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I've played for 3 memorial services in 15 days. One two weeks ago today, and then two days ago and now today. We have an ongoing problem with the ushers standing in the back of the sanctuary, near me, during the prelude and chatting loudly. It's generally so long between funerals that I forget. Saturday they were particularly obnoxious, and with only a day in between of course I remembered, so I asked the Deacon in Charge to take care of it-- and he really did! He talked to them, and watched them, and even did so tactfully enough that the worst offender apologized to me later, sincerely and with no resentment. Playing my prelude was actually meditative and restorative today rather than a drain-- lovely! And I think far more appropriate for those gathering for the service.

****

One of my choir singers does some small folk singing gigs in the area. His usual partner had to back out of a tiny two-song program, and he persuaded me to do it with him. I love folk music, always have, and had a good time with it. Much to my surprise, folks who heard us rehearse at church were very complimentary, and urged us to sing there; and so yesterday we filled in a gap in the musical schedule. Folks loved it! So it seems I'll be doing some singing as well as playing, occasionally.
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I have never particularly liked shoes. When I was a child I wore corrective shoes until I was 12. They were black and white saddle shoes, and I wasn't allowed to wear anything else, except eventually gym shoes for a hour at school, and dressy shoes for church. (I know that many children naturally grow out of minor leg malconformations; mine was so bad that after several years of treatment, at age 5, I still couldn't run because my knees would collide.) Inevitably, the year I was released from treatment, saddle shoes came into style; I couldn't stand to wear another pair!

Since then I have generally had only two or just possibly three pairs of shoes 'in play' at a time. A basic pair for every day, something for church, and possibly hiking boots or the like. Occasionally I'd have a pair that I really enjoyed, but I still never bought shoes just for fun, or switched from day to day.

Well, my kid has discovered fun shoes, and it seems to be rubbing off. It helps that flats are in style; I really don't do heels. But suddenly I have not one, not two, but THREE pairs of dress shoes, and the third has flowers; and last week I bought THREE pairs of casual shoes! My taste seems to be leaning towards "I can't believe my church organist is wearing those!"

shoes

pics

May. 18th, 2016 09:47 pm
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Fern leaf just beginning to unfold.

two more )
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(Yes, I am still alive! And can post words, not just pictures!)

Y'all may recall that while in Vermont we had an annual open house every Memorial Day, in connection with the local parade. It was always a fun way to entertain, so we decided to try an open house here, sans parade. Today was the day! It was a weekend with relatively few conflicts, and it seemed to make sense to do this while we have only one cat, and before we get into the chaos of moving Laura and Nala back here.

We decided to keep the food simple, nearly all bought. Our big special touch was an Edible Arrangements fruit centerpiece, and it was a hit--no one had ever had one before! We made deviled eggs and rice krispie treats, and bought pita chips, hummus, tortilla chips and salsa. Friends brought chicken salad sandwiches, meringues, an apple cake, and cider donuts. Beverages were iced tea (regular and mint) and lemonade, plus water and sliced lemons and limes.

The first four people came just before 1:30, and from then until 4:00 there were never fewer than four guests in the house; several times we had 10 to 15 or maybe more at once. And it was a happy mix; I think everyone felt comfortable, and connected with someone. Our four nearest neighbors came at overlapping times, and held their own little party in our sunroom, along with visits from church people who happened to know one or another of them. Children had a great time blowing bubbles in our gardens. We had said 'no gifts please', but of course a few people brought little tokens-- a plant, a bottle of honey from one of the beekeepers, etc. And one very dear friend left a much-too-large gift card, but she is just unstoppable.

When the last two people left at 5:00, we made a light meal of some of the leftovers. After a brief rest, it only took an hour to put the house mostly to rights, and deal with leftovers. We served on paper and plastic so there are only serving dishes to be washed.

Overall, I had a great time-- I'm so glad lots of people came, and I enjoyed spending time with them, though I know I barely said hello to a few folks!

