  I want my daughter to inherit it   I love this table… talks to me. *

*As a postscript – I wrote this piece several years ago.  With my constant redecorating, the table no longer fit in.  I offered it to my daughter, but she passed on it.  It was shipped out to my niece in Colorado.  I am so glad it is still in the family. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Butterfly Amaryllis Bloometh

I have had this plant for over 20 years and once a year it produces this beautiful bloom.  I never know when it will happen, so it is always a lovely surprise.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And All This Before a Cup of Coffee

So today, we get up, or should I say a feline decides that we get up, at 5:30…..feed the animals, stoke the fire and let the animals outside.  Dog starts to bark and bark and bark and bark.  I look out and cannot see anything, as it is dark.  All I see is the sliver of moon and have the passing thought “would this dog truly be dumb enough to bark at the moon?”  And she continues to bark and bark and bark.  I am sure my neighbors were ready to kill me (or her).

Day breaks and I look out and see this sad doe on my upper lawn, like those statues you see at the summit of some mountain.  Barking continues.  The doe pays no attention to the dog and actually when the doe drops her head to eat a bit of grass the dog runs away, but still barking. Might I add here that this is the dog who was shut in a barn for a week and NEVER BARKED.

I get some duds on and go outside and walk towards the doe and still she doesn't move.  I realize now that the lower part of one of her legs is broken.

I call my friend Susan, who knows all things of animals and she suggests I call our dog catcher, who suggests I call the state troopers, which I do and he comes about 45 minutes later.  What is it about those clean cut guys in their uniforms?……..oh sorry, got off track there for a minute……Anyway, he gets out of his car and the doe takes off on her three legs! 

I asked him what he would have done and he said he would have shot her, but could not take the carcass away.  I had visions of someone coming to look at the house and my saying “Oh, you don’t mind a deer carcass on the lawn do you?”  Actually he said if he had shot her, he would have stopped at the local coffee hangout and asked if anyone was interested.  How long do you think it would have been before my usually quiet road looked like the thruway?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why I Am Getting New Glasses.......

I spend a good deal of time looking for my glasses.  Since I am nearsighted and don’t have bifocals, I take my glasses off to read and then I cannot find them (evidenced by the picture).

As I thought about this blog post, my mind went back to when I first started wearing glasses which must have been when I was about seven.  Back then, glasses were not cool.  The statement “boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” was true, not like now when it is “hot” to wear them.

Funnily I don’t remember ever going to pick out frames as a child, which I must have done, although I am sure the optical shop had about five styles to choose from. I remember once deciding that I wanted new frames, so I sat on my glasses but they didn’t break and my father fixed them, much to my disappointment.

I wore glasses until I was 22 and the minute I was out in the working world and had enough money, I got contact lenses.  Back then the lenses were the hard ones.  Living and working in New York City with all the dirt and dust would render you to tears needing to find a quiet corner to remove the lens then putting it in your mouth, cleaning if off and inserting it back in your eye!  It was also tricky to get them out at times, having to work your lids around the edges to “pop” them out.

I remember going to a big New Year’s Eve party at some friends in Connecticut and spending the night and not having my lenses' case. I put my lenses in a glass of water on the bathroom sink, only to find them gone in the morning…..ingested by some unsuspecting thirsty soul or washed down the drain.

In my late 40’s I went to the soft lenses….and then to the mono lens, so I wouldn’t have to wear reading glasses.  I loved contacts, but a few years ago I had so many floaters I was having trouble seeing with the mono lens, so decided to go back to glasses. 

I really like the glasses that I have as they as so light and people hardly notice that I am wearing them, but this searching for them several times a day is getting very annoying, so I have decided to get ones that are more obvious.

Between the time I will save not searching for them and the time I will save dressing like Steve Jobs, I could write the great American novel. Although judging by this boring blog post, you are thinking “she has got to be kidding”! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dressing Like Steve..............

Talking with my sister, who is a few years older than I am, I realize how much we talk about how little there is out there for our age group...a whole industry just waiting to happen for some smart-thinking entrepreneur.

Before I started dressing SOPOGWC (South Portland Goodwill Chic), I used to shop at Eddie Bauer.  One day I walked in a store and realized that they had abruptly sabotaged my age group for the younger set.  I looked around the store and all the customers were over 50 looking bewildered with furrowed brows saying “what happened?”  I also like L.L. Bean, where I go for sport clothes, but I don’t want to be attired where someone looks at you and says “Ah, L.L. Bean”.  Talbots?  Too expensive.

So, I have decided to dress like Steve Jobs.  Black top/denim or black jeans for casual; black pants/black top for dress up.  Maybe add white tops for summer and adding Buffs ( and scarves for color to an otherwise dull outfit.  Shoes?  Keens or clogs. Think of all the time it will save not having to decide what to wear. Yep, I am going to do it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Great House For Sale

My house is for is a great house -- open, airy, light filled.  Check it out and be sure to take the "virtual tour"!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Ungrandmotherly name..................

