Tuesday, November 5, 2019

How did it get to be November?

It really does seem as though ‘time flies as we age.’ We’ve all heard the phrase, but surprise; it seems there really is a scientific reason for it. If interested, read it here.

Sometimes it is hard to keep track as one day blends into another, then weeks seemingly fly by. Before you know it, months and seasons are behind us.

Thank goodness nature provides hints along the way. I knew when the days grew shorter and the daytime temperature cools, it is time to bring in my plants. I just did that a few weeks ago.

This is always a challenge. I never think I have many plants, but it is seems they add up quickly. That’s OK, there is nothing more pleasant in cold weather than to be surrounded by all that green goodness.

The state of my Christmas Cactus, at right, shows that we are nearing the Holiday Season. Actually, this is a Thanksgiving Cactus, which will be in full bloom at the same time the turkey is in the oven.

I have several Christmas Cacti, and it is always exciting to see flowers in those cold winter months.

 Some of my other favorite blooming plants are my most recent purchase—Shamrock plants.

I have always loved these plants and around last March when they are generally sold in stores, I could not find any. I fretted over this, so I went to Amazon and found several of them for sale. I jumped at the chance to purchase two different varieties, one green, one purple. I love them both.

These may be my favorite house plants of all time. They are almost whimsical. I love how the tiny stems support such large leaves and dainty flowers. The plants visibly bend toward the light. I have to turn them often to keep them from growing in only one direction.

I love this room, my favorite room in the house. And, I love it the most when it is filled with plants.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Something has really been bugging me

I like to write when I’m inspired. And I just had a big win that totally inspired me, so…

Living in the south, with our hot and humid climate, bugs are a very common occurrence. There are large ones, small ones, interesting ones, pesky ones, biting ones, stinging ones, and just about every bug you can imagine. Some I’ve never seen before. It is a real education living in the Ozarks. Most don’t bother me, but I really don’t want to share a living space with them.

A termite inspection just a few months ago was negative.

And, with five cats that live indoors and one that lives inside but likes to go outside, I have battled more than my share of fleas and ticks.

A couple years ago, fleas were a big problem. We still had carpeting and I was wearing out the rug scrubber in an effort to be rid of those pesky fleas. I refused to put poison on my cats, so I flea combed them often, and finally dusted them with diatomaceous earth. I sprayed inside the house with an essential oil-based spray. I haven’t had a problem since.

Now, I use diatomaceous earth around and even on the front porch.

What bugged me more recently was just the other day when I noticed bugs had invaded my stove.

stove pic
To be more precise, there was some kind of winged thing inside the top portion of my electric stove that houses the clock. I banged on the top of the stove until I didn’t see it anymore. Then, one day I looked and there were a couple of them in there. “That isn’t good,” I thought.

I pondered the solution to this problem, not really wanting to have to pull out the stove and disassemble it. In my experience, that kind of thing rarely turns out well. I wasn’t even sure if I could do that myself, so I kept thinking about what to do.

What I settled on was to use the electric stove’s self-cleaning oven feature to either fry the unwanted freeloaders or at the very least, chase them away. The stove gets really hot, and it has just gotten cold outside, so this was a good time to turn it on. I figured I could always do the cleanup afterwards.

The deed was done and I am happy to report there are no more bugs in my stove clock.

When I got up this morning, having to change the clocks back an hour to mark the end of daylight saving time, I had contemplated taking the stove away from the wall and cleaning behind it. I found that wasn’t necessary. I took out the drawer on the bottom where I store some pots and pans. It gave me easy access to the floor, all the way to the wall. I vacuumed the entire area and applied diatomaceous earth near the baseboard. That should take care of the bug problem.

This reminds me of another weird bug experience.

refrigerator pic

There was the time when fruit flies seemingly invaded the ice maker in the refrigerator. Apparently, this is not uncommon, according to all that I’ve read on Google.

I never imagined such a thing. Every time I would get something to drink, I had to dump the first glass of ice and start over. I always had to inspect my glass to make sure there was nothing floating in it. This was really starting to bug me.

I realized that my problem was that I was cleaning with vinegar. I poured it down the drain to keep things running smoothly. Apparently that is where fruit flies like to spend their time when they aren’t munching on exposed fruit in a bowl on the kitchen table. I also cleaned the refrigerator and attempted to kill any bugs I saw with vinegar.

Thanks to Google, I learned that fruit flies are attracted to vinegar.

So, I used soap and water and Q-tips to clean the ice dispenser area. Finally, I sprayed with a little peppermint essential oil. No more bugs.

From what I’ve read, this is not an uncommon problem either. I was lucky. At least I didn’t have larvae in the ice maker.

