June 4, 2014

when life trumps blogging

I have over the course of the past month received  more than a few concerned emails and comments about where the heck I've been.
Thanks my friends I appreciate your concern.
I'm fine, really.
Just taking a break.
Lots going on.
Here's the skinny.


We still have a full house here. My step daughter and her family are due to move out within the next month or maybe a bit more. Everyone's working full time, and he's gotten all of his immigration/work stuff worked out. We're busy helping out picking up the slack with the kids, taking care of Mom who's doing great at 86 and getting in a trip now and then so I can fulfill my guardian obligations.

 Having kids in the house again, having homework time, dinnertime, bedtime keeps me so tired busy that I don't seem to be able to carve out a regular time out to attend to this blog. I can't imagine however not getting right back to it once we have the house back to ourselves. Any extra time I have quite frankly I've been putting into planting my vegetable gardens.

And then there's the other stuff, the not so good, and down right sad stuff.

My cat Cheetah, the cat from my "B" post on A-Z was hit by a car and died. Poor thing wandered out into the street and didn't stand a chance. And if you've ever wondered if cats mourn, they do. His brother Tarzan, sat a the front door for a week waiting for Cheetah to come home, when he didn't he then laid on the couch for two weeks barely eating.

I lost my Aunt Paula who was very dear to me in recently. We had a very special relationship starting back when I was a small girl and blossomed as I became an adult into one of love, friendship and mutual respect. I will miss more than I can say. I'm just so darn sad that she's gone.

Then as you know I am a legal guardian for a  lady (with intellectual disabilities) who is a dear family friend, lets call her B. B's Dad passed away 17 months ago and her mother entered into a rest home. Sadly, her mother, passed away last week. B knew her Mom was getting ready to "go to heaven" to be with her Dad and we did our best to prepare her for that.  When I told her her mother died  I asked her if she was sad, upset or mad. My thought was to try to encourage her to use her limited verbal skills to express her feelings. She looked at me and said, " I'm happy, they're together."  She's an amazing woman.



April 11, 2014

A to Z Challenge J is for Mason Jars

theme‘My views of the south’as seen thru the eyes of a former New Yorker

I had never used mason jars before I moved to the south and let me tell you, they are wonderful.



They are the number one most used item in my house during the vegetable growing season.
I use them for fresh water bath canning of vegetables, sauces,fruit jams and the like.

It would not be unusual to go to visit a neighbor and be served a iced tea in one of these jars as well.

Not a gardener?
Want are some other ways to use them?

Candle holders...
Lightning bug holders..

Or
How about creating a handmade gift?

Mix up your favorite brownie or cookie recipe (dry ingredients only) put it in one of these jars. Attach handwritten directions and a bow and you have created wonderful hostess or holiday gift.

Have you ever used them?
Tell us what for...

April 10, 2014

A to Z Challenge I is for Home Invader

theme‘My views of the south’as seen thru the eyes of a former New Yorker

I just want to be clear; nothing bad happened here….

Our home invader had four legs and was adorable.

Here’s the story!

The neighbor has a bunch of cats and one very cute orange kitten.

Then he went into the hospital and the very cute kitten was at our door every day crying meow…meow….meow..

And my grandsons said, “Grandma, he’s so cute!”

So I ran to the phone as quickly as I could and called the neighbors mother and told her if she didn't take the kitten away I’d find the little fellow a good home.

She took him away, but two weeks later and he was back at our door…meow….meow….meow…

I mentioned to my husband Bill “if that kitten follows our own cats thru one of our two kitty doors he'll never leave.”

You've heard of the expression.. from my mouth to God's ears?

Two days later I awoke and in between Bill and I under the bed covers was our little home invader laying on his back sound asleep IN OUR BED!!!



He had entered thru the kitty door and made his way upstairs to our bedroom.

He adopted us not the other way around; and we both agreed!

Our little orphan cat has finally grown out of his a garbage picking and food begging.

We named him Oliver Twist.

April 9, 2014

A to Z Challenge H is for Houses of Worship

theme‘My views of the south’as seen thru the eyes of a former New Yorker

This church is called Good Shepherd.

It is located on a fairly isolated country road not far from my house.

I have attended services here with friends who regularly worship here although it is not my church.



It is a lovely building and is the epitome of a quaint country house of worship in my opinion.

Many similar structures are located throughout our area.

It’s charming isn't it?

