Monday, November 30, 2020

My Music Monday - A Holly Jolly Christmas

It is that time of the year, when I can indulge in Christmas music, for a month.  The perpetual green of holly reminds me of the hope of the return of spring, of the brightness of the future. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Sunday Five - A Nice Day Out

 A couple of weeks ago I took a couple of extra days off, a little at home break, from working at home.  Part of that weekend, was a few nice getaways, diversions, little adventures. 

  1. Where is your favorite place to go spend time in a garden? 
  2. Where is your favorite place to spend time in nature? 
  3. What is the best "people watching" place near you? 
  4. The photo above is George Washington's front porch, what would you ask him if he was sitting there today? 
  5. Do you prefer paper maps, GPS, or just wandering? 
My answers: 

  1. Where is your favorite place to go spend time in a garden? The formal gardens at Mt Vernon. 
  2. Where is your favorite place to spend time in nature? Dyke Marsh along the Potomac river near home. 
  3. What is the best "people watching" place near you? King Street in Old Town. 
  4. The photo above is George Washington's front porch, what would you ask him if he was sitting there today? How to we rid our country of a tyrant? 
  5. Do you prefer paper maps, GPS, or just wandering? I am a big GPS fan. 
Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Bloom Where You Are Planted

One of my annoying habits, is quoting trite sayings, like "it will all be okay", "good things come to those who wait" and "bloom where you are planted." I was counting the other day, I have lived in 14 places in my life. If the moves were evenly spread I would have moved every 4.42 years. The moves are not evenly spread, most of them were in the first 25 years of my life.  

Looking back at it, I didn't adjust easily to a few of the moves.  I was one of the annoying yankees who spent the first few years in Florida saying things like, "that is not how we did back north," or "I wish I could find "X" we always had it when I was back north."  The mother of a friend of mine, regularly pointed out that there are northbound lanes in I-75 and I-95 and I was free to leave anytime I wanted to. Eventually I learned to love the place, I still get a twinge of "home" when I see images of downtown Orlando or Winter Park.  

There are things I need to do to feel at home. 

  • Find a good grocery store.  I want a store that takes quality, cleanliness and service seriously.   
  • Find a place to walk.  This took me a few years here in Virginia, if I ever move again, I will remember that it needs to be something I start looking for immediately.  It gives me a connection to place. 
  • Find a garden to visit.  It can be fussy and formal, or informal, or a nice mix.  But it needs to be cultivated, planned.  For me here, this is Mt. Vernon. 
  • Find a museum.  One of the challenges in Lexington, was that the city lacks a real museum.  There is a small gallery at the University, that has no parking, but no real museum. One of several things that I LOVED about the University of Louisville was a great art museum on campus.  The DC area is loaded with museums. 
  • Find a gym.  I know this year gyms are largely closed, but gyms have been a part of my life for over half of my life.  It would be better if the Condo gym was better equipped and had an average age less than dead.  There is a private gym nearby, when it becomes safe to go back to the gym, I may join. 
  • Find a nice relaxing drive.  For me here, this is out to Mt Vernon and back. In Lexington, it was down to the Kentucky River or out to Midway and back. In Orlando, it was a magic stretch of road between Winter Springs and Oviedo, or the back road from Leu Gardens to Rollins.  
  • Find a place to go boutique strolling.  In Orlando, this was Park Avenue in Winter Park, here it is King Street in old town Alexandria.  In Lexington- it was go to Park Avenue in Winter Park.  
One of my dreams in retirement is to go places and rent an apartment for a month or two and live like a local.  France, Italy, Spain, Wales, England there are lots of options.  In living like a local, I will try to check off the list above of things that connect me to the community.

What connects you to a place?   

Friday, November 27, 2020

Retail Therapy

 I worked in retail for 9 months one year.  We had moved from Florida to Kentucky - J had started his work at the University, I had a year to go before I could start graduate school, I needed something to do, and some income.  The first place that hired me was the ladies shoe department in a massive department store.  It was an experience that changed my life in weird ways.  

I guess I had always been a bit of a shopper, with a day out shopping in the city being a major event when I was growing up on the farm.  When I settled in, in Orlando, shopping became a hobby, and something I would do if I was feeling stressed or overworked (and there was a lot of that.) 

