Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Apparently, I exist in a Universe of my own.

In the countdown to New Hip Time, I was required to attend a class at the medical center for all joint replacement candidates.  Securely masked and safe-distanced, the six of us sat - canes propped beside us - in a semi-circle, waiting to be enlightened.  Well.  

In my universe, I would awake on the appointed day, take a shower, check my toenails for chipped polish, pack a few things, and head to the hospital.  There, I would be sanitized, anesthetized, pain-relieved, fitted with a new hip joint, then wheeled to my sister's car and scooted home.

In reality, I need to see my doctor, get a special blood test, get tested (again) for Covid, get an okay from my dentist, take extra strength Tylenol for two days prior to surgery, change my sheets constantly, changed my jimjams daily, take a shower every day for the five days leading up to and including the day of surgery, using special soap, use additional special body wipes the morning of, use a special nasal spray the morning of, drink Gatorade (never!), and more.  More!  I am not allowed to have anyone with me, but cannot take my phone.  I suppose I am to use ESP with my sister.  It is such a complicated procedure that I have to make a chart so that I don't forget anything.  I suppose I should be thrilled that they take such precautions, but good golly.

As we all sat and listened in stunned silence, the other 'hip' piped up and said that she didn't HAVE that many pjs.  Amen, sister.  Then the RN went around the room asking, "do you live alone? Who will be caring for you the first week?"  There were two of us loners - me and a long-haired, bearded fellow, wearing voluminous brown sweats.  He was a 'knee'.  Two of the other knees were there for the second time, both men and both with long-suffering wives in tow, who were obviously not looking forward to reliving the recovery experience.  When she came to me, I chirped, "I am being tag-teamed by my sisters, who will each take a week to take care of me and anything I need."  You could feel the hostility and envy being generated in my direction.  Then it was revealed that I was going in as an outpatient.  One of the wives seemed very nervous that there was a chance that her husband would NOT be in the hospital for two days.  

My neighbor is building a temporary ramp for when I (and my new best friend, Walker - not Johnny...yet) perambulate into the house for two weeks of shameless pampering recuperation.  My surgeon does not start PT for two weeks.  After spending two weeks in the loving care of my wonderful sisters, I may cry copiously after they leave.  I am looking forward to getting my life back.

On  seasonal note, I hope that everyone had a quiet, safe and happy Christmas.  Ours was very small and quiet and just right, although we missed the NYC sisters.  We did some face-time, had a lovely meal and I tottered home at a decent hour.  It's looking like New Year's Day will be a repeat, which is fine and dandy by me, although I would really prefer to spend it at home with the kids.  Fingers crossed that 2021 is a year of kindness and healing.  And good gardening weather!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

And I thought I'd be bored.

Although I now move in sloth-time, it seems that I seldom get to lounge around.  I left the house for a couple of hours last Thursday and, when I oozed through the front door, I found that Peanut had broken into the utility room and (with the help of his faithful sidekick, Lovey) had gotten into the kibble.  He resembled a fully stuffed bratwurst (emphasis on the brat).  After he had pooped his body weight twice (TMI?), I started the vigil to see how badly he had upset his system.  It's been a week of special diet (as in, I get up at 4A to poach chicken and cook rice) but I think we are making progress.  At least Lovey had the decency to look contrite, although that tends to be her normal expression.

I'm gearing up for the "Big One" this evening and into tomorrow.  I do hope the snow (10+") is as dry, light and fluffy as they predict because I can handle dry and fluffy.  I cannot handle wet and heavy.  Thank goodness I was able to shuffle around and get the interior of the carport organized, so that I could slide my car in.  She's zipped in, nice and snug.  The chickens have water and feed, the sheep and llama have a full, heated water bucket and plenty of hay.  Good thing, as it will take me a long while to make my way to either coop or barn in the morning.  Neighbor No. 1 is lined up for deck clearing and roof raking.  Neighbor No. 2 will plow the drive.  I don't have to go anywhere tomorrow.  Hurrah!

When I am not providing hand servant service to dogs and cat, I have been furiously working on some holiday knitting.  To entertain myself, I have been watching an old series starring Boris Karloff as James Lee Wong, detective.  It is so bizarre that I can't stop watching it.  Who, on god's green earth, thought Boris Karloff would make an excellent Chinese detective?  It looks as if he is wearing an oiled, rubber toupee.  At least he doesn't deliver his lines in the stereotypical bad English (chop-chop) of the Charlie Chan era.  He sounds just like Boris Karloff.  You really have to see it to believe it.  The supporting cast is cringe-worthy.  It's as fascinating as a train wreck.

I got through my annual dermatology check-up with relative ease.  There was one dodgy bit that she sent off for a biopsy, but everything else was okeydokey.  And the dodgy bit was on the opposite side to my surgery.  Apparently, this is a big deal.  My doctor is 12 and I do love the nurses and medical staff at the center.  The nurse that picked me up from the examining room to take me to the procedure room (they've gotten so fancy), was warbling away and swung the door open to discover the previous patient - an elderly man - was still in the process of getting dressed.  Luckily for all of us, all he had left were his socks and shoes.  As he looked up, startled, and the nurse gasped in horror, I said, "Well, now that I have seen your bare feet, I suppose we are engaged."  Sometimes I have no idea where these things come from.  At least he had a sense of humor, and we all had a good laugh.  I was sent to the ultraviolet room to wait.  I contemplated an upright suntan.

I'll check back, apres storm...

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

I'm getting a new hip for my birthday! Woohoo!


Peanut, just awake

After meeting with my surgeon - who I love - I am scheduled to get a hip replacement on January 26.  I was also thrilled to know that it will be an outpatient surgery - morning in, afternoon out - and she performs the surgery from the front, between the muscles, so the recovery is much faster.  Both my sisters are lined up - one week each - so now all I have to do is wait impatiently.  I have to go to hip replacement surgery class, where the surgery is discussed, as well as what to expect vis a vis recovery.  Hurray!

And none too soon.  The weather has become more seasonal (as in cold) and it's slowed me down even further.  I'd lose in a sloth race at this point.  I'm just hoping that we don't get an ice storm between now and recovery.  Hahahaha.  I've been working on my small item list - things that need to be done without having to move fast, climb ladders, etc.  The bird feeders are out and my annual battle with blue jays has begun.  

It's going to be a quiet Christmas, which is hunky dory with me.  My sister got a tree and had it inside and decorated in record time.  She is a marvel in every conceivable way.  I will take a picture of it the next time I am at mom's.  I've been having Sunday dinner with them - it gives me a chance to spend more time with mom and my sister.  At 97, mom is starting to decline.  It's also a chance for my sister to spend time with someone under 90.

