Thursday, August 17, 2017

Peaches

Three years ago I started a small orchard with 2 pears and a peach tree. The first year the peach tree bloomed and sprouted hundreds of peaches.  Unfortunately some critters (I suspect squirrels) came in one night and pirated every single baby peach away.  The second year we had a very late frost that killed all fruit development.  This year the tree was a mass of beautiful pink blossoms which then created a mass of baby peaches.  


I was not very hopeful that they would mature without being absconded by some marauder but mature they did. Hundreds of them.  So many I had to brace some of the branches that were threatening to break under the weight.



Every day for the past 2 weeks I have been picking a huge bucket of them as they ripen.  But since they are not bred with preservatives they rot very quickly. So we have been in peach eating, giving away and processing mode.




Peach jam. Check.




Sliced peaches in canning jars.  Check.



Dehydrating peaches. Check.



Processing peaches is a very messy business and I am glad that the yield is finally starting to slow down.


But silly me, last year I was convinced that I would never get peaches to survive so I bought a second tree because I just liked the shape and flower of it.  So next year, critters willing, we will have twice as many peaches to deal with. Yikes.

Monday, August 14, 2017

For Eddie

There is a dog who needs some help.


He has suffered much abuse in his life.  He had his tail chopped off, was hung from a tree by a metal snare round his waist and left to die, and finally someone tried to kill him by hitting him over the skull with a metal bar with a spike on it.  They missed his skull and hit the top of his nose instead, hence the hole.  You can read more about him here https://sweffling.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/romanian-rescue-dog-2/




No living thing deserves to be treated with such violence.


Fortunately there are angels like Susanna in this world who love and  take care of those hurting animals, even when they themselves have heavy things on their plate.  


I have known Susanna as a blogging friend for a little while now and know her to be an extremely compassionate, empathetic person.  She so badly wants to help Eddie but as any of us who live with furry animals know, even routine vet care can be expensive.


Susanna has (reluctantly) started a crowdfunding page for Eddie. If you are able and so inclined, please kick in a few dollars*** for Eddie.

https://www.leetchi.com/c/money-pot-eddie-22587947


*** Susanna lives in England and therefore the funding page is in pounds.  I had no idea what the exchange rate was so I tried giving 30 pounds.  That turned out to be $39.10 on my credit card.  You can use that as a reference.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Full of Grace

After critters ate my entire first planting of green beans, the second crop is now ready for harvest.

Today's pickings

Visited Peachie in Boston where we went kayaking in the Charles River.  Very cool. We’ve decided that every trip should include a kayaking adventure.  

All the pink sailboats in the background were a kid's camp learning to sail.

Toured the inspirational Kennedy Museum and Library. I was not a big fan of the man, but greatly admired his politics.   



Back in the car for a quick visit to see my sister and family and finding a new route thereby avoiding all the Yankee Stadium traffic.

Had my yearly physical and was determined to be in pretty good shape. Cholesterol down, weight down, height steady and EKG strong.  Except for the increasingly irritating arthritis and possible reflux issues, I feel great.  I am hoping to make it to October which will mark the first whole year without a surgery in the last 5 years. Fingers crossed.

Good health is something I no longer take for granted and so I am particularly grateful today to still be able to enjoy friends, family and the great outdoors.


Monday, July 24, 2017

No Work and All Play

My body let it be known that it was time for some rest.  I enjoy projects but my arthritic hands, bursitis shoulder,  and decaying knees not so much.  So this past weekend:


I took my first swim in the lake. Truthfully, with all the cold rain we’ve had, the lake has been pretty chilly, but swim I did.  Not very far and very close to the shoreline, just in case.  I will need build up my endurance over time.


Beaner and a friend joined us for an easy, no stress BBQ that included farmstand, just picked corn on the cob.  Ultra sweet with butter running down my chin. Yum.


Took a quiet, easy kayak trip around the lake surveying the new construction. I tried to join a flock of geese but they would have no part of me.


the concrete structure is the dam that created the lake


Sat in my Adirondack chair and read an entire book - Little Big Lies - cover to cover.  An entertaining book with some very important messages about domestic abuse.   I am a pretty slow reader but this was a page turner.




I did stain the part of the reconstructed deck because, well, it’s just not a weekend at the lake without getting something done.


But I balanced that with a nap in my favorite hammock.  



Fresh air. Great summer food. Being in and on the water. Naps in a hammock.  Life is Good. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Lazy Days of Summer?


Summertime and the living is easy.

Unless you own a summer camp.