The bottom line for me is to keep things as clean as possible and always stay vigilant. I try to never use poison in my house. I never want to use products that will harm people and/or pets.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

I've never been more proud to be from Arkansas

Living in Arkansas makes me proud today as I watched this video from an interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. National Public Radio Legal Affairs Correspondent Nita Totenerg interviewed the notorious RBG as she has been dubbed, just a few nights ago in Little Rock. For the first time in years, I felt exuberance and hope for the future. It reminded me of another time.

Seeing Justice Ginsberg introduced by President Bill Clinton transformed me back the early 1990's, with all those feelings of hope.

As a Correspondent for a daily newspaper, I was fortunate to be able to write about current events, including President Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992. With my friend Michelle, I attended a huge campaign event in Chicago, where we were just two in a sea of people--more people than I had ever seen at one time--gathered in Chicago's Daley Plaza. In fact, there were so many people gathered to hear the young Governor from Arkansas speak, that it was one of the biggest crowds the city had ever seen. 

Following his remarks when the crowd began to disperse, there were so many people that it was a little frightening. Michelle and I got separated. My 5-foot 2-inch self was surrounded by hoards of people, most of them way taller than me. I couldn't see past any of them and at times I was no longer standing on my own two feet. Instead I was shoved along with everyone else. We were no longer individuals, but moved as one, like a giant tsunami wave. 

Thankfully, it was an exuberant, happy crowd. In fact, there was a feeling in the air that day that was noticeably jubilant. When I was finally able to meet up with Michelle, both of us had plenty to talk about as we escaped the throngs of people so we could make our way back to our car. 

Everywhere, people were smiling, laughing, and waving to strangers. Chicago isn't a small town, and generally passers by don't even make eye contact with one another. But not this day, it was different. The presence of Bill Clinton was intoxicating. 

After the last few years of feeling doom and gloom from a President that isn't fit for office, it was tearfully moving to watch Bill Clinton once more, in the above video. To a crowd of his home state supporters, he introduced the woman he named to the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 

The video shows footage of her swearing in during those good times back in 1993 in the rose garden. 

What a remarkable choice for a Supreme Court Justice. Thanks Bill Clinton for your intuition, your instinct, and your amazing political savvy. 

There could be no better member of the highest court in the land than Justice Ginsberg in my opinion. She is so intelligent, resilient, capable, remarkable, and renders opinions that completely fair, as they come from her knowledge, experience, education, and common sense. 

She has already achieved so much in her career. Her belief in the living genius of our Constitution and the meaning of "We the People," will be her legacy for future generations. She has worked so hard, been through so much, and continues to inspire us all. She, like the man who named her, lift my spirits and hope for a brighter future at a time when it is needed most. So thank you Justice Ginsberg for all you have done and all you continue to do.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Never an end to home organizing

chmusings:pantry organization
For the third time in as many years, I set out to organize my pantry.

Just a few weeks ago, I installed over-the-door shelves, which gave me a cursory chance to do some rearranging.

But the real necessity for this chore took root months ago, when my husband received a Keurig coffee maker for Christmas. What a wonderful gift; it provides fresh-brewed coffee in a fraction of the time of the traditional method. To make room for it, considering the ease of use for my handicapped husband, I gave it a special, accessible place on the kitchen counter.

We used it every morning without missing Mr. Coffee even a little bit.

I was almost gleeful at the speed for which I could open my eyes, stumble into the kitchen, and with so little effort, take my first sip of my energy elixir.

I began to notice though, that this was not just about a coffee machine. It introduced myriad accouterments, all necessary items. My husband uses K-cups for convenience and ease of use. Because I am more prone to conservation than convenience, I use reusable cups with paper filters. I keep a compostable bag on the counter for coffee grounds. We also have different coffee tastes. I use half & half and sugar; he likes Coffeemate. So I keep his coffee cups, my coffee in a canister, a sugar bowl, jar of spoons, and a spoon rest just to keep things tidy, close at hand.

All of this is a real mess on the counter. My pretty quilted table runner is camouflaged under all the coffee junk.

This has become a problem, so, I decided the cabinet above the coffee maker would be a perfect place to store all that coffee ‘stuff.’ Trouble is it was my spice cabinet. I decided the best solution was to move my spices into the pantry, so one morning I woke up at 5 a.m., made a cup of coffee and got right to it.

For as long as I can remember, I kept my spices on two round, Rubbermaid lazy-susans. They were not ideal, given the large number of spices I have, but at least I could find them. They were in alphabetical order, a practice I insisted on years ago when my kids were small, probably about the time they were learning their A,B,C’s.