My time in retail taught me a few lessons.  NEVER pay full retail.  Everything goes on sale sooner or later, but on sale is not what you want, clearance is what you want.  Even better clearance on sale.  I need to be selective and shop out of season, but there are some real bargains to be had.  

I remember working retail in the holiday season. I showed up at 5:30 AM for the store opening the day after Thanksgiving, we opened at 6:00 AM, there were people waiting outside the doors, it was the only time security had to let staff in, and keep people out (if you know what door it is, most department stores have an unlocked door about 18 hours a day.) The sales were really not that great.  We brought in a lot of cheap merchandize, to sell cheap during the holidays.  Cheap goods, cheap, are not a good value.  

I will say, that everyone should work retail at some point in their life.  It gives you an understanding as a consumer of what to look for in value. It is also a lesson in how to treat those who are there, underpaid, trying to help you find whatever you are looking for.  A hint, treat them well, and ask, they will tell you what the bargains are.  

Have you ever worked retail?  

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

 Today in the United States today is Thanksgiving Day.  With roots in traditional harvest festivals, Thanksgiving can be an opportunity to celebrate the bounty of the year gone by.  

2020 has been an unusual year.  I have a list of things to be thankful for. 

I am thankful that we had a mild winter, with little snow making life easier for me. 

I am very thankful that our major adventure for the year was March 1-16th in Ireland, it was fun, pretty, and the people were delightful.  I am so glad we did it when we did it, and to the place we went.  If we had been a day later returning home, things would have been much more complicated.  If we had gone to Spain (the other place I seriously looked at) instead of Ireland, things would have been much more complicated. We were lucky on that one.  

I am thankful that I have a job, that I can do mostly from home.  That I have not missed a days pay, and really most of what was planned for the year, has happened, even if in a somewhat modified format.  

I am thankful that I have discovered the joys of my daily walk in the swamp, looking for my daily Eagle(s.) The gym has mostly been closed this year, and being outside has helped me develop a deeper connection to the place that I live.  

I am thankful for the outcome of the election.  For voters who cared deeply and showed up in record numbers to vote.  

This year has challenged us.  We have been confronted with a lot of what is wrong with our society.  There have been health challenges, and yes I know someone who lost his father to COVID.  We have a lot of work to do. 

So what are we doing today?  What we usually do.  The two of us, at home, I will cook a special meal, we will relax and be thankful.  

What are you thankful for today? 


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - Weddings

I have not been to a lot of weddings. The first would have been my Aunt Edith, I was about 5 and ring bearer- I was cute.  Someplace I still have the little satin pillow the rings were on.  I remember going to a wedding as a very young child- a great-uncle's son- in a Catholic Church in Detroit.  As I recall we left the reception early, my mother couldn't bear the thought of four children at a reception.  Then my sister's (both of hers 35 years apart.) My first one. One of my Ex's sisters. My second - the one that worked. 

There is something I like about two people making a public commitment to love one another.  I think most people go a lot over the top in clothing and locations and food and booze.  

I enjoy bumping into people taking wedding photos in public places.  I have never crashed a wedding, but I have come close.  The photo above was taken a few years ago in Rome.  

Have you been to a lot of weddings or few?  

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Evolving Workplace

 Uncle Johnny, actually my great uncle, my father's mother's brother, was an old school executive.  His specialty was sorting out heavy manufacturing.  Late in his career, his last job, he was sent to a foundry in northeast Ohio to fix quality control and production issues.  His first day there he summoned all of the managers to his office for a meeting at 2:00 in the afternoon.  The men in suits all arrived, coffee cups in hand and sat around the conference table in his office. (Of course they were all men.) He looked at them and simply said, "I didn't know I had scheduled this for the time of your afternoon coffee break, I will be back in 15 minutes when your break is over."  That was his way of setting a very formal workplace structure.  A workplace that is not family friendly, starting with all men at the table. 

Today there are more women at the table, though still not in proportion to the population in most every field. Bringing your coffee cup to a meeting is acceptable, we are seeing fewer suits.  But still the most common reason we hear for women leaving the workplace, is caregiving.  

Along comes the global pandemic, and home is the new office.  We had a board meeting recently.  On Zoom of course.  We had a parent with a six-month old, a parent directing a 7 year old on remote schooling, someone taking care of a very elderly cat, and someone house-training a puppy.  And you know what, the business of the business carried on.  There was ooo!ing and Ahhing! at the baby and the puppy, and people saying "go ahead a take a minute" for the home teaching, and everyone seems to like a dog (who it turns out was camera shy.) Uncle Johnny would have been aghast, but caregiving is a part of life.  

