A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Monday, February 19, 2018


...is all about the ouch.

I have a tall, slender friend who is, most of the time, vertical.  But then, there are times (often right around tax time, actually) when he assumes a more angular stance.  Like, 45 degrees or more from the waist.  He says stress always settles in his back.

For me, it's the TMJ.

My jaw locks up.

The last time I had issues with the joint it took a year before I could enjoy a good yawn.

Image result for woman yawn clip art

Last week I was feeling sorry for my single self come Valentine's Day (not that they were that great when I was married), and treated myself to a bag of Dove chocolate hearts.  I enjoyed some of them the day before Valentine's Day, planning to enjoy the rest on the actual day.  But on Valentine's morning I couldn't even brush my teeth without whimpering, much less chew down on a stiff piece of chocolate.

The fun just never stops.

I was supposed to get my teeth cleaned this week.  That can't happen.

I'm also in the midst of pre-op appointments for surgery scheduled March 20.  Total knee replacement.  And I live alone.  Haven't quite figured out how I'm going to "do" this, since by all reports, I may not be able to drive for six weeks but will have to have physical therapy two to three times a week for several weeks.

Hello, Uber?

Had my first bone density test and it found weak bones (not uncommon for my age, actually).  Blood tests for same, that Medicare did not pay for.  I had to buy supplements and am supposed to up the exercise.

Meanwhile, my younger son and his wife had their offer accepted on the house they wanted, which was good since their baby is due in just a very few months.  It was an older home, so they were having two inspections last weekend.  I haven't heard the results.

My older son posted pictures on facebook of him and his two boys in Japan, dressed in the colonial costumes I made for all of them to celebrate international culture day at their school.  It was gratifying to see how much they enjoyed wearing them and how adorable they all looked in them.  Of course, my spirits plummeted again as I dove into my pool of self-pity that I have to live a whole ocean away from them.

And then, as if, I didn't have enough on my plate, I got an email from my real estate agent in Utah.

In 2002 we bought a condo in northern Utah.  We fell in love with the place and three years later bought a lot upon which to build a retirement home.  By 2008 we were trying to sell the lot for the first time.  After a year we gave up, only to try again a couple of years later.  No luck then, either, mostly because my then husband refused to take a loss (even though the money we could get would have helped with some financial issues he was experiencing.).  After his death, I listed it again and although it took months, it did finally sell for about half of what we paid for it.

Last summer I spent three weeks in the condo, and started thinking about selling it on the drive home.  I can't see myself up there more often than once a year, and for what it costs me in one month of mortgage and upkeep payments, I could rent it for a month for that visit.  Which would leave eleven months worth for trips to Japan (and Tokyo Disney Resort) and actually anywhere else I want to go.  I was about 80% sure I wanted to sell when my real estate agent up there sent out an email to the owners of condos in my development.  Short on inventory, big on interest.  Selling high.  Anybody want to sell?

I took a couple of days to think about it, then wrote her a yes.  I'm supposed to get the listing documents sometime this week, but there is already interest in it.  Which means that sometime in the next couple of weeks, I have to drive two days (PLEASE no blizzard!) up to get the stuff I want to keep and bring it home.

I may never yawn again.

Friday, February 16, 2018


When words slice
Music may feel the pain
And move in to comfort
But only new words
can bind the wound.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


I had lunch with a friend today who reminded me I'm not dead yet.

So encouraging.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

From my pillow...

...through the trees with a hand-held snapshot camera.

I'm pretty pleased.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Concert Update

"One of the single most moving concerts of my life. Incredible. Thanks, mom."

And a photo with members of the chorus.

Yeah, I did something right.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Parental Rewards

Sometimes you wonder...

Did I do anything with or for my kids that had an impact?

Oh, sure.  I kept them fed and sheltered and chauffeured decades of sports team and music competition trips.  Braces, uniforms, instruments, tuxedos and Grad Nite tickets would not have happened if I hadn't gone to work (pretty much against my desire, if not my will). 

And university.  Yikes.

It was good times, well worth the effort and money, for me.  And I'm sure for them, too.

But today I read the most heartwarming and validating posts from my son on facebook.

He and my new daughter-in-law are on a weekend trip to Seattle.  (I'm doggy sitting Dodger, who is now nine years old).

#1 - They are there to see these guys.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

I don't remember who actually bought the Graceland vinyl in which Paul Simon introduced this family to this fabulous chorus, but since I had been a Simon and Garfunkel fan since the early days and continued to be a Paul Simon fan after the break-up, I suspect it was me.  I know I was the one to buy the Shaka Zulu album.

