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Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Ohio Veterans Home, Sandusky, Ohio
Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, was started in 1865 to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers who died in battle. In 1888, the Ohio Veterans Home was opened in Sandusky to care for all Ohio Civil War veterans and has been in continuous operation since that date. Presently, there are 1,963 graves on the property and the photo above captures just a small area of the cemetery.  

Ron is often at the Veterans Home under auspices of Stein Hospice where he works as an RN assigned to the Honor Our Veterans program. He distributes to veterans in hospice,  a pin and a blanket from their branch of service, a certificate of appreciation and recognition of their service, and arranges an honor guard escort upon their death. He has heard many stories of war experiences never recorded or discussed before and of course, has promised to keep all such discussions in confidence if so requested by the veteran.  

Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of summer. Sometimes cool and rainy, this year it was warm and sunny and the perfect weather for outdoor picnics and other summertime pursuits. It is also the time when you can start wearing white linen pants, and white shoes-if you dare.

Rhubarb pie cooling in picnic basket in kitchen
Memorial Day weekend is also a time to have traditional picnic food, including homemade pies. Our neighbor brought over 7 stalks of freshly cut rhubarb from his garden. My mom used to make a rhubarb pie for my birthday (June 13) every year. I decided to give it a try myself-a few weeks early!

Most of you know I am a  cook/baker with very limited skills and even less interest in the entire subject matter. However, every once in a while I try to rise to the occasion and this was one of those rare times.

We have a fabulous Hoosier kitchen cabinet where all of the baking stuff is stored, so, it was fairly easy for me to locate my mom's recipe, get out the ingredients, bake ware, and utensils. I was just ready to start when I discovered we had no eggs. So, off to the local convenience store I went. You can't buy just one egg, which is all that I needed.  And the clerk absentmindedly rang up the sale for a six pack of beer, which is what she had been selling all day. She also seemed disappointed I didn't buy a lottery ticket or a pack of cigarettes!

Rhubarb, sugar, egg mixture

Front yard ready for Memorial Day

We spent most of the long weekend setting up the furniture on both front and back porches, finishing weeding and mulching, and planting window boxes, pots, and  arranging various garden "features." One night, I silently counted eleven areas that ached with arthritis pain and decided this might be my first and  last year for hands on gardening, so to speak.  Thank goodness we just have a small city lot and not an acreage!

Ron's at the grill, preparing hamburgers for him and a veggie hot dog for me. We having my  mom's potato salad for both of us and her rhubarb pie for dessert!  Yep, the gardens look great and the pie episode ended with success. We missed spending a weekend at the campground, but, loved our time in our little city oasis. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

New talents

Spring blossoms

In my continuing effort to become a retirement ninja, I have continued to add new skills. Frankly, this is because I  don't feel like I deserve to just sit around and enjoy myself. This past week, taking advantage of the fact that it was once again in the low 60's, I jumped into gardening mode. Once it hits 70 degrees or higher, I am  done for regarding any physical effort, and with tons of weeding and other garden chores stacking up, I knew I better do as much as possible.

On Tuesday, I pulled weeds and considered the purchase of an edger for our sidewalks. Consulting Consumer Reports, I was shocked to see that such items cost around $300. EEK, not in my budget. Instead of heading to Sears to purchase an edger, I  headed to the garden center to get potting soil to plant three large planters in the corner of our driveway. I huffed and puffed and dragged two large bags of soil and hoisted them into the trunk of my car. Heading into the center with a magazine photo of the exact plantings I had in mind, I purchased the necessary plants and sped home. Deciding to unload the soil near the planters, I misjudged our brick raised bed and slashed my back tire. PSSSSFT. That tire was flat within seconds. Sigh. AAA was summoned and within 30 minutes I was headed to the tire store. $200 dollars for outlay of new tire and I was back in the garden!!

I'm very leery, usually, of using any equipment with a sharp blade. Most equipment can be a hazard to any left-handed users since it almost always is designed for use by a right handed operator. However, I was determined to do what I could to make our yard look its best this summer sans Jim the Gardner. Still hell bent on edging our front sidewalks and back patios, I borrowed one from Bob and Paulie. I first stopped at a nearby local hardware store (the only one locally owned) to buy  a jumbo extension cord, broom, and various hand garden tools.