Is this a glimpse of the evolving workplace of the future, more blending of home and work?  Being more family and caregiver friendly?  I like it. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

My Music Monday - The lion sleeps tonight

Well the photo above is not a jungle, but a lion would find it safe here.  I love the music on this,  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Sunday Five - Days When We Are Stumped


I am stumped, I can't think of a theme for this week's Sunday Five.  I am searching for inspiration, hoping for insight from the muses. Hmm, there is the theme, what do you do when you need inspiration. 

  1. Do you write down ideas when you think of them? 
  2. What music, TV, books, on online source, inspires you? 
  3. Is there a book that inspires you to write? 
  4. Do you write it, and then have second thoughts and not post?
  5. When do you do your best writing? 

My Answers: 

  1. Do you write down ideas when you think of them? Not often enough, 
  2. What music, TV, books, on online source, inspires you? Music sometimes does it for me. 
  3. Is there a book that inspires you to write? I have a couple of books of ideas, that I sometimes turn to such as, "Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy". 
  4. Do you write it, and then have second thoughts and not post? Once in a while, once this year, I posted something, thought better of it and took it down. 
  5. When do you do your best writing? Usually Saturday or Sunday morning.  
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020


 I have never owned a boat, but I have dreamed about it.  I love being out on the water.  I have found memories growing up of time on Uncle Dick's boat, very distant memories of Great-Uncle LeRoy's cabin cruiser (sold when I was probably 7 or 8.) 

During my prosperous years in Florida, years when it would have been easy to own a boat, and with lots of water around, my then spouse couldn't swim and objected to the idea of a boat.  In Kentucky there was a lack of navigable water around, really only the Kentucky River and the sections of that near us, had dams and locks that were no longer functional, restricting you to a relatively short and narrow section of river.  

My daily walks along the Potomac bring back dreams of a boat.  Either a very small one, or a very large one.  The river is broad, but only deep in the middle, a very small boat opens the possibility of exploring the shallows.  Oh, and it has to be a power boat.  I want it to go where I point it to go when I point it that way.  Sailing looks like the most frustrating thing for me, having to go one way to tack back to get where you wanted to go.  

For you, would it be a power boat or a sailboat, or no boat at all? 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Full Speed Ahead

How can it be almost the end of November already?  I have been known to say time flies when you are having fun, will it has sped by this year, fun or no fun.  It seems like just yesterday I was clearing the desk in my office to go on vacation, the first of March.  And now we are looking at Christmas and New Years.  We get on this ride, and it just keeps moving along.  

Over the next few weeks, I will slip into looking back, and looking forward.  Taking stock, and dreaming - making plans - setting goals.  For the next year will slip by, until we exit this ride.  

Has this year gone by fast, or slow for you? 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Thanks to All of the Nasty People

I am jaded, 

I have learned a lot from the kind nice people I have encountered.  I have learned about kindness, and sharing, and forgiveness.  I have learned how to take responsibility, I know how to recognize when I have been wrong and apologize.  I have learned that most people in life are good, and kind, and loving, and forgiving.  I have learned this from all of the good people I have encountered in life.  

I have also learned how to know when I am being screwed over in life.  I have dealt with enough nasty selfish people, to know when someone is putting everything in their favor and taking everything from me that they can.  I know this because it has happened a lot of times in my life. I learned this from all of the nasty people I have encountered in my life.  

I have learned sometimes I need to stand up, speak up, hold my ground.  Sometimes I need to simply say enough, and walk away.  I need to look out for me.  I have learned this, thanks to all of the nasty people I have met and dealt with in my life.  

I have dear friends, and people I respect who have not learned some of these things.  Perhaps they are kinder, or more forgiving than I am.  Perhaps they have not met the nasty people of life.  I suspect they have met the nasty people, but have not learned some of the hard lessons of life.  

I worry that I am experiencing a hardening of the attitudes. Then I get screwed over again, and I am reminded that sometimes, on some things, we have to protect ourselves.  Thanks to the nasty people I have learned that from, for helping me learn. May they learn kindness, honesty and generosity someday, just not at my expense again.   