April 8, 2014

A to Z Challenge G is for General Store

theme‘My views of the south’as seen thru the eyes of a former New Yorker

This store hasn't been opened for business for many years.

 As you can imagine in its day it was the place to go for gas as well as many other items of convenience.




General stores like these throughout our area have been neglected or remade into residences; this one however has been lovingly preserved.

It is a time capsule of days gone by; a reminder of a time long before the interstate system was built when citizens both local and passer by traveling on Route 1 (one) would stop for gas, a soft drink and some friendly conversation.

April 7, 2014

A to Z Challenge F is for flowers

theme‘My views of the south’as seen thru the eyes of a former New Yorker


We've worked for years to get our vegetable garden soil in shape by tilling in natural matter such as leaves so that we can grow organic veggies.

It’s a completely different story with the gardens surrounding the house. We have some bushes and a crape myrtle even an azalea or two. Flowers however are really hard to grow here because of the heat and the huge amounts of clay in the soil.

Needless to say we do have flowers but they’re mostly perennials/bulbs many which have been on this property since we've move here like these tiger lillies. 
.


Or these wildflowers which I photographed down by my pond one day. I have no idea what they are but they are strange and lovely at the same time.


Sad but true; other than putting an occasional flower in my herb pots on my back porch; I've basically given up throwing my money away on frying flowers in the hot southern sun.

Do you do plant flowers at your house?

April 5, 2014

A to Z Challenge E is for Evening Sky

theme‘My views of the south’as seen thru the eyes of a former New Yorker

We live in a rural area. In fact there aren't any sidewalks outside of the town proper; and in town there's one stop sign, seriously! And lighted roads (street lights)?  Few and far between.

When I first moved south, it was hard for me to drive in total darkness. It took a good amount of time for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Funny but now when I go home to New York it’s the reverse!!

When the sun goes down it is DARK. 
The stars, moon and planets hang in the sky like jewels in the night.

Here we get our light as God intended, the natural way!



This is a picture of the evening sky out my backdoor.


April 4, 2014

A to Z Challenge D is for Deer Abbey

theme‘My views of the south’as seen thru the eyes of a former New Yorker

This picture shows a friend and frequent visitor to our property. 




She was fondly named by my granddaughter who aptly chose the name ‘Deer Abbey’. 
She especially loves the tender leafs and sweet fruit of our fruit trees. 

We see her frequently in the mornings and twilight nibbling on the lower branches of the pear and apple trees lower branches.


Beautiful isn't she? 

April 3, 2014

A to Z Challenge C is for Cow

Holy cow!

Cute little fellow isn't he?



Well I have news for you he’s bred for eating.

So I guess I should admit it I love steak! I don’t eat it much but upon occasion I do enjoy a nice medium rare one.

Many of the farmers around my area have cows for milk and steers for eating.  I drive past them all the time grazing in the fields and never giving much thought to what eventually will happen to them.

We have a big enough piece of property that we could probably have a few of these cute cows. My husband Bill knew however it would be futile since I would never ever eat them, they would be assigned names and become family pets.

..Or as he said big fat lawn mowers..

Chances are this beautiful creature is going to be on someone’s table someday soon.
I always think of my meat butchered nicely and placed on trays under plastic in the meat section of the market and rarely think of the animal it came from.

Do you ever give any thought to where your meat comes from?
Or do you go without from eating meat?


April 2, 2014

A to Z Challenge B is for Bird watching

This is my third year or participating in The A-Z Blogging Challenge and I’ll be writing a blog post a day each day of the month except Sunday for the month of April.

This year I’ll be doing a theme which I’ve decided to call ‘My views of the south’. 

I will show you my south as I see it with my camera….. and I will tell you from my perspective as a former New Yorker what I find to be unique about this place that I now call home.  Follow along as I share with you what I consider the South’s ordinary even extraordinary beauty one letter at a time.


Enjoy!

Do you like to bird watch?
Well, clearly so does my cat Cheetah.



Our whole family does!

We keep a book that lists all the birds of North America in our home. We use it frequently to identify the birds that visit bird houses, baths and in our feeders or nest in our trees and bushes.  Many times over the years we've been fortunate enough to see a variety of new species when they visit our yard. We have many cardinal’s, crows, blue birds, blue jays, wood peckers, mocking birds, indigo buntings and gold finches to name a few.

Clearly, Cheetah was fascinated as he watched this crow perched upon the clay pot. I have to wonder however if he would much rather have done what comes natural and ‘eaten some crow’ lol!!