I've got a run to make for Marianne tomorrow and I am going to do some Christmas shopping while I'm at her store.  If I can manage to remember, I will take some photographs of the store, inside and out.  She has created a wonderful spot.  Since I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I bought a piece of handmade Irish ceramics that I had been eyeing for some time.  Marianne on a brave front when I told her I was going to use it to store dog biscuits.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

So special!


I had to replace the old pooper-scooper recently and when I received the new one, it came with a pair of white gloves.  According to the illustrated instructions, one was to don the gloves before putting the parts together.  Is one to also don said gloves whilst scooping the poop?  I wish Erma Bombeck was still around - she'd know the answer.

I opted not to gather on Thanksgiving this year.  The instances of Covid are rising and I have too many at-risk loved-ones.  The thing that pushed me over the edge was the last minute arrival of my niece - who I doubt follows any protocol for protecting herself from the virus.  I consoled myself with the thought of leftovers but, to my dismay, it appears that they dipped the turkey carcass in the Amazon River after dinner and the piranhas got anything edible.  At least there will be broth.  Geez.  While I was wallowing around in my pool of self-pity, I got a text from Marianne asking how my Thanksgiving went.  When I gave her the lowdown (boohoo), she packaged up a heap of leftovers for me.  Bless her.

The pups' holiday gift came early - two faux fur throws - and I might not see Peanut until spring.  He is burritoed on the left and you can just see Lovey's ear on the right.  I'd say they were pleased.  Slimmie has taken over the dogs comfy saucer bed, so we are set for the cold weather.  Whenever it comes.  So far, November has been warm and rain-filled.  And grey.  And gloomy.

On the medical front, there has been a victory!  After mulling it around, I decided that I would rather change doctors than change insurance.  I had visions of bureaucratic snafus abounding, as I tried to change from one company to another within a month.  I went online to check Humana's doctor network and, lo and behold, there was my orthopedic surgeon!  I took a deep breath and called to make an appointment.  When the receptionist asked, "Still BCBS?" I plunged in - no, Medicare with Humana.  She took my membership number without batting an eye.  It is a mystery, but I have an appointment with the surgeon next week.  Who would have thought I'd be so excited to see a surgeon!

Last week, I received two packages out of the blue from two of my ex-coworkers.  One packaged contained an almost lifetime supply of organic peppermint tea and the other contained this:

It is like a fairy cup - I swear!  It has irises on the saucer and cup, with a beautiful hummingbird handle.  Even the spoon is iris themed.  While they hoped I would think of them every time I had a cuppa, I cannot even think about using this precious object!  It is safely displayed in my hutch.

I am finally done with all the stuffies (although there are two very special ones I am planning on making for myself) and am moving on to more useful knitting, now that Christmas is looming large on the horizon.  How did that happen!?!  I'm working through my book purge - now combing the shelves of the cookbook collection - with tons more to go.  I have a particularly hard time parting with cookbooks, and my job is not made any easier every time I go into Marianne's store.  I have to be firm.  Pfft.

I hope you all had a comforting thanksgiving - or as comforting as it can be in these strange times.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Mi curtido sabe fantastico!


(Translated:  Damn!  My curtido is yummy!)  I finally remembered to check on the progress of my ferments.  I had made a half gallon of sauerkraut and a half gallon of curtido with ONE HALF of the giant cabbage.  This year I decided to go au naturel with my sauerkraut, as opposed to my usual blueberry/caraway seed sauerkraut.  I also decided to try a new curtido recipe, as I wasn't all that thrilled with previous results.  OMG.  It is delicioso!  I got the recipe from the book included in my Mason Fermentation kit.  In addition to the usual carrot/cabbage/red chili of yore, they added grated garlic and oregano.  I love it!  And it's purty.  

Since I know y'all can't wait to hear the latest in my social security wranglings, let me say that I found yet another reason to go local.  I laid out my concerns to a local representative of the SSA and she said (to paraphrase), "well, I wouldn't give the government more money than I have to - it will take forever to get it back.  You'd be better off just going with the flow and it will resolve itself."  When I voiced concern over getting cut off because I didn't pay the quarterly bill (there's a slight gap of 2-3 weeks between when the bill is due and when they will be taking Medicare out of my SS payment), she said, "if they harass you in any way, just call us."  So.  

I am tackling the insurance issue today with "Gary".  I have an appointment with my dermatologist in mid-December and I was dreading finding out if or if not she accepted Humana.  I finally pulled up the BGPs and checked this morning.  Hallelujah!  She does.  Good thing, too.  It takes a year to get an appointment with this woman.  She refuses to use a PA, so it's one doctor to every 5,000 patients.  Crazy pants.

I'm trying to find ways to bring the homogenous-ness of my days into some kind of focus.  So far, it's not working out as well as I hoped.  Some of it has to do with the fact that I am unable to do more than one largish task a day.  I cannot tell you how frustrating that is.  Yesterday, it took me an hour to get all my recycling and trash into my car for the trip to the transfer station.  At least they are still taking pity on me and sort everything when I get there.  I am planning a trip to the grocery store today - I figure I will get there when they open so that there will be fewer potential Covid-carriers milling about.  I have a short list, but I will go bonkers if I spend more time in this house.

Also on the agenda is:  take down wind chimes, take out compost, vacuum, sweep, clean bathrooms, wash dog blankets.  I can hardly stand the potential thrill of it all.  (sound of dripping sarcasm)  I have had the vacuuming, sweeping and cleaning on the agenda for an alarming amount of time.  I manage to segue off to something totally irrelevant every time I am faced with housework.  Such as waxing the top of Lorenzo, the dining room table.  I may need an intervention.  Or cleaning service.

In my defense, at least a little purging has been done - I have tons of books on gardening, homesteading and self-sufficiency type stuff.  Looking to the future - and my tiny home - my library is going to have to be severely curtailed.  I had a big box of books to put on FB marketplace and figured it would be one of those, "I'd like that ONE and could you deliver it to my house, 30 miles from you?"  However, it appears that there are a few young families that are taking the plunge, so I ended up with three requests in a row.  Miracle of all miracles, the second family (first one lived 40 miles from me and wanted delivery...) picked it up within an hour of requesting it.  I am going to go through the second batch and will just send them along to the same family.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Volunteers, Autumn tries for a foothold (and fails) and Dimples finds her flock

I have been enjoying the fruits of my volunteer arugula for weeks now.  There is nothing more satisfying than produce that you didn't have to plant and fuss over, right in your backyard.  This little cold frame has been churning out early and late greens for the past four years, bless its little untreated wooden heart.