                       Bob's electric edger
My edging trial run
I turned out to be a quick study and LOVED the edger. I did notice that I often hit the sidewalk, sparks flying. It was really loud and quite exciting! AND, it often smelled like the dentist drilling my teeth. Huh? I have my eyes tightly shut when at the dentist, and now wonder if he strikes similar sparks. Maybe that is why the attendant is close at head with a water gismo! I don't know how many gardeners muse about the dentist while edging sidewalks. I could be the only one.

On Wednesday, I concentrated on the leaf blower. Oy. Again, take a look. The pull starter is on the RIGHT side of the blower. My technique is to put the unit on the ground. I stomp my foot on the long neck of the blower  and use my left hand to pull and pull and pull until the damn thing starts. OR NOT. I always end up called Ron (at work) and exclaim that I can't get the *&%$# blower started. He  pops over, starts the &^%$* blower and then I have a blast!

This is ironic because I hate the sound of anyone else using a leaf blower. I read that leaf blowers (and jet skis) are the major cause of global warming/ozone depletion. I feel guilty about not using a whisk broom to remove the grass clippings off of the sidewalk. Whatever. I'm not perfect.

On Thursday, I continued my household chores. At 9am, the Sears appliance dude arrived with a new microwave to install above the stove/oven. At the same time, the cleaning ladies (all seven of them) arrived. This completely freaked out the Sears guy and he took a break until they ladies left 30 minutes later. Having been at work when these ladies arrived in the past, I, too, was freaked out by the stampede of cleaning whirling dervishes. Meanwhile, I helped drag two huge Hoosier kitchen cabinets out of the way for the microwave install (we have a galley kitchen and there is not room to move, let alone remove and install a large appliance.) I unloaded what I could before trying to scoot said units across the kitchen floor without destroying the floor. Already late for a luncheon, (how retirement-ish is that) I cajoled Bob to stand in  while the Sears guy finished the install. BTW, have you looked at how HUGE microwaves are these days?????? OMG. What was I thinking.

On Friday, I awoke with the dreaded vertigo again. There is some speculation that it could be caused by arthritis in my neck, which, I am sure I aggravated by  earlier efforts (see above). Being dizzy, and nauseous, I spent the day on the couch, with a heating pad on my neck and watched a chick flick. Sniff, sniff. A Night in Rodanthe, with Diane Lane and Richard Gere, was just the ticket.  Later that afternoon, I finally called the vet to ask,  if we captured Emma, Lucy's mom and outdoor porch cat, could we have her spayed? Yep. Bring her ASAP.

Yikes, Not having thought out the logistics of adding a third stray cat into the household, we kicked into gear on Saturday, after picking up Emma. In the backseat of the car in a cat carrier, Ron and I drove around and tried to decide how to accommodate her without mixing her in too soon with the rest of the brood.

Not thinking clearly, we decided we should buy a 6 person tent and set it up in our basement to be used as her recuperation abode. Yeah. We did. We measured the space available, moved stuff around, and dashed to the sports store to find a suitable tent.

$100 tent

  Let me say, trying to install this tent, with vertigo, is not a good idea. I finally had to abandon the ship and headed back to the couch. There, I could more clearly discern that the whole tent thing was not going to work as it was much bigger than the space we measured for setting it up.  DUH. So, I suggested that we just turn over the bathroom to Emma for a few days respite for her and try to stuff the tent back in the itty bitty box it came in and return it.

Meanwhile, realizing that my blog's namesake, Kate, hasn't been featured as of late, let me say that Kate is a big fan of the kitties. She is just about their size and one and all seem to get along very well!
I think I need to take a bit slower pace over the next few days. Kate is very supportive of this resolve and plans to spend cuddle time with me. I don't think I have the retirement mojo down yet and hope Kate can help me set a more realistic pace! We'll see. Stay tuned on the Emma, Lucy, AllieCat situation.