Fifteen years ago I built a deck for the lake house.  But to get around some zoning issues and the fact that the area is built on a rock shelf, I couldn’t put support piers into the ground. The whole deck (33 ft wide) floats and is supported by cement blocks.  Over time, as the northeast winters freeze the ground, the deck has heaved into a wavy, uneven mess.  This was the year to fix it.  First, remove 1000 screws that have wormed their way deep into the wood. About half came out. The other half had to be broken and/or hack sawed.  Then remove the supporting bolts to lower and heightened the corners as needed.  But of course, half the bolts broke requiring more hack sawing.  Bring in a couple more ‘heavier than hell’ cement supports (they were a lot lighter 15 years ago!) , cut and toenail in 12 joist supports and then screw all the top boards back on. It took us two 12 hour, backbreaking days to get it done.  It took me 3 days to recuperate from all my aches and pains. And unfortunately all that work and only 1/3 of the deck is done.  Then it will all need to be re-stained.


Two years ago Martha wanted to remove the carpeting in the dining area.  We peaked under a corner and saw wood flooring.  Great!   Until it all came up and we saw this.


Yep, they had run out of planks and so finished the floor with whatever non-matching wood they had left.  For the last 2 years Martha has been chirping at me to re-finish the floor.  I wanted to use wide plank pine, she wanted an engineered, easy to maintain floor.  We have looked for over a year and finally agreed on something so time to start that job.


Friday we were going to drive up and get the floor done together but on Thursday night we put out a skunk trap (yes, still dealing with a skunk issue at home) and actually caught one.  Unfortunately the pest control people could not come until Friday afternoon to relocate the animal so I went alone to do the floor while Martha waited at home, babysitting the skunk. By and large it was not a difficult job but very hard on my old weak knees.



Martha arrived just as I was doing the finishing touches (of course) and had a list of “smaller” jobs for the rest of the weekend.  Build shelves in the garage. Check.  Fix broken gutter. Check. Mow lawn. Check.  Meanwhile Martha was busy replacing some rusty old faucets, shampooing the carpets, painting shutters and hanging new lighting fixtures, a garage sale bargain. 

Occasionally we would take a break, sit in our Adirondack chairs overlooking the lake, sipping iced tea and wonder what it must be like to have a little mountain place to get away to and relax.  

We have no idea.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Full of Grace

  • After a week of very healthy eating and exercise, feeling good and dropping a few pounds.



I don't expect this rate to continue every week but hopefully it will reboot me into more mindful activities
  • Peaches still on the tree.  This is the largest they have ever been without them disappearing overnight.  I am beginning to get hopeful.






  • Everyone coming to the lake for the 4th of July weekend.  It’s always nice to be all together.



  • Answering an open request, Beaner and I were interviewed and gave a statement for this case. The Court got one right and we are thrilled to have been a tiny part of it.



  • Sold my first item on Craig’s List.  For those of you who are aware of my spouse’s borderline hoarding personality this was a big deal.  Plus $50 went into the 'going out to eat' fund.  I hope it is the beginning of some major decluttering efforts.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Full of Grace

The first of my bonus daughters got married in a beautiful, tear jerking ceremony last week.  I imagine that there will now be a string of weddings, much like we went through a rash of bar and bat mitzvahs, then Sweet 16s, then graduation parties. It is the next stage of their lives but it is making me feel very old. I have known these girls since they were 3. How can they possibly be old enough to marry already?

Installing a couple of new exterior doors and replacing all the rotten wood. We anticipated rot along the bottom where snow accumulates but on one of the doors the entire header was shot. So instead of an easy install we wound up having to remove siding, cut out all the rotten wood and replace a huge section of the garage header. It was a hell of a job that took days instead of hours, but I am grateful that we still have the strength and know-how to do these repairs.  And we feel we did something good for the house as well.


My peach tree has an over abundance of baby peaches loading down the branches.  I harbor no hope that the squirrels will leave me any once they are ripe but the whole process of trees bearing fruit both fascinates and delights me.


Along with now being able to pick a fresh salad every night.




And finally the monsoon season seems to have ended with a heat wave so I am walking my dog early in the morning and seeing the neighborhood in a whole new, summery light.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When does a cucumber become a pickle?

Sometimes in a man’s life,
Stuff happens that makes everyone go quiet,
So quiet that no one
Even dares to talk about it.
Not to anyone, not even to themselves.
Not in their head and not out loud.
Not a fucking word. Cause everything
has somehow gotten stuck.
There, deep in the fields,
Under the trees and leaves, year after year.

Then suddenly it all comes back,
Just like that, from one day to the next.
No matter how long ago it was
There will always be someone
To bring it all back.
Because no matter what you do or think
One thing is for sure -
You are always fucked.
Now, tomorrow, next week, or next year,
Until the end of time.