It's very frustrating for someone who loves autumn with all her heart, to have to suffer the return of summer, smack dab in the in the middle of fall.  All the trappings of my autumn/winter cocooning have been put in place.  We had three days of snow.  My furnace came on.  Then it was 72 degrees.  Good lord.  Being inherently stubborn, I continue to drag around in my fleece robe, sweating and grumbling.  The twinkle lights on the fireplace are the only things keeping my spirits afloat.

It seems as though I will be spending most of my retirement on endless phone calls.  I thought I had everything in order - but, no.  I received a bill for my Medicare coverage at the same time I received notice that they were deducting my medicare payments from my monthly SS.  This means that I have to sit down and brace myself for an hour+ of calls to track down a human that knows his/her stuff and can straighten this out before it get out of hand.  To further complicate things, I discovered that, just because your medical center accepts your insurance, not all of the doctors within that center follow suit.  Yes, you guessed.  All my doctors except the orthopedic group accpet Humana.  Fernatssake.  The good news is that I am still within the open enrollment period, so I can switch insurers without penalty.  The bad news is that I am not looking at surgery until after the first of the year.  It should be an interesting winter.

There are definitely good things about gimping around with my cane.  I went to the town hall complex to get transfer station tickets and had to go through the whole hip explanation with the town clerk.  By the time I got to the transfer station with my recycling, two days later, both attendants raced to my car and would not hear of my lifting a thing, having been told about my 'affliction'.  It does make my independent-as-all-heck self bristle, but it also makes my presently-limited self grateful.

I am continuing to clear out things that I no longer need, want or, never used.  In the process of rehoming a 10x100 foot roll of greenhouse film (you never know when you might need one of those, right?  How about 'never'?), I met a young couple who decided to give up suburban life for a life in the country.  They had a large garden, had just built a hoophouse structure, and had chickens and ducks.  In the course of our socially-distanced, masked conversation, I mentioned that my duck, Dimples, was now a lone duck.  No longer.  She has gone to join their flock of 8, with a swimming pool.  It was bittersweet - I knew she was lonely for duck company (and was taking it out on the chickens by bossing them around), but I have had her since she was an egg.  I hope she will be happy.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

With this many crowns, I think I should have a title.

 (Sweezie, Queen of All She Surveys?)  I made my (next to last) trip to the dentist to get, hopefully, the last in a long line of crowns done earlier this week.  I am all about squeezing the last penny out of my dental insurance (and my wallet, apparently) before I venture into the unknown Medicare territory.  As perverse as it sounds, I love my dentist.  I don't particularly like any form of dentistry but, if dentistry needs to be administered, then I vote for Svetlana B.  She is all of 4 feet 10 and is a human dynamo.  Her dental assistant works with her so well, it's like a dance.  Sometimes the dance of pain, but it is still fascinating.  Other than the dreaded numbing shot,  she is fast and exact and gets me in and out in sound-breaking time.   

I remember my first dentist - he was a gentle, kindly fellow, who wore a white, short-sleeved medical jacket, tie, and smelled of Brylcreem and cigarettes.  Since neither of my parents smoked (although dad did smoke a pipe from time to time), this seemed to me a very exotic thing.  Also, there was the Treasure Chest.  If you were good (translated as didn't scream or bite him), you got to choose a treasure on your way out.  I always went for the gaudiest, largest ring I could find.  

When I was in my mid-20s to mid-30s, I went to my dentist's nephew.  I liked him because of his propensity to use nitrous oxide at the drop of a hat.  A little nervous?  Pop goes the gas, on go the headphones, up goes the volume and off you go to a nicer place than the dentist's chair.  He had a fine selection of music - classical, pop, rock, jazz - there were times that I was actually disappointed when the procedure was over.

After that, I had a series of unhappy experiences with a number of bad dentists that ranged from just rude to barbaric.  I had found a very nice one just down the street from the office, but he retired and sold his business to an Egyptian butcher who apparently got his dental degree through the mail, if he had one at all.  The next one was a woman who seemed so ill at ease and unsure - case in point, I got no less than 7 novocaine shots in the roof of my mouth at every visit - that I couldn't face her.  Then I found Svetlana and have been 'happy' ever since.  I am very chummy with my hygienist, too - who will, sob, be retiring soon.  We traded cell phone numbers so we can keep in touch.

As much as I like them, however, I do hope that this is the last procedure I will be having for at least ten years.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Well, gee whiz.

 This week should wrap up all of the paperworky type stuff vis a vis my 'retirement'.  In an admirable show of support, my past company's COBRA handler (I was imagining a turban and recorder...) contacted me with an offer to continue my healthcare coverage through them.  Let me see... do I choose to pay close to $900 a month for coverage that calls for higher copays and deductibles?  Or do I opt for Medicare plus supplemental, that costs me $144 a month, with lower copays and limited deductibles?  Hmmm.  Give me a nanosecond minute...  

Autumn seems to be coming in fits and starts.  We've had days so warm, all the windows were open and I contemplated hauling the fans out from storage.  Instead, I dug my heels in and 'glistened'.   It's more than frustrating when there is a nice, sunny day and I can only do limited manual labor in my much-neglected garden.  Thank goodness everything is pretty much over for now - just my friends the kale plants are and their slightly less hardy cousins, the chards.  There are things that must get done before snow flies, so I am hoping for a couple of days this week where the sun and moon and planets line up - along with the weather, my hip pain and my motivation.  Hope springs eternal.

Speaking of hips, what would you say the device pictured below is?  (I'm sure Mrs. Puca - she of fourth grade English class - is spinning in her grave over that sentence.)  

If you guessed "bamboo toast tongs with rubber bands on the ends", you would be totally and partially right.  If you guessed that this is a sock-puller-upper tool, disguised as a pair of toast tongs with rubber bands on the ends, you would be 100 percent correct!  My sister thinks I need to stick to professional devices, but I am quite happy with this.  Just call me Sweezie McGuyver.

I am currently filling my time with ferment-making.  This was brought on in force by the arrival of two cabbages of enormous dimensions.  My neighbor asked if I would like a cabbage or six (he always grows enough vege for a family of 12) and I said, naively, sure!  I'll take two.  Sauerkraut is done and curtido is on today's agenda.

If I had a bowling ball, I'd use it for gauge.  Honestly.  He used to compost all of his extras (!!!!) until I convinced him to take them to the food pantry.  Some of those in need have large families - a perfect match, plus it's fresh vege.  Win, win, win.