My son is SO excited.  Even his 6-7 English teacher remembers what a huge fan of theirs he was lo, those many moons ago.

#2  Now, they are there for four days, so posted on facebook a request for recommendations of other things to do or see.  I've never been there, but when I go, I look forward to the Chihuly studio and garden installation.  So that was my suggestion (which was made by another friend as well.) 

They checked it out.

Image by Melanie Biehlel, seattlerefined
My son was so impressed and excited, he said he wants to design a drum corps field show inspired by what he saw.  Highest praise.

#3  This is the one that made me tear up.  Again.

This son couldn't have been more than three when I fell in love with the little paperback books by Stephen Cosgrove, illustrated by Robin James.  I bought several and read them to the boys.  When I could get them to be still long enough.  And with this kid, that was pretty seldom.

Well, today he posted excitedly that he found a copy of Wheedle on the Needle and bought one for his son, due in May.  And he asked how old he had been when I read it to him.

He remembered that I read him this book when he was very, very little.  And bought a copy for his own child.


Monday, January 08, 2018

A Saga of Suds

And water.

Lots of water.

This is my new washer/dryer suite.

I was not planning to buy a new washer or dryer right now.  Taxes and taxes and neither Medicare nor Blue Cross seem to be able to get my Newly Retired Person billing straightened out.  Still...

At the beginning of December I went into the garage (yeah, my laundry area is in the garage ick) to move a load into the dryer and discovered a new spring had sprung up under my washing machine.  I checked the hoses, but I've had that adventure a few times over the decades I've lived in this house and now I tend to keep a pretty close eye on their wear and tear.

It wasn't the hoses.

No, I concluded that something inside the aging machine must have given up.  So I had The Debate.  Do I bring in a repair person - at a starting hour of $100 plus parts and maybe plus more time - or just apply that to a new machine?  Meanwhile, my vintage Maytag dryer (less than a year younger than my oldest son, who will be forty in July) has been limping along for some time, now.  My younger son has repaired it and kept it going, but its arthritis has been developing about as fast as mine and was down to handling only one pair of jeans and a couple of tee shirts at a time.  Laundry time (which had to be strung out over several days) had become a stress-producer.  Would THIS be the load that caused the final gasp?

I decided not to put any more money into these machines and instead invest in some peace-of-mind.  I shopped the models and Costco and concluded a new suite would probably cost around three grand.  I asked for input from friends with new machinery and even got some great advice from a gorgeous, about-my-age fellow at the Laundromat (who, I figured out in about ten minutes, was gay, as are most of the men I attract into my life.  They make delightful friends, but fall short as romantic companions).  Deciding on this Samsung pair, I headed to Lowe's on December 23 (hoping to miss Mercury in Retrograde) and lucked into a HUGE sale.  Total price about a third of what I'd planned. 

Happy Dance Day.

They were delivered last Friday.

Now, my entire neighborhood has a rat infestation problem and I have been fighting the buggers in my attic, garage and occasionally house for years.  See, my late husband was a biologist.  A cheap biologist, but it was the whole biology professor thing that was the bigger problem.  I will never forget the day I caught him, face aglow, getting ready to climb into the attic to release two Madagascar cockroaches into the attic.  "They had extras at school," he chortled.

Have you ever seen a Madagascar cockroach? 

Yeah.  That big.  TWO of them, I assume male and female, but just in case they didn't fall in love, she came with some kind of special body part that I assumed was nurturing eggs.

I raise butterflies and so do not allow pesticides around my yard.  Consequently, I have lots of spiders, who I welcome with psychic hugs because they keep my house insect free.  But even my biggest, most beautiful black widow could not handle these monsters.  So, no, they did not get released.

Maybe I should have been more cooperative.  Maybe they would have ganged up on the rest of the wildlife that has taken shelter up there over the years.  They would have been welcome to the feral cat that found its way in and decided to use the space above my entry as a litter box.  And one night I watched a raccoon crawl out of a space near the kitchen (which I have since covered over with galvanized steel aviary wire, but I think one still makes her way up there every spring and gives birth over my bed).  And certainly they could have taken care of the generations of baby roof rats and squirrels  that sometimes sound like they are having soccer tournaments up there.

