Weekly Wrap…

Last week was catch-up time here at Sonnystone.  The garden was showing signs of powdery mildew, so we neemed and trimmed.  We officially moved to the downstairs bedroom, and turned on the a/c.  We put up the new pool, a 14×36 cheapo from Big Lots, and put in a trellis around its west perimeter.   The hot, muggy weather made it the perfect coolant after doing our chores.

 

I may have mentioned that I am not at all comfortable in water that is over my head, or too close to my nose for that matter.  I had a traumatic near-drowning experience when I was a teenager, swimming up at the stripper pits in Pelzer.   I never swam, or floated, in the pits after that and will have nothing to do with lakes or ponds, either.  When my children outgrew the baby pool, I started sending them off with other adults so that I didn’t have to brave the anxiety of watching their heads bobbing around in a sea of rowdy splashers, or hide my panic as I watched fretfully for them to resurface after diving.   Both of my kids are excellent swimmers and think I’m just being my usual neurotic self, like when I won’t let them near edges…   The grandkids sort of know that if they’re going to a Real Pool, JoJo will not be there, because it makes her nervous…no one likes to make me nervous…

I am, however, a World-Class air-mattress-floater, and have taught the girls how to slither into the pool without getting wet, a skill that will serve them well, long after their desire to do the breaststroke has left.  We bought some new rafts this year and I’m floating high on the water…

I’ve been doing this 15:9 intermittent fasting thing and have taken off a couple of lbs in prep for the bathing suits.  Of course, there’s 15 more to go, but I don’t think that’s going to be happening in the summertime.  I sweat like a…well, there is a small fountain at the top of my head that opens up whenever my body temperature goes above 98, pouring perspiration over my face, into my ears, funneling down the delta of my chest to saturate my clothing.  This sweating thing really is an excellent excuse to not work too hard in mid-day heat, and the chiggers are the excuse to stay on the screened porch at dusk and dawn.  With all that work-avoidance, and the holistic approach of treating sweating with cold beer, I’ll be happy to just maintain….because I’m old and confident…

I spent a welcome rainy Sunday reading for a new Book Challenge.  Willard Library’s Adult Reading Challenge invites you to read 10 books from 10 categories to be entered into a drawing for $250.  I think it’s read 3-4, you’re in for $50, going up with however many you read.  Thus far, I have read “book with a 1-word title” (Commonwealth) and “book with an animal as a character (Travels with Charley).  Currently reading “A Hillbilly Elegy”.

It looks like a lazy week up ahead and we’re going to take full advantage.  Though Casey will always find a project, he’s making good progress in sitting around with me.  Next week we are busybusy, and The Jose’ fam will be here before we know it.

We’re scheduling our Camp Sonnystone activities and trips.  Do you have a suggestion?  Have you been to the elephant ranch?  What did you think?  Emma and Eliza will be attending a week-end Feis in St. Louis at the end of the month and I hope we have time to hit the zoo and the arch, too.  Closer to home, we will visit our zoo and museum,  Ellis Park,  New Harmony and Harmonie State Park.   Am I missing anything?  Riverfronts, both Eville and Newburgh, perhaps?  There will be the usual arts, crafts, and music.  I’m thinking let the kids do some photography, too.  Soo excited.

With the Solstice in 2 days, this may be my last post for Spring at Sonnystone…  It’s a beautiful, 72-degrees and sunny, day and I’m going to get out there and do nothing…and perhaps a little nap afterwards…

Peace

 

 

 

 

Retirement, so far…

It’s been nearly 6 months since hubby’s last day at the highway, officially 12/16/16.  I was in NYC on the actual party day, but he was properly fete’d by all the young guys to whom he has been a mentor, as well as a whole quarry of old codgers who had worked with him in the past.  When I returned to Sonnystone on the 19th, our new life began.

At first, it was kind of like going away to college–we were free to stay up all night and/or to sleep all morning.  It was the holiday season, so we decked the halls and all that.  After the New Year, he dove right in and remodeled the laundry room.  It was a mild winter, so we spent part of February blazing a new path and making space for gnomes in our woods.   We spent a week on Dauphin Island in March.  By the time I solo’d to NYC again in April, he had nearly completed the new garden beds and fences.  After planting, we took a break to camp in the Smokies, and ever since we have been continuing to spruce up for the summer season.   We babysit the grandkids frequently and he has done some work over at the Jrs. house.  His usual mowing, wood-chopping, and fixing jobs have kept him busy and he claims that except for the machinery, he doesn’t miss work at all.