Do you have bird feeders, bird baths or bird houses at your home?
Do you bird watch?

April 1, 2014

A to Z challenge A is for Apple tree


This is my third year or participating in The A-Z Blogging Challenge and I’ll be writing a blog post a day each day of the month except Sunday for the month of April.

This year I’ll be doing a theme which I’ve decided to call ‘My views of the south’. 

I will show you my south as I see it with my camera….. and I will tell you from my perspective as a former New Yorker what I find to be unique about this place that I now call home.  Follow along as I share with you what I consider the South’s ordinary even extraordinary beauty one letter at a time.

Enjoy!

I was trying   to be good this year and pre-wrote a  number of my posts, so this morning I went to publish my A post and realized  I never did an A post!!  Sorry I’m late folks!! Not the greatest start for this challenge but here goes…

We have a large piece of property; it would be safe to say it is a farm although we don’t have farm animals nor do we grow large amounts of crops. Regardless of that, taking care of our land can be burdensome; there mowing, weeding raking leaves and generally making sure that it looks as neat and tidy as possible. There are acres and acres of woods so that is a huge difference from the 100 x 80 parcel that we lived on in New York.

One of my favorite things about living here in the south is the abundance of fruit trees. We have peaches, plums, pears and apples right out the back door. There is nothing better than picking a fresh apple off the tree and eating it in the shade of that very tree.




I have made apple sauce to serve with dinner with freshly picked apples and of course apple pies and cakes.  Mmm….apple pie is wonderful and one of my favorite deserts!

What’s your favorite apple desert?

Do you have an apple tree?

February 25, 2014

For the woman I never met

My step daughter came into the house and handed it to me. ”Dad thought you might like to do some Goggling when you see this.” 

The envelope she handed me was small, square and browned with age; the postmark was from Newport News and the year which was barely legible said 1951. Bill found it tucked under a draw of a piece of antique bedroom furniture we had just purchased that day.

It was so neatly addressed I remember thinking to myself; this person must have been taught penmanship by the nuns but that thought soon drifted out of my head as I removed the small card and examined it closely.

The front of the card had a bride dressed in white; I was enchanted by how simply lovely this card was and how remarkable it was it had survived some 61 years tucked behind a drawer. On the inside in the same neat and thoughtful hand was the name of the bride being honored and two women who were hosting the shower.

Then it hit me.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to try to find the bride and give her the invitation?  Her first name was unusual but her last name was a much more common name so I did a quick Google search without any luck. I then tried one of the hostesses’ names and I had more luck, to a degree. I found her (the hostess) obituary which was rather sad; it was however filled all the information I needed to locate my bride including her married name and the town she lived in currently.
   
Some more Goggling and I was dialing the phone and calling my bride…

Mrs. Bride answered the phone on the second ring.  I prayed I would find the right words to tell her what I found and how I found her without making her feel uncomfortable.  She was very sweet and polite but didn't offer much information nor did I expect her to. She did however confirm that the card was from her bridal shower.  I promised to send it to her and decided to add a handwritten letter.

I wondered if I’d hear from her.

Five days later I received a phone call from her. She was SO happy! As soon as she received the card she said she called all of her children to tell them and read them my letter.  Then she went on to tell me bits about her life and her family, how her sisters had honored her with the shower all those years ago. It was clear that this little card had tremendous much meaning to her and connected her to so many memories of years gone by. 

When she called me I was so honored that I could do this kindness for this woman I've never met and more than likely never will. 
It was a wonderful experience.

Have you ever done a something like this?

Would you if given the chance?

February 19, 2014

My latest obsession

I have spent most of my adult life waking up each morning and never quite feeling refreshed. It never seemed to be a problem until I hit my fifties. Then I decided to look into and this is what I found out..

I was a lousy sleeper which has left me obsessed with sleep!

Most normal people have five sleep cycles per night; each cycle usually lasts approx. ninety minutes.  If you wake up in the middle of a cycle, your brain has to go back to the beginning and starts the entire sleep cycle all over again.  The fewer interruptions to your sleep cycle the better your sleep quality. Makes sense, that if the sleep cycles finish that is good and a cycle is interrupted that is....not so good.
The importance here is the sleep "quality" and how efficiently you sleep and less about the” quantity” or the time you spend in bed; sleep doctors call this sleep efficiency.
When I went for my sleep tests they recorded a shift from deep to light non–rem sleep or from sleep to wakefulness some 200 times a night ( they are called arousals) most of these were breathing related episodes due to my sleep apnea. This put my sleep efficiency at  50%. 
Pretty bad!  
Any number above 85% and you can consider yourself a good sleeper!

