Through the Front Door of Week 22, 2019

Century plant starting its bloom phase

Sunday

I woke up with a headache this morning: feeling gloomy. I was driving myself crazy trying to decide which of four important things I should do first. So, I stayed in bed and “asked Alexa” to play Brandenburg Concertos until the gloom departed taking my headache with it. Made coffee. Drank coffee. Abandoned all four important things and went outdoors to play at being a gardener.

Monday

Mini Victories

Romeo and Julio each have worn a “breakable” collar that was brand new two years ago. Sunday I discovered the breakaway fastenings had fused to the point it was impossible to pull the collar apart even using pliers.

Down to the pet store to buy two new collars. Next problem: remove the old collars. Both cats panicked when they saw scissors coming at their neck. I was opening an Amazon box with the box cutter when I saw the light. The box cutter was small enough to hide in my hand and the sharp blade had both collars off in a minute: no muss, no fuss.

Facebook Binge

Maybe I spend an hour a week on Facebook. Today I spent four hours involved in an animated discussion with members of the Terry Pratchett Facebook group. About thirty people debated the pros and cons of adapting his novels for film and television. There are a lot of seriously serious Pratchett fans out there. I had a lot of fun with this, yet I don’t want to do it again soon.

Tuesday

Hot. Chores

Wednesday

First really hot day of the year. Closed the curtains, turned on the air conditioning. Spent the afternoon reading a book written by an artist who trains FBI and police in”forensic observation” by taking them to art museums to look at paintings. I looked at some illustrations in the book. Either I see but don’t look, or look but don’t see. In either case, I missed a lot a whole lot.

Thursday

We are having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave. This morning I soaked the tomatoes and the strawberries about 6 a.m. Misted the succulents. The wind came up at 4:00 p.m. gusting at 30 m.p.h. Three counties have posted fire watches.

Friday

Went to Costo. Backing out of the parking space, the front bumper caught on the concrete stop block and ripped off halfway. I was afraid that the entire bumper would fall off on the freeway, so I bought some shocking turquoise duct tape and plastered it all over the front end. The poor car looks like it’s crying blue. I was upset at first, but it’s just a piece of fiberglass or plastic. That’s what collision insurance is for.

Saturday

Outside the temperature is climbing into triple digits, and the wind is gusting still. PG&E has turned off the power in parts of Napa, Yolo, and Lake Counties. The Belmont today: the third stage of a totally jinxed Triple Crown. What strange thing will happen today? I am going to give this a miss because I don’t want to risk seeing a horse injured.

Through the Front Door of Week 22 of 2019

Memorial Day

Hung out the flag about five-thirty this morning, as the sun was making it’s way up through the palm trees across the street. At dawn, it’s easy to imagine I might have been transported to an island in the South Pacific until I open the window and the wind blows a 40-degree chill through the window.

For as long as I have lived, there has been a war somewhere involving American soldiers. Doubtless, it will be the same long after I am gone. I thought about Dad. Whatever his thoughts and feelings about World War II, he loved flying, and he loved that little Stinson L-5 because he could count on it to get off the ground any time, anywhere, under any conditions.

Tuesday

Neighbors are redoing the landscaping; which means digging up the rose bushes that about twenty years old. Two were offered to me; being a total novice when it comes to gardening, I accepted. And got the giggles: those babies are NOT rose bushes; they are rose trees with root balls about a foot wide and a foot deep. What passes for topsoil here is clay concrete and impossible to dig, so they are in big pots now. Only time will tell if they will survive.

Wednesday

Pick up and put away. Chase dust bunnies out of corners. Clean the cat litter pans (put new bags into the “Litter Genie” a really great invention for managing cat boxes)

Thursday

Ditto Wednesday

Friday

Total self indulgement today. I binge watched the video series Amazon produced from Good Omens. I have been waiting a year for this. This book is extremely difficult to adapt for television. As I expected the results were very uneven although Neil Gamin (one of the co-authors) wrote the screen adaptation. Fortunately, the casting choices elevated the production into something that was enjoyable in spite of the flaws. David Tennant and Martin Sheen were brilliant as Aziraphel and Crawley. They carried the series. but the supporting casting was equally well done. Miranda Richardson’s seance scene was worth watching twice.