As for me, I am delighted to have him here to pal around with, but…  I write less, I read less, and I have given up watching what I want on TV.    My blogs are quickly-put-together pictures and commentary, not much more.  I haven’t sat down and spent a day working on Any project like I used to.  Though we’ve settled into a routine (we go to bed early and get up early), I haven’t yet been able to incorporate any Me time into it yet.  I still clean the house and cook the meals, all our traditional gender-based duties, and his constant gotta-be-doing-something has rubbed off and I am outside attracting chiggers and skeeters more than in my whole life.  The other morning, for the first time, I kinda wished he would go to work so I could just be alone.  Just one day.

By the time the pensions and annuities and social security kicked in, I had stressed over the insurance premiums (less than we paid at the state, thank-you, President Obama) and started feverishly throwing money into savings.  By May it was worked out, but the picture is not as rosy as I had hoped.   It’s doubtful we can afford to be snowbirds this year, but that’s due to the fact that we are taking 2 (yes, two) trips to WDW, one in October with the Jrs. and in January or March with the newyorkers.   Overall, though, the worry was unnecessary, as usual.  He wasn’t worried at all…

This morning I am up early to finish packing, grabbing an alone minute or two.  We are driving up to Indy and flying from there to LaGuardia.  Eliza is graduating from kindergarten at St. Joseph and they make a big deal of it.  We went for Emma’s, so we’re keeping it even, and I’m going to wear the same hat.  (I made a wonderful friend at Emma’s kindergarten party: Brownie Severine.  I doubt I’ll get so lucky this trip.)   The girls are doing their Irish dancing on Saturday, and we’ll head home Sunday morning.  Together.

So far, So good…

Peace

Another Week-end Wrapped Up

We arrived back at Sonnystone early afternoon Thursday.  You can read about our trip at My Travel Blog.  Wink had traveled very well, (even alerting us to bear outside the camper one night!) but was glad to get back to his old box, as were we.

Saturday was Olivia’s Dance Recital (as well as the Preakness, which did not turn out well, but I don’t wanna talk about it).  She has really improved and this year was her best.  In fact, the whole (half) of the recital that I watched was better than the last few.  It’s tough to get dancing pictures from the cheap seats without blur, but here’s my best of her best…


Didn’t I warn you about what happens when we go off-grid?  While we were in the Smokies, the news cycle was Spinning, and when I came out of the no-news-zone it took several hours of reading to catch up with the chaos.  I’m glad I missed it in real time.  Reading it all summed up was anxiety-producing enough…  Of course, those of you who watch faux news 24/7 don’t have any idea what I’m talking about…

Busy week ahead.   The garden is growing strong.  Check out the photos at My Garden Blog.  Until we meet again…

Peace

 

Ghosts of Birthdays Past–2005

It’s birthday week!  I turn 64 on Thursday, so let’s start the party!

I have had some stellar birthdays, and 2005 was a particularly eventful celebration.  These blog posts are from the Original Sonnystone Acres.  It was a primitive platform and I was a primitive writer.  I did not use caps. I did not use paragraphs.  Sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking.  I don’t know if I even owned the Nikon yet, but I remember I had to upload pictures to Fickr and then transfer them to the post.  I had nil choice of themes.   I loved blogging from the first, though, and you must admit, I have evolved…

Step into the Way-Back machine…

 

February 18, 2005

opening act

Filed under: Uncategorized — TheBug @ 7:46 pm

february needed a boost, so i was born…. it is my custom to observe Birthday Week. The Celebration kicks off tomorrow when the husband and i head south to music city tn for what is becoming a birthday tradition: the grand ole opry. during january and february the opry is broadcast at the Ryman Auditorium. as i was glancing at upcoming guests, i saw one of my all-time faves: Emmylou harris. her first album, with “one of these days”, is a well-worn treasure in my life. i had almost forgotten the first time i “met” her live and in person: i was married to a no-good (but charming) rascal and was working a lot at the steakhouse while he babysat young moon. one day in february, Marshall Tucker Band was scheduled to perform in our homeburg. while i was at work, mr. B loaded up moon and went over to the local holiday inn where he boldly proceeded to knock on the door of one of the band members and introduce himself and his daughter. the whole group fell all over her, naturally. i had to work the night they were in evansville, so he got us tickets to their performance in nashville a couple of days later—my Birthday. when we went to nashville we had backstage passes (got to drink their beer and eat their chips).  Emmylou was their opening act and we got to meet her! and charlie daniels, tommy & toy. we watched the first part of the show from backstage, so in a way i’ve never “seen” emmylou perform– but i’ll see her tomorrow night, along with vince gill, nasvhille bluegrass band, the whites, etc, etc: at the Grand Ole Opry.

