Monday, November 30, 2009

What I Learned About Christmas Tree Lights

For the holidays, we have two small trees with white mini lights on our front porch. I like them because they brighten up the dark winter nights. We decided to put them out the weekend after Thanksgiving. When I plugged them in, only half the lights were lighting up. As you know, if there is one bad bulb, the whole string is out. We had no replacement bulbs, so we had to go searching for some.

The mini lights look like the ones shown below. See how the glass bulbs fit into green bases, which then fit into the green sockets on the wire? I thought we could find the bulbs attached to the green bases. We looked at three stores, then realized these were not to be found.

As it turns out, we could find only the glass bulbs with wires sticking out of the bottom, like the photo below. It turns out you have to pull the glass bulb out of the green base, then put the new glass bulb in. There are two little holes in the green base, where you insert the two little wires coming out of the bulb.

But how do you know which bulbs need to be replaced? That's where the handy little gadget below comes in. I bought it when I bought the new bulbs. You just take the bulb out of the socket and place it between the two metal prongs in the center. If the bulb lights up, it's good and you put it back into the socket. If the bulb doesn't light up, you take it out of the base and put a new one in, lining up the two little wires and bending them around the bottom of the base. Then you put the whole thing back into the socket on the wire.

Easy, huh? Well, it was a bit tedious but I patiently sat out on the porch and put each bulb to the test. It was a bit cold out there and my fingers fumbled a little with all of those tiny wires. Finally, I had replaced all the bad bulbs and the trees lit up entirely! Maybe you already know how to solve this problem. But I didn't... I had to figure it out a step at a time. I have to admit I was kind of proud of myself!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Aftermath

Has Tinkerbell eaten too much turkey? Doesn't she look like she is sleeping it off? This is a kitty who just wants to be left alone!

Get that camera out of my face!

Tiger, meanwhile, is curled up in a kitty bed in the kitchen:

It's been a quiet weekend here. No shopping on Black Friday. Husband has a cold and is lying low. I've been tempting the outdoor kitties with cat nip, trying to encourage them into the tent we put up for them. It's supposed to be cold and blustery later this week. I just read something on the cat nip package that I didn't know; that cats aren't affected by it until they are six to eight months old. Interesting. Ours are just about six months old now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

(I love these guys from the world of Charles Schulz; love their Christmas music too.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


For the last three days, I've had non-stop kids! Picked up my three nieces from school Monday and Tuesday, plus pizza lunch at school Tuesday, and all day with the nieces Wednesday!

I'm tired! A 12-year old, a 10-year old, and an 8-year old together! I found out about "Fred" on the computer. I wish I hadn't! If you haven't seen (or heard) Fred on YouTube, you are very, very lucky. Aubrey loves Fred, and plays him non-stop. It gives me such a headache. I pulled out my pain pills and they thought I was kidding, but I wasn't.

Today, I came home exhausted, in time for a late dinner. My husband, bless his heart, made us tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I love the peace and quiet of my own home, my child-free home. I love my nieces, but they sure do wear me out!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gymnasts Salute!

I went to my first gymnastics meet Saturday. My 12-year old niece is a budding gymnast... she won first place on the beam! She also won first place overall in her age group.

Here she is with her trophy:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here Comes Winter...

Remember these photos of my deck this summer? We had a canvas cover for shade, with flower baskets hanging down. And green trees in the background. Aaah, summer! It stays light late into the evening, and we enjoy being outdoors until the stars come out.

The photo below is what it looks like now... winter is setting in. We took down the canvas roof because last year the winter storms blew it apart. The flowers are long gone, replaced by hardier ferns, which also will be gone with the first hard freeze. And, no more green trees in the back ground. Winter, to me, is bleak. No more warm evenings with candlelit dinners on the deck. No more sipping wine on the swing. The outdoors is not as inviting any more. We can do those things indoors, but it's not the same. It's dark by dinner time, and I feel like we are hibernating.

There are a few compensations, though. Winter brings bright red berries; holiday decorations with no effort on our part. A bit of color in the bleak landscape of skeletal trees:

Remember the little black feral kittens that live in our back yard?

Well, last weekend we put up the tent that will serve as their winter home. We will cover the floor of the tent with straw, put in blankets and cat beds so they can keep warm. So far, we have had three of them spayed; we hope to have them all spay/neutered by the time winter sets in for real.

Winter is long, dark, and cold... preparations must be made. Those of you who live in warm climates... I hope you realize how lucky you are! Can you see why my fondest wish is to live in Hawaii one day?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Facebook Is Taking Over!

Out of date. Behind the curve. Over the hill. That's me!

Ten years or so ago, all my friends were communicating by email. I still had an old, slow computer with a dial-up connection. My means of communication was the telephone. But... I never knew what all my friends knew, because they communicated by email. A typical conversation: "Oh, didn't you get my email? Didn't you hear that we are getting together tomorrow night?"

I finally mastered email when I got my new laptop. I began reading blogs. Eventually, I started my own blog. Things went along merrily for a while. I was emailing with the best of them. I was making friends through my blog. I was following family members on their blogs. Just when I thought I was on top of things, I started hearing about My Space and Facebook. I am not on My Space. I am not on Facebook. I seem to be behind the curve again.

