Hm… I need to make the scraped parts thinner.
Today was as close to a perfect day as it gets. It started with a cup of peach tea with honey and a slice of toasted Anadama Bread with homemade apple butter for breakfast. Yum.
I was able to spend a few minutes visiting with my friend Connie.
Brett and I went geocaching and found all three of the caches we looked for.
The weather was gorgeous.
We discovered an interesting place we didn’t know was there.
And since Brett was there, he made the climb up to get the cache. (I could have made it up the slope, but not back down. Downhill is murder on bad knees.)
I had the foresight to freeze some leftover spaghetti a few weeks ago and we got home in time to heat it up and toast some garlic bread for supper before leaving to see a play at the local community theater. The Fox on the Fairway was very funny and well acted. (Absolutely loved the Muriel character/actress.)
Now I’m sitting up way to late watching Corpse Bride. Such a bizarre little movie.
Tomorrow and Monday are supposed to be beautiful days too. I haven’t looked at the forecast beyond Monday… I hope the weather holds through Friday. It’s always so much more fun sitting in the front yard handing out candy and cider when it’s not freezing and windy and sleeting.
What are you up to this weekend?
I just finished sorting through a couple of boxes filled with old costumes. Most were Krysten’s Halloween costumes; there were also a couple of her old recital costumes, some school project costumes, a few miscellaneous ones, plus some hats and headbands. There were at least a dozen costumes, of which only two were purchased. Four were made by my mother and I made the rest.
The costumes I made include Snow White, a jester, a fairy with huge butterfly wings, a clown, a pilgrim and Cleopatra. I’d take photos of them to share with you, but they’re pretty wrinkled. The butterfly wings are in pretty good shape, though.
I must say, I’m impressed with younger self. I am not artsy-craftsy and sewing is always an exercise in patience. I remember struggling with those wings; that fabric was so slippery! The jester hat… the Snow White collar… the pilgrim bonnet… I remember sewing and ripping out over and over. I also remember making costumes that weren’t in the boxes I sorted tonight – Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and so many clowns I lost count – mostly for my friends’ kids.
There’s no real point to this post; all those costumes were so tiny I was just feeling nostalgic.
I tend to keep myself fairly busy with volunteer work, tai chi classes, water aerobics, geocaching and other activities. When I’m in a group situation like, say, a party or a water aerobics class, I usually don’t talk much with the other people there unless I’ve been around them enough to feel comfortable. I’ve been going to water aerobics for three or four years now, so I have no problem chatting with the instructor (Betsy) and one or two of the old-timers who are regulars. Tonight, for some bizarre reason, I forgot that I don’t talk to strangers in group activities and was immediately reminded why.
There were several new faces at water aerobics and the activities director for the pool was teaching the class instead of our usual instructor. She does a more intense cardio workout than Betsy. I like the cardio workouts fine, but they are much more tiring and some of the moves and combinations are kind of complicated. There was an older lady near me in the water who was struggling. After 35 or 40 minutes, she began mumbling about not ‘getting’ a move, or not being able to do it, or not keeping up. I started to speak to her a few times, but didn’t. Finally, because she looked so discouraged and I didn’t want her to give up on the class, I tried to offer her some encouragement.
“She doesn’t usually teach this class,” I said, nodding toward the instructor, “It’s usually not quite this intense.”
The lady bellowed, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE’S NOT THE TEACHER? I STARTED UNDER HER! SHE’S THE TEACHER!”
Of course the instructor heard the bellow; it could probably be heard in Timbuktu. She looked questioningly at the lady, who bellowed some more.
“SHE SAID YOU’RE NOT THE TEACHER! I STARTED UNDER YOU; YOU’RE THE TEACHER!!”
I was mortified; it felt like I was back in fifth grade being tattled on by the class bully.
“Not on Wednesday night,” the instructor said.
“YES YOU ARE! I STARTED UNDER YOU!”
“I only teach on Wednesday night when Betsy isn’t here.”
“WELL ALL YOU NAKED WOMEN LOOK ALIKE TO ME!”
So… that moment of sympathy should last me another three or four years.
I’m not even going to count getting dressed (never fear, I DID get dressed).
And then I got really busy! Once I leave here, I’ll rush home, put supper in the oven, set some aside for Brett and take the rest with me to our end of summer barbershop chorus potluck. It’s no wonder I’m always so tired when I go to bed on Monday night.