When I got ready to make the switch, which included cleaning out the pantry as well, I move the spices onto a shelf inside the pantry. I soon realized those turntables had to go. Even after I got them all cleaned, they didn’t turn very well. They never really did. I decided it was time for something else. I scoured the Internet until I found something that might just work: a plastic, expandable, three-tier spice holder. I figured I didn’t have that many spices. Wrong!

When I received my new spice organizer in just a couple days--thanks Amazon--I realized I had more spices than I thought. I placed all the little jars and bottles onto what reminded me of the risers we stood on in Freshman Girl’s Chorus some fifty years ago. I hope this solution lasts longer than I did in chorus. I only made it one year because I really can’t sing.

chmusings: spices alphabetized
I got all my spices in order when I realized some of the small jars got lost in the shuffle. So I rearranged again, putting all the small jars in front and the others behind.

I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I can find whatever I’m looking for. And, if I should happen to buy more spices, although I doubt that is even possible, I can always readjust by expanding the thing. This is probably the best solution possible, since they really take up very little room. The best part is not only is the pantry organized, but I have a place for all the coffee stuff.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Remodel the master bath; best thing ever

One of the best things I’ve ever done is remodel the master bath.

Located just steps from the bed, my bathroom was functional; it was adequate. But after living in this house for a dozen years or so, I decided it was time to satisfy my long held desire to install a new jetted bathtub. I agonized over this decision. I knew it would be expensive. And I had no idea if or how it could be done. I pondered this, literally for years.

The main bathroom in the house has a bathtub, but it is far from the luxurious soaking tub of my dreams. Instead, it is a standard metal tub, probably installed when the house was built, somewhere in the mid 80’s. I tried to enjoy a leisurely soak in it, but this tub wasn’t comfortable; there was no place to put a candle or a calming glass of wine. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I was destined to merely take a quick shower.

Hours went into thinking about this, as I tried to look at all the possibilities. I’m sure I annoyed all my friends and family members as I solicited opinions and enlisted their aid as I brainstormed. They were kind though, and let me talk through all my thoughts.

I wondered about the possibility of rearranging the floor plan in the tiny master bathroom. I considered upgrading the tub in the main bathroom. Finally, I decided the best plan was to upgrade the master. It would require removing a portion if not all of a second closet in the bedroom. Between taking out the shower and knocking out the wall of the closet, there should be enough room for a new tub.

That was about a year ago. The project is now completed, but it ended up being a three-stage process. The first phase included just the bathtub and acrylic walls surrounding it. This left a real mess in the rest of the room. Thus, the second phase. I hired someone to handle that portion, which included replacing the sink and fixtures, and new plumbing. I kept the vanity, because it was roomy. I did installed new drawer pulls to make it look like new. The third phase was recently completed—to turn what is left of the bedroom closet into built in shelves.

I love the ability to either start the day with a quick shower or end the day with a comforting soak. There is something pretty special about a nice, hot bath in the middle of the day too. I love the choice of either a hot bubble bath or a massage of aching muscles. Soaking in Epsom salts is therapeutic. And who doesn’t enjoy the decadence of aromatherapy? I consider the bathtub to be a quiet respite that ranks right up there with a walk in the woods or working on a quilt. At this phase in my existence, life is all about enjoying the simple pleasures.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

It was a good life

Even now, almost a month after I said my final goodbye to this brave and wonderful cat, it is hard to look at her picture without a tug of emotion pulling at my heart.

I get a little choked up just thinking about her and the life she led. If she was human, we would say she was "special needs." She had much to overcome in her life, not the least of which was her name, Junior. I also called her Bug or Boo, which was much more fitting.

She was one of five kittens born on a hot summer day on the front porch on the 11th of July 2007. As near as I can recall, she wasn't the last born, but was third in succession. The litter turned out to be all female, a fact I didn't know when I named them all after my favorite NASCAR drivers. The runt of the litter, Rusty, lived only 11 days. And then there were four.

I was in love with them all and couldn't conceive of the notion of giving any of them away, though that had been the plan. We also had her mother, Timi, who made me so very proud that day.

I knew Junior was different right after her birth. She had a broken right front paw. I learned that sometimes kittens are born with a birth-related injury which can be overcome with proper care. So, when she was a mere kitten, I wrapped her foot, using a tiny splint to keep it straight. I soon learned that it wasn't just crooked, that her paw was indeed malformed. She had only two toes on that foot. It didn't seem to bother her though. She got around as well as her litter mates. She walked with a strange gait on her three good legs. She could run, jump, and do anything they did. In fact, she was a follower in those early years. Her sisters didn't have much to do with her, but she followed them anyway. She obviously wanted to be just like them. It was actually a beautiful thing to watch.