Rant over, 

Note: This was triggered by something in my work life.  

What bugs you most about the photo above? (How bad is your OCD?) 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - De-Stress the Holidays

I was on a call recently, and people were stressing about not traveling and being with family this holiday season.  There is a lot of anxiety about this.  People are planning Zoom dinners, one person's family is making dishes to share by dropping them off on family members doorsteps.  I thought for a moment, and had to share my side of stress and holidays, hence the following.  

For the first three and half decades of my life, the holidays, especially Thanksgiving were filled with stress and family drama.  One person was obsessed that if dinner late by a minute, the holiday was a total failure.  Another was fussed that if the turkey was not cooked nearly to the point of being petrified, we would all get sick and die.  Another was concerned that the turkey would be dry. Everyone was guessing how late Aunt Edith would be, and we knew she would be late. Edith was 20 minutes late to her own funeral. For years my father and grandfather would re-hash every mistake they made on the farm and debate how to control the weather and crop prices in the coming year. For years I thought the knot in my stomach was from overindulging.  

Then in my mid-30’s following love and opportunities I moved 814 miles away. My parents reminded me it was 814 miles. When I moved, to avoid the temptation to bail on change and return to the familiar, I committed to not go home for at least a year. That Thanksgiving I discovered that you could celebrate a holiday without stress and family drama.  It was the two of us, with special treats, time to relax and be thankful.  It was wonderful.  If your holidays have been festivals of stress, this is the year to say, “I am staying home, treating myself, and relaxing.”  Wishing you a stress-free holiday season.  

Don't they look happy and stress free in the photo from the early 1950's? 

Note: I parted with the "Mexican" china this past year.  It was give aways from gas stations in the early 1930's.  My grandmother had a complete set.  I hadn't taken it out of the box in a decade.  I hope it has found a new home, and stress free family traditions.     

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Take A Break When You Need It

One of the joys of a long and trusting relationship, is a level of trust that makes it possible for someone to say, "have you been feeling down recently and you have been kind of terse." A quick thought, and WH was right.  The routine has been getting to me.  I miss traveling and the adventure of a change of pace. I arranged to go into the office for a couple of hours to pick up and drop off a few things one day last week, but that didn't do it.  So I emailed the boss that I needed a couple of "mental health" days, and took Friday and Monday off.  

A few years ago I did a blog post about calling in mentally ill, and it drew criticism that I wasn't taking mental illness seriously.  I meant no offence and won't call this that.  But I think that we need to take a break and seek balance when we notice that things are getting out of balance.  

This has been an interesting and challenging year.  Working at home, makes taking a day off less different than it did when I was not working at home. I remember asking cousin Bill how he liked retirement, his response was "it is great, but you never get a day off." We need to create our day off.  I need to take steps to differentiate being home and not working, from being home and working.  It started with shutting off my office email, and sending messages to key people that I was taking a couple of personal days (I bowed out of one meeting that I was dreading as there is a pissing match going on over leadership - when they have finished the squabble I will be glad to help with programing.) Then I thought of what have I not done? I have not had my car washed, it needed it (actually both of them did.) There is a little random shopping to do.  Oh, and my morning started off with a temporary crown popping off during breakfast, for the second time.  I should be in the chair having the permanent crown glued on as you read this Tuesday morning. 

Take a day off, 

Get out for a long walk, or roll, 

Take a drive, 

Do a little shopping,  

Listen to music that makes you happy,

Think about end of the year traditions, 

Remember, few people ever die, being proud of all of the unused vacation leave, sick leave, and paid personal leave they are leaving behind.  

When was the last time you took a day off, just because you needed it? 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Sunday Five - Your Way

  1. If you could make today a special holiday, what would it celebrate? 
  2. What major goal in your life, have you accomplished? 
  3. What is the biggest favor anyone else ever did for you? 
  4. What is one little thing, that you always enjoy?
  5.  What one thing made you happy this last week?   