February 20, 2005

saturday night at the opry

Filed under: Uncategorized — TheBug @ 3:28 pm

who-oo-o-oo-ewh!!! or however you spell it. we got lost going over to the botanical gardens, so we went downtown to eat first. driving down broadway in nashville i was attracted to a really clever neon sign featuring pigs with wings…after parking we walked down to jack’s bbq. the sign on the door said something like “the only thing smoking in jack’s had better be the meat” and upon stepping into the place i was high on the smell of the smoking pork shoulder that permeated the wood floors and ceilings.

i am sorry to report that i did not try all of the sauces, but can testify that the vinegar-based pepper-spiced sauce brought me to tears. we went to the botanical gardens after eating, but i will wait for another post with that story.

we ended up downtown around 6:pm and made our way beer-by-beer through dives such as bluegrass inn, second fiddle, the stage, and finally landed at Robert’s Western World.

Sadly, I don’t remember the name of this band, but they were inspiring. they evoked images of my daddy with their menu of 1960’s to 1980’s country music: merle haggard, ray price, buck owens, johnny paycheck songs; titles like “goin’ down the road feeling bad” “is it cold in here, or is that you?”, “rollin in my sweet baby’s arms”, “the only daddy that’ll walk the line”, and an instrumental of “ghost riders in the sky” that left me convinced that there are fourteenhundredandthirtyfour guitar pickers in nashville that can play better than any other guitar picker anywhere. after an hour and a half of them, the opry was pretty tame, but Emmylou hosted her half-hour and included “get up, john”, one of my favorite bill monroe numbers. it’s a mandolin-dominated song and she couldn’t help but dance, but my picture of her dancing was distorted. she introduced vince gill, he played one song and she came back and sang with him an old gospel song…sweet harmony.

 

Christmas Musings

I’m finishing up the cookie-baking with the chocolate chip and the snickerdoodles.  I always start with the oatmeal so that I can eat them while I’m cooking the others.  Gives me Fiber, saves me from eating all the cookie dough,  and the oatmeals just aren’t as popular as the others.  This year’s treats are going out to INDOT to add to the celebration of Casey’s last day on Friday.

I’ve worked through a few of my fears regarding his imminent retirement, but several things have gone off track for us.  For one, we got our health insurance through the Govt. Marketplace.  It was easy and we got a policy that is better than the one the State has been providing.  While I realize that the whole system can’t be dumped in a day, it is still a worry. When I made the first payment, I accidentally paid it twice, effectively making us broke for 3-5 business days until one of them is refunded.  For another, they won’t direct deposit his final paycheck, due on 12/28, digging us a slightly larger hole until it arrives.  Thirdly, I thought the social security would start in January, but it will be at the end of February before that gets rolling…   We will be laying low in January, living off the land until our ship comes in…(did I mix too many metaphors?)

retirement-alcohol

One thing you can count on is that Christmases at Sonnystone are always changing.  I played the organ for a couple of lutheran congregations for 20+ years.  It all started back in 1987 and I was there solid for the first 10 years, then started job-sharing for another 10.  I then filled in for 2 years at another church, finally leaving for good in 2012.   I loved the whole show–the Children’s Pageant, the choir practices, the Advent Services, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day.  My daughter sang in the choir at another church, so we had plenty of great music for the season and our annual duet of the Hallelujah Chorus was the stuff of legend.

Even though I climbed down from the organ bench, my daughter had taken up Church Work in NYC and our Christmases were limited to the times between her obligations, usually the week after Christmas.  Michael spends Christmas afternoon with his wife’s extended family, so the Actual Christmas Day often became a bit of a bummer.  Not to be daunted, we spent one Christmas Day in New Orleans, another in Gatlinburg, another wandering the labyrinth in New Harmony. One year we drove to Florida on The Day to meet up at WDW, cruising through Atlanta, where we saw maybe 2 cars, if you can imagine that.  By now, I rather enjoy the freedom from stifling expectations and overwhelming pressure to have a perfect Christmas.

One thing hasn’t changed: For the past 10 years I have taken the Jose’ girls to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  One time,  Jess and Olivia got to go with us while they were visiting for Thanksgiving.  The show has changed over the years, but the dancing Santas are still going strong, though Eliza, now 5, has still not been able to stay awake to see them!

