Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flags, firemen, and familiar faces...

(A Rural Thursday entry)

Memorial Day 2012 revisited...some snapshots of a small-town parade to celebrate and honor our men in uniform...

93 degrees in full-dress uniform...that's dedication!

The VFW




The VFW Ladies Auxillary made sure to have their sun protection.

Proudly displaying his medals.

All patriotic songs...and they never skipped a beat!

A local beauty with a fabulous smile!
In the heat in full uniform and in heels!

Fireman-in-Training

Nothing  but smiles!
Probably one of the best Memorial Day parades in my small town.
Everyone had a great time!
Hope you enjoyed your holiday!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Red, White, and Blue...

During the past week I took a vacation day to hunt for cemetery plots of several family members who passed on years before I was born.  I and a friend spent the better part of an afternoon trying to find a cemetery I had not been to in at least 40 years.  I had visions of coming back with pictures of old tombstones and information about my grandparents and my mother's Godfather.  Needless to say, we struck out.

But, it was not a total loss; it was actually an adventure...it's not everyday I get to ride through a city I had not visited in several years, I had a wonderful lunch with a great friend, found the house my mother lived in over 60 years ago (and met the present owner), and got to see a lot of ghetto-fabulous people.  We had a blast and, now that my mother has recalled the street the cemetery is on, we'll go back.

So, sans cemetery photos and in the spirit of the Memorial Day weekend, here is something...

RED

Cascading Crimson Geranium
Shot with an Canon 500D attached to a Nikkor 85MM micro lens.

WHITE

Snow Hill Salvia
These are sitting in a vase on the front porch...tough to get a good
focus point in the afternoon breeze.

and
BLUE

Techno Blue Lobelia
I definitely over-saturated this!  Ugh!
Fondly and respectfully remembering all those
who have and are paying the price for our
freedom.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Friday, May 25, 2012

550 Degrees

I so want a new stove.  I crave a new stove.  I can see myself baking homemade bread with a new stove.  BUT it's not going to happen until I can pay for it and some other kitchen improvements in cash...cold, hard cash.  So, until that time, I'll be baking bread and such in my 20+ year old stove.

I suspect Ol' Bess is about 25 years old.  I'm in my home 20 years and the kitchen was done a short while before I moved in and it looks about 25 years old.  Actually the kitchen, although dated, is quite nice and the cabinets (cherry wood) are in fabulous shape so, again, until the cash is there, I will be happy with what I have.

So, back to Ol' Bess...she got really heated up tonight...up to 550 degrees.  I don't think she's been that hot in 10 years but, I just had to have homemade pizza.  I prepped the dough the other night and could not wait to give it a try.  Straight out of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, I made a batch of olive oil bread dough...great for pizza, focaccia, or olive bread...and it's great for dipping!

BEFORE
Having not made pizza from scratch in about 10 years, getting the dough in the shape of a pizza was a bit tricky.  But, as long as it tastes like pizza, who cares what it looks like and besides, Martha Stewart was not around.  Yes, the dough was too thick; yes, I probably should have used more sauce; yes, I could have used more cheese but it was just so good....so good I ate 4 slices.  I won't be making pizza again for about 10 days...that's how long the dough will last but, now that I'm experienced, I'm counting on close to flawless results next time.

AFTER
Well, the smoke alarm didn't go off, the fire extinguisher did not have to come out and I think I just heard Ol' Bess sigh.  She's finally cooling down.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Embracing change...

There was a time when I had absolutely no problem with change.  Bring it on!  Change brought new surroundings, new friends, new experiences, improvements, opportunities, etc. etc.  Some how, some where, sometime during the past year or so, I've changed my tune...not entirely but I now better understand how and why some people are uncomfortable with change and actually fight it.

Azalea detail
A while back I could absolutely not understand why my mother had to do the grocery shopping on Saturday...EVERY Saturday or why she must go to the hairdresser every Saturday at 9 AM...EVERY Saturday...at EXACTLY 9 AM.  Then there was the Social Security check...why must it be delivered by the postman and not direct deposited?  It took years of pleading to get that changed and what a blessing direct deposit was.  I no longer have to pick up the check, go to the bank to deposit it, withdraw the requested funds, and then go back to hand it over.  I know, I know...it's a simple task but, when you're working all week and have a ton of other tasks, that one change to direct deposit took a load off.

Not sure what this is but it's growing in various locations in the neighbor's yard.
I hope it makes it's way over to mine!
I guess my aversion to change started last year when I had the home invasion.  Everything changed.  Doors are locked ALL THE TIME, windows are not left open when I'm out, I watch EVERYONE and investigate every unfamiliar sound.  Please don't misunderstand...I'm so over it but I can't deny, it did change certain aspects of my life and I actually think I'm stronger in many ways.  BUT, I had to embrace change that I was either not ready for or not comfortable with.  I got to the place I needed to be, I won, but it was not a smooth ride.

