Friday, September 30, 2022

Fantastic Friday - The End of King Street

King Street in old town Alexandria Virginia is the heart of the original commercial district dating back to colonial days.  250 years ago, the east end of King Street, where the street ends at the Potomac River was surrounded by warehouses, and fish smoking and drying sheds. Today the east end of King Street, the last couple of blocks, are home to a dozen or so restaurants, and a delightful collection of boutiques.  Even some local and independent retailers.  It is the high rent district.  

As COVID started to ease, and outdoor dining was deemed safest, the last block of King was closed to traffic so the restaurants could expand tables out onto the street.  It proved popular.  It also eased traffic at one of the worst intersections in the historic district, King and Union. 

The decision has been made to permanently close that block to cars.  To allow the merchants to expand into the street.  To create a natural home for musicians.  I have heard this man play before, behind the Torpedo Factory Arts Center on the pier.  There is more foot traffic on King Street, the tip bucket was filling nicely.  

Not all pedestrian zones work, sometimes they kill the businesses.  This short one block zone, seems to really work.  There was a loss of probably 40 parking spaces, but there are garages in the surrounding streets (a couple of them are $2.50 an hour and easy to park in.)

It is a fantastic place to spend a Friday, or any other day.  If the violinists are playing it is even better.   

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Thursday Ramble: Enjoying the Season

Is there a perfect climate, warm enough for the top down, cool enough to be comfortable?  A place where it is like that more than a few weeks in the spring and fall?  Probably the central coast of California, parts of Italy.  

Most of the places in the world that have an ideal climate are places everyone wants to live, hence expensive and crowded.  

If I won the PowerBall lottery, I would probably have apartments, small homes in several places so I could move with the weather.  I was talking with a friend recently who was headed in for an MRI.  We shared laying there going to our happy place. For her it was thinking about shopping, for me, the details of the boat I would buy if I won the lottery.  I get to thinking about that, and I drift off to sleep.  

I am a planner, this is good in that I generally have an idea where I am going, what I am doing, I have plans for retirement, I have thought about the details and the money.  I also plan for what I would do if my world was suddenly turned upside down.  Brains are strange things.  

There are a few weeks at this time of the year, to put the top down, enjoy it while it lasts.  Look forward to it and plan for its return.  

Summer is ok, but the heat gets to me.  Winter if fine for a few days, then I tire of it.  The shoulder seasons of spring and fall, are my time.  Savor the season. 


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wednesday W's - Something different

Well I had a post drafted, before the road trip, then the road trip changed, J went solo from northern Indiana to visit his family near Cleveland.  I rode with family to Michigan for Pete's funeral and flew home from Detroit.  

What have I been up to, work, family, friends.  

What next? Finish unpacking the kitchen, figure out where things go, and bake my holiday fruitcake.  

Who deserves an atta boy?  The Hotel Elkhart, I made reservations - non-refundable reservations, for the wrong weekend.  I called, they changed it, and adjusted the price, refunding a dollar.  

Also an atta boy, for Lisa the Delta gate agent in Detroit.  The plane had mechanical issues, and we had to change planes and reboard, and she was so supportive, kind and efficient.  Arrived home about 1:00 AM on Tuesday.  

No slaps this week.  Forgive and move on. 

What was the most amazing thing I have seen this week?  Downtown Lexington has really bloomed in the past 25 years.  

What made me laugh? A line in an obituary. Apparently the phrase "avid horticulturalist" in an obituary, is shorthand for pot grower.  

What was the highlight of the week?  A comment from someone at the training I presented last Thursday, that in 45 years as a lawyer, it was the best ethics presentation he had ever heard.  I have presented training on Capacity and Legal Ethics about 10 times this year.  Sometimes it really works.  Someone else commented that I was the first person that made clear the difference between competence and capacity in legal terms.  

Who have I seen? J - my sweet bear, Kelly, Bob, Jennifer - her sweetie J, my nephews, Nephew#1's wife Emily (first time I have met her), my late brother-in-laws two brothers, Carol and Frank who I haven't seen in 45 years.  

What was the best hotel of the trip?  By far, the Hotel Elkhart - it is a restored main street hotel from 100 years ago, now a Hilton property.  The room was amazing, large and comfortable.  

Who do I quote for the week?  My late brother-in-law, "no stinken thinken," and that is just how he would say it.  Bad thinking leads to  bad actions.  Look for the good in the world, and live life while it lasts.   


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Travel Tuesday: Spin the wheel and go to Windsor

I created this post a couple of weeks before Queen Elizabeth II died. When I wrote it I had no idea that the chapel at Windsor would be in the world news before it posted. 