What did you do this morning?
I took a shower this morning and noticed that the shower curtain liner needed to be washed, so I will be up late tonight mopping the kitchen floor.
Some of you probably do not require an explanation for that statement; for those who do, read on.
The buildup on the shower curtain liner and the bottom of the bathtub eventually reaches a level that even I can see while in the shower without my glasses. And even I, with my high tolerance of disgusting bathtub gunk due to my low tolerance for scrubbing things and the fact that we generally only use that bathtub for showering, saw, was repelled, and took action. Vini, vidi, vici.
The first step, of course, was to remove the shower curtain liner and stuff it in the washing machine with some hot water and bleach. In removing the liner, I had to remove the decorative shower curtain and I noticed it had acquired some dirty smudges, so I removed it for washing as well.
That was the easy part; the bathtub, however, presents several challenges. My low tolerance for scrubbing things is mostly caused by the pain in my knees, hands and wrists from arthritis. I can’t kneel on the floor and I can’t grip a scrub brush for very long. For the bathtub, there is the added complication of the tall side of the tub, making it somewhere in between excessively difficult and impossible for my short arms and shorter waist to reach over the side to the bottom of the tub. So I have to get creative, which means rolling up my pant legs, standing in the tub and pushing the scrub brush around with my foot.
Mission accomplished; tub clean; pedicure ruined.
Now that the tub is clean I thought I should grab the opportunity to disinfect the jets. This is an easy process of filling the tub with warm water to a level above the jets, dumping in some bleach, pushing the button to turn on the jets and letting it run for awhile.
Except as I was filling the tub, I remembered the last time I did this, and how I walked into the bathroom to turn off the jets and discovered they’d been shooting water all over the walls, cabinets and throw rugs. So I removed the rugs, the scale, the hamper and the trashcan and swept the floor before turning on the jets.
Okay, I’m in good shape now.
Except with all that stuff off the floor, I can now see how grimy the tiles have gotten and I really should mop. I learn from past mistakes, though; I’m not mopping until the jets are finished.
And then I’ll be done.
Except I’ve got a bucket of mop water that’s only been used on that tiny bathroom floor and maybe I should mop the kitchen floor while I’m in mopping mode.
Except I wanted to make cookies today and that will probably get flour on the floor so I should wait until after I make cookies to mop the kitchen.
Except I have to teach a class tonight, which is why I’m making cookies, and I have to be there by 5:30 which means I have to leave at 5:00 so I won’t have time to mop the floor until after I get home around 10:00.
So, to recap:
I took a shower this morning and noticed that the shower curtain liner needed to be washed, so I will be up late tonight mopping the kitchen floor.
It makes perfect sense.
There was a thing going around Facebook last week where you’re supposed to list 10 books that have stuck with you over the years for whatever reason. I did that. I did it last time it went around, too. I’m sure at least half the books I listed were different because I’m from a hardcore reading family. We always had piles of books laying around the house because seven people were constantly in the middle of reading a book. We had shelves and shelves of books… thousands of books. We bought books at junk stores, antique stores, thrift stores and garage sales. When the roof was blown off our house during a hurricane, Mom salvaged as many books as she could, laying them outside to dry in the sun, in neat rows that filled our driveway from the garage to the street, and the sidewalk from one end of our property to the other. Books were important to us.
Whenever that “List 10 Books…” thing goes around, I list the first ten books I think of that I enjoy going back and rereading. I’d like to make another booklist, though; a list of the first books I read that got me started reading a particular author, series, or genre of book. These will be listed in the order I think of them and the number will be wherever I stop.
EDIT: I know this is long, but it’s in list form, so it seems shorter.
1. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman. This is the first book in the Mrs. Pollifax series about a 60-something-year-old widow who is feeling at loose ends in her life and decides to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a spy. I adore Mrs. Pollifax. There are 14 books in the series and I recently reread them all. The first five are still my favorites, even though they are quite dated now. I’ve also read most of Dorothy Gilman’s other novels. A Nun in the Closet is my favorite of her non-Pollifax books.