My grandchildren call me Clog and I am willing to bet I am the only grandmother called Clog in the whole world.  Here is how it all started....

When my daughter was pregnant with her first child, she and her husband (two very intelligent people) began the process of finding a suitable name for their unborn son.  Much to my dismay, they took momentary loss of their senses and were seriously contemplating naming their child after a piece of farm machinery….let us just say it is usually red or green and has two large wheels and has Allis or Deere in the name.  When questioned as to why this seemed appropriate, they declared that it was something that was always reliable, sturdy, etc., etc.  I responded “I love my clogs, wear them all the time and they are very durable and comfortable, but I would never consider naming a child after my shoes!”  Hence, I was the one christened with the name “Clog”.  I actually have grown to like it. Oh yes, and they named him, very sensibly, Henry, which fits him to a T (or is it tee?  I will have to look it up.)

I have had a moment of trepidation with the arrival of each new grandchild, but I must say all their names fit their personalities -- Elias (Eli), Zuzanna (Zuzu), and Ramona (Monie).

One day when I was picking Eli up from his little pre-school, the teacher said, when I walked in the door, “Eli, your granny is here.”  Eli looked up a bit bewildered and then said “That’s not my granny, that’s my Clog”, much to the bewilderment of the teacher.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Animals Are Driving Me Crazy and It Is Only January......

“Why aren’t we walking?  Remember we took a long hike yesterday at 8:32 AM?”
“So what if it is 2 degrees?  What difference does that make?”
“Remember that nice lady who came for dinner the other night and made a huge fuss over me? I am going to wait by the door for her as she came at 5:07 PM.”  “What?  She isn’t coming today?”  Bummer!”
“Remember that party you had the other night when there were a lot of people here who made a big to-do over me?  Can that happen again really soon?”
“Now, yesterday at 3:02 PM you gave me a biscuit.  I know you were on the phone when you did it, but I am standing here right now at 3:02 in front of the cupboard where the biscuits are and where are you?”

“Yesterday we got up at 5:30, why are you buried under the covers today? I keep poking you and walking over your head, but you aren’t paying any attention to me.  Is it because you had that party with all those people?”
“Why is the bathroom door closed?  You know I like to go in there and splash around in the toilet bowl and make the seat all wet.”

5:30 PM
“Why are you drinking that glass of wine?”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spice it Up...............

I read comments on Facebook and hear friends complaining about wanting to eat better but not having time to prepare meals, etc.  Having worked full time for years, I can sympathize with this lament.  I like to cook and I like good food, so most prepared foods do not appeal to me. 

Recently I discovered the versatility of salsa and have incorporated it into many dishes. One of my favorites is to sauté several vegetables (onion, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus), throw in some shrimp or cannellini beans, mix in salsa for the sauce, and serve it on pasta (or spaghetti squash), topped with feta cheese and black olives.  It is delicious and quick/easy to make. Most salsa has basic ingredients and is very inexpensive. And another benefit of salsa is that it spices up your dreams!

I just took another of my favorite dishes out of the oven ……..roasted vegetables. This is also easy and you can make as much or as little as you want.  My dish today consists of Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, red onion, red potatoes.  Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic and bake at 475̊ for 30 or 40 minutes, stirring frequently.  I often splash a little balsamic or red wine vinegar on it when cooked.  You can also add feta cheese here too. I usually just use whatever vegetables I have on hand and make this year round.  I eat it cold or heat it up, put in wraps (with salsa) for lunch.  The problem with it is that I love it so much, I cannot stop eating it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  As you can see, we are having a lazy day here on 1/2/12.  Yesterday I hosted a birthday party for my friend, Susan.  It was a great afternoon….a gathering of her friends with everyone bringing wonderful finger foods……. we had quail eggs en croûte, salmon, delicious things wrapped in bacon, etc., etc., etc.….and an ice cream cake to top it off.  Although we forgot to serve it before everyone left, so some missed out.

So today I am just hanging out and reading my book George and Arthur by Julian Barnes, a book that I bought at None Such Bookstore near my apartment in Maine.  They sell quality paperback used books (as well as new) at half price and if you buy three you get one free. And then after you read them you can return them and get store credit towards more books.  Then of course I came home and the library had called and four books I had on reserve had come in.  This always happens, and I also have the new Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending, that was a Christmas gift.

So now what do I do?  Abandon the book I am in the middle of and own?  Well, I didn’t want to do that as I am really enjoying it, so I did the 100 pages minus your age theory (if after reading the specified number of pages, which in my case would be 31½ pages, it still intrigues you, it is a keeper) to see if the books from the library were ones I wanted to read.  They all were, so I think I will be doing some major reading these next couple of weeks and hoping that I can renew them. (The books from the library are Oliver Sacks The Mind’s Eye; Jeanette Winterson Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; Alison Espach The Adults; Denis Johnson Train Dreams – and don’t ask me why I reserved these books as I haven’t a clue)

I am sincerely hoping that 2012 is the year I move to Maine…………time will tell.