I opened the unsorted photo file, and scrolled down at random to see where it would take me today.  Windsor Castle is where I landed.  I took the train out from London, had lunch in a pub in the village, and spent the afternoon exploring the castle, taking the train back to London that afternoon.  I don't remember the exact schedule, but I had a day alone, J was on his way to Oxford for a conference.  I was either headed on to France, or headed home.  

A little random photo travel. A place very much in the worlds conscious.  I have been so lucky to have been so many amazing places.  Travel often, 


Monday, September 26, 2022

You Tube Monday: Mad Mad World:

I had no idea when I took this photo, how I would use it.  And here it is, not perfect, but it works for this post.  Agricultural Aviation Association, there is a national association for everything here in the DC area.  

Having grown up in small airplanes and at times slightly crazy pilots, this clip always makes me laugh.  It is actually very talented flying.  

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Sunday Five: Harvest Season

  1.  Have you ever grown a garden? 
  2. Have you eaten veggies in the garden without washing them? 
  3. What would you make with this table full of peppers? 
  4. What is better than a tomato fresh from the garden? 
  5. What market near you, should I visit when I can? 
My answers: 

  1. Have you ever grown a garden?  When I was a teenager 
  2. Have you eaten veggies in the garden without washing them? Yes, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, green peas, strawberries, tastes of my childhood. 
  3. What would you make with this table full of peppers? My grandmother use to make a pepper, onion, and tomato relish.  
  4. What is better than a tomato fresh from the garden? Love.  
  5. What market near you, should I visit when I can? King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, there has been a market there for about 250 years, none of the vendors are original.  
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Beauty

Beauty is all around us.  In the normal and mundane, and in the elaborate and intentional.  There is beauty in the simplicity of a single flower, in the complexity of a tree. 

In our day to day lives, it is easy to overlook the million little things around us, the marvels of complexity and simplicity.  There is an old line, to stop and smell the roses along the way.  A reminder to slow down and enjoy the beauty around us.  We spend so much of our lives rushing from place to place, duty to duty, stepping over, on, or past the wonders of the world.  

I had walked past this dozens of times, a wall covered in vines next to a parking space.  There is a rechargeable Audi in the parking space, a nice car.  And then one day I slowed down and I noticed the grotto on the wall.  A relatively complex work of art, that someone created, someone took the time to install, there in plain sight and missed by most who pass by day to day.  

As I age, I hope I am slowing down, noticing more, enjoying more, creating more. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Fabulous Friday - The Perfect Shot

Is there such a thing as a perfect photograph?  Way back in ancient history I tried my hand at professional photography.  Every job that someone paid me for, I saw the flaws in.  Shots that I thought were amazing, clients would point out the flaws in.  

It drove me a little crazy.  

Now I take photos for the fun of it.  My keeper rate, is probably 1 in 100 that I think are good enough.  One in a thousand I want to print and frame.  The one where the fat crow lifts a leg to take flight into the rising sun, just as I click the shutter.  

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Thursday Ramble: Pete

My brother in law Peter died Wednesday morning.  He was 65. 

My sister dated Pete, or maybe it was his twin brother Paul, when she was in high school.  Then they went their separate ways.  She finished school and went to work, he went off to college and graduate school.  Both of them married someone else.  He did that several times. Both had families. Both divorced.  

Pete's father Bill was the high school biology teacher in our small town.  His father and another teacher bought the back half of the farm from my grandmother, split it into ten-acre strips and resold it.  When Bill died, my sister went to the funeral, made contact with Pete, and one thing led to another and they moved in together, then onto Florida to care for my parents, and married in the front yard of my parents home in Florida.  Near the end of their time in Florida Pete started passing blood in his urine, he was treated for bladder cancer.  After Dad died, they moved back to Michigan. 

He was treated on and off for urinary tract cancer over the past 6 years.  A couple times he declared victory, only to have cancer return.  This last time the reoccurrence was massive, the cancer had spread to vital organs, and into his spine.  As he described it the doctors told him "he was screwed" there was no treatment that would kill the cancer without killing the host. 

Pete was an interesting man. He had a Phd in psychology, he spent most of his working years running addiction treatment programs in prisons, much of it in Alaska. I heard him counseling a couple of times, he was good.  

He loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing.  He intended to return to Alaska, but his health made that difficult or unwise.  He and my sister put off a trip to Paris, a trip that will never take place. Never put off that trip.  

I went to see them in early July.  I took the photo above on that trip.  I knew when I left that time, it was the last time I would likely see him alive.

He lived life on his terms.  He was bright, and bullheaded.  If he wanted to help you, there was no end to what he would do, if he didn't like you - you knew it.  He was intensely private, and loud. My sister loved him, and he loved her.  He helped her pick up the pieces after her divorce.  