My Answers: 

  1. If you could make today a special holiday, what would it celebrate? Sunrise celebration, everytime the sun comes up we get a chance to have another good day. 
  2. What major goal in your life, have you accomplished? Becoming a lawyer. 
  3. What is the biggest favor anyone else ever did for you? A couple of times, friends made a phone call and helped me get jobs I really needed.  
  4. What is one little thing, that you always enjoy? Seeing my daily Eagle. 
  5.  What one thing made you happy this last week? I shared with a Zoom call of new lawyers, the joys of public service work.    
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Osprey Sightings

There are two varieties of Osprey that if I am lucky I get to see along the River.  One nests on posts or dead trees, usually over the water and fishes in the River.  The other one occupies a military base downstream, and commutes to a tiny facility on the River across from National Airport.  One is a graceful flyer, the other one is constantly trying to find a way to fall over and beat itself to death.  Tilt rotor sounded great in theory, looked okay on paper, is a nightmare in the real world. I thought we had quit flying these beasts.  

Have you seen an Osprey in flight?    

Friday, November 13, 2020

Remember to Live

 Remember to live, 

To enjoy each day,

To be kind, 

To love, 

To find a moment to laugh, 

To find a moment to take in the world around you, 

To savor all that life has to offer, 

To be at peace with yourself,

To be comfortable in your own skin. 

Death reminds us, that life is temporary, this is not a rehearsal,  don't wait for it to be perfect or better later, this is it, enjoy it.  In the end we are dust in the wind.  In a cemetery we see the year a person was born, a "-", and the year the person died.  Make the most of that "-".  We have no say on the first date, or last date, only control over the "dash" in between.  Make the most if it. 


Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Way I See It - and a Question

This is a political opinion piece.

The US Presidential Election is over.  Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won by a margin of about 3% on the popular vote, I think when the counting is done, they will have around 300 electoral votes with 270 being a majority.  As a percentage of qualified voters, voter turnout was the second highest in the history of the country, the overall number of votes cast was the highest in history.  

Turn out was the key.  I think voters turned out on a handful of critical issues.  

Racism; the soon to be former president, aka, He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named (HWMNBN) started off early in his term with a travel ban based on majority religion of the country the person's passport was issued by, and his campaign promise to "build a wall" along the border with Mexico (strangely not along the border with Canada - the largest undefended border in the country, one of the largest in the world.) Then came "Richmond" where white supremacists and neo-nazis attacked peaceful protesters for racial equality and HWMNBN simply said "there are good people on both sides" and refused to denounce white nationalists, and self described nazis. The refusal to speak out against our national history and current racist practices, and steps taken to deepen the divide, caused a lot of people to turn out to vote.  I dare say the voters for racial equality, outnumbered the white supremacists at the voting booth.  

Police brutality, racist policing.  HWMNBN failed to speak out against  bad police who repeatedly murder Black and other minority suspects.  Passing an (allegedly) counterfeit $20-bill is not a death penalty offence.  Failing to speak up when police murdered George Floyd, on video, and responding to protests calling for police reform by tear gassing a peaceful crowd near the White House for a photo-op with a Bible in front of a Church he does not attend, brought out voters, who want leaders who will speak out and work for change.  Being Black or Hispanic should not result in disparate treatment - let alone murder.  Voters voted on this issue, because as a people we are better than this. 

Treatment of Women: Women were a critical voting block, with the percentage of women voting for Biden/Harris reflecting the margin of victory.  HWMNBN's long history of misogyny, his repeated comments judging the worth of a woman based on her looks brought out a lot of voters.  Some of these voters were motivated by voting for Kamala Harris, a woman of color, for Vice-President.  

LGBTQ rights:  HWMNBN's pushing back against Equality, brought more LGBTQ voters to the polling place.  I would love to think that all of us vote every time, but we know that is not true.  But there was a real fear of losing the gains made over the past 25 years.  This brought out a few extra voters.  

COVID-19: HWMNBN has failed to lead, leaders lead by example. HWMNBN refusal to wear a mask, to listen to science, to urge nationwide action, has led to million of people getting sick, and over 230,000 deaths, and we are not done.  History tells us that the second wave kills more than the first, and the second wave is hitting now.  Voters who want science, and medical professionals leading on public health, and not the "My Pillow Guy" and the "Demon Sperm Doctor," turned out and voted.  

Overall, when you break it down to the margin of victory in critical states, the election would have turned with a-couple-hundred-thousand votes in critical states.   An extra vote or two, here and there, makes a difference. Some of these votes were votes for Joe and Kamala, some of them were votes against HWMNBN.  All were votes for change on these and other critical issues. 