Not much else to report from the Little Lucky.  I did my first bread run for Marianne (she is one of my bffs and has a large organic farm and general store, for those who may not know) and it was pure, unadulterated aitch ee double ell, being closed in my car with a back seat full of warm, fragrant bread.  I had fleeting thoughts of pulling to the side of the road and diving into the bags - eating myself to a painful and early death.  Very fleeting thoughts, thank goodness, and both the bread and driver survived the hour-long drive.  The bakery has been in business for at least 100 years and it is one of those wonderful neighborhood buildings - an old duplex, with bakery on the right and restaurant on the left.  I will try and get a picture of it on my next run, although it is still dark when I arrive.

I'm off to sort out a few projects.  Even at one a month, it will keep me busy well into my 90s!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Werewolf? Wolverine? Velociraptor?


Angry owl?  Baby dragon?  Apparently, it's pretty wild out here at night.  Whatever attacked my rear view mirror was not the usual male Cardinal.   That's hard plastic and the cuts are fairly deep.  I can just imagine trying to explain this to the insurance company.

Retirement continues to carry on in a fog.  Not only am I never sure what day it is, I don't even have to care.  So strange.  I'm hoping it's a phase.  I have all the necessary paperwork done, with the exception of what to do with my 401K.  That is on today's agenda.  Tomorrow, I am making an early morning bread run for Marianne - I'm looking at my new 'job' as courier with a glint of adventure in my eye.  I have to be outside of an Italian bakery in another town at 7AM.  Woohoo!  I get paid in pumpkins, apples and assorted vege.  It's a good deal.

I'm getting some little things checked off the small novel that is my list.  It's very satisfying.  The weather continues to mirror the year - it's totally whacked.  From hard frost, four mornings in a row, I'm back to opening all the windows and using the fan.  We have also been getting rain fairly often - needed, but it would have been more helpful in summer.  I am not complaining.  I also opened my barn door to floor-to-ceiling hay.  AND almost all of it is second cut.  I'm going to have to install one of those reducing belt machines for Linden (who managed to twist an ankle/leg badly enough that it required getting the vet out).  AND - are you ready for this? - the farmer charged me $2.50/bale.  That's right.  Gobsmacked was I.

In my usual bi-weekly check-in with elderly neighbors/friends, I learned that my second set of parents' son's partner has been diagnosed with cancer.  She is a holistic practitioner, lifelong vegetarian and has decided to approach her cancer treatment with a rigid diet.  Everyone around her is all up in arms about it.  It got me thinking that we have moved into a total remove from allowing individuals to choose how to care for their health.  Just because she will not flood her body with poison, does not make her irresponsible.  In my opinion, of course.  I can only hope that I, if faced with the same hard decisions, would be true to my own beliefs.  All I can do for her is to back her up and send her good vibes - which I do every morning.  I have to do these pesky exercises to strengthen leg/hip/butt muscles and loathe it.  Why is it that I cannot for the life of me, stick with good habits?  If it's a bad habit, I cling to it like a barnacle.  I've found that using a prayer-like mantra for friends and family as I go through the routine, helps me stop whining and makes it go faster.  I am such a baby.  Wah.

Speaking of babe...

Can we say 80s?  Unearthed by my youngest sister - taken circa 1981 when I visited her in NYC's East Village (way before it was Yuppie-ized).  I was definitely stylin.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Retirement Day 2

What day is it?  Who knows and who cares.  Welp, my work email was wiped from my phone officially on Saturday - thank goodness.  Unfortunately, they seem to have 'accidentally' swept out some of my personal contacts as well.  There was not one call or email bidding me adieu - after snuffling around, wallowing in self-pity for fifteen minutes, I pulled up the BGPs and throught, "it is way past time to wrest the apron strings from the mothership."  I'm ready for my next adventures.  However, all my adventures so far have been involved in dealing with government agencies.  I've been mired in calls with the Social Security Admin, Medicare program add-ons, 401K hooha.  While I have actually spoken to people(s) about my SS, it is still in limbo.  And it is not helpful that every single person I've talked to, who has retired this year, told me their benefits kicked in right away.  That was pre-Covid.  It's a different reality now.  I am at 45 days and processing seems to be stuck on Step 2.  After macheteing my way through the totally dysfunctional jungle of the local SSA phone system, I finally got a person who was helpful.  My coverage will kick in on November 1, so I won't be faced with a gap.  Now, I have to call back the AARP person who has been waiting to help me navigate the stormy sea of Medicare gap coverage.  OMG.  I tell you, being a member of AARP definitely has its benefits.  I am also on a first-name basis with the 401K guy - I know that he's married, lives in Ohio, has two dogs and a cat, likes the area but plays it down to his friends from the East Coast.  I must generate motherly vibes.  If your mother was Phyllis Diller, that is.

My sleep patterns are all over the place BUT, miraculously (or not), the worst of my anxiety dreams went "poof" after Friday.  I doubt if that will last, but it is a very nice mental vacation.  I do know that I need to set up some kind of structure to my days or I will turn furry and feral, lapse into my Neanderthal genes and start imagining two-way conversations with the dogs.

I was able to harvest greens (kale and chard) and get a bunch of herbs hung and drying before the heavy rains hit.  I am still hoping to get more thyme dried, as I use the heck out of it.

I'm glad I had time to enjoy the week of lovely foliage before we were hit by a fast-moving storm that topped trees, tossed power lines like linguine in clam sauce and ripped all the leaves off.  We have been in need of rain, but it would have been more helpful in July and August.  Besides gleaning what I can from the garden, I've been putting in hour shifts - getting the fence down and rolled up for the year, yoinking the tomato plants out, etc.

The dogs and cat have seamlessly melded into my retirement routine - or unroutine.  I believe that, if I counted, I pick up fleece blankets and re-cover furry bodies at least 50 times a day.  Peanut will bounce off the sofa, dragging his blanket behind, then bounce back, curl into a tight, pathetic ball, and stare at me with his beady little eyes.  Lovey is more verbal - soft whines and heavy sighs.  Obediently, I stagger over and pick up blankets and tuck them back in.  I may go mad.

The life.

"Slimmie" (snort)

I am still working away on the little stuffies - five bunnies down and I'm working on a pig in a dress.  

On Sunday, I had a celebratory dinner with my sister and mother - Connie made the BEST shrimp risotto I have ever eaten, followed by a delectable apple crisp - warm from the oven.  Heaven.  I have been so glad that soup season is upon us, because I have been wanting to make a recipe that sailed past the eyeballs last week - Vegan Curried Pumpkin Lentil Soup.  It did not disappoint - as a matter of fact, I was making little happy noises as I ate it.  It was that good.  There is no picture because it is not a photogenic soup.  You can find the recipe here.