He will be missed.  I am diverting my road trip, to be there for her.  

The post that was planned for today, will appear in the future.  Pete's health had been getting worse and worse, I had this drafted, waiting for a final edit.   


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Wednesday W's, Progress

The Way We Were: When I was a child on the farm, my grandparents lived around the corner, on the same farm.  I was probably about 8 or 9 when my mother become comfortable with me cutting across the field, across the drainage ditch and across another field to the chicken coop / pool room, then up the lawn to grandma's house.  The first couple of times she called my grandmother so the two of them could talk and watch me cross the fields, you could see half from one house, half from the other, and be sure I was there safe and sound.  We didn't have a phone in the house until I was about 8.  

Where am I going?  Road trip to Lexington, Kentucky, northern Indiana and Cleveland.  Some work, some friends and family time.  I have two work trips in October, a vacation in December, and I may get to go to Arizona in January.  My old Hawaii fixer emailed asking if I could come next summer if she finds money for the airline tickets, buy me an airline and I will speak to your group.  

What are my hopes? That travel is going to establish a new normal of being able to go and do. 

Where have I been? The pharmacy for a COVID BiValent booster and flu vaccine.  Mt Vernon for the annual fall harvest fair and market.  Shopping for a new toaster, the one I have been using was in a box that collapsed dumping it contents on the floor during the remodel, and it was toast.  

What is happening with the kitchen?  There are a few little finish items left to do, a crooked handle, and a door that is chipped and needs replacing, caulking, changing out some shelf clips so I can move shelves around. I am hoping we can finish unpacking before I leave for the road trip.  I am loving cooking with the new appliances.  

Who have I seen? Just the usual suspects.  That will change with the road trip. 

Who deserves an atta boy? The appliance installer who somehow squeezed a 25.25 inch oven stack, in a 25.5 inch space.  Yes it fit, but oh that was tight.   

Who deserves a slap? The electrician who failed to notice that an outlet was too close to the sink and needed to be a ground fault interrupter.  He was slapped, failed the final inspection.  On a scale of 1 to 5, 1. If that is the worst thing I have to complain about this week, I am pretty lucky.  

What will I do to surprise you all? My program has been included in an annual fundraising event.  Success would make it easier to do some of the outreach and education work we want to do.  Next month I will post a couple of posts about what I really do for a living, and who I do it for, and the link for the fundraiser.  A major break in protocol, I don't think I have ever named my employer.  

What will I do next? Because of my travel schedule, next week's Wednesday Ws will be modified, I need to write it out of sequence.  I will try to find some entertaining way to do it.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Travel Tuesday: VW

I have owned two VWs, I  came close a couple of times but I have never owned a Beetle.  The first summer I lived in Florida, I was looking at a Beetle, it was owned by a woman about my age, she agreed to sell it to me.  I want back a few days later with cash to buy it, and she showed me what was left of it. Her brother had heard that she didn't want it, so he cut it up to make a dune buggy over the weekend.  Oh well, close. 

I spent a couple of years trying to find a Beetle Convertible.  Most were too rusty to drive, and my then spouse never learned to drive a manual transmission, leading to disagreements, to me not buying the good one I found.  Close. 

I had a Rabbit diesel for a year or so.  It was lemon yellow, and great fun to drive.  But, it had been overheated and fried before I bought it, and was a mechanical nightmare.  I moved on. 

I currently have a VW Eos hardtop convertible.  I have had it three years, bought it used with not very many miles on it.  It puts a smile on my face every time I drive it.  Especially on a pleasant day with the top down.  

So did I travel with any of them?  The Rabbit never left central Florida, the convertible I have never left town with.  The travel is local. And it does get me around town.  

I still would like to own a classic Beetle. They have a simplicity, that is intriguing.  

Monday, September 19, 2022

Music Monday : Out of the Darkness

A few months ago we heard a pianist at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall who reminded me what a wonderful instrument the piano can be.  He played with lightness and passion, he brought out the best in the instrument, and that brought out the best in me.  

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Sunday Five: Packing to travel

  1. When do you start packing for a trip? 
  2. How many pieces of luggage do you own? 
  3. Are there things that are always packed and ready to go?
  4. Have you ever "forgotten" something essential when traveling? 
  5. What is your number one tip for packing for a trip? 
My answers:

  1. When do you start packing for a trip? The evening before. 
  2. How many pieces of luggage do you own? Five, 20, 24, 26, 28 and 30 inch roller bags. 
  3. Are there things that are always packed and ready to go?  Shaving kit bag is always packed, and I keep backup pills in my daily messenger bag. 
  4. Have you ever "forgotten" something essential when traveling?  Not really, I have bought a couple of sweatshirts when it was cooler than expected.  
  5. What is your number one tip for packing for a trip? Half as much stuff and twice as much money. 
Please share your answers in the comments. 


Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Signs

I have developed a fascination with signs, taking photos of signs, signs that say do this, or don't to that.  More of them are don't do, than feel free to do.  

Here is my list of Do signs for this week:

  • Take care of yourself, you are the only you the world has, if you don't take care of you, no one will.  
  • Be kind to others, kindness is easy, it makes others feel better. 
  • Be understanding. Back near the beginning of my first career, I listened to a speaker describe how you never know what has happened in the life of the person who was rude, give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they backed over their cat on the way out of the driveway that morning (my middle brother did that.)   
  • Please park here.  I arrived in Honolulu late one night and was surprised by the heavy traffic, the driver who picked me up at the airport joked; "the city has 1,000,000 cars and 800,000 parking places, some of us have to always be driving."   
  • Sleep - most people don't get enough rest. 
  • Dance to your drummer, be true to thine own self, see the world through your eyes.  
  • Forgive, you do this to free yourself, not for the other person.  
  • Eat something you enjoy.  You only live once, no one ever said on their deathbed I wish I had eaten more kale. 
  • Read, something that entertains or expands your mind.
  • Sing in the shower or the bath, or the choir, let your voice be heard. 
  • Contact someone who needs to hear from you. 
  • Have fun.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Thursday Ramble: Before and After the Kitchen

A year ago I said, okay, let's go ahead and redo the kitchen.  Everything worked, but there were issues with the layout and cabinets and countertops were cheap and nasty.  Always had been. 

I reached out the contractor who replaced both bathrooms only to find our friendly easy to work with guy, had moved to Florida, to be replaced by slow to respond and demanding new guy.  His bid was high, then he wanted a very large check up front before he would select cabinets and finishes.  The first appliance dealer wouldn't answer questions about delivery times.  

We retreated for a while, talked with someone else, then he didn't respond for a while.  After New Years we decided to try contractor number 2, one last time and low and behold he responded and made an appointment to do selections.  We went to a different appliance supplier, one everyone warned us would be more expensive, but we had used before.  He turned out to be not more expensive, no one is really discounting appliances right now, and he looked at the shipping numbers, and number of orders waiting, and gave us reliable estimates on delivery dates. We signed back in April, ordered and paid for the appliances and waited.  Appliances started coming in, the induction cooktop was delivered almost immediately, one was in the warehouse that was not sold.  Then the refrigerator - that was in the dining room for two months, the range hood and dishwasher.  Then the cabinets, all except for one that missed the truck and was 10 days late. Then last but not least after the work had begun, the ovens arrived.  The kitchen sink and faucet I ordered direct from Delta via Amazon, they had been here for months.  The last couple of items were the backsplash tile and a garbage disposal.  I went with the top of the line 3/4 hp, super sound insulated disposal, it is not loud enough to cover up the cries of your enemies when you grind them up.  

There is an inspection left to be done,  and a couple of little finish items, but we were told we could go ahead and move in and start cooking. And my stainless steel roasting pan fits in the oven, it didn't in the original oven, what a difference three inches makes in the right place.  

Relocating the refrigerator allowed 33 inches of added counter space.  

We moved the refrigerator to an empty wall, and added a cabinet next to it that has trash and recycling bins in it, and a tall pantry on the other side. 

There was an in wall pantry that originally had a metal bifold door.  We had that replaced with cabinetry that matches the kitchen and has adjustable shelves. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Wednesday W's of Life

What have I been up to? Work, I have a major board meeting coming up and I have been doing prep for that. My department has been included in a major fundraising event - and I am preparing for that.  I will actually break with protocol next month, and post about my real work on the blog. An important part of my office budget is donations from individual donors, and yes you can make a difference in our ability to protect the rights of older adults - you know people my age and older.  

Where have I been? Home, work, the farmers market, out to eat.  I will write about that next. 

What have I been eating? With the kitchen renovation ongoing we have been either going out, or enjoying take away.  In the last week we did Mexican, Greek, the condo restaurant, pizza, and Caphe Banh Mi a hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant behind City Hall in old town Alexandria. It was the standout best of the past week.  I had a noodle bowl with chicken that was so loaded with flavors.  It is the best I have had since we left Orlando, I still miss the nor closed Viet Garden.  I do look forward to having a kitchen again, soon.  

