Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall is here - brrrr

We had such a warm fall until recently, that a couple of frosty nights have been quite a shock.  I think last night was another chilly one.  Yep, I see the car windshield is covered with frost.  I'm glad I brought the last of the iris inside to finish blooming in a vase.  (If you read my Facebook posts you know that I have a re-blooming iris which waits until November to produce the second round of blooms - stupid plant!)   Anyway, I am enjoying the blooms in my kitchen now.  I'm sure the remainder outside are frozen.

This has been the most beautiful fall I've seen here in Maryland.  Our native trees mostly turn gold, rather than red, so some years the color show is rather bland.  Not this year!  We've been treated to several weeks of wonderful reds, golds and browns in a brilliant contrast to the evergreens.  Everywhere I look, the colors are a vivid treat!  I've tried to take some photos, but one really needs a video to show the contrasting colors that can be seen walking or driving along the roads.

Fall is moving right along now.  Just a few weeks until Thanksgiving.  Where does the time go?  This year I am eating Thanksgiving dinner with a friend from pottery class and her family.  She invited me to join them after I mentioned that I would be alone this year.  I don't know this person very well, although I enjoy chatting with her in class.  It will be interesting and perhaps a little awkward to be with someone else's family, but certainly better than being alone.  I had been hoping for an invitation from my brother who lives within driving distance of me, but hadn't heard a thing from him, so when my friend invited me, I accepted happily.  Yesterday, I called my brother to see if there was a weekend when I could drive over to see him and my sister-in-law.  And he said (I"m sure you guessed this), that he had just written a letter to me, inviting me to come for Thanksgiving!!  What's that old saying - it never rains, but it pours?  Anyway, I told him I already had plans for Thanksgiving, but would come to see them another weekend. 

I really love fall, although I'm not that keen on cleaning up the dead plants and putting away the summer outside decorations.  I have a lot of outdoor decorative stuff (ceramic animals that I have made; mini garden tools and watering cans that hang on the trellises; balls and insects (and one flamingo) that sit on poles and wave in the wind, and many wooden birdhouses) all of which must be cleaned off and stored away inside for the winter.  I brought most of the stuff in this week, although the flamingo is still out there, as are some of the birdhouses, but I'll get to them soon.  Unfortunately, I have run out of boxes in which to store these objects, as well as run out of space in the basement storage room for the boxes.  I don't think I am actually one of those 'hoarders' who never throw anything away and have stacks of stuff everywhere in their house.  However, I do seem to acquire more decorative items than I get rid of.  I'm trying to get control of this, but I just love going to yard sales or bazaars and picking up cute little things.  In fact, this weekend and next there are several such sales that I may be visiting.  Perhaps there is no hope for me and someday I will be found buried under piles and piles of stuff in the basement!!! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Comeback, maybe

I've not blogged for quite a while.  I think it's because I've been using Facebook a great deal and so much of the information/chatting that I used to blog is now on Facebook.  However, there is a lot more space available for writing on a blog, so I"m going to see if I can get into that again.

The most exciting thing that has occurred in my life since I last blogged is a birth of a new granddaughter.  After many years of waiting and trying, my son and daughter-in-law have a baby girl - born in late July, 2013.  My daughter, other grandchildren, and son-in-law came from England to visit me this summer and we all flew out to Arizona to see little Elise.  She was only a couple of weeks old when we saw her and I think we all fell in love with her.  The few days we were in AZ were busy ones, especially as we all (including Elise) drove up the the Grand Canyon one day.  Some of us had seen it before, but it's still an amazing sight.  We didn't get many good photos because it was drizzling rain all day, but it was worth the trip.

I can't seem to find the few photos I took of the Grand Canyon trip, but I did find these of my grandchildren holding their new cousin.

 Sarah (brown hair), Alex, and Olivia (blond) cuddling the baby.  They all wanted to hold her and there was some arguing about whose turn it was.  Aunt Kate and Grandma Kathy also did some cuddling.  I had forgotten how small new babies.