The garage has the worst problem, though.  When the house was built, the sideyard door was installed with a good inch of space between door and floor.  The rodents found us after we got our first Lab.  We were storing his dry food in a heavy vinyl trash can, which they ate through in one evening.  One morning The Biologist came in, again excited, holding a food bowl full of baby rats.  Eventually I naively screwed a 2 x 4 to the bottom of the door to keep them out, only to come out the next morning to find they'd chewed a 2" entrance.  I kind of gave up at that point.

We tried a number of things to get rid of them in the garage.  One summer my son caught and released 42 live rats.  Three were captured immediately by hawks.  The rest (maybe another three) made their ways back like homing pigeons to be caught over and over.  I hope.  We probably should have tagged them and kept track.  The most effective traps I found were the rat zappers.  They most always work.  I've caught and disposed of dozens over the years.  I don't like killing things, but they have destroyed so much in the garage that they just can't stay.  Not to mention how filthy they are.  And, of course, the Hanta Virus.

Anyway, The Biologist died three years ago and once I had my finances under control, I handed over about $5K to an exterminator who started the work, then sort of disappeared.  I mean, he is either attracting the worst run of bad luck ever or he is a con man.  Either way, he never finished the job, I am out the money and blah blah blah.

Which brings me to the washer.

The lovely Lowe's guys (probably gay) delivered the appliances Friday.  They set everything up for a test run, then stuck around to make sure there were no leaks as the washer filled and started the wash cycle.  Satisfied, the lead installer had me sign and initial, shook my hand and then warned:  If you see water now, it's probably your drain clogged.

And they left.

And I knew that I had not needed a new washer, that my drain was clogged.

I "have" a plumber.  He had been a good friend of my sons' in high school, and has been My Plumber for several years, now.  Do you know what a gift that is?  To have a plumber that likes you enough to assure you that night or day, even on weekends, he will come take care of your issues?

So he came today at 8 AM.  I was ready to head to my Mom's for a visit after the quick visit during which he would find and clear the clog in the drain.   We got the washer set to drain and trained our eyes on the hose where it entered the drain pipe.  "Don't worry," he comforted. "I'm going to catch it before it makes a mess."  We could hear the water draining, but nothing was coming up to the top of the pipe.

It was flowing down around our feet.

"This isn't good."

He pulled the washer and dryer out to create a space to work.  I had noticed when I was cleaning the space on Friday that there were rat holes in the wall where the pipes came into the garage and had three packages of brillo steel wool pads to stuff into them until the exterminator - if I ever connected with him again - could get there.  Super Plumber reached into the lower one and kind of felt around, then took out his phone and snapped a picture.

"You were having a problem with rodents, right?"
He had reached in and stuck two fingers into that hole in the drain pipe.  That had been chewed there.  By at least one rat.
Then he cut a hole in the wall and was blasted backward by the rat urine stench from the nest that filled half that space. 
"I wasn't expecting that."
He had another appointment and had to run to the shop to pick up the parts to repair the drain (after all, we were expecting him to pull out a stray sock or something out of the drain pipe.)  While he was gone, I cleaned out the mess.  I pulled out most of the nest and bagged it, then pulled out the stuff stuck around the pipes and thought I should take a picture of this for the exterminator.  (Or the small claims court judge if I need to take him to court.)
When Super Plumber got back and got to work, I turned my attention to the rat zapper trap.  I changed the batteries and baited it with a chocolate and peanut butter snowman left over from Christmas.
At that point, the adventure part was pretty much was concluded.  He replaced the pipe.  I turned on the trap.
And headed to my Mom's for a visit.  And stopped for dinner.
When I got home, the trap was flashing, but was empty.  I re-baited it and turned it on again.  Within 30 minutes I had caught a very fat - possibly pregnant - roof rat.  I'm really hoping she was the nester.
My first load is finished.  It is probably a sad statement on the quality of my current life that 1) I was so excited about the new drain pipe and 2) I am so excited about the HUGE load of clothes I just washed and dried WITHOUT A FLOOD.
Fear not.  I do not iron.
Things get much better tomorrow.  My Massachusetts family is at Disneyland and I join them tomorrow.  I was very spoiled by my stay at Tokyo Disney in November and so have reserved a room in the Grand Californian.
So there may be a better narrative in the near future.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

I just walked to the front door to lock it before heading to bed and found it still locked from last night.

I had no reason to unlock it, no reason to go outside for anything.  I showered, put on sweats and spent the day working on a planning/craft project that covered the entire (large) dining table.   I ate inappropriate foods and made my usual frequent checks on facebook.

It was a great day.

2018 feels like it's going to be a great year.

Happy New Year, y'all.

Sunday, December 24, 2017