What's new in travel?  We are going to Montreal in October.  I was a consultant on a research project looking at the experience of GLBTQ adults in hospice and palliative care.  The results of the study are being presented at an international conference on palliative care and I was asked to replace one of the presenters who is unable to go.  I have never been to Montreal, J is going with me.  We am looking forward to it.  

What has made me happy this week? Travel plans, Banh Mi, and progress on the kitchen.  The counter tops are in, the drywall repairs are done, the backsplash tile should be in before this posts. At that point is all finishing details.  Oh, and notice of a nice salary increase.  

What has made me sad this week? The death of Queen Elizabeth II, like 94% of the world's population, she was the only Queen in my lifetime.  My grandmother was born near London, became a US Citizen after I was born, and was always a fan, but kind of in secret.  She was afraid of being seen as disloyal to the country she had called home most of her life, but never missed a chance to admire the royal family.  My grandmother was my closest friend in my teen years.  

Who deserves a slap this week? Other than the usual political issues, I can't think of anyone.  Get out an VOTE. 

What made me smile this week?  The Obama's visit to the White House. 

Who have I seen? The CEO was walking the floor early one morning recently and I had a minute to say hi.  

What have I been watching? Billy is posting dailies on restoring a convent in France - YouTube continues to be my go to.  PBS is playing "Landscape Artist of the Year" from Britton, a nice way to fill the 7:00 hour.  I especially like it when they go to paint in places I have been to.  As soon as we unpack the kitchen I will start painting again, at the moment that end of my bedroom is filled with boxes of kitchen contents.  

What have I been reading? Not enough.  I have started reading a book on book binding.  I need to get back into a habit of reading when watching TV.  My commute has been disrupted the past few weeks.  

What am I uncertain of? My commute for the next six weeks while Metro rail cuts in the new Potomac Yard station.  By the time I figure out the best way to get in and out of the city, service will be restored.  

What is in the background? My brother-in-law continues to decline slowly, painfully.  Everytime my phone pings with a text message, I brace myself.  

What am I getting ready for? As soon as the kitchen is finished I need to make my holiday fruitcake, so it can age with brandy and bourbon for a couple of months. We joked that my mother's fruitcake was 100 proof. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Travel Tuesday: Sheep!

 It started simply enough, J was shopping, it was near Easter, and he saw cute little stuffed animal sheep, he put it in the basket, the cashier thought is was a bag of cotton balls.  One sheep, led to another, and another, someplace along the way they became larger, huggable size.  I have lost count of how many we have - a nice flock of house sheep.  

Twice when we have been traveling a stuffed sheep in the window of a shop has enticed me to stop and shop.  If they have sheep, they must be nice people.  One was in Ireland, I bought a nice handmade leather change wallet, that I carry everyday.  For that one, I drove past, made a U turn and went back.  Then there was this one in Iceland.  The first evening they had already closed, we stopped the next evening on our way to dinner - more shopping.  

I guess I am easy, if you want me to stop in, put a pretty sheep in the window.  

Monday, September 12, 2022

YouTube Monday: Fawlty Towers - We are Orelly Men

A few days of dealing with building contractors and workers, I know just how Manuel feels, I am the only one who speaks English - sort of.  I have all of Fawlty Towers on DVD, it is Britcom day whenever I want.    

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Sunday Five: Gnomes

  1. Do you have a gnome? 
  2. Do you find gmones friendly or freaky? 
  3. Should we encourage gnomes?
  4. What would you name the one above? 
  5. What would you do if he showed up outside your door? 
My answers: 

  1. Do you have a gnome?  One, he jumped in my cart at Target and demanded to be taken home. 
  2. Do you find gmones friendly or freaky? Friendly in a demanding way. 
  3. Should we encourage gnomes? I don't think we have a choice, I don't want to see one that is angry.
  4. What would you name the one above? Shamrock 
  5. What would you do if he showed up outside your door? Water his hat.
Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Keep Moving

The first 14 years of my life were spent in pretty much the same place.  On the farm in Michigan.  There were a couple of trips to Florida, and two trips to Arizona, one lasting 5 months when I was in the first grade.  Beyond those, we never left the state, seldom left the county.  

Then we started spending winters in Florida, early November through mid March we would go south.  Looking back that was a major impact in my life.  I learned that you can move, you can change.  Still I was cautious.  Staying in central Florida for 18 years after high school, within 40 miles of where my parents bought their retirement home.  Fifteen years of that I lived in Orlando, doing sales for home builders and land developers. I loved the work, but I had really grown to hate the people I worked for.  The business was brutal and treated people as a consumable.  Too many 70 hour weeks, never being quite good enough.  It was time to move on. 