So, ready or not, retirement, here I come.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

I'd say my style is Shabby Chic. Without the Chic.

Heavens.  I was toddling out to go get feed, when I happened to glance down and was horrified to see flotsam and jetsam all over the front of my t-shirt.  Even though I was only going to the feed mill, there are certain standards even I need to meet in order to stay this side of feral.  I trickled back inside and exchanged it for the next on the stack.  This got me musing about my closet and about my general style.  All of my fall/winter work wardrobe is still front and center - after being abandoned in March with the onset of the pandemic.  I never touched the majority of my spring/summer work wardrobe and have been living in jeans and t-shirts.  The jeans that still fit, that is.  Now, with my job on the outskys, I will have a closetful of clothes that will not see the light of day.  Time for another purge.
As I was working on the latest of the SOYSOX, I contemplated my pj bottoms.  Why would anyone think it was the right thing to do, to put gold glitter threads in cotton pajama bottoms?  And why would someone who buys her pj bottoms in Walmart's bargain racks even care?  It's not like I demand haute couture in my sleepwear.  If it wasn't for this pandemic, I would insist that my style maven (aka Sylvie) make regular visits to make sure I hadn't fallen off the wagon completely.

With the onset of three good frosts in a row, I had picked everything off the tomato vines and the pepper plants that I thought would ripen.  I will have to say that my favorite tomato of all time is now the Mushroom Basket tomato.  It turns a beautiful dark red, is hugely meaty and sweet.  I had very little problem with the one plant I got from Marianne and most of the green tomatoes are ripening.
Mushroom Basket tomatoes with a
Pineapple tomato thrown in just for fun.

The peppers were disappointing, but then it was a very frustrating year for the garden (and the gardener).  I also think that they did not get enough sun, so I will be changing beds next year.

While my sister was attacking the monster hops vine with vigor, I managed to save some hops.  I am not a beer drinker or maker, but had a niggling memory of reading something about their herbal aspects in the back of my mind.  Sure enough, hops are related to marijuana and hemp and have soothing qualities when drunk as tea.  Cindy and I tried it out one night and it seemed to work.  They are bitter, but not unpleasantly so, in my opinion, of course.  Nothing that a bit of honey can't smooth over.  I dried two quart jars full and will dose myself as needed.

It must be officially autumn because my cooking mojo has resurfaced.  I've roasted vegetables, baked up a batch of delish pumpkin raisin GF muffins, baked dog biscuits, made cranberry applesauce for the freezer, and will be working my way through the rest of the apples this weekend.  I still have a head of green cabbage and a head of red cabbage to work some magic on, too.  Now all I need is the energy to match the food supply.
Cranberry Applesauce.
It tastes better than it looks!

I have been binge-listening to P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster recordings, with the result that certain expressions have entered into my conversation with alarming regularity - I say!  I trickle in and out.  I "what ho!" when entering the house.  Things have become rather fruity.  I better wean myself off this path or I may never look back.

I have had a communication from the Mothership (which I prompted, after days of radio silence) and my last day will be Friday, October 9.  We have worked out an amenable separation agreement and I will be glad when it is finally done.  Of course, negotiating my way through Social Security and Medicare has been jolly fun.  There may be a lapse between work coverage and Medicare, but that is how it goes.  I will swaddle myself in bubble wrap and stay put until the coast is clear.

I would also like to thank Debby - she who was not only the bright spot in my week, but the sun rising!

Pardon me whilst I dash off to cast a critical eyeball on the state of Peanut's talons.

A pawdicure is on the near horizon.

Friday, September 25, 2020


 My, how time does fly when you spend it mostly whining.   We've had four frosty mornings in a row, so it is so long, farewell to the garden.  The kale and Swiss chard still stand, bless them, but everything else has bowed out for the season.  

Excuse the utility pole - photo of my favorite maple tree, across the road. (Curse new blogger - I still can't figure out how to insert captions.)

Gratuitous image to illustrate how I feel about summer ending and the onset of autumn.  We are in a warm-up phase, but that will only last over the next week - when we are going to enjoy our first Arctic weather visit.  Geez.  I managed to get my furnace service scheduled for just before the cold strikes, thank goodness.

Still no communication from the Mothership - I guess they have more important things to do, like take over the world.  I've applied for SS and am in the process of applying for Medicare, although it is now taking up to 60 days to go through. 

My sisters and I were able to squeeze in one more girlz night at our favorite watering hole, and I am so glad we did.  My youngest sister stayed with me for three nights and I took full advantage of her (relative) youth and dynamoism (if not a real word, it should be - with my sister's picture next to it in the Webster's).  We hauled in the Meyer lemon tree and repotted my Norfolk pine.  She tut-tutted over the state of my deck and giant hops vine and proceeded to sweep, organize and prune the heck out of the vine.  It looks like someone else's deck.  We unboxed and set up my deck rocking chairs - which are perfect, except for the fact that they are very low and it takes me a half-hour to get out of them.  We also tackled the wilderness/jungle in front of the compost station and finished weeding the garden.  AND she cleaned all the kitchen surfaces.  I wonder if I can lure her back for a month.....

As of today, my office is closed.  The movers are coming to transport the furniture, the signs will be removed and the keys turned in.  So ends my 22 year run.  I had gone in a week ago to pack up my personal stuff and to make an inventory of the office.  I will not miss the commute.  I will also be better at posting.  It is a slippery slope, waiting for just the right inspiration.  Sometimes a post, in its entirety, will pop into my head like an early birthday present.  But, most times, it's like pushing string and herding cats.  Thank you for being so patient...

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

New Lists

Since I've been around the block a few times (and around the sun - figuratively speaking - MANY times), and, since I am of a rather suspicious nature (too many Midsomer Murder viewings), the writing was on the wall as clear as day.  How's that for chock-full of idioms?

First - after the company I work for announced that everyone was getting a 20% pay cut, they also informed the support staff that, if they were given a bonus, the bonus would be paid out half up front and the second half at some to-be-announced date at the end of the year.  I received an email from HR informing me that my second half was being paid in August.

Second - my supervisor, who apparently thinks I can function with little or no oversight and rarely 'checks in', sent me an email to 'catch up'.

Third -  When she got me on the phone, she added HER supervisor.

Yes, it's official - my office is being closed and I am being emancipated from my job.  Even though I was not surprised, it still gave me a jolt.  I suppose it was more from the fact that, after over 22 years of working at the same place - through three 'generations' - it was over in less than five minutes.

