Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Home (no place like it)

I had a good trip home, very easy.  I drove 7 hours from Ann Arbor on Monday, ended up between Buffalo and Rochester, where I stayed in a hotel.  I love staying in hotels by myself, it's so peaceful and perfect.  I slept very well and felt rested.  Yesterday I drove the rest of the way home, getting stuck behind a snowplow outside of Watertown.  We had a lot of snow--heavy wet spring snow.  My living room was 48 and the house was miserably cold and damp.  I didn't leave any heat on while I was gone--don't be silly, I thought, it's SPRING.  Not.  Anyway I got the house warm with a hot fire and heat.  It was still snowing so there wasn't any sun to help.  I slept well again last night, happy to be home.  I picked up the dogs at the kennel.  Were they thrilled to see me?  No, not at all.  They were happy but I think it's a real tribute to that kennel that they don't jump up & down and get all excited when I pick them up.  I don't worry about them when they're there, they're just fine and the kennel owners really like them.

The house was just fine, no issues or problems.  Today it got very warm because the sun is out, bright warm spring sun.  I have some daffodils in bloom and found a couple of crocuses as well.  We had about 3 inches of snow and some of it has melted today.  Hopefully tomorrow there will be bare ground.  I got awfully used to seeing green grass on my trip.

Today I went to Plattsburgh for groceries and lunch with Julie.  That was all fine but when I started the car after shopping the check engine light came on.  HONESTLY: the warranty was up 168 miles ago.  I don't know what's up.  The soonest the dealer can see me is next Weds. so I'll limp along until then, being hysterical.  The service guy said it was OK to drive it so drive  it I will.  I have to go to Plattsburgh again on Friday--blood work and meet with the director of the Historical Assoc. to go over the newsletter. 

I did a lot of reading on my trip, read 3 good books.  I don't seem to read much when I'm at home, too much distraction from the dogs and television (mostly television).  That's something I'd like to change.  Maybe I'll set it up so I can read while I pedal my exercise bike.

The dogs are fine.  They're still exhausted from the kennel, plus the trip today so they're snoring.  I was fearful that I was snoring last week because of my congestion and lung issues.  Well.  I did snore.  I woke myself up with my snoring and snorting but that seems to have ended.  I hope.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Botanical garden

 We went to the U Mich. botanical garden yesterday, on a sunny cool day.  These are orchids, unlike ones I've seen before.  They struck my fancy.
 This is something strange with red flowers
 The blue things hanging from this sausage tree are NOT part of the tree, they are ceramic things hung there for a reason I didn't understand
 They of course had koi.  Mark has a true aversion to koi, though he likes his goldfish.  I learned that koi and goldfish are not even close to being the same thing.  This will be a relief to Mark.  He has goldfish in his pond.
 Outside were a lot of daffodils and grape hyacinths.  It was pretty, yes, and very spring like but the trees still have no leaves

What it looked like inside.  Pretty, very pretty.

This has really be a nice trip and Linda and I have had good visiting and fun together.  Last night we went out for dinner at her favorite restaurant, where the cocktails are huge and delicious.  We ate a lot.  This afternoon we went to her favorite deli, where they don't have cocktails but the sandwiches are huge and we ate a lot.  A LOT.  Now we're resting.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Live from Michigan

I'm in Ann Arbor now, having completed my pilgrimage to Cleveland.  I stopped for 2 nights in Canandaigua en route, then found Cleveland with Judy's help.  Dropped her off and found Mary Frances (my longtime friend from RI) in the lobby of the Cleveland hotel.  We checked in, found safe havens for our cars, and went out to dinner to an OK restaurant described as "the only one within walking distance" of the hotel.  It was loud and pretty mediocre but did just fine for us.

We got up early enough on Tuesday, had breakfast at the hotel and were at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for opening at 10 a.m.  YAY!!! I made it!  I have wanted to be there for many years so this was just so cool and amazing.  MF and I were well matched in our viewing so spent the day together wandering.  There are cool exhibits and even cooler films, videos and kiosks.  It's a great place.  We sang along with Graham Nash, we listened to an alphabet of one-hit wonders, we watched an Elvis film, an American Bandstand film, films of all the inductees, and watched part of the 25th anniversary concert.  The only disappointing part of the entire day was the museum's gift shop.  It's woefully inadequate and full of key chains and refrigerator magnets.  Where are the cool t-shirts?  Oh, there were travel mugs, sure.