Saturday

So foggy, the trees across the street are practically invisible. I discovered that Amazon Prime music has the full cast recordings of Carousel, and Camelot. Is there anything more fun than cleaning out your sock drawers while listening to old musicals at full volume???

Through the Front Door 2019 Week 15

Tomatoes

Just planted tomato

An early start with tomatoes this year; planted four varieties in the raised garden: an Early Girl, a Husky cherry tomato, a Roma, and a grape tomato. Compared with a year ago, last year was a dud. The cherry tomatoes did alright, but the large tomatoes were few and far between and lacked flavor. Over the winter, I tried boosting the soil with some compost and ground egg shells. Next week, I plan to interplant the tomatoes with some basil and marigolds.

Iris

After the peony, the double iris is my favorite flower. Last year, I planted six bulbs imported from Holland. A whole bunch of nothing happened except for some green spears. Too late in the day, I discovered they were not getting enough direct sunlight. I moved them to a sunnier location, and late in September, the yellow iris bloomed out for two weeks. Now five of the iris are budding already, so I have high hopes for blue and purple blooms by the end of April.

Roses

Roses are so thrilled by three days of sunlight, they are blooming already, but they all have black -leaf from as a result of the continuous damp. That requires pruning ninety percent of the leaves back to the stem. However, with a little fertilizer, they will leaf out again quickly.

Front Door 2019 Week 14

Spring Things, Thought Provoking Mystery, and Opals

Spring Things Including Taxes

A week into April; it is still raining albeit scattered showers instead of torrential downpours. The sun breaks out long enough now to encourage Spring to push up through flooded fields and vineyards. Sonoma Valley sits above the marshland created from the intersection of the Sonoma and Petaluma Rivers with San Pedro Bay, the northern extension of San Francisco Bay. Both sides of Highway 37, which connects Vallejo to Interstate 101 are filled with marsh grasses, cattails, and red-wing blackbirds.

Yeah! My taxes were filed yesterday; I owe nothing to either government. The rest of the week has been filled with spring cleaning tasks. I am refreshing my bedroom with new navy-and-white striped sheets. I plan to paint my little desk white while my orange quilt, a cherished gift from a close friend, will be pulled off the bed and used as a wall hanging.

A Thought Provoking Mystery

The April read for the Mystery Book Club is “Halted State” by Charles Stross. It’s an unusual science fiction-based mystery. Even more unusual, it is written in the second person singular, which is both difficult to write and more difficult to read. It took me three chapters before I finally understood what was going on.

Charles Stross is a new writer for me, but among aficionados of true science fiction (as opposed to fantasy) he has a reputation for the accuracy of his speculations concerning the use of technology in daily life. This book revolves around a theft that occurs within one of the mass online games, that have thousands of players simultaneously online. The story raises some serious issues that are definitely food for thought. One issue raised is that the USA is falling behind in its technology infrastructure. Because it was one of the early technology adopters, its infrastructure is rapidly becoming outdated compared to the innovations occurring in the EU, China, and India.

Renovating technical infrastructure to bring it current up-to-date is very expensive, so the current government is ignoring the issue apparently feeling that spending billions on a wall will further our national interests more than leading-edge competitive technology. The second issue examined is that the current security systems used by the gaming platforms have the potential of becoming platforms that can be modified to launch sabotage attacks against the technology infrastructure of entire countries.

Images of Pretty Opals

On a completely different note, I was looking at the little opal ring my mother gave me for my 16th birthday. I got to wondering if there was any “spectacular” jewelry made from opal. Here are some pictures.

News for Week 13: Plumbing and the Idyllic Life

The toilet auger and a bookshop on a houseboat in Paris.

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Words to Live By

At my age, you would think that I know better than to drop small objects down the toilet.

Sadly, life happens even to folks who do know better. I managed to flip a solid block of plastic into the toilet: it sank out of sight immediately. It was small, only two and a half inches by half an inch. The problem was that it had 3M adhesive on one side. Of course, I couldn’t see it for myself, but it seems the stuff stuck the plastic to an inconvenient spot in the flush system. Voila! Toilet blockage.

Just as I was picking up the phone to call ABS plumber, I remembered that font of all knowledge called YouTube. There is a marvelous DIY channel called “See Jane Drill.” There I discovered the toilet auger.