And I did.  I scheduled myself to the take the law school admissions test (LSAT), and then J got a job offer in Kentucky.  Without seeing where I was moving to, I sold the house, took the LSAT and left the next day for new adventures.  A little over a year later, I started graduate school. And 25 years later I am nearing the end of this second career.  One that has taken me to nearly every corner of the country, and allowed us to live in the only place I have ever chosen to live.  We moved to the Washington DC area, because we wanted to live here.  The job was found to fit the location.  

Our plan is to stay here.  Will that ever change? It could. But when I think of the things that make a community I want to live in, there are few places in the country that fit the bill.  

So how do I keep moving, so the vines don't overtake me (you knew I would tie the photo in somehow, didn't you?) With new adventures, new travels, new art projects.  I want to work on a couple of book ideas.  I'd like to learn film making. How to put together a video for YouTube that says something I want people to hear.  I want to write, new different, outrageous ideas.  

I want to walk. I tend to walk in familiar places, I want to expand that to walk in unfamiliar places.  To seek out pleasant places to explore.  It is one thing to see a place through a car window, it is another to walk it, feel it, smell it, hear it.  

I want to travel in new ways.  I think about a trip across country, and while I am working I don't have time to take the train, or drive.  When I am no longer dependent on work to earn a living I will be able to.  I'd still like to explore the backwaters of America in a small boat. 

The third winter in Florida, Jack McCoy forced my class to read Waldon. Something Thoreau says in the book has stuck with me. In describing why he went to live in the woods, Thoreau says in part so that when he came to die, he wouldn't find that he had failed to live.  45 years later I still reflect on that. Jack died of the flu a few winters ago, rather suddenly, I hope he knew that he had changed the lives of his students.  


Friday, September 09, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Shopping

Our ancestors were hunter gatherers, or fishermen bringing in the bounty of the sea, or farmers gathering the harvest.  If there is a genetic carry forward from that, it is our penchant for shopping.  The closest most of us get to gathering the bounty of mother earth, is the produce aisle at our local mega mart.  

We did a recent trip to Ikea.  Now I know there are few people that HATE Ikea, but I am not one of them.  I always have some vague idea of what I want when I go to Ikea, but no idea what I NEED, what I can't live without, until I see it.  And the merchandising is done to show you what you need, in settings that look like cool places you might enjoy living in, if you were young, stylish, hip, cool.  Even if you are long past those days, you get that feeling and NEED the things that make you feel that way.  

I have given up on the product names at Ikea.  I don't know my smmordmingle, from my nordmangle, I swear they just throw together random collections of letters and laugh as people try to pronounce them. And I really don't care.  

I love shopping in kitchen shops.  If I had the space there is no end to the kitchen gadgets, cookware, and tableware that I would collect.  I built a house for a client one time that had a seperate room for the china and silver collection - if only I had the room - I too could collect things I would never use.  

I love the farmers markets, and even just a good grocery store. One of my dreams in retirement is to be able to grocery shop 2 or 3 times a week, bringing home enough for a couple of days at a time.  Freshness and selection.  

Maybe shopping is my therapy.  

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Sad to hear of the death of Queen Elizabeth

Elizabeth was queen all of my life, my grandmother was born in England and was always a loyalist, I am deeply saddened.  She had a long and successful life.   Peace to her and her family. 

The Thursday Ramble: Life

I was leafing through the University of Louisville Alumni Magazine, and an article caught my eye, about brain activity at the time of death.  One of the med-school professors was conducting EEG, brain wave testing on a patient, when the patient had a heart attack and died.  The immediate concern was the patient's death, though not unexpected, the patient was in very poor health, the docs always want to assure they did what they could and didn't do anything wrong.  Once that inquiry was complete, the docs realized they had recorded brain activity just before and for several minutes after the point of death.  Two time periods stood out, there was a high level of brain activity in the 30 seconds before the heart stopped, the kind of activity that takes place when dreaming, or processing complex memories, and that same level of activity continued for about 30 seconds after the heart stopped.  There are not a lot of records like this, and very little published research, but it intrigues the researchers, that brain activity continued for 30 second after the heart stopped.  

When I was in undergrad I took a class in the legal and ethical issues of death and dying.  A class that changed my life.  The professor was brilliant, he would spend and hour making the case for one point of view, have the class convinced that we understood, take a 15 minute break, and then argue the opposing point of view and have us all convinced that the more we knew, the less we understood.  He taught complex and painful issues, with great compassion and understanding.  

He was also accidently a tenured professor.  He was a lawyer, teaching as a "visiting" professor.  He had read the college tenure rules, and figured his contract would not be renewed one summer, the number of years he had worked as a non-tenured professor has reached the limit.  His contract was renewed.  A few months later the dean called and said, you can't teach in the Spring, you have exceeded the limit for a visiting professor. He replied with "read the rules, when you renewed my contract for the fall, you accepted me as a tenured member of the faculty."  He was right.  He was also a huge asset to the college.  