We had dinner at a very nice restaurant (Midwestern walleye, yum) and checked out of the hotel on Weds. morning.  I drove on to Ann Arbor, just a few hours away, and am now settled in at Linda's for a nice visit.  We just spent a long time putting together the shoreowners' association's newsletter, 82 copies of which are nestled in their stamped and sealed envelopes, ready to go to the post office.  Whew!  It was great to get that done.  We've had a very nice visit, relatively quiet with lots of sightseeing in Ann Arbor.  Quite a place, this AA.

I start home on Monday, staying for a night between Buffalo and Rochester, about 7 hours from here and halfway home.  I'll be home Tuesday in time to retrieve the retrievers by 6 p.m.  I'm looking forward to seeing them.  I don't miss them too much, I'm distracted by enough things, but I do think of them.  I check my phone often for messages but so far the kennel has had nothing to report (which is GOOD news).

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cleaning and packing

I'm heading out on my pilgrimage tomorrow morning.  Drop the dogs off at the kennel/spa at 8:30, then hit Route 3 and off I go.  First stop is 5-6 hours away, Jim & Judy's house.  The weather is supposed to be grand, sunny and warm.  I have lots of books and music to listen to, and a GPS to entertain me.  I have maps of every state I'm driving to or through.  I have everyone's phone numbers.  I said goodbye to my mother this morning.  Mark sent me a nice card and a lot of money yesterday.  I haven't packed my clothes yet but they're either in the dryer or piled up in the bedroom.  Can I really be this well organized?  Is this what it's like to travel when you're retired and driving?

I saw a woodcock near my driveway yesterday and again this morning.  This is a sure sign of spring.  Jamie used to hunt them but they really taste like worms (well, to be honest, what I imagine worms would taste like) so he stopped shooting them.  They make amazing sounds with their wings when they do their mating routine.  They fly straight up into the sky then plummet to the ground.  It's pretty cool to see.

I had a cowbird at the feeder the other day, that was strange.  I'd say it was a treat but they're not very attractive and all they're known for is laying eggs in other birds' nests so I don't think of them as exciting to see.  I haven't seen one in a long time so I guess it's vaguely exciting.

I found a crocus in bloom this morning.  I have no idea where the rest of my crocuses are, but there's one blooming under the living room windows.  One.  Where are all of my daffodils?  And what about the squill?  Where, huh, where?

It's a beautiful sunny day, temp is 50 so I'll go outside in a little while and clean out the car and feed the birds.  I think I'll take the car to the free car vacuum to try to get at least some of the dog hair out of the seats.  Some, at best.  These dogs are shedding like mad this year.  I need to brush them some time today.  Yesterday at the dump (not my regular dump) the woman fed the dogs biscuits and we talked about dogs.  She has a "mastador," which is a mastiff-Lab mix and sounds like an ugly dog.  Anyway, we talked about shedding dogs and she nodded when I talked about my mess, saying "Oh yes, you're on to me, you get it."  Not sure exactly "on to me" means but we agreed and it was a nice exchange.

I bought brown paint so I can re-paint the trim on the living room windows.  I painted them several years ago but never really liked the color, and it brings out the pinkish hue of the wall paint so I really don't like it.  I painted the living room door gray and it looks just awful against the trim as well as the walls, so I should figure out something to do with that, too.  Boy do I want to paint my living room.  It's a cathedral ceiling, though, and would require scaffolding.  Someday, someday I'll hire someone to do that for me.  Oh there are so many ways to spend money!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring thaw

We had more snow, then more snow, but tonight it's raining and raining and the ground is once again bare.  I can't find the daffodils I planted last fall but others are coming up in different places.  At one time I paid close attention to my plantings: I have early-bloomers, mid-season bloomers and late-bloomers.  Now some of them are gone, some seem to have moved, and the ones I planted last fall are who-knows-what.  They were part of a big batch that Linda ordered from Costco.  Let's see how they do.

I went to Plattsburgh yet again today--as a true commitment to spring I had my winter tires removed and put in storage.  I didn't have 4 tires to replace them with so bought new ones.  I love me, there can't possibly be anyone less organized than I am.  Anyway, my car has new shoes and is much quieter without the low-profile tires I use in winter.

I had an OK weekend, met a friend for coffee and long visit on Saturday morning.  It was cold out, with a cold wind and frozen ground.  We had a nice time anyway.  I went to the dump, picked up garbage at the Holts.  I went to their house for dinner Sat. night and had a nice visit with our ex-Congressman and his wife (until I offered my opinion on a friend and associate of his, oops).  The Holts left this morning.  Yesterday I went to P&J's, had a nice visit with Bill.  Jim is not doing well, has had breathing problems more severe than his usual issues and they're working with the doctor to discover what the problem is.  It's very scary, reminds me of my father's final days with congestive heart failure but maybe this is different.