Fucked.

Opening lines from the movie Bullhead
_______________________

Any of you who have followed my blog for a long time know that I when I started writing I was in a deep throes of PTSD. I was completely at the mercy of whatever triggers sprung up and they would render me a quaking, blubbering, terrified blob for days.  Sometimes weeks.

I spent a torturous couple of years going through exposure and other therapies which brought me through that dark forest of terror and anxiety.  I am so deeply grateful for my original therapist who led me through that process but who sadly and unexpectedly died before we saw the finish line.  

Is there a finish line for PTSD recovery?

I never wanted to forget what happened to me. To us.  That would seem disloyal to Daphne and somehow be lying to myself. But my therapist convinced me that I could still remember and honor what happened yet learn to process my responses to it differently.  And for the most part, if I am vigilant about working at it, I have been mostly successful at that. The memories are still there but they no longer control me. I am able to live a pretty calm and normal life.

Then suddenly someone/something happens.

No matter how long ago it was
There will always be someone
To bring it all back.

There is only one person in my life now who knew me from that time and that is my best friend. I moved away so I would never again have to see that look of pity in people’s faces who knew.  Then my former boss called me from out of the blue having tracked me down through professional organizations. And there it was.  An innocent phone call, and wham!

Fucked.


I occasionally attend group therapy for folks with PTSD - sexual assault, veterans, one 9/11 survivor. No matter what the original trauma was, there is a common thread of knowing/fearing that some trigger is always lurking, waiting to yank you back down the hole.

One thing is for sure -
You are always fucked.
Now, tomorrow, next week, or next year,
Until the end of time.

I once asked my therapist “when will I be whole again?”  

She answered, “When does a cucumber become a pickle?”

It is a riddle I am still trying to answer.






Saturday, May 20, 2017

Retirement?

re·tire·ment
rəˈtī(ə)rmənt/
noun


  1. the action or fact of leaving one's job and ceasing to work . . .


. . . only to then be called upon to do everyone else’s work.


My daughter, who is moving into a new apartment, called to ask if I could paint it for her. She asked by saying “since I have to work 50 hours this week and you are home all day, would you mind ...”  

Jim, a casual acquaintance, recently had open heart surgery and cannot drive for a few weeks. A mutual friend called and asked “Jim needs a ride to a doctor’s appointment.  He asked me but since you are retired, and live closer, would you mind taking him?”  Which of course I did, but now Jim calls me every other day asking for a ride to the grocery store or could I pick up his meds.” Every time he says “Isn’t retirement great, to have all day to do whatever?”

A friend called to ask if I could come over and rototill her garden “in my spare time”  And then she laughed and said “I suppose you have nothing BUT spare time these days.”


Why is it that when you retire everyone thinks you have nothing to do?  They think my days are like this:



In all honestly I didn’t mind doing any of these favors for people.  But I do kind of resent the implication that now that I’ve retired I do nothing but sit around, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for someone to call and give me something to do. I already volunteered 2- 6 hours a week doing errands for the elderly.  I have a yard and gardens to tend, a house that always needs fixing, household projects, a never ending “honey-do” list, relationships to nourish, vacations to plan.  In fact, I still haven’t found the time to do the things I thought I would like practicing the piano, reading and writing more, taking an interesting college class or daily taking my dog on different hiking trails.



I retired to have the time to do the things I want to do, not to pick up everyone else’s chores.

Sheeze.  

Rant over.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Full of Grace

The last fruit tree is planted and my tiny orchard is complete - peaches, apples, cherries, and pears. Last year the squirrels took every piece of fruit borne but I am hopeful as the trees mature and supply a more bountiful harvest, that the squirrels might leave me a few pieces to enjoy.


I finally finished putting a skirt on the deck (in between wave after wave of cold rain) so hopefully no more skunks or possums living under there.  What a nightmare that was.


Getting out my summer clothes I noticed for the first time that I can wear some light colored T-shirts and not have my slowly fading mastectomy scars show through.  I still can’t wear white, but some improvement is encouraging. Of course Martha says that I could a always wear a bra to cover the scars but I have not worn one in 5 years and it is the one perk I refuse to give back.

And speaking of cancer healing, today I will be donating blood for the first time in 5 years. I am truly feeling that cancer is behind me.  