My new list includes:  signing up for Social Security, signing up for unemployment benefits, brushing up my already-created resume (thank you, Michelle), wending my way through the dizzying varieties of supplemental health insurance, tightening my belt, and pulling up my BGPs.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, we've been assailed almost daily by a juvenile red tail hawk.  He or she is completely inept at chicken attacks, thank god.  But I am compelled to rush out on a regular basis to shoo him/her off.  It has also underlined my belief that roosters are not necessary, as everyone lets me know of impending danger.  I lost my last rooster and have no plans to replace him.  Then I lost Dolly - my sweet Swedish Blue/Cayuga duck cross.  It was a total mystery.  That leaves Dimples from the original four ducks.  Luckily, Marianne's male duck is all alone on his pond, so Dimples will be joining him as soon as they reinforce the fence.  While she may not be thrilled with her new boyfriend, she will definitely love the pond.

The garden is pretty much finished for the year.  There is the ever-present and abundant kale and the Swiss chard is still limping along.  I have managed to weed out four of the eight beds and hope to finish by the end of this week.  Then starts the process of putting things right before winter.  As I will now have loads of time... I hope I will get more done.  

I had hoped to get local peaches and plums, but a late frost wiped out any hope of most stone fruit here.  Then - magically - this arrived in the post:

Prune plums from Oregon!  As always, my lovely friend (in every way) had perfect timing.  I whipped up my favorite plum crisp (GF) and made a batch of plum jam.  

I have also been taking advantage of the vege bounty (thanks to friends) and have been roasting a big pan of vegetables every week.  It is my favorite way to cook ahead, as you can eat them hot out of the oven, at room temperature, as a cold salad - you can toss them with a light vinaigrette and some feta cheese.  You can roast them with feta cheese.  You can toss them hot with sundried tomato pesto and mix with pasta.  There is no end to the variety of meals one can conjure up.

My sister spent the night this past Friday and she helped me wash the dogs the next morning.  Since Peanut counts her as his favorite human in the world, she can do anything to him and he goes along willingly.  While Lovey never smells bad, Peanut is a hot, sweaty little being and gets a little 'ripe' after  a while.  They now smell like lavender and cedar.

Best of all, the last reminder of the Great Quail Fiasco has left the homestead.  It will now house rabbits on a homestead to the south of me.  As another plus, two bags of fleece found a home with a spinner who is interested in adding more Cormo/CormoX sheep to her flock.  As it happens, I have a CormoX that I would LOVE to rehome (are you listening, Norman?)  Fingers crossed.  

So, off I go to contemplate my navel, attend another useless Zoom meeting, and try to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.

P.S. Nancy, here is the tomato pie recipe I use - Epicurious

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Universe, you may now bring on Autumn.

 I am officially over summer - I have had my Tomato Cheddar Pie.

And, thanks to friends and neighbors, I can stow green beans in my freezer.

All the stuffies have winged off to new homes (thank you all for the interest and kind comments).  It has been extra fun because I have 'met' new people!

We had a surprise thunderstorm that pelted almost three-quarters of an inch of rain on us.  There have been quite violent storms to the north, west and south of us, so I am not quite as cranky about missing the rain.  Besides, giving up on one's garden does tend to relieve stress.  Unless you have placed it within almost constant view.

Slimmie is over summer, too.  I did some redecorating - which, in my case, means that I exchanged furniture that had been given to me for other furniture that had been given to me.  I went from a chair and a half, to a chair.  After some consternation, Slimmie managed to find a way to wedge himself beside me.  He is thriving on his new diet (I'd thrive on it, too, at that price) and has regained his voluminous glossiness.  I do love him to bits.  Thanks (or not) to his new diet, he has become the herald of breakfast time.  At precisely 6:15A, he begins to circle the living room, yowling.  And he continues to yowl until I go into the kitchen and fix breakfast for the kids.  He has me well trained.

As summer draws to a close, and in an effort to reduce air battles, I have put out an additional hummingbird feeder.  I know they are gearing up for their long trek to their winter home, so I am happy to help.  It's going to be rather quiet without them.  However, I now have a flock of 50 sparrows, so that should fill in the silence.  There certainly was a bumper crop of baby birds this year.  I am taking that as a hopeful sign for this beautiful planet.

My visit to the orthopedic doc found that I had bursitis AND arthritis in my hip.  Isn't that special?  He gave me a shot of cortisone for the bursitis and a lot of useful information.  My choices are - shots to the hip and physical therapy until it doesn't make sense, or hip replacement surgery.  I have three months to mull it over.  As loathe as I am to have any kind of surgery, I am dog-tired of the pain and limitations this damn hip has placed on me.  Growing old is not for sissies.

Monday, August 17, 2020

The SOYSOX Project and Misfit Stuffies

After my father passed away last year, my sisters did a purge of some of the 35+ years of stuff that has accumulated at my parents' home.  It will be an ongoing process for some time.  Bestowed upon me, since I am apparently short on yarn (snort), were the bits and bobs left over from all the yarn my mother had used in knitting socks for my father over the years.  It is a sobering amount.  Since it is not in my DNA to turn down any amount of yarn, I trundled it home and noodled about what to make with it - one of those cool memory blankets?  A cat cozy or ten?  Sausage dog booties?

Instead, I decided to do Stream Of Yarn socks.  Or SOYSOX.  I am working my way through the pile, in no particular order (although my strong tidy genes - all two of them - seem to gravitate toward color coordination), making shorty socks for my sisters, my mother and me.  So far, I have knit up two and a half pair.

I like to knit shorty socks because they hold my focus long enough to be completed!  I tend to fall into the one sock down, OMG one to go category when knitting regular socks.

My limited focus and apparent need for instant gratification, has led me to an obsessive knitting-up of small stuffed toys, or stuffies, as I call them.


I've experimented with cotton yarn, wool yarn, ear placement, face embroidery, clothing options, you name it, with varying degrees of success.  I still need a lot of work on my mattress stitch.  All my stuffies are slightly wonky.  But, I'm hooked and I am determined to reach some level of proficiency.  I may still be at it when I'm in the nursing home.

Would anyone be interested in these misfit stuffies?  From the top - cotton bunny with removable dungarees; woolen bear with knit-on dress, no knickers; woolen rabbit with two removable outfits; woolen bear with knit-on dress, matching knit-on knickers.  They are about 7" tall, made with all new, washable materials.  If you are interested in any of them, please send me an email (swomersley at gmail dot com).  We'll do it on a first come, first served basis.  I am sure there will be more...  I'm having too much fun to stop.