I have no real plans for the rest of the week--lunch on Weds. in Plattsburgh, with a stop at AAA to get a map of Ohio and Michigan (if they have one) for my upcoming trip.  I'm leaving Saturday morning or Canandaigua, where I'll spend 2 nights with friends before moving on to Cleveland to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  I'm sure I've written about this pilgrimage already.  Anyway, I'm meeting my RI friend Mary Frances in Cleveland, where we'll stay for 2 days to see the RRHF, then I'll go north to Ann Arbor to spend time with Linda.  I'm driving, which just makes it more dramatic.  I think I'll stop at a cousin's in the Finger Lakes on the long trip home, but haven't worked out the details of that.  I may end up in a motel for the night instead, weary from visiting with people.  I'm boarding the dogs at the spa, where they thrive.  That's expensive but this is a trip I've wanted to take for a long time so it's worth it.

Nothing much else going on.  I'm working on the newsletter for the Historical Assoc. and will meet with Bill and 2 other trustees some day this week (I guess).  I'll meet with the Director again when I get back from my trip.  By then it will definitely be spring here.  Temps are supposed to be in the 60's this weekend--of course I won't be here for that...

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Even MORE spring snow

It snowed quickly and hard last night, we ended up with 4-5 inches of white magic.  not magic, just white.  I was enjoying the bare ground, not always visible in early April, but now I'm looking at a landscape that is more like January.  It's supposed to be 50 and raining today but right now, at almost 7 a.m. it's only 28 and cloudy.  I have to go to the Holts this morning to turn up their heat--they're arriving tonight for the weekend.  It will be nice to be with them, but I sure don't feel like leaving my living room right now, and it's not even that warm here.  Well tough, toots, get off your butt and walk down there.

I've been to Plattsburgh too, too many times lately.  Made 3 trips last week, it will be 4 this week.  Dentist appointment, meeting at the Historical Association followed by lunch with Bill, emergency med. run for Jim, and lunch with Julie today.  It feels like a long drive to me now, which is what is expected when you don't do it 5 times a week, every week the way I did for so many years.

So what do I do besides drive to Plattsburgh?  Not really much, it appears.  I email friends, I read the paper and many magazines, I watch too much television, I let the dogs in an out and in an out and in and out, I clean my house (a little, sometimes, rarely), and suddenly the day has ended.  I agreed to edit the Clinton County Historical Assoc. newsletter so met with the Director there earlier this week.  What exactly this will entail is unclear to me, but I'll have to learn Publisher in order to be of much help, and will have to work there in Plattsburgh because I don't have Publisher here at home.  Oh boy!  More trips to Plattsburgh!

Today I'm having lunch with Julie, which will be tough as she continues to deal with problems.  I can assist by offering support and advice (oh I always have plenty of that) and making her laugh.  Last night I visited with Pat & Jim, who are facing a crisis of their own--Jim is unhealthy and is having trouble breathing.  I made and emergency run to get him some meds last night.  His condition is all to reminiscent of my father's final months, but there is so much more information and so many more treatments now, so Jim will probably outlive us all.

I communicated with my friend Mary Frances yesterday, we're meeting in Cleveland soon--my pilgrimage to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  I guess I take a trip every spring, last year it was to Georgia, which was a real treat.  This year it's to Cleveland and Ann Arbor, again a treat.  Why am I so obsessed with the RRHF?  I don't really know, except listening to music has always been important to me.  I'm lucky to have a life soundtrack consisting of the good music of the 60's and 70's, with gaps in the late 80's and most of the 90's.  I don't like museums much but this one has been summoning me for decades.  And I will be very happy to see Mary Frances, who currently lives in Pittsburgh.  I haven't seen her in a very long time.  We worked together in Providence and were good friends then.  The gallons of Dewars we drank together were legendary.

This week included the anniversary of my brother's death.  Generally death anniversaries don't do much for me--I miss my people every day--but this year, the 13th anniversary, for some reason hit me harder.  My brother was a special person (but then, aren't all dead people "special?"), he was truly capable of great charm and humor and was a good big brother.  A very loving person.  It's too bad he didn't get to know his granddaughter, which is a shame.  He did have a good life, though too short for sure.

Enough about dead and dying people.