A question regarding Facebook; What do I do with "Facebook Friends" who are dead? I have a couple of high school classmates, three former teachers, and at least one deceased blogger that still show up on my FB Friends list.  I get birthday reminders for them. The birthday reminders kind of creep me out.  Do I unfriend them? Unfollow them? Simply be reminded every year that they were once a part of my life? 



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - Middle Brother

 Last week was my oldest brother.  This week my middle brother.  He will be 67 or 68 in December.  He called me recently, he calls a few times a year.  I prepare his tax returns, so I am sure to hear from him every spring.  When he calls, he often wants to talk, needs to talk.  I was surprised when he called.  He was on traveling to attend the wedding that I missed.  I was surprised that he was going to the wedding (I watched the wedding on Facebook.) 

I was really surprised when he announced that he has decided to retire in February, the day after his 43rd anniversary working for the Walt Disney Company.  That is right 43 years with one employer. I can remember when he first started.  He was on the hose and broom crew for a couple of weeks, scrubbing the streets of the Magic Kingdom - he hated it because it was wet and dirty, then he cleaned the windows on the Monorails for a couple of years - he loved that because he was able to touch and crawl all over the monorail cars.  He then worked in the warehouses for a few years, then his fantasy came through, Disney trained him drive trucks.  He has spent the past 30 years driving trucks for Disney.  Well most of the past 30 years, he spent a few months back the warehouse after he drove a 12 foot tall truck under a bridge with 11 feet of clearance.  Eventually he was forgiven and put back on the truck.   

I am very happy for him.  He had been saying for years that he was going to work until he was 70.  His health is not perfect, if he retires now he can enjoy life.  He says he wants to travel, see things he has never seen.   

Do you know anyone who has been 40+ years with one employer? 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Tastes of Fall

One of the publications I write for professionally has started running seasonal recipes for the holiday issue.  My submission last year was a superb cheese spread, this year it is a Pumpkin, pumpkin-spice cake.  I know pumpkin-spice gets overdone, often being used in things that don't have pumpkin in them. But the mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice brings back memories of the holiday season. By mixing the spices myself, I can punch up what I like (cinnamon and nutmeg) and go softer on the cloves - for me cloves can easily overpower. You can adjust to your taste.  I have made this twice, added more raisins and nuts to the second one.  Any time a recipe calls for vanilla extract, you can substitute bourbon (or rum, or brandy). Bourbon brings out amazing flavors in raisins. As with wine, don't cook with Bourbon you wouldn't drink, for this I used a Four Roses Single Barrel Barrel Select- it has a nice spice to it.   

Should I post more baking / cooking posts? 

Pumpkin, Pumpkin-Spice Cake

Ingredients grouped as you will add them:
4 ounces salted or unsalted butter (room temperature will work best)
1 cup light brown sugar 
½ cup granulated sugar 

4 large eggs 

2 cups all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon (I prefer Saigon cinnamon) 
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg (about ½ a nutmeg) 
½ teaspoon ground cloves 
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice 

2 teaspoons bourbon or vanilla extract 
15-16 ounces of pumpkin puree (homemade or canned.) 

1 to 1 ½ cups of raisins (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat liberally with non-stick cooking spray, a 9-inch fluted tube or Bundt pan.   

Measure and stir together the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. 

Cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes you really can’t overdo this.)  Add the eggs and beat until light a fluffy.  Beating the mixture with the eggs incorporates air into the mixture, making the cake less dense. You will notice a change in texture and color.  This will take 2 to 5 minutes depending on the mixer. 

Stir in the dry ingredients at low speed, or by hand taking care to not over mix (or the mixture will deflate resulting in a denser cake.) 

On low speed or by hand fold in the pumpkin and bourbon or vanilla.  Bourbon works especially well with raisins. Be very careful in mixing in the pumpkin, as the weight of it can cause the mixture to break. 

Carefully fold in by hand the raisins and nuts (optional.)   

Transfer to prepared tube pan. 

Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, until a cake tester or wood skewer comes out clean. 

Invert on cooling rack and remove the cake from the pan.  

Cool to 2-3 hours before slicing. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days (it never lasts longer than that for me.) 