Now, I have noticed that some bloggers have stopped blogging. They go for weeks without posting. Some have given up blogging altogether. They are going over to Facebook. Many of my friends are parents of grown children, and have gone on to Facebook to keep up with their kids.

Even my brother-in-law, who first swore he would never get a cell phone, then swore he would never have a computer, is now on Facebook. He had to do it to keep up with his son and new daughter-in-law who live in California. I have a feeling that we are missing family photos because they are now put up on Facebook rather than on their poor, neglected blogs.

What is an old person to do? Try to keep up, and things just keep changing! I don't think I will even bother mastering Facebook, because as soon as I do something new will replace that! So... if you want to keep up with me, send me an email, call me on my cell phone, or read my blog!

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Cats in the Sunshine

We have had a string of beautiful Fall days here... bright sunshine and temps in the 60s. I wish it would stay like this all through the Winter. Here are Katie and Tiger, with the sun shining in on them:

Katie is the big, fluffy one; she came with us when we moved from Pennsylvania. Tiger is one of the formerly feral kittens that we adopted after he and his sister came calling in our back yard. Tiger is a sweet kitty, but very bashful. He loves Katie, I think she's his hero.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Miss This Place!

On a tree-lined street near Rittenhouse Square:

Small and romantic. Intimate spaces and and fairy lights:

Great food; the best cream of mushroom soup, nicely prepared entrees, irresistible desserts:

One of the many reasons I miss Philadelphia!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Two Men Who Died Too Soon

The other day I was listening to NPR in my car. I heard a recording of a 1994 interview; Terry Gross interviewing Jeffrey Moss on "Fresh Air". Jeff Moss was head writer, composer and lyricist for Sesame Street. He won fifteen Emmy awards for his work; he created Cookie Monster; he wrote the song "Rubber Duckie" and numerous others. During the interview he sang some of the songs he wrote for the Muppets, and spoke in some of the Muppets' voices. He impressed me with his talent and his wit. Such an engaging and imaginative human being! As I listened, I wondered what had happened to him since that 1994 interview. At the end of the recording, the announcer referred to him as "the late Jeffrey Moss". That made me so sad. I looked him up on the internet and found out that he had died from colon cancer in 1998, just four years after that interview. He was 56 years old. Too soon, I thought, for such a vibrant person.

Jeffrey Moss, with Miss Piggy and Kermit:

It made me think of when I heard about Jim Henson's death in 1990, at age 56. He died suddenly of streptococcus pneumonia. I remember being shocked and saddened at the time. I had been an admirer of his; such an imaginative spirit, creator of the Muppets. He had a childlike magic about him. I couldn't imagine that he was gone.

Jim Henson, with the Muppets:

These two men worked together on Sesame Street and created the world of song, humor and wisdom that is the Muppets. I loved their work; the characters, the songs, the lyrics, the voices. They created a delightful world for children and adults alike. It's such a shame that they both had to die at such young ages.

Politics and My Family

Did you hear about crazy Michele Bachmann calling for an "anti-everything Obama" rally in Washington D.C. last week? There were hundreds of "tea-partiers" there with signs calling our President all kinds of names like Socialist, Nazi, and non-American. The other day I spoke to my mother on the phone and found out my stepfather, his son and grandson were all planning to attend.

Okay, how do I deal with this? I love my mom and stepdad. They are kind, well-meaning people. But I am appalled by their politics. They watch Fox News. They listen to Rush Limbaugh. They admire Sarah Palin. Thanksgiving is coming up. We will all be gathered at my sister's house. My brother-in-law is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, too. He teases me about voting for Obama, calling him "my boy". It offends me. I don't say much, though, because I am outnumbered in my family. I would rather just not talk about politics when I am with them. But what if they bring it up?

When I lived in Philadelphia, all my friends were Obama supporters. I was used to being around like-minded people. Now I live close to my family, and I am in the minority. Of course, I love my family; but I can't abide their politics. It is very uncomfortable. I miss being with people with whom I can relax. If you can't relax around your own family (but you still love them) what can you do? I would like to move back to Philadelphia, but my husband thinks I am overreacting. What would you do?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Colors of Fall

I took this photo in my back yard. I am enjoying the colors of fall before the bleakness of winter.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Am Still Missing Philadelphia

I used to live near there. I used to take the train to the city every day to go to work. I used to enjoy the parks and shops and restaurants. I still miss it every day.

There was always something exciting going on in the city. Even on an ordinary day, there was a certain hum of activity, a diversity of people, street vendors, street food. There was always something there that made me feel alive! Does anyone remember Mary Tyler Moore walking down the street and throwing her hat in the air? That's how I used to feel as I walked to work! And now, the World Series buzz... I wish I were there; I can feel what it must be like; the whole city in high excitement mode.

I had great friends there. I came as a stranger, from the Midwest. I made friends that made me feel like family. I had neighbors who became like family. I miss them all.

I have been in my new home for four years now, closer to my real family. I am beginning to feel a little more at home here, meeting nice people, finding interests and good things. But I believe I will always feel most "at home" when I go back to visit Philadelphia. Isn't it amazing when you move to a place you've never been before, and it feels like Home?