She was the last to be weaned. She found great comfort in being by her mother, but after the others were weaned, her mother decided she had had enough. Timi was a good mother, despite the fact that she wasn’t much more than a kitten herself. She was like the teenage girl who got pregnant on the first date. Finally, I had to step in to separate Boo from her mother who was growing very impatient with her. That relationship remained strained throughout Boo’s life. Timi was an inside/outside cat who had better things to do than play with her kids. That was my job. And, it was one I relished. I spent the first six months of their lives on my belly, on the floor. I grew to love these girls instantly.

When I took the kittens and their mom to the vet to be spayed, I learned that Boo’s entire right side was malformed. When I picked them all up after the surgery, the vet gave me Boo and told me, "This one has some parts missing."

And so it went with our little Boo. She was smaller than the others. She was often sickly, with respiratory difficulties. She often got a runny nose and gunk in her eyes, and labored breathing, like she had a bad cold. Sometimes, I would wrap her in a towel with a hot water bottle so she could sleep through the night. She developed a slight tremor, almost like a Parkinson’s patient, but she always soldiered on.

Sister Buddies - Ryan and Junior
Her sisters tended to pick on her at first, but not for long. Kenni and Kasey had little to do with her. Both are twice her size. In fact she and Kasey were like oil and water. Junior would often like to cuddle with one of her sisters. Only Ryan, the first born allowed it. The others growled and hissed at her. It didn’t sway her though. She would often walk right up to them sleeping on my bed, which they claimed for their own, and plop right on top of them. Boo was fierce, the toughest of the bunch. It got to the point that if anyone was sitting on my lap, even her mother, Junior would make them leave. She would growl and hiss until she got her way. Finally, whoever it was would leave while she settled in all proud of herself. She was definitely a scrapper. Only Ryan, admittedly my favorite of the bunch, would let Boo cuddle with her. Ryan seemed to sense when Boo needed a friend, and she was mostly always there. Boo pushed even Ryan’s limits sometimes.
Junior loved sitting in a basket

Junior wasn't necessarily a cuddly cat for most of her life. She would perch upon John's lap and he would pet her, but that all changed within the last few years. I'm not sure when, but she began to seek me out. I didn't just pet her like he did; I would pick her up and snuggle her close to me. She seemed to need that. She loved being held close, melting her body next to mine and purring as loud as any cat I've ever heard. She began following me around from room to room. She was always with me. She and Ryan became my two favorites. They were both snugly and cuddly, while the other two were more standoffish.

The last few months, Boo developed some neurological issues, perhaps from a stroke or seizure. One day, she was near her water dish, crying. It was a sound unlike anything I had ever heard her make before. Then she became quiet and lay on the floor. She didn’t move a muscle; she didn’t even move her eyes. I thought she was dead. For several long minutes, she just lay there. Then, she got up like nothing was wrong and was her old self again. Then she began to develop severe respiratory issues. I took her to the vet on a Thursday in February. She got three shots, an anti-biotic, a steroid, and a vitamin shot. She wasn’t eating and she had sores on her tongue. That Saturday, I observed that she hadn’t eaten anything all day. She was weak, was losing weight, which she could ill-afford and just lay on a rug in the kitchen. I tried some canned pumpkin and warm milk, but she wouldn’t eat any of it. Then I gave her some liver sausage. She gobbled it up, like nothing was wrong. The next morning, she was feeling better. When I got up she came to the hallway to greet me. She appeared fine, like her old self. I fed the girls and Boo ate as she always had. She was her old self again. I called her my miracle cat. That lasted for a couple of weeks, but then her health began to deteriorate again. I made the decision to do the humane thing, so I took her to the vet for a last ride. I put her into a wooden picnic basket with a baby blanket that my late Aunt had crocheted for my daughter, about 40 years ago. And, I said my last goodbye.

I will never forget my Boo. It was a joy and my distinct pleasure to know her. There will never be another cat like her.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Fall doesn’t have to be the end of summer

Every year I try to bring a little summer into the house. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. But it is always fun to try.

This year I brought in a whole pot of Marigolds. My indoor thumb is green, but my outdoor thumb is not. So, these flowers didn’t do all that much this summer, but they did perk up toward the end when it finally rained a bit. So, rather than write them off, I decided to try to keep them alive.

At the very least, even if they don’t make it until spring, now only 121 days from this writing, I can always save the seeds from the spent flowers to plant outside. I also have Zinnias and Geraniums and Petunias.
It is always nice to add a little color into my sun porch to add to my houseplants. I rather like the look.