One of the keys to this recipe, is beating the butter, sugar and egg mixture until fluffy resulting in a better rise and less dense cake. Avoid the temptation to add the pumpkin puree before the flour, it can cause the mixture to break, resulting a very dense cake.  Adjust the spice level to your taste.  By mixing the spices yourself you can adjust to your taste.  For simplicity you could use pumpkin spice mix. If desired drizzle with a glaze, or dust with powdered sugar.  It is delightful with a soft cream cheese spread. Makes a great coffee or breakfast treat. 

Will you try making it? 

Monday, November 09, 2020

My Music Monday -Welcome Back - Joe and Jill

Someplace in 35,000 unsorted photos, I have pictures of Joe Biden speaking at a legal aid lunch in DC, when he was Vice President.  He spoke of how as a young attorney, working in business law, he stumbled across legal aid, was trained to represent clients who had experienced domestic violence and developed a passion of public service.  Service that led to Congress and the White House.  I have met Dr. Jill Biden, at a program on legal help for Veterans in Delaware.  She genuine, down to earth, and has spent her life in public service and teaching.  

Jill and Joe, Welcome back to DC. 

Sunday, November 08, 2020

The Sunday Five - Would You Sooner

 Let's try some multiple choice questions this week. 

Would you sooner, 

  1. Spend the weekend at home, or away with family? 
  2. Fly or Drive on 500 mile trip? 
  3. Have a big breakfast, or a fancy lunch?
  4. Attend a funeral, or a "divorce celebration"?
  5. Go to Europe or Asia? 
My Answers: 

  1. Spend the weekend at home, or away with family? Home. 
  2. Fly or Drive on 500 mile trip? Fly 
  3. Have a big breakfast, or a fancy lunch? Fancy Lunch 
  4. Attend a funeral, or a "divorce celebration"? Divorce celebration - if someone is happy. 
  5. Go to Europe or Asia? Asia, I have never been. But I wouldn't pass on another trip to Europe, it is closer. 
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Happy Birthday My Sweet

On this day, a long, long, long time ago, a blue-eyed legend was born.  I won't say how many years ago, but it was lots.  Happy Birthday to my sweet hubby, AKA J, AKA Wicked Hamster.  He is so bright, and fun, and loyal, and he has such great taste in a husband.  

PS: I ordered a new President as a birthday gift, but it hasn't arrived quiet yet.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Political Post - I am Appalled By The Election Results

I am writing this mid-afternoon on Wednesday.  Votes are still being counted, the outcome of the election is uncertain, but, I am appalled by the election results.  

No matter who wins I am appalled that 68.5-million Americans voted for a proven liar, hypocrite,  misogynist, racist, homophobe, cheat, failure, I could go on with more adjectives to describe he-who-must-not-be-named.  

It has been four years, they know who and what they have voted for.  A man who has refused to denounce racists.  A man who calls any news he does not agree with as "false news."  A man who assesses the worth of a woman based on her looks.  A man who has been accused dozens of times of sexual assault.  A man who  denied science, leading the death of over 230,000 people.  

I really thought over the past year, we were making progress as a country in recognizing the ingrained racism in our society.  And yet 68.5-million people voted for a man who puts children in cages based on where they were born.  A man who campaigned that suburban women should love him, because he saved the suburbs from low-income housing (actually income based housing.) This is doublespeak, for his efforts to push lower income black and hispanic families into ghettos. Nearly half of voters are apparently okay with him being a racist.  Perhaps he refused to denounce racists because he knows who his voters are, but a real leader, would have stood up and said, "it is time to move beyond our racist past, to recognize the worth of every person, to offer every person an equal chance, to respect everyone, to not allow the police to be racists murders. But he is not a real leader.  

As a nation we have a lot of work to do. 




Thursday, November 05, 2020

Priorities - Money

 I was raised stingy.  My parents were farmers, farming is an insecure way to earn a living.  The good years were good, the bad years could be really bad.  I learned early in life, that a key to financial security was deciding what was important, what your priorities are and ignoring the rest.  