The toilet auger is to a plunger as Mount Everest is to Boot Hill. I immediately acquired a Rigid brand auger from(you guessed it) Amazon. Although I watched the how-to video three times, it still took me a couple of tries to use this gadget correctly. It’s not hard, but it is awkward. But as they say, third time is the charm, and on the third try, the blockage was cleared and the toilet flushing right and proper.

Now I am primed and ready to clear any toilet at any time. No more waiting around for plumber business hours; no more having to pay premium dollars to a plumber on Christmas Eve. Sometimes my life is so exciting, I can’t stand it!

An Idyllic Life Style

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Idyllic Lifestyle

Do I need to mention that I am reading?

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is delightful. It’s the story of a bookseller whose combined home and bookshop is a houseboat. He is not an ordinary bookseller: he is an apothecary bookseller.

He prescribes books for his clients; printed medications and tonics that will sustain and sooth during the ups and downs of their lives ranging from embarrassment about the appearance of their toes to loss of a love. Could you imagine anything more idyllic than a houseboat on the Seine, filled with vintage books? I love the idea of prescribing books for headaches, fatigue, heartbreak, or just a Spring tonic to boost the sparkle in life.

My Spring tonic books are “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin, “The Greater Trumps” by Charles Williams, “The Great Divorce” by C. S. Lewis, and “Four Quartets” by T. S. Eliot. What are yours?

The Week that Was

“Monday, Monday, So Good To Me

 

Back in school! Sonoma Regional Junior College is taking a run at OAP (Older Adult Program) curriculum. The library up the road and around the corner from me is providing classroom space for Information Literacy in the Twenty-First Century. Now I have to read something other than who-done-its.

It is not a course about using computers and modern media applications i.e Facebook, and Instagram. It is a “discussion about  the notion of truth specifically in the postmodern society.” It’s an attempt to provide we senior citizens with the tools of basic reasoning so we can sift the real news from the fake news.

When I went to school, I was so smart my teacher was in my class five years.  (Gracie Allen)

Tuesday Afternoon

One of THOSE DAYS when it’s all piddle, piddle, piddle.  The bed stays rumpled with the sheets knotted around two sleeping cats.  Pick something up and put it down again.  Start something and wander off leaving it undone.  Where am I?  Who am I?  What am I doing here? Just like James Morrison’s mother, I was last seen wondering vaguely, quite on [my] own accord.

I was going to do something today, but I didn’t finish doing nothing from yesterday. (Anonymous)

Any Wednesday

The high point of today was a carpet buying trip to Kohl’s. Well, not really a carpet, but a carpet runner. It will save the living room carpet from the wear and tear of leaving the kitchen and crossing the living room to the front door.

Kohl’s was having a sale, and six-foot runners were reduced by 50% percent: too good a bargain to pass up.  It’s not only pretty, but it’s also machine washable: you know how it goes with cats and hairballs.

What if everything is an illusion, and nothing exists? In that case I definitely paid too much for the carpet. (Woody Allen)

Sweet Thursday

The vineyards that fill Sonoma Valley are stirring into life.  The rows between the vines are filled with mustard that has grown waist high.  Somebody, somewhere (probably one of the professors of viticulture at the University of California, Davis) has determined that growing mustard in the vineyards after harvest is a good thing.

Last year, small tractors trundled between the vines mowing down the mustard.  This year it is sheep.  Thursday, I watched a flock of sheep, at least 400 strong flow into the Baringer vineyard across the road.  The next morning the sheep had vanished, and about forty acres had been “mowed” as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

You can’t have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner. – (Larry Flynt)

Hallelujah It’s Friday

Shopped for groceries.  It’s fun wandering through the aisles looking at all the stuff on the shelves.  There are all the old stand-byes, and then the new stuff reflecting the newest diet craze.  It’s getting hard to find milk among all the nut milk on the shelf: coconut, almond, cashew, and soy.  Then there are all the strange flours for the gluten intolerant.  The latest products all support varieties of the keto diet: ghee, avocados, grass-fed beef burgers, and organic eggs.  By the way, I read the ingredients on a bag of cat-food that has been created for the overweight cat.  It was about fifty percent cellulose which is a nice sounding name for pulverized wood chips.  Go figure: you pay a premium price for old ground up wood.

“The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.” (Erma Brombeck)