Next week I'll have my winter tires switched, a definite sign of spring.  This has to be done before driving to Cleveland, but I'm always hesitant to do it too early.  I think my timing is pretty good this year, having winter tires will be awfully handy today.

And Donald Trump failed in Wisconsin.  My mother conceded that, thankfully, we may not have a President named Trump after all.  She's been very worried about that.  I have more faith in Americans than that--time will tell whether that's misplaced faith or not.  I voted this week, absentee ballot, because I'll be away for the NY primary.  I also was summoned for jury duty but didn't even have to show up.  Ordinarily I'd be happy to serve but the timing was all wrong for me, I am counting, absolutely counting on leaving next Saturday.

The dogs are just fine.  They like snow.  We have a regular visit from a snowshoe hare (we don't have cottontails here, we have giant hares), driving the dogs wild.  The hare is turning brown from its winter white and is a dun color so I'm surprised that Tess can spot it in the brown grass, but every day she explodes when she sees it.  I don't like to have them chase the poor hare, but sometimes I let them out, worrying that they might catch it.  Doubtful, very doubtful.  Anyway it's reassuring to me that Tess' vision is so good.  She's barely deaf, is much like an older person who turns her head and says "Did you say something?"  This is her 13th year and I feel very lucky.  I think this means that Treasure will be 7 this year, but I really should look that up.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Spring snow

It's snowing today but nothing serious.  It was 7 when I got up, now it's up to 20.  I just returned from Plattsburgh, a visit to the dentist.  Just a cleaning but I think I get hysterical even just when the word "dentist" is mentioned.  Anyway all is well, I passed with flying colors.  How great is that?  No problems, no changes.

It was a pretty busy week last week, 3 trips to Plattsburgh.  I went Wednesday to have lunch with Julie and do some shopping.  Poor Julie was not having a good week and was at home so I missed her.  Did get a lot of errands done, though.  Thursday I had a hair appointment, followed by a nice Julie visit at Starbucks.  I can't do much to help her through this very difficult time, but I can listen and offer support and affection.  Affection?  Well, she's not an affectionate person but I offer emotional affection and whatever advice I can come up with.  And I can make her laugh.

Friday I had lunch with Barb, which is always a treat.  We get along well and are evenly matched in many ways.  We compare mother stories and make each other laugh.

Saturday was dump day, after that I didn't feel like doing much so I mostly spent the afternoon on the couch watching PBS cooking shows.  I did some cleaning, did more yesterday because I hosted book group last night.  I made dinner, something that used to be delicious called Mexican lasagna.  I think I didn't cook it long enough because it sure wasn't delicious.  Oh well, we never complain about each other's cooking and never, ever judge each other in any way.  I got rid of a few things, managed to find some giveaways that Lin and Marylou were interested in--maybe I should say WILLING to take.  We had a good time, the 3 of us.  It was peaceful and pleasant and good visiting.  Hard to believe our next meeting will be in May.  That used to seem so far away.

Yesterday I went to P&J's, with much discussion about whether the ice was out or not.  Jim finally went to the foot of the lake and determined with binoculars that NO, the ice is not yet out.  After last night's temps I'm sure it's REALLY not out.  It's still early but the lake is almost all open so it will be an early year for ice-out.  My date is the 20th so I won't win the pool for sure.

I'm starting to get ready for my trip to Cleveland and Ann Arbor, mostly just getting myself psyched for the trip.  I'm driving to Canandaigua on the 16th, spending the night and Sunday with friends there.  Monday my friend Judy and I drive to Cleveland, where I'll meet a friend from the old days of Providence.  We'll stay in a hotel for 2 nights, and spend Tuesday at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  I am so psyched to go there!  I've wanted to do that for a long, long time.  I don't like museums at all, but this one is so very, very wonderful.  On Weds. I'll drive to Ann Arbor for some time with Linda, and will start home on Monday.  I'm spending Mon. night with cousins near Auburn, NY, on one of the Finger Lakes.  I haven't seen them for a few years and they are favorite relatives so that will be nice.

When I boarded the dogs for the RI birthday trip, they spent a week at the kennel and came out in fantastic shape.  They lost weight and were happy and great.  I'm boarding them again, for 10 or 11 days when I leave, and they'll return to the spa/kennel.  They like it there and never seem to mind being there--plus the kennel owners like my dogs so it's an ideal situation.  Expensive, yes, but I feel lucky to have such a good situation nearby.

My kitchen is full of dirty dishes so that's what I'll work on today.  I love this life!