2. The Anodyne Necklace is the third book in Martha Grimes’ series featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Richard Jury and the wacky villagers of Long Piddleton, including the no-longer-Earl of Caverness, Melrose Plant, who gave up his titles, but trots out his Lord Ardry calling cards when the occasion calls for it. The characters, particularly Richard Jury and Melrose Plant, are what drew me in and sent me scurrying to the bookstore for the first two books in a series that now consists of 23 novels. (In looking up that number, I discovered a new title that was released this summer! Woohoo!)
3. The Three Musketeers – The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood – Treasure Island – I’m not sure which of these books I read first as a child, but one of them led to the others, which led to more adventure stories. All three of these books remain favorites that I enjoy reading over and over again.
4. Flint, by Louis L’Amour – This was the first Western novel I ever read. Although the Sackett series became my favorite L’Amour novels, I have a special place in my heart for the rich man from the big city who returned to the desert to die and found a new/old life instead.
5. Dragon On a Pedestal, by Piers Anthony – It was late at night and my next door neighbor was jonesing for something new to read. He asked if I wanted to accompany him on a quick run to the bookstore. I wandered aimlessly through the stacks until the cover of this book, featuring a little blonde girl in a frilly dress petting a dragon, caught my eye. I bought it and didn’t get too far into the story before realizing it was part of a series of books about a magical land filled with puns. In fact, it was the 7th book in the Xanth series, which now numbers 39 books and I’m way behind. Joy! New books to read! The first two books in the series – A Spell for Chameleon, and The Source of Magic - remain my favorites.
6. Borrower of the Night, by Elizabeth Peters – I checked this out of the tiny library in the small town where I graduated high school. It featured a strong, independent, highly educated young woman, Dr. Vicky Bliss, as the protagonist. That appealed to me, as did the humor and the twist on the traditional gothic novel. I loved reading everything I could find written by Elizabeth Peters or Barbara Michaels (the other name under which the late Barbara Mertz wrote). The best thing about Borrower of the Night, though, is that it led me to the author, which in turn led to Crocodile On the Sandbank and the next 18 books in the Amelia Peabody series. (I think that will be the next series of books I reread.)
7. One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich – Many years ago, my mother-in-law sent me a box of books she’d read that she thought I’d like. This book and the next three in the Stephanie Plum series were included. It took me a while to get around to reading One for the Money, but once I did, I laughed all the way through it, quickly devoured the next three books, and then drove to the nearest Barnes & Noble (in another state!) to buy the one other book that had been published up to that time. The series now numbers 21 books. The quality of the writing has fallen off as the author is involved in a lot of projects, but the characters are still fun. Readers are divided into the Morelli camp and the Ranger camp, but my favorite character is still Grandma Mazur, the terror of Trenton’s funeral homes.
8. Storm Front, by Jim Butcher – This book introduced me to Harry Dresden, hardboiled Chicago P.I. and wizard. There are currently 15 books in the Dresden Files series and reading them is a wild ride. Wizards, faeries, vampires, archangels, demons, werewolves… Not the type of book I ever imagined myself enjoying, but the author sucked me right into that world and I find myself eagerly awaiting the next installment.
9. The Clue of the Black Keys, by Carolyn Keene – My grandmother gave me this book one summer for Christmas. She never could get around to mailing Christmas gifts in December, and once Christmas was past, she figured she may as well save the postage and give us our gifts when we visited on summer vacation. This was my very first Nancy Drew book and after reading it, I spent the entire summer reading one or two Nancy Drews a day until I’d caught up on the series and ruined my eyesight. I still have a box filled with my old Nancy Drew books and a shelf of the old Blue Nancys (the original stories from the 30s and 40s – much better written than the updated versions, although with a few wince-inducing racist moments that were probably the main reason for the rewrites). Nancy Drew introduced me to the mystery genre which, as you can tell, is my favorite.
10. The Mitford Snowmen, by Jan Karon – A friend gave me this tiny book about a small town snowman building competition for Christmas one year. It was my introduction to Father Tim, Uncle Billy, and the rest of the Mitford gang. I own all 9 of the Mitford books and both of the Father Tim books. And as I checked online to make sure my numbers were correct, I saw that, after ending the series in 2006, Jan Karon has written a new Mitford book that will be released tomorrow!