I’ll be catching an early flight out to NYC tomorrow, going through Cooold Chicago, and arriving about 1pm.  On my itinerary is a  Friday matinee performance of The Messiah,  featuring my daughter in the NYC Philharmonic Chorus.  For Saturday we have tickets to see the Rockettes at 9am–hopefully Eliza won’t be sleepy!   I’m taking my Macy’s coupons for some shopping and Santa-visiting at the flagship.  On Sunday, Melissa will be performing in another Christmas Choral Event at Middle Collegiate.  I’ll fly back home early Monday and start Casey’s Retirement…

The rest of the Christmas plans involve plenty of mashed potatoes with the JRs. on Christmas Eve, then driving back to NYC on Christmas Day for some PawPaw Christmas Time with the E’s.  Weather permitting.  Because Melissa now works at a synagogue,as well as a christian church, there is just no time for her to come to Evansville this year.  We adjust.

Wherever we are, we are joined together by the bonds of Love, celebrating with music, with sharing, and with Peace in our hearts.

c-brown

There are 10 days until the start of Hanukkah.

There are 11 days until Christmas.

Peace

December 6, 2016–St. Nicholas Day

Happy St. Nicholas Day!  Did you remember to put your boot out so the Tall Guy could fill them with chocolate and fruit?  Hey, I’m not sharing…

chocolate-st-nick

Have you ever read about the St. Nicholas tradition in Holland?  They celebrate All Day on the 5th… I like this Sinterklaas guy…

St. Nicholas’ day is on the 6th December, but in The Netherlands, the major celebrations are held on the 5th December.

It all starts on the second Saturday of November (the first Saturday after 11th November) when Sinterklaas travels to a city or town in The Netherlands. Dutch tradition says that St. Nicholas lives in Madrid, Spain and every year he chooses a different harbour to arrive in Holland, so as many children as possible get a chance to see him.

Sinterklass travels with his servants called ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (‘Black Peters’). When Sinterklaas and the Black Peters come ashore from the steam boat, all of the local church bells ring in celebration. Sinterklaas, dressed in his red robes, leads a procession through the town, riding a white horse. Every town in The Netherlands has a few Sinterklaas helpers, dressed the same as Sinterklaas who help give the presents out. (and sometimes you might one see one or more Zwarte Pieten with Sinterklaas!)

sinterklaas-intocht

 

Children are told that the Zwarte Pieten keep a record of all the things they have done in the past year in a big book. Good children will get presents from Sinterklaas, but bad children will be put in a sack and the Zwarte Pieten take them to Spain for a year to teach then how to behave!

On the evening that Sinterklaas arrives in The Netherlands, children leave a shoe out by the fireplace or sometimes a windowsill and sing Sinterklaas songs. They hope that Sinterklaas will come during the night with some presents. They also believe that if they leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas’s horse, they will be left some sweets or small presents. They’re told that, during the night, Sinterklaas rides on the roofs on his horse and that a ‘Zwarte Piet’ will then climb down the chimney (or through a window) and put the presents and/or candy in their shoes.

 

The evening of December 5th is called St. Nicholas’ Eve ‘Sinterklaasavond’ or ‘Pakjesavond’ (present evening). The children will receive their presents during the evening. There might be a knock at the door and you might find a sack full of presents!

On the 6th of December (his birthday) Sinterklaas leaves the Netherlands on a steamboat from Rotterdam and travels back to Spain.

So I guess we missed out on that party…maybe next year.  It could be a nice alternative to folks needing to be in 3 different places on the 25th.  Not sure  Black Peter (and I thought it was just a Dead song) will effectively take over the spot of the Elves, but we could work on a movie, churn out some PR…and there’s already some great St. Nick carols to warble…

Peace

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Happy Birthday, dear Husband…

He’s 62-years-old today, still younger (and skinnier) than me.  Since the moment I set eyes on him, walking into my ex-husband’s basement apartment in 1977, I had a feeling…  He is a naturally good person, something rare these days, and has a penchant for being a Hero.    We were made for each other, me being a person who struggles to be good and very much in need of a Hero…  We have evolved into a very powerful Us…

December 16th will be his last day with INDOT—44 years of service to the Master State.  Like the good person he is, he actually Likes his job and in some ways hates to leave, but…   He wants to take the time to enjoy the fruits of his labor while we’re both feeling well.    I’m certainly all for that!  I hope, though, that we have many, many more years of feeling good, lots and lots more birthdays, and minute-after-minute of Peace.

So tip a cup of kindness, then,  to Michael Ray Casey, my Hero Husband and just general all-round Nice Guy…

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