I have worked in aging and issues of end of life health care decision making for about 25 years now.  I continue to be amazed at what we are learning, and how little we know.  

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Wednesday W's: Who, What, When, Where, Why

What is making me sad? My brother in law is on hospice care.  He has late stage urinary tract cancer. My sister sent me a text the other day, she had just finished pre-planning a funeral.  Sad for him, heartbreaking for my sister.  

What did I do recently?  I realized late last week, that I was up against the accrual limit on vacation time, so I took Friday off and made a four day weekend out of labor day.  Catching up on sleep. 

What have I been eating?  We are going out for dinner or ordering take out, while we are without a kitchen.   We are revisiting some old favorites, and sampling a few new to us restaurants. 

Who have I seen?  The remodeling crew shows up and works intensely for a few hours, then disappears, then comes back.  Progress has been rapid, if not steady.  I was so glad to see the appliance delivery guys deliver the last of the kitchen appliances - and one of them even spoke English.  

Where have we been?  Ikea - for kitchen drawer organizers.  I found what I want, and they don't have it in stock.  I found something I was not looking for, and bought it, along with a cart full of other stuff.  Smoked salmon this week for breakfast.  I enjoy the stores.  

Who have I talked with? My sweet bear and work.  That is about it. 

When is my next adventure?  In a couple of weeks we are scheduled to take a road trip, we will see family and friends along the way.  

Who deserves a slap? Anyone who can watch the mishandling of national security, and think that it is okay, and just something that happens.  Mishandled documents, lost and leaked information result in death for our sources. On a scale of 1 to 5, as many as it takes to knock some sense into some people. 

Who deserves an atta-boy?  Joe Biden for speaking up and saying what others are thinking.  Leadership is sticking your neck out and saying what needs to be said.  

Why have I been tense?   We have had boxes sitting around for the kitchen remodel since late April, hitting a peak three weeks ago.  I think I thrive in chaos, but this has gotten to me, along with a problem child in the office, and my brother in law.  There have been some challenging days.  I will make it.  

What have I been reading? Can You Make This Thing Go Faster? by Jeremy Clarkson.  A collection of his Sunday newspaper column.  Not always politically correct, but often funny. I needed a few laughs.  Next in que is "Talking to Crazy" another work related read.  



Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Travel Tuesday: Road Trips

We have an upcoming road trip.  I really only think about driving times, not distances when I am planning trips like this, the longest day of driving will be 6-7 hours. Overall distance 1,200 - 1,500 miles spread over a week or so.  

I am always surprised by friends in Europe who faint at the thought of 3 or 4 hours of driving in a single day, who are sure they will fall off the edge of the earth if they drive more than a 200 miles.  Living in north America, the land of vast distances, road trips can be thousands of miles.  I have driven from Washington DC to Florida, 850 miles in a single day several times (it is more pleasant to break that up into two days.) 

As we have gotten older, we try to limit driving to 6 or 7 hours in a day.  The trip from home to Lexington Kentucky is about about 9 -10 hours driving time, we usually break that into two days.  

I had to change my office schedule, around an unexpected meeting on the first day of the September road trip.  I cancelled a department meeting, we will leave early, and be in the hotel in time for the mid afternoon meeting.  It was either that or drive late, and I have reached the age where driving after dark is more difficult.  No reason to deny it, night time eye sight changes with age.  I can still do it, but it takes more concentration and that is tiring.  No reason to be driving in the mountains after dark.  

My first road trips were in early 1960's Mercurys.  My father had a couple of them in a row. My grandfather bought a new one every other year for 30 years, and my father would often buy his two year old one.  I saw one parked recently, and took this close up of the emblems.  

Monday, September 05, 2022

My Music Monday: Can't help falling in love

Simple, pure, and in a place I have been.  I also can't stop myself from singing along. 

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Sunday Five: Kitchen Essentials

  1.  Is a coffee maker essential in your kitchen? 
  2. Do you have a toaster oven in your kitchen? 
  3. Fresh ground pepper or pre-ground? 
  4. Olive oil, or whatever is on sale? 
  5. Any Olive Green appliances in your house? 
My answers:

  1.  Is a coffee maker essential in your kitchen? Yes, if you want me to have brain function before noon. 
  2. Do you have a toaster oven in your kitchen? No, never understood why anyone would use one. 
  3. Fresh ground pepper or pre-ground? Fresh ground, I have a Peugeot Pepper grinder. 
  4. Olive oil, or whatever is on sale? Olive Oil, extra virgin.  
  5. Any Olive Green appliances in your house? No longer, for a long time I had an olive green electric can opener / knife sharpener. It was a wedding gift to my ex, the first time she married a gay man. We parted with it, when we sold the other house.  
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Saturday Morning Post: Happy Blogiversary 18 Years

About 3600 posts
Over 27,000 comments
Nearly 700,000 views 

This adventure started 18 years ago today.  I had filled in as a guest blogger for Stephen, aka Uncle Bert, while he was away in France that summer.  One of my first posts for Bert was about a beauty contest I had been to see, at the state fair, and the winner was the fine young heifer above.  