11. The Family Vault – Rest You Merry, by Charlotte MacLeod – I’m not sure which of these books I read first; each of them is the first book in a series by the late author, Charlotte MacLeod. The Family Vault introduces Boston Brahmin Sarah Kelling Kelling, and art investigator Max Bittersohn. Although the first book is filled with tragedy, the series that follows lightens up considerably and features some of the more eccentric members of Sarah’s family. Rest You Merry introduces Peter Shandy, professor at a small agricultural college in Balaclava County, Massachussetts and (like me) a compulsive counter. As the series progresses, you get to know and love the quirky campus faculty and its imposing (and hilarious) President Thorkjeld Svenson. Through these books, I also discovered The Grub and Stakers series and the Madoc Rhys series, set in Canada and written under the pen name Alisa Craig. I was heartbroken when Ms. MacLeod died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2005.
12. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie – I remember living in a tiny studio apartment in Orlando, with all of our possessions in storage in Arkansas, my husband spending 16 or 18 hours a day at the Navy Nuclear Power School, and being bored out of my mind. There was a library in the shopping center a few blocks downhill from our apartment complex and I walked down there one day and, remembering my mother’s fondness for Agatha Christie, grabbed this book. I returned it the next day and checked out as many Agatha Christie books as I could carry up the hill. I eventually read every Christie book in that library. When we moved to Idaho Falls later that year, I found “new” Christies in the library there. Ditto when we moved to Honolulu the following year. I’m not sure how long it took me, but I eventually read all of her books and her autobiography, and have seen several of the movies based on her books. And Then There Were None was my introduction to grown-up mystery novels.
13. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien – When I was 16, my parents went to New Orleans for a week and left me in charge of the house and my two younger siblings. Mom had asked a young neighbor couple to look in on us and one day the wife brought over her favorite books, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, to loan me. From, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” to, “Well, I’m back.” I was hooked on every word. As soon as my parents returned I got my dad to buy me a set and for the next 30 years or so I reread them once a year. I think it was three years later and we were living in Arkansas when I accompanied my dad on a buying trip to Dallas. While there, we went to a Sanger-Harris store and I saw a display of The Silmarillion. Dad bought it for me for Christmas, admonishing me to act surprised when I opened it. I love that book almost as much as the trilogy, but I don’t read it nearly as often because it’s a much more complicated story. I have most of Tolkien’s novels. He was my introduction to the fantasy genre and I consider him one of the greatest writers of any genre.
14. Whose Body?, by Dorothy Sayers – I didn’t think any mystery writer could ever hold a candle to Agatha Christie. I was wrong. It was actually the PBS series Mystery that introduced me to Lord Peter Wimsey. After reading the books, he has become my favorite detective character. Well, he and Bunter because what would Lord Peter do without Bunter? I love Lord Peter so much, the one thing on my “will not leave without seeing” list for Oxford was Balliol College, the very real Oxford college the fictional Lord Peter attended.
15. The Silver Chalice, by Thomas B. Costain – This was on the bookshelf in my 8th grade English classroom and my teacher was thrilled to let me borrow it. I think the thrill was more that one of her students was actually borrowing a book than it was about the particular book. This was my introduction to the historical novel (I consider The Three Musketeers to be in the adventure genre). The book begins with the richest man in Antioch adopting the son of one of the poorest men in Antioch and takes the reader on an epic journey through Antioch, Jerusalem and Rome in the years after the crucifixion of Jesus. I loved this book so much I sought out other Costain novels. This one is still my favorite, but I also enjoyed The Tontine.
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling – Back in 2000 when the fourth Harry Potter book was about to come out, our local newspaper was besieged with a Letter to the Editor campaign probably instigated by a local conservative fundamentalist Christian church. The book wasn’t even out yet, but the letters were filled with dire warnings of all the evil it contained. I thought I remembered a bunch of letters in the newspaper when the third book was published and I became curious what all the fuss was about, so I went out and purchased the first Harry Potter book. I was enchanted. When I finished reading the first one, I immediately bought the second and third books. I could hardly bear the wait for the fourth book. I convinced my daughter that she would like the books and she devoured them. When a visiting missionary friend saw them on the coffee table, she read them and loved them. Needless to say, the letter writing campaign backfired at my house. I read the entire series every couple of years, and I still cry in all the same places. (Not for Sirius Black, though; he had gotten pretty whiny and annoying by the time he died.)