***Edited to say that they would just cost the price of postage - I will check on the price of the smallest prepaid mailing box and will add it to this post. xo

***PS The cotton bunny and the woolen bunny are spoken for!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Got a match?

If it wasn't for the tomatoes... I would torch my garden.  It does make me feel the tiniest bit better knowing that everyone around me is having a very 'off' year, too.  After a little spurt of productivity, all eighty of my summer squash plants pooped out.  After an exciting start with abundant vines, glorious yellow blossoms and baby squash, my Kuri plants died.  My cucumber plants withered.  Even with electronet fencing, there is a little, skinny rabbit that hops in and out of the garden, eating off the tops of the Swiss chard, chewing up the sunflowers, mowing the beans.  But, all is not lost!  I have a splendiferous, glorious, bumper crop of WEEDS!  (Drip, drip, drip goes the sarcasm.)  Between the drought and my wonky hip(s), I have not been able to keep up with them.  As if that is ever a possibility - even in good times.

I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to weed the kale and onion beds (don't even get me started on the onion 'crop') or just turn my back on it all, reap what I can and then smother the beds over the winter.  It's very disheartening.  

Last week, I had to cover for my counterpart in the city, which meant that I had to trek into the office every day so that I could cover her attorney's phone - for that one call a day.  In some ways, it was nice to get away from the house, but in most ways, I am so glad I do not have to commute.  There is also construction going on in the office below me, which seems to require super-heavy-duty dental equipment (whining drills), a jack hammer, lots of metal ladders and whoknowswhat.  You can't hear yourself think.

We've had a brief hiatus from the hotashell weather - over as of yesterday and back into heat advisories - so I marooned myself on the Island of Misfit Stuffies and made more progress on my secret SOYSOX project, details to be revealed at a later date.  I will recount my adventures on the IOMS in my next post.

There were some highlights over the past week(s) - my friend, Marianne, opened her general store, Hoosick Provisions, to rave reviews.  It is a lovely space filled with wonderful things and they have been busy as all get-out since they opened their door. 

There was also a little pre-birthday celebration with three of the four 'girls' at my favorite restaurant.  It was such a nice experience - from the ambiance, the service, the gracious accommodation of the oldest of the girls and her wheelchair.  Then there were the cocktails!

I had a Waterlily and I could have floated down the stream very easily, had I not limited myself to one.  It was a lovely shade of violet.  I am going to take my sister back for a later birthday celebration - I hear the call of the waterlilies...

The dogs and I went on a little jaunt to a local farm stand, noted for its sweet corn.  While I was slipping the dewy ears into my bag, I saw a pickup go by with a friend at the wheel - I waved frantically, but she vaguely looked at me and smiled -  one of those, "hello, friendly stranger" kinds of looks.  When I got home, I realized that she wouldn't have recognized me - dog rescue hat pulled down to my ears, sunglasses, mask, barn clothes.  She did email me later saying she had recognized Lovey, sticking out of the back window!  I guess these days we are recognizable by our dogs.

Back to 'normal' this week, with an appointment with my doctor today to start the hip repair ball rolling.  As long as there is not another COVID flare up in NY or VT, I should be okay.  I have decided that my new normal will be whatever the day brings.  I hope your days bring you only good things.  xo

Friday, July 24, 2020

Sponge Sweezie Squishy Pants

And the sensor is in the shade.
It's official.  This is my least favorite summer in recent memory.  Too much heat.  Too little rain.  WAY too much humidity.  It takes all my energy to move from one sticky chair to another.  I finally threw in the soggy towel and ordered a portable air conditioner with sufficient BTUs to actually cool the living area.  I was lucky, as it was on sale and I got 18 months of zero financing.  Still, it was not on my budget list.  At least I feel I have my life back.

The "where is my blanket" look.

The garden is enjoying the weather - unfortunately, I only last about ten minutes in the 99% humidity before I cry "uncle"!  This has left the weeds, snails and slugs to run rampant.  It has also led to some amazing finds in the squash plants (baseball bat-sized zucchini, anyone?)  I think I have managed to access my photos, so hold onto your socks.
Savory Zucchini & Cheddar Scones
I have started to work through my zucchini recipes - I have amassed quite a few over the years.  So far, there have been Mediterranean Zoodles, zucchini pizza crust pizza, savory scones (my favorite, so far), lemon zucchini bread (GF), zucchini fritters and, next up to bat, savory zucchini and ricotta pie.  I am impatiently awaiting the ripening of my tomatoes so that I can try a creamy tomato bake, with hollowed out, ripe tomatoes stuffed with herbs, ricotta and parm, baked and then topped with a Mediterranean style dressing.  With even a reasonably successful garden, the possibilities are endless!

These photos were taken in the beginning of July, so multiply the green by 50.  I will get out and take pictures this weekend, if it's not too brutal.  There is so much to do outside, too.  It ain't fair, I tell ya!  I finally managed to find someone to rebuild my fence, but now am faced with material shortages and have posts being delivered, but no fencing panels - ETA unknown.

There has been an abundance of many things here - some good, some no so.  There is a bumper crop of crows, sparrows, hummers and chipmunks.  A huge grey owl has moved into the wooded area nearby.  Apparently, there's a bumper crop of red-tailed hawks and wild turkeys, too.  And, for the first time in years,we have raccoons.  Joy.  The chipmunk problem has seemed to have lessened - probably because of the hawk population.  The crows help protect the hens from the hawks, as they hate them and raise a holy ruckus when any are within range.  They are much more reliable than the rooster, who is as sharp as a marble.  I am still going through over a cup and a half of hummer nectar every day, although it seems to be slowing down slightly.  There are sparrows everywhere, much to Lovey's consternation and Slimmie's excitement.  I have heard the owl for the past month - checking its call against my bird app (I do love some aspects of technology).  If I had any doubts, they were dispelled when I trotted out to the sheep enclosure a few mornings ago to find a headless rabbit.  It was a large rabbit and, apparently, owls take the best bits (contained in the head) and leave the rest, when their prey is too big to carry.  If that doesn't put you off your breakfast, I don't know what would. 