Things that are not important to me:

  • Clothes - I am not a fashion icon.  I look for comfort and durability.  
  • Furniture - again I look for comfort and durability.  I have learned that spending a little more for better quality, is worth it in the long run.  I have never replaced furniture for a change of style. 
  • Appearance - I don't spend a lot on haircuts, or "beauty" products, I would never spend money on hair color or tooth whitening.  
  • Cars - this is a complicated one, I like nice cars, I have owned a couple of really nice cars, but I have never spent more than $19,000 on a car.  
Things that are important:

  • Food, I have to admit, we really don't pay attention to the grocery budget, we buy what looks good, we seldom look at prices.
  • Travel, under ordinary conditions travel is a budget priority.  I have to watch prices, but I would sooner spent a few dollars more for an airline with better service.  I will shop for a good price at a nice hotel, but I try to avoid cheap hotels.  I go for the best I can afford for the location.  The last time I went "bottom fishing" for a hotel room, I killed a bed bug. Never again, I could have easily afforded the nicer hotel next door, my comfort is worth the extra few dollars.  
  • Technology.  I hope I have learned the lesson, that cheap computers are more expensive in the long run.  I have tossed more cheap computers than I can count.  The last time I spent three times the money and bought the best, and three years later it is still flawless.  I have had several cheap tablet computers - all of them disappointing, one I-Pad - joy!  There is one exception of cheap computers that worked, Chrome Book. My first one lasted about 6 years. I beat the crap out of it and it never failed, the battery got to the point it wouldn't hold a charge. I bought another one.  It has been used less, as the I-Pad does everything the Chromebook will do, and weighs less.  The Chromebook is currently my bed computer. 
  • Shoes, I have reached the point in life that shoes have to be comfortable or my body hurts.  I don't care what they cost - I am buying the good shoes. 
  • Soap.  When I was in college in Florida, there were a couple of fancy shops up Park Avenue from campus that sold expensive soaps.  I discovered quality, and it has been something I have splurged on ever since.    
What are your priorities, what does not matter to you? 


Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday - Brothers

The child on the left is my oldest brother.  He will be I think 69 this month.  I see his posts on Facebook from time to time, but seldom hear from him.  He has made his own path in life.  He moved away from home soon after finishing high school, making his away across the country and living in Seattle for a few months.  He returned home that fall, with a high draft lottery number and enlisted in the Navy.  He spent a few couple of years in southeast Asia, then re-enlisted and spent a few years on the east coast including a deployment to the Mediterranean.  He has lived and worked all over north America.  Reportedly he turned 50 in Mexico City.  He lived with my parents the last couple of years of their lives.  Then bought a small place in Florida where he lives.  He and I are very different, different politics, different personalities, different challenges in life.  I need to remember to send a birthday card.  

Do you have family members you only hear from on social media?  


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Pay off

 I took a couple of art classes in college. Professor Ron Larned could teach art to the artistically handicapped.  One of the classes was a photography workshop, Polaroid the Art of the Instant Image.  The class used Polaroid instant film cameras, fairly simple cameras. There was little you could do beyond selecting the subject, composing the image, and clicking the shutter.  One of the learning objectives of the class was that you can create spectacular images with simple equipment. Work, time, planning and persistence pay off.  

Spotting and photographing bald eagles has become a part of my daily routine. I have a least 100 bad photographs of bald eagles.  They are bad photos because I have to point and you need a magnifying glass to see the bird.  Then there are the few, where I was in the right place, at the right time, with a decent camera, and the presence of mind to capture the image when it was there.  It isn't about the camera, it is about being prepared and being persistent.  After weeks of distant shots, three times in two weeks, two-days in a row, the magic happened and the pay off for being there nearly everyday, rain or shine, sticky-hot or cold, I was there when one of the worlds great birds flew over my head and I was able to capture half a dozen amazing images. Pay off, big time. 

What should I say in the caption for this photo? 


Sunday, November 01, 2020

The Sunday Five- Five Things I Look Forward To

I believe there are sights left for me to see, sounds for me to hear, scents left for me to inhale, tastes left for me to experience, and tactile surfaces left for me to touch.  So this weeks Sunday five asks about the things you are most looking forward to seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.  

  1. I look forward to seeing?
  2. I look forward to someday hearing?
  3. Someday I will smell? 
  4. Someday I will taste?
  5. Someday I will touch? 

My answers:

  1. I look forward to seeing? The sheep at Yew Tree Farm 
  2. I look forward to someday hearing? Big Ben again.
  3. Someday I will smell? Fresh bread in a bakery in a small French village. 
  4. Someday I will taste? Truffles in France or Italy fresh from the forest. 
  5. Someday I will touch? The Great Wall of China. 
Please share your answers in the comments.