Okay, I’ll stop here because everyone probably stopped reading somewhere around Louis L’Amour. Have you read any of these books? What books have you read that introduced you to a series, author or genre that you love?
Considering that I’ve been largely homebound for the past three weeks, you’d think I would have used some of that time to update my blog. You’d be wrong. I thought about it several times, but that’s about as far as I got before my pounding head said, “If you spend more than five minutes on the computer, I will explode.” So I opted to preserve my head.
Here’s what’s been happening lately:
1. I spent a Saturday afternoon hiking around a botanical garden. That night I had the worst foot cramps I’ve ever experienced. I blamed my old hiking boots, and I still think they are part of the problem, but the next morning around 5:00 I woke up with severe back spasms. Maybe still caused by the boots and the hiking, but as the day wore on I developed a fever, cramps in my legs, and general feelings of crapiosity that lasted until Thursday morning.
2. On Thursday morning, I woke up and thought, “Hey! I feel okay this morning!” I went out and ran a bunch of errands that I should have done earlier but didn’t because I was sick. By the time I got home, I had a sore throat. By the time I got up on Friday morning, I had a cough and a fever — again.
3. I dragged myself out of the house last Saturday and went back to the botanical garden for a geocaching event I was supposed to be helping with. I spent the event mostly sitting behind a table accepting money and handing out pathtags.
4. While I was sick, I read somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 books.
5. I keep getting heartburn. I ate peanut butter and honey on toast for lunch and got heartburn. Soon I’ll be subsisting on bananas and applesauce.
6. I’m very low on energy, but feeling better except for the heartburn. I’ve been trying to ease myself back into my routine this week. I managed 45 minutes at church on Sunday, 3 hours at the Red Cross on Monday, 30 minutes at tai chi on Tuesday, and 40 minutes at the pool on Wednesday. I came home exhausted each day.
7. When I got home on Monday, my street was barricaded. It’s still barricaded. It’s a dead-end street. Luckily, our awesome neighbor Gloria is allowing all of us who live on this end of the street to use her driveway, which goes all the way through to the alley behind her house, on the other side of which is a parking lot, which connects to the main street through town. As long as whoever owns the parking lot doesn’t block access, we’ll be able to keep parking in our driveway.
8. My hair is getting long again. I keep thinking I’ll grow it out and then one day I wake up and it’s driving me nuts and I call my hairdresser and tell her it’s an emergency.
9. I’m also way overdue for a pedicure and a facial wax, but I can’t work up enough concern to do anything about it.
10. We are on the verge of being overwhelmed with tomatoes. I’m making bruschetta for supper. I’ve got Mylanta and Tums on standby.
11. There was a blimp hanging out over The ‘Duh yesterday. I have no idea why… maybe that’s how the folks on another barricaded street are getting in and out.
And there you have it, the highlights of my uneventful life. Now I have a headache.
I’m still sick, but finally feel like I might be starting to pull out of it. The fever appears to be gone and my lungs are not hurting anymore. Still coughing and my voice bounces between being very low bass or a raspy whisper.
It’s a sign of how badly I’ve felt that I have been drinking hot tea. I hate tea, so I went through a box of samples and found Celestial Seasonings Wild Berry Zinger (I think that’s the name of it) that has a strong enough berry flavor to almost mask the icky tea flavor. Then I put enough honey in it to completely mask the icky tea flavor.
I’ve also been gargling with warm salt water in which I stirred a bit of apple cider vinegar. Yuck. Plus I’ve been slathering Vicks VapoRub on my chest and throat at night.
You will notice that the one thing I didn’t do was go to the doctor. I’m tired of wasting my time going to the doctor. I have to make and appointment weeks in advance to see my doctor. If I’m sick, I have to go to the walk-in clinic and see whoever is on duty that day. I have absolutely no relationship with my doctor because I only see her for a few minutes once a year. And the walk-in clinic doctors and PAs always just tell me to keep on doing what I’m doing and send me on my way $20 and 4 hours poorer than when I arrived. I’ve never seen a worse system except for the military dependent’s clinics I opted out of the second I was allowed.
Anyway, I’m still coughing, but it’s not waking me up at night. My voice is croaky, but it’s not completely gone. I’m very light-headed, but I haven’t fainted or fallen. I’ve barely got enough energy to get dressed and come downstairs, but it’s more energy than I had a few days ago. So things are looking up.