Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Peace and happiness to everybody!

Having a quiet, simple celebration this year.  It's been a peaceful and good year. 

The treetopper came from my grandmother's home when she was young.  My guess is 1920's.  I always tuck it into the tree somewhere, but Spouse suggested using it as the topper this time, as it was intended.  I love it.  We did not put a bulb in that hole in the center.  We're doing low stress and don't wan to stress the star either.  8~)

Wishing a joyful turn of the year to everybody!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Red, white. Blue.

You knew this was coming, didn't you?

I've complained a lot about living here.  As we slowly empty the house to move to a place that's, in many ways, the inland home of our dreams, here I am.  Getting sad.

I haven't forgotten the minuses of living here.  Development is stripping away woods in every direction. The bike bridge brings tourists dumping trash, killing wildlife.  Thieves and intruders have become frequent.  Even as I took these photos of beauty I don't want to give up, the highway noise ground on and on, with varying pitches and decibels, peaking with motorcycle roars.

But living here was a gift from my parents.  It enabled us to survive this decade.  Their love for us is in these walls.

And our love for wildlife permeates this little patch of wood.  Larry especially has grown and nurtured the trees and garden, kept it chemical free, made it a haven for more birds than I can name, bees, garden spiders, dragonflies, little bugs of unknown name.  We've brought highway-trapped turtles here at least 8 times.  We've relocated more raccoons than I can count, 6 in an 8-day period last year.  The loss of woods has them crowded and seeking food, and we can take them to a couple different huge preserves.

We may not see a lot of those guys in the inland suburbs, though we did have a possum a few weeks ago.  8~)

Happy Fourth!
Still, I love the new house more and more.  We take boxes and unload, water plants, eat lunch, hang out, and it gets harder to leave there, but the cats are still here at the Inlet (moving them is a big worry), and we still need to be here to wrap things up.

Moving out of this Inlet house does not necessarily mean losing it.  We own half of it and it can't be sold to some twit who will clearcut to get a better view, without our OK.  Neither my bro. nor I can quite settle on what to do with it, but Larry and I put so much into it, the bond is there.

I bond with homes.  They shelter me and become inhabitants of my heart.

It's getting bare.  And after all my complaints, I confess, the sight makes me sad.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

If you think global warming is not a problem

...then this guy we saw in the grocery store, whose cart I asked Larry to surreptitiously photograph (well done, love!), clearly knows something you don't.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dear Valued Member: Bend over!


For All Your Insurance Needs!
Get the Peace of Mind that PottervilleMega brings!

June 18, 2014

Dear Valued Member,

     We're Going Paperless to serve You better!  You will no longer receive paper copies of your Explanation Of Insurance Benefits, telling you which recent medical services we decided to pay only 13 cents and a Big Smile for.  Instead....

     Visit our corporate web page for it!

     Yes!  You can receive your Explanation of Benefits online, without waiting a few extra days to get it in the mail, which we know means everything to you!  We also know how much you love to spend time on corporate websites!

     So go to and create an account!  It's easy!

     Click "Hail Yes, I want desperately 
          to Create an Account!"

     Create a unique but respectable username,
          NOT using any sarcastic versions 
          of our company name
          (i.e., "PottervilleVictim," or 
               etc. None of that, now.)

     Enter your 17-digit member number;

     Create a password of 8-16 characters, 
          2 capital letters 
               (neither of which may 
               be the 1st character)
          1 to 3 symbolic characters
          and the name of any boy band!  [See Note 1]

     Choose and answer ANY THREE 
     of the following Security Questions:

          Latin name of your first illness?
          Name of any historic OTC drug 
               that later became a 
               prescription-only drug?
          What was your first circus souvenir?
          On what street did your father work 
               when you were 3 years old?
          Telephone number of your 
               first elementary school?
          Your 7th grade GPA?

     And You're done!

     Now You can see Your information any time, once You log in and wait for all nine animated slideshow items showing cheerful people, with great teeth, expressing delight over the joy of having one more corporate website in their lives, to finish playing, followed by a fade-in pop-up box showing Your site choices, with "View my account" at the bottom, off-screen until You scroll down! [2]

     If you prefer not to Go Paperless, simply go to our website, create an account, and choose 

     [  ] "I am an outdated, uncooperative jerk who cares nothing about saving PMBOI paper, postage, or the salaries of all the people we're laying off, which will not give me a premiums reduction, but will save trees and I hate trees, so please continue paper statements."