Pics

Apr. 25th, 2016 09:26 pm
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Jack-in-the-pulpit in the Van Dyke Preserve, one of a bunch of small nature preserves in the area.

four more )

pics

Apr. 23rd, 2016 10:12 pm
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I spent a lovely ten minutes watching this muskrat swim and nibble tonight.

Read more )

Pics

Apr. 18th, 2016 10:22 pm
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shagbark hickory

A lovely curl of shagbark hickory bark

Five more )

pics

Mar. 28th, 2016 09:37 pm
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Barn on wheels! Tomorrow this HUGE historic barn will be rolled about 1/4 mile, across a state highway, to a new home.

four more-- last one is a bee (you've been warned) )
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Tonight a dinner guest and I spent a pleasant hour browsing through the recipe boxes which belonged to my two grandmothers-- two women of very different social circles [though both white and of European origin], but both from Southwest Ohio, and probably accumulating recipes from about 1925 to 1960. We were startled to find that both boxes contained quite a few recipes for mangoes! So likely my parents both grew up eating mangoes, and yet I'm pretty sure I tasted my first when I was in my 30s.

A quick search of the internet reveals an effort to grow them, beginning in the late 1800s, in both Florida and California, but nothing about a decline in the mid 20th century, which my anecdotal evidence might indicate.

Anyone have any other anecdotes, stories, information to satisfy my curiousity?

pics

Mar. 20th, 2016 09:50 pm
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An old garage in Millerton, NY. Somehow the shapes and colors please me.

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First day of spring... that's ice, not water.

pics

Mar. 18th, 2016 10:30 pm
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The first tiny flowers in our yard. We are looking forward to finding out what else there is!

three more )

Pics

Mar. 15th, 2016 09:15 pm
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I recently made a quick trip to Vermont, and was delighted to see some Bohemian Waxwings.

Read more )
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Both of the large malls here have Dead Sea Minerals kiosks. The salesmen are nearly all young men, dark haired (I've seen one woman and one blond man), and all speak with an accent (so I assume it's faked). Their sales technique goes like this: as a woman or group of women approach, the young man steps towards them, partly in front of them, and offers a sample of hand cream. If ones says no, they say (in that 'sexy' accent), "May I ask you a question?" If you don't continue away strongly, they'll ask some flattering question about some item of your clothing ("Where did you get those cute boots?"). They are so pushy that I generally work hard to avoid them-- swerve as far away from the kiosk as possible, avoid eye contact, say 'no' and keep walking.

Today I finally had had enough. I walked past the booth as I would any other, and when the salesman approached, I smiled and said "Really, aren't you embarrassed....." I intended to finish with "to be earning money by harassing women?" But he immediately broke eye contact, stepped out of my way, and muttered "Have a nice day, ma'am." I have found my new approach.
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The worst moments are when I come home... Felix used to come to meet me.

For the first couple of days, Oscar would walk around the house calling, and then curl up in his usual place on my husband's chair. Yesterday and today, he still searches, but then comes to my lap instead. He also is discovering the pleasures of being an only cat, after always being a subordinate in a multi-cat household. He gets all the food and treats, all the available laps; he can even play without another cat interfering, though he is so stiff with arthritis that it's very restrained play. He is even 'talking' to me more, as he discovers that he can 'ask' for food or fresh water and I'll respond; he has always just followed along when Felix asked, before. Oscar is much more my daughter's cat, but I do love him and he's a comfort right now.

RIP Felix

Feb. 8th, 2016 11:43 am
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Felix

Treatments beginning in November were a blessing; for his last three months Felix was able to eat nearly anything he wanted with no ill effects. But his latest shot last week had almost no effect, and by Saturday I knew he was done.

I have had many cats, but he's only the third who was especially mine, and I don't think I've ever been so bonded with a cat; this is pretty awful. We will have just Oscar for a few months, until Laura and Nala move back in (we will likely be keeping Nala while Laura is in college). If Oscar is miserable we'll consider another cat, but I think he'll enjoy getting all the attention and treats for a while.

