Friday, September 23, 2011

Today, it's officially fall

Despite it being the autumnal equinox, the weather outside feels more like summer. It's warm and muggy - actually raining just now.  I much prefer the cool weather we had a few days ago.  Today is too wet to work outside.  I'll have to run the A/C in the house to do anything active inside - or maybe just change into shorts, T-shirt and bare feet!!  My house needs cleaning - maybe tomorrow?

I have started counting calories this week.  I'm trying to lose 10 pounds before the Christmas holidays.  I'll be happy if I manage to lose 5, but I figured I should aim high.  All I try to do is keep my daily intake of calories below 1200.  I'd like to get it to 1100 or less, but that may be impossible for me.  Anyway, I have always lost weight on 1200, so I'm hoping it still holds true.  So many things that used to be true of my body and the way it works are no longer true now that I am 70.  Bah!  Aging is such a nuisance!  I blew the diet yesterday because I ate macaroni and cheese in the cafeteria at Laurel Hospital, where I volunteer.  Usually, I don't eat their hot food because it seldom appeals to me, but the macaroni was really good. Way too many calories. Guess I'm going to eat salads at lunch on Thursdays from now on.

I was going to take some early fall photos outside today, but with the rain that is not practical.  There actually isn't much color in my neighborhood so far, but there is one tree near the library that is already turning red.  It is always the first to color up around here.  So if we get a non-rainy day soon and I walk to the library with my camera, I will snap a photo.  Speaking of the library: I'm trying to use the library more often and buy books less often.  Now that Borders is closed and there are no other bookstores in areas where I am frequently found, I find it's easier to resist book-buying.  Of course the library doesn't always have my favorite authors, or rather it does, but they are in high demand when a new book comes out.  I really am trying to only buy books by my favorite authors and just read all the rest from the library. 

And, who are my favorite authors, you ask?  In no particular order they are:  Mary Jo Putney, Nora Roberts (aka: J D Robb), Mary Balogh, Sandra Brown, Jan Burke, Robin Carr, Catherine Coulter, Justine Davis, Barbara Delinsky, Kathleen Eagle, Jane Feather, Laurie King, Jane Ann Krentz (aka: Amanda Quick) Rachel Lee, Debbie Macomber, Jill Patton Walsh, Dorothy Sayers, Judith Michael, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Karen Robards, Laverle Spencer, Patricia Veryan, Susan Wiggs, Gina Wilkens, Ruth Wind, Sherryl Woods.  Most of these authors are still writing, although Dorothy Sayers is dead and Laverle Spencer has stopped writing. 

You may notice that most of these authors write romances, with a few mystery writers thrown in.  Sadly, I have found that some of my favorite authors wrote better books when they were starting out than they do now.  I think it has to do with being pushed (by their publishers?)  to write more quickly.  The plots become less original and the main characters seem to be modeled on those from previous stories.  I still read their books, because I like their writing style and I keep hoping to find a really good one.  I am well aware that I mostly read 'junk books' which are entertaining, but have no literary value.  When I read, I want to be entertained and I want the books to have 'happy endings'.  I have to like the main characters too.  If I want tragedy and unpleasant characters, I just read the newspaper!  I don't watch TV at all, so I figure my reading uses the time that other people spend watching TV shows. 

I'm always open to try new authors and have recently started reading books by Jeffery Deaver. I'm not sure if I like his books or not.  I'm happy to have anyone recommend books to me, but I won't promise to read them all the way through, just to try them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's fall, really.

I suppose we will have some further HOT days, but for a couple of days now, it has felt like fall.  Of course, fall here in Maryland is nothing like fall in western NY where I grew up.  The cool weather came early and by Halloween, it was really cold.  I particularly remember having to wear coats over Halloween costumes - that spoiled the fun!  I think we had a Halloween parade in which the school band marched.  I can't remember details, except that despite our uniforms it was often very cold.  It's hard to play an instrument when your fingers are cold.  Here, of course, we often have warm weather in October.  Some years, my neighbors and I have sat outside to watch the 'trick or treaters' and enjoy an adult treat - a glass of wine. 