Of course, by this time I have a whole bunch of photos of Elise.  Steve and Christine are very good about posting many photos on Facebook, so I get to see the baby as she grows.  She is about 3 months old now - much more of a person - as you can see in the last photo.  I can't seem to get this text where I want it, or actually it's that I can get the photos where I want them.  I was able to do this before Blogger changed things.  Changes are not always improvements.   I'm going to stop now, but I will try to get back into blogging - maybe once a week?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Florida trip

I think spring is finally here, although snow is predicted for tonight and tomorrow, so maybe it's still winter, despite what the groundhog didn't see.  I have a front flower bed bursting with mini daffodils.  They look so spring-like.  Also a bush (tree?) by my front door is blooming.  It's a mahonia, commonly known as grape holly.  (computer doesn't know how to spell the name and neither do I!)  The yellow blossoms have a very sweet odor that attracts bees and flies when the weather is warm enough for those insects.  I love walking out the front door and sniffing that lovely odor.  After the blooming, the bush produces little purple berries that look a bit like grapes - thus the common name.  The catbird and the robins will fight over those berries!  Also, the leaves have points on the ends (like holly).  The thing was just a small plant when I bought it, maybe 8 years ago.  It is now about 5 feet tall and about 4 feet wide.  I keep cutting it back every year.  ( I think it can grow to 20 feet, which will not be acceptable in its current location.  Thus the trimming.) 

Recently I spent a week in Florida visiting my brother Tom and sister-in-law Peggy.  I enjoyed the visit, despite the cold weather.  The day I got home, it was warmer here in Maryland than it had been when I left Florida.  I did go over to the beach one day.  I walked along the water line for about 20 minutes and then spent several hours checking out all the very expensive stores along the ocean drive.  I didn't buy anything, but it's interesting to see what the rich folks spend money on. 

Luckily, I don't go down there for the weather, but to see family.  They are in their mid-eighties and doing pretty well for that age.  Both are deaf.  Peggy has hearing aids, which she will wear, but says they don't help much.  Tom denies that he has a problem, because we are shouting at him, so he can hear us.  He keeps putting off getting tested - probably because he knows he will need hearing aids. 

The flight from Baltimore to Orlando was interesting.  I arrived in Baltimore and went directly to security because I didn't have any luggage to be checked.  (I'm too cheap to pay $25 each way just so I can take a few more items with me.)  After I passed security I began to look for area C, which was where my gate would be.  I finally found a sign and followed it, only to discover that at the end of a corridor the sign said, "Leaving secured area".   The signs for C were pointing out, so I followed them and finally found another security checkpoint, just for C people.  I was cleared again.  Boarding the flight was the usual confusion, but I found my seat and stowed my carry-on.  Then we sat and sat.  After about 35 minutes, they announced that the plane had a problem that couldn't be fixed, so we were told to get off with our carry-on luggage.  We left the plane, walked down a corridor and - surprise! - had to go through security again!  The rest of the flight was uneventful and we arrived only about one and a half hours late.

 Of course Tom and Peggy had been in the terminal at Orlando for hours, as they had arrived early.  Luckily they had eaten lunch, so I just grabbed a sandwich and we headed up to the parking garage.  Tom didn't remember the aisle number, but said that the car was on the top level over near the edge.  It wasn't there.  Tom and I walked up and down all the rows of cars on that level and some on the next level down, looking for the car.  All I knew about it was that it was a  white Toyota with a black stripe and a license plate that had a Z in it.  I did find a car that met those criteria, but it had an ashtray full of cigarette butts, so I knew it wasn't theirs.  Finally I found a person who was one of the parking lot personnel.  She called someone in a truck and he took Tom to go look for the car.  Peggy and I waited.  Luckily it was warm and sunny.  Now, you have to understand that the parking garage is enormous and there are actually two of them - A and B.  The truck driver asked Tom where his car was parked and Tom replied' B'.  The driver then said, 'But this is A.'  They found the car right where Tom thought it was, but in the other parking building! 

The rest of my visit was very uneventful.  It was sunny every day, but so windy that it felt cold.  We didn't do any outdoor things, like going bird watching.  Peggy and I went to a couple of thrift shops - I bought a pair of trousers for $2 - a real steal!  I need them because I had brought only warm weather clothes with me.  We ate dinner out twice, which I always enjoy.  We did visit a couple of nurseries because Tom and Peggy are giving up on annual plants and are going to fill the garden room flower beds with perennials.  Tom and I selected some shade plants - ferns and suchlike.  They will go back and get plants for the sunny bed.   The day before I left, I took their car and drove around Vero, searching for thrift stores and antique dealers.  Didn't buy much, but enjoyed looking.

It was a good trip, but I'm really glad to be home.

Monday, February 18, 2013

More online problems

I'm still having to put in my entire 'key' in order to get my online connection.  The computer keeps latching onto an unprotected connection, which is evidently somewhere in my neighborhood.  It is much weaker (fewer bars) than the connection I am supposed to have.  I will call Comcast again today and see what they can do about this issue.  I REALLY do not want to have to type in 16 digits every time I want to go online!!