     It's that easy!  And there's no additional charge for all these cheery exclamation points which have put you in a happy, enthusiastic mood, haven't they?  Come on!  Let's see that smile!



[1]   U2 is not a boy band.  We're tired of people trying to shortcut with this, so we've also disabled the use of "U" as your capital letter, if it is paired with the numeral "2".

[2]  The scroll-down function may not work on some browsers and devices.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


    What is unseen
     flows to what is unseen
     passing in part
     through what we partly see

          -  W. S. Merwin

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Flag Day

Feeling pretty fortunate today.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Here comes money trouble

So in the past few months, an occasional news story has said food prices would rise, last year's drought being a major factor.  Lots of extreme weather and crop damage in 2013.

I read them and thought, yes, we'll be paying "more," a term that's a solvable problem when you're in the privileged class, and a crisis when you're trying to feed a family and make ends meet.

We have watched three different stores cut, and cut, and cut items we buy.  It wasn't one chain in trouble, it's all of them around here.  Fewer organics, fewer gluten free (purchased on a real MD's advice, so please, no lectures about how moronic the gluten-free "trend" is), less variety in general.

Today we hit our most-visited supermarket.  I was flabbergasted at the start, AND at the finish.

You'll need to enlarge it to read the price tabs.  I thought they were a mistake.  Seriously.  And they weren't.

I've bought these fruit juices, yes, organic and pricey, for several years for breakfast smoothies.  They've crept up from the 3.99 range into the 4.99-ish rage, and when I read about crop failures I must have thought they'd jump a full dollar (or gosh!  even more!).   But...??!  Not to nearly 10 dollars.  Tack tax onto that.

Nearly 10 dollars.

The store knows that's not gonna fly, and they've just started stocking a new brand, also organic, back down at 5.89, and I did buy it.

On we shopped, with our usual list.  Long ago we decided that healthier food was an investment that might keep us a little healthier, a little longer, as aging and higher disease risk started workin' their magic.  So for stuff we use most, we have not bought the cheapest options for a very long time.

We also do plenty of of regular, normal Big Food Industry products.   Each is a considered decision.  Organics are more important when they're something we consume a lot of.  I get organic juice in glass bottles, and not major non-organic brands in plastic bottles.  We do organic milk.

This is all to point out that our shopping doesn't change much.  So when we got to checkout and the total was

TWO HUNDRED FIFTY-NINE dollars, I was ......  I was......

I can't provide an item by item comparison.  We got two containers of whey protein, not one, and two magazines, but they don't explain this being about $80 more than I was used to spending for similar -- again, not identical -- but similar carts full.

This is unsustainable.  Partly for us, but we can adjust and comparison shop and work harder at it, but mostly for the economy.

Those brands in the photos can't stay in business if they have to charge close to 10 bucks for a bottle.

The substitute brand will supposedly have to raise its prices too, even if they manage to beat the competition.  I don't think close-to-$8, or close-to-$9, will sell much better than close-to-$10 does, and more shoppers will be over in the Big Food juice aisle, dropping spending back down, but to the standard brands' also-rising prices.

Families with budgets are already there in the Big Food aisle, where those higher prices will hurt them, badly.  Where will they get the extra money?

I'm liberal but I am not a progressive  (whole 'nother topic), and Mother Jones magazine annoys me way too often, but it does have some good information, and one column in the March/April issue was enlightening about SNAP buyers and how they stretch their dollars.

Don't get me started on the writer's defense of using SNAP money for junk food, which made me say very bad words.

So.  How much further can these buyers stretch it?

The crash of 2008 had analyses written about it ad nauseum.   One article I recall from very early in the crash pointed out that the trigger was the gas price jump.  Not that the mortgage debacle wasn't the root cause, not that the economy was healthy before that.  It emphatically was not.  But its plates could keep spinning in the air until those homeowners paying those absurd mortgages could no longer budget for them.  And that was the extra 30, 50, 100 dollars they had to put in their gas tanks every month.