Anyway, I think fall is here, whether it stays cool or not.  Last weekend, I hauled boxes up from the basement storage room and switched my summer decorations (seashells, beach scenes, ceramic fish, etc.) for fall items - dried flowers and (artificial) colored leaves and berries.  I haven't put out the Halloween stuff yet - will wait a few weeks for that.  Most of that goes outside anyway.  I really enjoy changing my decor seasonally.  There is a down side, however, which is having to lift and carry boxes up and down the stairs.  Inevitably, no matter how carefully I lift, I end up straining my back.  This time, it wasn't serious - just a bit sore for a few days - thank goodness.  I may have to find smaller boxes, as the big ones are getting too heavy for me to life.  Actually, of course, the boxes are the same weight they have always been, it's my age that makes them feel heavier!  Getting old is such an annoyance! Here are some photos of my fall decor in the house.

I need to do some outdoor work this weekend, if it doesn't rain.  I'm almost afraid to tackle the back yard where all the plants grew profusely during all that rain we had.  I actually can't get down from my deck without breaking some branches of the beauty bush, the butterfly bush and the hydrangea.  I cut them back every year, but evidently not enough!  Still haven't edged the front lawn, either.  And now it needs to be cut again.  At least there aren't any leaves to rake so far.  We have only one small tree close by, but the leaves from other trees somehow find their way into my yard.  Still, there never very many leaves to rake.  I really don't mind that chore.

I've been home only 9 days, but already have a busy schedule for Sept. and Oct.  Weekends are filling up with a visit to a local museum in early Oct. and a craft show at the end of the month.  My weekday schedule is about the same as usual, although at the moment, I'm not teaching the ceramics class in Beltsville.  We don't have enough students to justify holding the class.  We need at least six.  I think we have six people who plan to come, but they have not signed up so far and we can't start the class until they do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Home at last

I haven't been blogging for the last few weeks because I was in England, visiting my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.  The weather was cool and damp for the first two weeks, but turned very nice the last week I was there.  We managed to do some outdoor stuff, including two different trips to places where we could climb a hill and enjoy a lovely view.  Kate and I had a chance to visit an historic home without the kids and also into London to the Tate Modern, with only Sarah accompanying us.  Sarah and I didn't care much for Miro, but we all enjoyed the rest of the museum.  Olivia and I toured the Victoria and Albert Museum, looking at glass, jewelry and home furnishings.  One day Geoff's brother John met us in London and we all went to Greenwich by boat.  Despite the rain, we enjoyed a lovely lunch and toured the Observatory. John is a lot like Geoff and it was such a treat to see the two brothers together. Kate and Alex and I went to Kew on a lovely sunny day. We went up into the treetops walk.  I wasn't sure I could manage the height, but it didn't bother me and it was fun being up above the trees.

All in all, it was a good visit.  I got home just in time for a week of rain - which I sincerely hope is over as of yesterday!

I will post a few photos of my trip.  If you want more, they are on flickr.  at

 Olivia is flying the kite on Juniper Top, one of the hills we climbed.  The path up is not difficult, even Grandmas like me can get up easily.  Geoff spent his time on the top looking for wild orchids, which he found.  They aren't much to look at, but still fun to search for and find.  I took lots of photos of wildflowers on our various excursions.
 Here's another climb we made.  This is the view from a hill in an area called the South Downs.  We met up with a friend of Geoff's from work and hiked up a rather steep hill.  The view was definitely worth it.  Lots of wildflowers growing along the trail.  As you can see, it was a beautiful day.  After the climb, we ate dinner in a local pub.  I had a very English meal - drank cider and ate fish and chips. 
 This is one of the interesting glass objects we saw at the V & A.  I took many photos, but won't bore you with more.  I realize not everyone is crazy about glass and pottery!  There are MANY more on my flickr pages.
 At the V&A there is a long gallery which one must walk along to access the other galleries.  We were in it several times, as we tried to get to where we wanted to be.  Olivia is better than I at navigating inside the museum, but we still had some trouble finding our way around.  This is one of the sculptures in the long gallery.  I really like this face, so gentle and lovely.
 This is one of the buildings at Kew.  I think they are called conservatories.  Basically, huge greenhouses.  Some have tropical plants, some desert plants, some have orchids.  Whatever won't survive the English climate outside is grown inside.  Kew has acres of gardens, some areas just natural, others landscaped with flowers, etc.  It's a great place for picnics.  We ate lunch under a tree near the playground, but Alex didn't want to play, so we just got our ice cream cones and headed off to climb up into the trees.  I don't have photos from the treetops.  The trees were in the way!