A week ago, I had put an empty waterer on top of the chicken's feed dish to keep out the critters overnight.  When I came out the next morning, the waterer was six feet away.  Social distancing or raccoon? 
Notice the telltale sign in the
'bottom of the duck's pool
All doubt was gone when, a few days ago, I heard the duck alarm again, without crows, and went out to find a Corgi-sized raccoon climbing down the fence into the chicken yard.  It wasn't even dark!  I scared him off and then had a heck of a time getting the ducks and remaining chickens into the safety of the coop for the night.  Herding cats or pushing string, comes to mind.   Yesterday, again before dusk, the ducks set off the alarm again, and there he/she was on the roof of the coop, on its way down.  This time I went for the air rifle and managed to put a pellet in its butt.  I'm hoping it was enough of a dissuasion to have it look for another opportunity elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Recipe reality check.

(I am still unable to access my photos after June - anyone else having trouble?)

Now that I am wading into zucchini season (oh, be still my heart!), I am constantly on the lookout for new recipes to keep the excitement going.  I ran across a humdinger recently and, after preparing it, decided that there should be a new standard of recipe-rating.

It should go thusly (based on totally random numbers)

Portions:  4 (#+ = three times that much if you are eat like a normal human)  (#- = less than 4 if you are not eating anything else)

Preparation: 30 minutes (XX = will take twice as long as you think) (XXX! = don't bother, unless you have a few days free)

Difficulty:  Easy/Intermediate/Culinary Institute Degree/Flaming Genius

Number of glasses of an adult beverage needed to make it through the recipe - 1= pleasant experience; 2 = slightly frustrating; 3 = you should have your head examined for even contemplating this recipe; 4 = you're drinking dinner tonight

Photo from How Sweet Eats
Now, when I look at this photo, I see a great and easy new way to fix zucchini.  When someone with a firmer grasp of reality looks at it, they may think, "hmm.  I would have to shave off thin, whole slices of multiple zucchini, which are never perfectly shaped, which would take special equipment to do it right, equipment that I don't have, and, even then, it would take at least an hour to achieve even some semblance of equally thin ribbons.  Then, let's think of the actual skewering.  Thousands of thin ribbons of fragile, uncooked vege, having to be painstakingly threaded onto wooden skewers (which you would have to remember to soak for an hour).  This threading process would be made quite a bit more difficult by the instructions to brush them all with the melted butter mixture first - ensuring that they slide all over the place, seldom get skewered in the center, break constantly, and a goodly amount will fall on the floor.  Where the dogs will lick off the butter, but not touch the vege.  You will then be forced to wash the floor, if you don't want a buttered surface to slide upon.  And never mind serving it as a side dish - you won't have any time or energy left to make anything else.

I did stick with it and am glad that I did, as it was delish.  However, the next time - giving myself enough time to forget how finicky it is - I will hire house elves and have them use the ribbon-maker part of my zoodler.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Like molasses in January

Only, it's hot as hell in July.  However, there's been a hitch in my giddyap.  There's been no giddyap at all, frankly.  After much pressure from the Mothership, I took last week as vacation (now in a permanent state of staycation).  I am very frugal with my personal days (or PTO, in firmspeak), so I was rather smug with getting an entire week for only three and two-thirds days out of my PTO bank.  Ha!  The good news is that it rained almost every day of my vacation.  This means that I could take a break from daily watering of the garden and get to all the indoor things on my list.  I achieved one out of two and I bet you can guess which one.

The garden is going gangbusters, thanks to my having more time to tend to it.  I spent Saturday and Sunday weeding, as those were the only two days with no rain forecast.  However, the temperatures have been climbing steadily, along with the humidity, and, as we all know by now, the higher those numbers, the lower my energy.  There was a lot of napping and as much showering as is prudent with my well.

I finished a stack of muslin produce bags for my friend, Marianne's, new business venture - a general store that carries only local, regional and US-made goods, along with their organic vege, mushrooms and eggs.  While I am often the supplier of good ideas, that fact does not always go hand-in-hand with my being the producer of the outcome of those ideas.  I am not a seamstress, by any stretch of the imagination.  And my sewing machine(s) often let me down.  Such was the case.  I have a middle-aged Husqvarna machine that should have worked fine, as it was just serviced at the end of last year.  And these bags only require straight stitching.  Did I mention that I decided to go with French seams?  And that I had no real idea of what that was, other than a) French, therefore fancy, and b) the thing to use when you don't have a serger.  This required a LOT of thread and much bobbin-winding.  Which would have just been slightly annoying had it not been for the fact that I could no loosen that knob thingy on the big wheel thingy that powers the foot mechanism.  It would not loosen, no matter how hard I tried and what tools I plied to it.  I ended up pulling out my mother's elderly 1946 Singer Featherlight to finish the job.  That required much consultation on YouTube.  But the job was done and product delivered.  Heaven help me.

Given the weather, not much knitting has gone onto or come off of the needles.  I did whip up a very cute bunny doll for Marianne's granddaughter - and since, as usual, it wasn't finished until a half hour before I was going to leave to deliver it, no photos were taken.  I am currently working on a bear version of the doll.  I am, apparently, in my "Stuffie Phase".  I will be sure to take a pic of this one.  Which I will take up again when the temperatures drop below 90 with 99 percent humidity.  Sometime in September.

Other than that?  Not much.  I did manage to find homes for a carload of items I had winnowed out before the pandemic.  That was a bonus.  Thrift stores are slowly coming back to life, but with so many caveats that it's almost not worth the effort.  The Goodwill I frequent holds all donations for a period of 5 days before processing them - in large cardboard boxes...outside...  I have pared down my grocery shopping to once every three weeks.  Now that the garden is in second gear, I am able to provide all my salad greens, with zucchinis coming in soon.  Of the eight squash plants I planted - four zucchini and four yellow squash - all are zucchini with one lone yellow squash plant.  I really do have to work on my labeling for next year.  I have a pint jar of half sour pickles in the fridge and enjoyed a stir fry last night with one tiny zucchini, three kinds of kale, rat tail radish pods, and red onion.  Once my photos show up on Blogger (why, oh, why am I still only able to access May pics???) I will show you the fruits of my labors.

I'm back in the saddle this week, with its usual parade of endless Zoom meetings, conference calls and other techie delights.  Speaking of Zoom, I will introduce you to my Zoom persona once I can access the photos I've been amassing.  My sisters, mom and nephew in NC did a Zoom meeting to celebrate Father's Day - the first one without dad.  My mother, bless her, peered over my sister's shoulder and cried, "oh, look at all your little faces!"  She's 96 and a pip.

I hope you are all staying safe - not surprisingly, a lifting of lockdown has created the illusion that all is the same as it was before Covid.  It is not.  I know that I am much better suited (both by personality and lifestyle) to ride out extended isolation, but I also have no intention of spreading this killer to anyone in my family or elsewhere.  Let's hope consideration and empathy win out.