That's what the article said, and, again, it wasn't the root cause, and multiple other articles haven't mentioned it (though I could have missed some) but it had to be a major factor.  The dollars of your income per month are the dollars of your income per month, even if filling your tank has jumped from $30 to $50.  I remember emptying my account to fill a Honda Civic's tank, and I know for sure a whole population getting hit that hard was unsustainable.

Here we are again.  Natural events may have jacked this basic budget item up, but how many families' budgets will tank this time, and can we do anything but batten down?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Normal things in life can still be crappy

Every afternoon, when Dad was here, I would come over and we would watch reruns of Bonanza on the old kitchen TV (which was my old 1991 TV, and which I still had in the basement and brought over for him when his TV quit).

"The Cartwrights are in big trouble.  I'm not sure they'll get out of this one," he would say with a mocking look of concern. "Oh dear," I'd reply, as though it were possible that the Cartwrights would succumb to any villain.

Today, for the first time, I am watching it in his kitchen without him, to occupy myself while estate appraisers go through every, and I mean, every item in my parents' house.   This was their life.   These were the things they used, and were given for their service in church offices, and collected, and cooked with, and listened to on the CD player, and decorated with at Christmas, and read, and remembered their own parents by.  Now it's all being inventoried for "fair market value" to value the estate, as estates must be valued.

It's what happens as each generation passes, and it's normal, and it's really crappy.   I'm trying to enjoy Bonanza but I miss Dad.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The joy of our vine-covered cottage...

O yes, we love this house, but you HAVE to control those lovely vines.

Here you see what they do and why they need regular chopp-  pardon me,  regular pruning. They'll work right up under your siding and slowly ruin it.  Roof shingles as well.

The ice storm caused a lot of headaches -- more photos to come -- plus there's regular maintenance like this, and it's good, satisfying work.  I like nurturing this nifty little house.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Why do these exist?

All right, I know why.  Because they are full of funny, interesting stuff, so people buy them and almost always as gifts.

Certainly not because they are even a little useful as information, organization, or any other function a calendar supposedly fills.

So.  Does anybody know how, exactly, I can get people to never give me a  #&^%$-ing  block calendar again?

I mean, without actually using Honest Communication and telling them?  

"I really hated your previous gift, but thanks SO much, but please never give me these annoying things again, okay?"

See, I like the content of all these.  They cover topics chosen well by people who know me and my tastes well, except for the  #&^%$-ing  fact that they are  #&^%$-ing  block calendars.

I have a hard enough time with my desk as is.  Its surface is small, it's always a heap of paper and bottle caps and dried up pens and stuff I periodically search through when something is missing, and there is NO room to dedicate to a block calendar, even if I did not need to leave additional empty desktop space in front of it to wrench off and throw away yesterday's cool and entertaining page to obtain today's date, which, for heaven's sake, who does that every single day anyway?!

The content works better as a little book, to use not as a source of calendar information, but for reading a bunch, or all, of the jokes in one sitting.  Only, no, because grasping it to flip and hold up each page makes my thumb ache.  So it's not a good format for pleasure reading either.

So I put each one on a shelf and when the year is over, they go in a drawer or something, because they are so full of great cartoons or factoids that I will never look at because my thumb aches, but still, they're so great.

I can't tell people I hate these things.  I therefore propose that, to get me out of having to deal with this problem, they be banned.

OK, I suppose that's asking a lot, but could somebody change this  #&^%$-ing  bad design?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Southern Ice

We got a sprinkling of snow on top of about an inch of solid ice, in these coastal parts, and that ice is heavy stuff.

OK, I'll just use the other stairs....

Ice about an inch thick on flat surfaces.

Cardinal picks his way down the road.

Dirt roads fared better than the asphalt, but by 11 AM when I had dressed in enough layers (it was 25 degrees f.) to go out, that highway in the background was pretty clear; only with lots of meltwater puddles, which will slick up again overnight.

Unlike our previous snowstorm, it won't be back up to 40 degrees f. by noon.  It won't get above freezing today, and the whole mess will refreeze tonight.  Tomorrow it will start melting away!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Change the things you can. So we did.