Mountain Laurel detail.
So, here I am, getting ready to embrace another change.  My neighbors of 20 years have moved.  The two beautiful homes next door will soon be filled with new people.  And with this, the sounds of the neighborhood will change, different cars will occupy parking spaces, new faces will smile and say good morning (I hope!), new relationships will have to be tested, and new trusts will have to be developed.  Change in close-knit neighborhoods is sometimes tough.  I've too often seen people move into an area and totally shun advances from people to welcome them.  I am thinking positive and expecting only good things from this change and hoping it's a smooth ride.

Lupine...from my garden.
I miss my neighbors Maryanne and George and have terribly missed Frieda since she left but, until the new neighbors arrive and the change is complete, I get to stalk their yards for photo ops.  And I'm also trying to embrace another change....Shop Rite has once again rearranged the store layout.  Why do they do that?!?!?!   Ugh!

Sweet!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

You can't beat it...

a Jersey tomato...you can't beat a Jersey tomato for taste.

(a Weekly Top Shot entry)
A young tomato plant.
For the past 3 years I've been planting tomatoes.  The first year I didn't have a garden in the backyard so I planted one plant in the azalea bed right off the front porch and now I'm hooked.  My second tomato season was OK and last year was terrible.  I suspect it had something to do with the less-than-prime top soil the lawn guy filled the planter with...hmmmmm.
Tomatoes in the making.

This year I'm working in advance to cut my losses.  I'm told the most important rule to follow is to not plant before Mother's Day.  Well, I'm planting ON Mother's Day because I'll be at work during the week and the plants are getting too large for their pots on the deck.  And I really don't think we'll be having any more frost.  One day better not matter.  I've added new top soil and even mixed in some cow manure and humus.  This I did on a day when the congestion from my head cold was at its peak so the only people that may have 'suffered' might have been the neighbors if the wind was blowing in the right direction.  For a final step, I've been told to put down some newspapers and cover that with mulch.  This should keep down the weeds and keep the soil moist during dry periods.  And I'm using the NY Times so I'm hoping for a 'liberal' crop.

A hanging basket of cherry tomatoes for the deck.

Do you recall Ouiser Boudreaux, Shirley MacLaine's character in the movie Steel Magnolias, and her tomato crop?  Am I turning into a 'Ouiser?'  I wonder if she went through all this trouble?  Oh boy!

The 2009 harvest....even cucumbers were abundant that year.
Now I'm off to check on the manure.  Have a wonderful, fruitful weekend!
Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Number crunching...

I'm on a budget.  I've been on a budget since 1983...for reasons I may explain later.  I suspect this budget thing could be considered an addiction.  I used to carry a list in my checkbook of what I could spend and when.  Obsessive, right?

For most of these past 29 years I have records of what I budgeted, what I spent, the budget-vs.-actual numbers and anything I was able to save (and not). When I bought my home 20 yrs. and 1 month ago, I knew, going into the closing, almost to the penney, what my payment would be and how I was going to keep this homeownership thing afloat.  I prove out my checkbook every month...to the penny...and I don't give up until it balances.  I could never imagine being off by a few cents....oh, the humanity!  Yes, some of my friends think I'm nuts.

Right now, I'm crunching numbers with my sights set on retirement.  Mind you, the big event is probably about 2 to 3 years in the future.  But, when I think that I just celebrated 39 years with the company I work for, the big day will be here before I know it.  Instead of a full-out budget, I've been keeping track of just my expenses since January 1 and, with a few unexpected events, I'm pretty much on target.  That is until the past two weeks when the checking account statement arrived and my hairdresser moved to a high-end salon.


I really really really thought I had deposited $640, not $620 like my statement shows.  But, alas, the deposit slip revealed the truth.  I must have put that $20 in the gas tank.  Ugh!  OK, all is not lost, no checks bounced, and I made it to another payday.  Whew!  And then there was the visit to the hairdresser this past Saturday.  Ooooooo, a new salon with a spa and a manicurist and a boutique and gormet coffee with treats and a shampoo girl that does more for my attitude than a Xanax or Valium and, ultimately, new prices!  I actually thought they had overcharged me...after all, I blew out my own hair.  But, no, I was wrong!  In fact, I got a $15 break from my hairdresser;  correction, at these prices, he's got to be a stylist.  Don't get me wrong, he's worth it.  I've never had more care-free and healthy hair than I have now but, I have to admit, I had sticker shock.  Going from paying $85 for a color and cut to $115 will do that.

So I'm revising my expense list and my retirement target date has not changed.  It's all still good...or at least it will be once I can wrap my head around these bumps in the road or when I discover where I can find an extra $30 to add to that hairdress expense.  Keep calm and carry on!