Pics

Jan. 26th, 2016 08:26 pm
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I was walking today when I realized there was something pretty large sitting on a bluebird house- a northern harrier!

Three more )
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I have a very gently used copy of Traditions that I don't intend to keep. Would any of my friends like it for the cost of shipping?

Quilt!

Jan. 11th, 2016 05:43 pm
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A year ago I wasn't sewing at all-- feeling very constrained by the tiny corner available for sewing in our little apartment. Sewing is good for me emotionally so I finally decided to start a small project, sewing on my desk and ironing on a kitchen counter. I made nine blocks and even got them put together with sashing, and then we began the frenzy of moving. Once we were settled I pulled the project out in my new sewing room. I've been wanting to do something with an elaborate border, and found a nifty strip-pieced diamond border that I posted months ago... and then I stalled again, because clearly it needed to be mitered with points touching, and I had never done a mitered border!

So I decided that in January I would/will sew at least a little bit until it's done. I've stuck to that except for the two days I was gone, even if I only sewed one seam. A couple of times that has meant sewing a seam, realizing it was askew, picking it out and stopping for the day! Today things finally clicked, and I did the last three mitered corners. I am really proud of that border! I'll keep up the daily sewing, but it's all downhill from here-- stacking, pinning, quilting and then binding, all easy. (And then it will be donated, or sold so I can donate the money.)

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Saturday night my cell phone rang, and the screen said it was Mary, one of my best friends in Vermont. When I answered, though, it was her lovely college-age daughter Sarah. Sarah told me that her grandmother was dying; Mary had asked her to call me and ask me to play for the funeral. I said yes, of course.

Sunday morning Sarah texted me that her grandmother had in fact died during the night. This morning I drove up to Vermont, and practiced for 2 hours; the funeral is tomorrow morning. While it is a sad occasion, it is also a chance to see my daughter and many friends, and I'm enjoying the time away from home.

What is really amazing, though, is just making music on a wonderful instrument in a wonderful acoustic. I'm thinking of planning a day to come up here and just play- a mini music retreat.

It's an especially good thing I came in today. No one had noticed that someone had accidentally turned off the heat in the sanctuary, and it's going down to zero tonight.
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I see I've posted almost no content this month, so some updates are in order.

My last significant post was about Felix's health issues, so good news first: he has made some small recovery, and is at least stable for the moment. He's had two steroid shots, and the vet recommended food specifically formulated to stop diarrhea. It worked too well, and he ended up terribly constipated; we are carefully adding in some treats, and seem to be reaching a good balance. If nothing else, it is lovely to be able to give my boy some treats without making him ill! He is especially happy to get a spoonful of spaghetti sauce twice a day, and the vet is happy that he's taking in some extra potassium.

Most of the reason I've been quiet has been, well, December for a church musician. Christmas Eve services, of course, and a children's pageant; and this year I gave in to the handbell director's plea for a Sunday of special music for handbells and choir, as well. Tons of fun but also tons of work! Everything went very well, including my little piano student's debut performance.

I'm afraid all the hugs and handshakes after the special performances were a bit too challenging for my immune system, along with the stress and heavy schedule. I didn't feel well after the bells/choir day; felt even worse after the pageant; and ended up profoundly ill Christmas night. Two days later I am full of seemingly boundless energy, so all's well now.

A month ago I realized that David was complaining about inability to focus with the eye that had the retina surgery, and remembered that there was a danger of cataract after that. Sure enough, he's got a whopping cataract in that eye-- until tomorrow morning.

The kid is on pins and needles right now. She has applied to go back to college! If it works out she'll do a second bachelors, in ASL interpretation. It should be only a 2 year program. Hopefully she'll get her acceptance next week and then we'll wait to hear what kind of finance package she gets. Please send good thoughts her way; this is a big step for her, and I think a very good one.

Still love the house. It was great to get all my Christmas decorations out after a year in storage! I'm told the little children across the street say goodnight to my Christmas tree (in our front window) every night.

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