My blogging was sporadic and inconsistent until 2015.  I decided I wanted to improve my writing (yes, I know this is the improved version), and I made a personal commitment to post everyday.  I have missed one day since the beginning of 2015.  

I do enjoy this.  I love sharing photographs, this gives me a place to ramble and rant.  I love interacting with you all.  Your comments are often the highlight of my day.  I try to respond to them.  We have made some incredible blog friends, and there are more bloggers we intent to meet when we can.  (Sharon, Sean, Mistress, Sophie).  

I intend to keep doing this, as long as I can.    

Friday, September 02, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Living in a culturally diverse area

One weekend this summer I went across the river to exotic Maryland, to the Gaylord National at National Harbor on my weekend walk.  National Harbor has a nice collection of shops and hotels.  And even a cassino.  There was a wedding party going on at the Gaylord National Hotel. What a wonderful colorful celebration of happiness.  Much of my life I lived in places where this would have been very out of place.  Even here it is not something you encounter every weekend, but cultural diversity exists here outside of the restaurant world.  

A reminder that we are all different in our own unique ways.  We are all seeking love and happiness.   A reminder that style extends beyond the suit and little black dress.  

Thursday, September 01, 2022

The Thursday Ramble: It is all in the details

When I first saw it, there were three things I didn't like about the condo, the two bathrooms and the kitchen.  Oh how I disliked the kitchen with cheap cabinets, formica butcher block countertops, and the layout.   

The two bathrooms were replaced in 2019 and 2020 (the second one during COVID.) The kitchen we started trying to do a year ago, and kept hitting roadblocks.  A contractor who wanted $15,000 before he would work with us to select cabinets and details.  An appliance dealer who wouldn't answer questions about availability. No response for weeks, months at a time.  We changed contractors, changed appliance suppliers to people who would give honest answers (if the answer is not in time, or I don't know, tell me that).  And in April signed a contract and paid for new appliances.  

The original kitchen had odd contrasts, the wall oven and cooktop - premium appliances, but really cheap cabinets.  The dishwasher and refrigerator had been updated, but the cooktop and oven were original from the 1980's.  But they worked.  The cooktop shorted out a couple of years ago, complete with sparks and smoke, and was replaced with a glass top - the only thing I could find in stock that somewhat fit the cut out in the counter top.  Everything else lasted until the start of the remodel.  The dishwasher had me worried a few times, but it washed the last load the night before meeting it's fate.  

I have spent years thinking, planning, working on details. I have read numerous design magazines.  Spent hours at Lowes, Home Depot and Ikea looking at cabinets and appliances.  In the end, I decided I wanted better cabinets, nicer finishes and we went with a specialty remodeler. Where the standard allowance for a kitchen sink is $150, I spent $500.  The standard allowance for backsplash tile was $350 - we spent $1,220.  You get the idea, we decided in for a penny - in for a pound. 

The best way to describe what we are doing is a gut job, take it back to the bare walls, and replace everything.  The only thing that stays is the washer/dryer. 

For the demolition, the contractor showed up with almost more people than would fit in the kitchen, an hour later there was an eerie silence, and went to check and they had left, they were done.  He had said they would pull everything out, and be back after lunch to haul everything away.  They were. 

I will take lots of photos, and post periodic updates.  

Timeline - about a month. Cost, about 25% more than I paid for my first house in 1982. 

The appliance guy called and the ovens should be delivered today! Everything else is stacked up in our rather limited space.  Ovens, I have dreamed of having two ovens, for that couple of times a year that I am cooking a big dinner.  The original oven was 24 inches wide, an unusually small size.  30 inch is standard.  Space is tight, so we compromised at 27 inch.  I dreamed about a stainless steel pyramid shaped range hood.  Meaning no over the range microwave.  In shopping higher end appliance dealers, we discovered something called a speed oven, it is a convection oven and microwave all in one.  And they build those in a double stack with a full size convection oven below and the speed oven above.  Kinda expensive, but it gives me what I want, in the space we have to work with.  


It is taking my breath away how fast things are moving.