I'm also having a problem with my phone, but this I can't blame on Comcast, as it has been going on for quite while now.  When I talk to Kate (in England) she hears lots of noise on the line, although I do not hear any.  Sometimes the situation is reversed and I hear noise and she doesn't.  I don't know if it's my phone, hers, or something in the connection.  I seldom use my phone otherwise, so don't know if it's a common occurrence or just when I call England.  Next time I call her I will use the only phone in the house that is not cordless and see if the noise still persists.  If that phone is clear, then I think my cordless phones are going bad or need new batteries or ???   It's lovely having all these gadgets that make my life easier, until something goes wrong with them. 

Another annoying thing here in the house is a really bad odor that I sometimes smell in the basement.  I think it's a dead mouse, but have not seen any other evidence of mice.  The odor was strong last week, then seemed to vanish, but it was back yesterday.  More than one dead mouse?  Dead mice usually only smell bad for a couple of days.  (Voice of experience)  Maybe I have a whole nest  of mice?  I sure hope not.  No food available for them in the basement, unless they like cardboard (lots of boxes down there).  And, no water source that I know of.  I really don't want to start searching for dead critters, so am hoping the smell will go away on its own.

This is such a negative blog, sorry about that.  Actually my life is going along pretty well.  I'm busy and, as is often the case, my activities are conflicting with each other.  On Saturday I need to be at two places at once.  The compromise is that I'll leave one early and arrive at the other late.  I hope that works out ok.   I will go to the church leadership retreat in the AM and do whatever they want me for (a committee report).  I will then leave and go to the Raku firing here in Laurel.  I only have a few pieces to be fired, and we usually don't get started until noon, so hopefully I will still have time to get my stuff fired.  Raku is slow because there is only one small kiln.  I don't know how many people will be firing stuff.  There is only one Raku class, but people in other classes may bring their pieces for firing.

I'll post a photo of my work sometime after Saturday.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

me and Comcast

A week or so, a very persistent salesman from Comcast came to my house.  He actually came back a few days after the initial visit, when I told him I needed time to consider switching from Verizon.  I have not been thrilled with Verizon lately, mostly because they raised by rates a while back.  Anyway, I signed a contract with Comcast, getting Internet, Phone and TV for just about the same price I had been paying for just phone and Internet. 

The installer came on Monday.  He had a bit of difficulty finding the Comcast cable in the house.  We found one "outlet", but it wasn't live.  He said the cable came into the basement near the outdoor water faucet.  To connect there, he would have to drill a hole in the wall, which is behind my bookcases or perhaps he could run the cable along the door sill and come in behind the TV.  Before he did this, however, he poked around some more in the beams in the basement ceiling.  He climbed up on the clothes dryer and Eureka! found the cable.  So then he proceeded to hook it up. All seemed to go well.  The new router is in my bedroom, because he needed to put it near where telephone wires exist and where there is an elect outlet.  (I now know why Verizon put the router in the basement near where the phone wires come in.

Anyway, when he left Monday, all was working.  However, when I when online Tuesday AM, things were not working properly.  I logged onto the computer, but couldn't get into my email or anything else.  So I called Comcast and they sent the tech back yesterday afternoon.  He checked the router and then said, "I think I know what the problem is".  It turns out that the outlet where he connected the router is controlled by a wall switch.  There is a light plugged into that outlet.  I turn the light off and on using the switch.  Since that is my bedroom, I turned off the light (and the outlet) when I went to bed Monday night.  The router worked using it's battery until the battery wore out, then no connections and no phone!  All is well now, except that I am waiting for a new battery. 

I think in retrospect, this is very funny.  Neither the tech nor I thought about the possibility of the outlet being turned off!  I'm afraid it says something about my life, when the most exciting thing that happens to me is the kerfuffle with Comcast.  Actually, I am very happy that my life usually does not have anything exciting happening.  I like having activities every day, with lots of free time in between.

We did have a lovely bit of snow last night.  I was at my pottery class and went outside to watch huge snowflakes come down.  The snow didn't stick to roads or sidewalks and will all melt today, if the weather prediction for 60 degrees is correct. Here's the snow on my artificial poinsettias.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I see it's been quite a while since I wrote on this blog.  I guess I've been putting short messages up on Facebook and neglecting the blog.  I will try to do better this year, but no guarantees.

Not much happening in my life recently.  I will be doing some traveling this winter/spring and will blog about that after the fact. 

 Here are some random photos from my files since I last posted. 

The first photo is  couple of Raku pieces I made back in the fall.  The pot has faces all around it.
 This bowl/pot also has faces imbedded in it. 
This shows what I did last year in the backyard.  I have a collection of antique tools which have been hanging on my fences.  They were looking a bit dull, so I used spray paint to make them colorful!