This is where I'll be spending Mother's Day with my family. The Yankees will be retiring Derek Jeter's number at a pregame ceremony so it should be a memorable day. And we will all be together which is the best part of all.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Full of Grace - Cheating Death

On Friday morning Martha mentioned that she had smelled something odd in the basement. All my seedlings are maturing so we just assumed it was an earthy smell.  Then around 9 o’clock pm all our lights suddenly dimmed. Martha went to check the power box and the smell of melting plastic and smoke was intense.  Wisely, she turned off the main power breaker.

I called a friend whose husband is an electrician. “Be over in 20 minutes”.  He took one look at it and said that we were minutes away from having a fire which would have spread through all the wires in the walls.  The house would have been consumed.


As required by law, he called the power company who came and turned off all power to the house. He said that we’d need a whole new box, new meter and service, and everything would have to be rewired, a 2 day job at least, then promised to be back first thing in the morning.

Martha and I spent the night, wide awake, being grateful for friends who drop everything to come and help and mostly thinking about what could have been.  What could have been.

Over the years I have had three different  friends tell me they had dreamt I died in a fire. It has always spooked me.  A lot.

And now there have been three times we came dangerously close to a fire in the house - once when an outlet overheated at 2 in the morning. Fortunately since it was New Year’s Eve the kids were up and noticed the smoke. Otherwise we would have all been asleep.  Once when my sauna heater went bad and started charring the cedar wall behind it. And now the main circuit breaker having a major meltdown and Martha miraculously noticing the smell in the basement before going to bed.  

I admit I’m having weird feelings about it. Have I cheated death? Is there some strange existential reason I am still alive?  Is there something I need to accomplish before being swallowed up in flames?  Is everything sheer coincidence?

Having no power for two and a half days (even my phone eventually died) gives one a lot of time to think. Too much time, perhaps : )

Whether there is some omnipotent force in the universe or not, today I am very grateful to be alive.

And to have power.

All sorts of power.

Life is grand.

Friday, April 21, 2017

WTF???

From the Huffington Post:


Maryland Fails To Pass Bill That Would Take Away Rapists’ Parental Rights

Women in that state must include their attackers in any decisions about custody or adoption.


Maryland was poised to end a policy this week that would have stopped requiring that rape victims who get pregnant share parental rights with their attackers.
Instead, the legislation fizzled when a six-person negotiating committee ― comprised entirely of men ― essentially failed to iron out the final details before the state’s General Assembly adjourned for the session on Monday.
That means that in Maryland, a woman who conceives after a rape will still be legally required to negotiate with her rapist over custody should she decide to keep the baby, or include her rapist in any decisions regarding putting the baby up for adoption.
Maryland is one of seven states where that remains the case, along with North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama and Minnesota, according to CNN. In many other states, an assault conviction is required to block an attacker’s parental rights.  
This is the ninth time such legislation has been proposed ― and failed to become law ― in Maryland, The Washington Post reports. That is true despite broad support from groups typically at odds with each other, including Planned Parenthood and Maryland Right To Life.
Different versions of the bill passed both the Maryland House and the Maryland Senate this year, so a smaller negotiating committee came together to hammer out the final details, hoping to get a final vote in the House and Senate before the current legislative session closed.
Notably, that negotiating group did not include Maryland Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery) who has introduced the bill into the state legislature year after year. In fact, it did not include any female politicians at all ― an oversight that national media outlets including The Daily Beast have been highly critical of. 
“Some of the legislators on the committee unquestionably care about rape survivors and co-sponsored the bills,” Lisae C. Jordan, executive director and counsel for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which lobbied on behalf of the bill, said in a statement. “At the same time, the committee would have benefited from including women legislators.”
One of the negotiators told The Baltimore Sun that they could not pass the bill on time because the print shop in the State House could not work fast enough to get copies for a final vote in both chambers by the time the legislative session ended on Monday.
Whatever the reason for the failure, activists who work for sexual assault victims and reproductive rights are furious over the outcome.
“It is embarrassing that Maryland remains one of seven states without this legal relief afforded to rape survivors,” Diana Philip, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, the advocacy group, said in an e-mail to The Huffington Post.
“Year after year, the bill is introduced with both crime victim rights and civil liberties issues addressed. The strategy has been to allow members of the House Judiciary and Senate Judicial Proceeding Committees to make any necessary clarifications that would be in the best interests of all Marylanders,” she said. “But after a decade, the protections in the bill get watered down and concessions are made without any final result.”
According to The Baltimore Sun, Maryland legislators have vowed to revive the bill in 2018. 
But for Philip, that is not enough. 
“Maryland rape survivors do not need more time to fine tune this bill,” she told HuffPost. “They need it passed into law.”

I don't understand how rapists have parental rights in 7 states! 
I guess I have found my new political crusade.