Here's the lowdown on 2013:

We lost both my in-laws in 2012, my father-in-law 2 weeks before Christmas.  Christmas 2012 involved fresh grief, and was harder because of an unpleasant houseguest who simply could not comprehend that we had just had a life-changing loss, dammit. This unbalanced person became a problem through several months.

In January we were hit with a legal and personal attack (unrelated to the houseguest).  The legal is nothing, a nuisance that will go away, but the personal was so unexpected, we felt punched.

While we tried to stay emotionally balanced over this, elder daughter got sicker than she has ever been.  She nearly died twice.  We had endless trips to doctors and hospitals, we were up all night for multiple nights, and it took about 5 months to get her back on her feet.

I went to the ER six times March through November, for 4 family members including myself, in support roles 5 times, only once as the patient (It was time to give in and go back on antidepressants, and the first one gave me a supernova migraine).  We lost Dad, as you know.  The rest of us are fine.

In the middle of all this, the hurricane season loomed.  Yall have heard me stress out about the goddam things to a tedious degree.

My grandparents' 1930's laundry hamper

There was naturally a list of things we cherished.

There was also getting Dad through a storm.  Even an evacuation of a couple of days would be hard, since he needed a place without stairs, and I didn't want to load all of us and 3 fighting cats onto any dear people who would offer to house us.  If a storm damaged Dad's house, he'd need to be comfortable somewhere for...weeks?  Months?

We could do nothing about the other problems of the year except wait them out and steer into the wind.  But we had to do something to solve the one problem we could solve.

We went to our bank.  It was amenable to giving us a mortgage.  We bought a house.  Inland.

The above-mentioned personal attack made us want to keep this location a secret, so we did.  Basically, we've had the house since May.  Things are quiet, I'm tired of sitting on this, so.  There it is.

We've been in a slow moving process since summer, taking stuff we didn't want to lose to disaster, and setting up a room for Dad.  We didn't spent a night there until Christmas - the place was a heap of boxes, and a couple beds and chairs, but we realized that Christmas at Dad's house would be too painful, so we scrambled to take what we'd need to stay in the new house for a few days.  Changing the setup of Dad's room was sad.  Making it Daughter's room for the holiday was happy.

The house is still a heap of boxes.

We are in love with it.  It's quiet, it has a whole room JUST for a library, it has a walled garden for Scooter, a big train room for Larry, I will have a real room for an office.  We are both so ready to leave here.

We're all OK, including our daughter who is back living her life again, blessing of blessings.  Younger daughter was in a total car smashup - her boyfriend had to be cut out of the car - but they had only minor injuries, and that qualifies as miracle.  Blessing again.

So, 2013.  Blessed, horrible, ground us up in a meat grinder, then let us all get put back together, and at least for me, I'm not who I was. I never expected any year to worse than 1994, and you can laugh or generally be disgusted at my childishness over that.

So help me, I thought there was such a thing as "enough" for fate/Higher Power/whatever, to put us through.  Any fool could read the news and know better.  I could, in fact, read the blogs of some of my friends and know better.  We're still luckier than a lot of people.  But I've lost something that I undoubtedly needed to lose.  I don't know what exactly it is.  Stupid trust in a benevolent power?  Trust in a tendency of the universe to balance things?

One of the main reasons that we were anxious to have a place inland left us on the 29th of November when Dad passed.  There were other reasons we needed the house, but I also think about how we never expected to spend Christmas away from the coast, yet, how crucial it was to our sanity to have that house as a sanctuary for a holiday that I dreaded. Is that the Benevolent Power letting the storm play out but giving us a boat?

Maybe I will be an adult someday, and have a faith that's more like, "you can't always get what you want.  But you get what you need."  I'm sure closer than I was.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Not *quite* like popping bubble wrap...

Popping it is more fun, but, I swear, stripping off old tape from used bubble wrap is almost as satisfying.  Makes it more reusable, sure, but pulling off the tape is pleasurable anyway.  That wad of tape in the foreground is tonight's achievement.

Little things make me happy, but I need them to come along fairly frequently.