I went on C-Pap and my nightly arousals went from 200 down to 4 and although I may wake up two times per night I am sleeping deeply when I am asleep!

 A good thing!

Here’s a neat way to calculate your sleep efficiency without having a sleep test which btw borders on torture and costs a fortune.

It will give you a general idea of how well you sleep by giving you the example of my numbers from the other night. 

Sleep Efficiency Calculator

Total Sleep Time = minutes  (630)
Minus time to fall asleep =  minutes  630-20=610

Total # 1 : minutes  610

Subtract = minutes awake during night
(1 toilet,20 mins., 2nd wake up 30 mins) = 50 mins. :
610-50=560

Total #2 minutes 560

Divide Total #1 (630)  into #2 (560) and you will arrive at your Sleep Efficiency.=  89%

This was a really good night for me and although I love my mask I do upon occasion struggle with wearing it but have been able to push thru any resistance.
It's a love hate relationship. 

How's your sleep life?



February 4, 2014

Go ahead I know you want to...Blogging from A-Z sign ups


Did you sign up?

If you didn't I am here to remind you that it’s that time again; April is almost upon us and it’s time to start thinking about The blogging from A-Z Challenge. 

This year I’m joining my friends over at Blogging from A-Z for another month of daily blogging (with Sundays off).

This is my third year of this challenge and I love each and every minute of it. I've made many friends and had a blast writing what I think might be some of my most creative posts.

Did you know that this challenge is the brainchild of Arlie Bird over at Tossing it Out.  If you are looking for a way to stretch your blogging/writing muscles or just want to make some new friends you really need to sign up right this minute!

So why don’t you head over to their web site by clicking here or any of the other links above. They've provided excellent directions telling you what to do, easy peasy. Then grab their blog button…see I have one proudly displayed in this post and on my sidebar.

Go ahead what are you waiting for?!
Let me know if you're joining or if you've decided not to.
I'd love to hear what went into your decision either way.

I’m knocking around the idea of doing a theme for the month, maybe!

February 2, 2014

Getting up close and personal

Things have changed significantly in our lives since the summer. After their plans to live elsewhere went BOOM (big family drama) Bill’s daughter and her family moved in with us. And now we’ve got a full house.

 Bill’s daughter (the one I didn’t raise) moved away as a young woman with her new husband to Cyprus. After a twenty five year absence from our lives they came back with kids in tow and there was a lot of catching up to do.It’s been great having boys (2) in the house again, and their children are very sweet and respectful. Although I’m not their biological grandmother I’ve been married to their grandfather for close to thirty-five years so they call me grandma out of respect (which I love). I am getting to know their personalities, their likes and dislikes and I’m even picking up a word or two of Greek!! My step daughter is a lovely young woman, only eight years my junior and we really get on well, like friends. She works hard long hours to support the family and is a loving wife and mother. Her husband is my food twin!! He loves all the exact food, beer and wine I like just like I like it; funny right? He’s very respectful of all of us and can’t do enough to help around the house, run out to the store or even repair something here or at my mother’s house.  He calls my son’s Billy and Matthew little brother which I think is very sweet.

And what we thought would be a few months stay has been extended to longer but we’re seeing the light at the end of this tunnel. For those of you, who think it’s easy “coming to America” as “a legal immigrant”, think again. My step daughters husband did everything except jump thru hoops to comply with all the rules, forms and fees  and finally this week  he’s received notice he’ll be getting his green card with permanent resident status within a week or two. Although he’s been here before and had two green cards previously that didn't make one iota of a difference. My thoughts turn to 911 and the heightened scrutiny our government takes on each and every application and I can’t help but think this is the reason and the cause for the months and months of wait time. Personally this makes me both annoyed and grateful at the same time.

 I’m just going to end this post with a big hello to anyone who’s even reading this blog anymore!!
 Thanks :0 

And some advice; for anyone reading that might have a relative who wants to come here to the USA and become a permanent resident. Do your paperwork in your home country before coming to America!  If not you best have a lot of money saved or a family member who can work (since you can’t work legally), at least two places to live. Don’t expect one of them to be my house…we’re out of rooms!!