Saturday, July 31, 2010

This Is Summer

The best part of summer to me... a cabin on the lake in Michigan. Days are warm, nights are cool. The lake is quiet first thing in the morning, the sound of the occasional fisherman's boat putt-putting out on the lake and the birds singing in the trees. Days are relaxed, padding around in bare feet, wearing shorts and an old t-shirt. Do we go fishing, or hiking, just sit and read, or go for ice cream at the local dairy?

Sitting on the screened porch in the evening, smelling pine trees and wood fires and listening to loons on the lake. Family relaxing, playing gin or Scrabble, taking a break from T.V. and the latest news. It's a time for relaxing the body and refreshing the spirit.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Furry Little One-Pound Patient

We have a mother cat with a litter of four kittens in our back yard. On Monday I went out to feed them. Usually, they turn and run when they see me, because they are feral cats. But one little black kitten just sat there looking at me. I slowly stepped closer to it, and still it didn't move. When I got close enough, I could see that one of its eyes was inflamed. "Poor little thing" I thought. Its good eye looked straight at me. It was bright blue. The other eye was watery and just didn't look right. I walked over to it and it let me pick it up! I was amazed! A little feral kitten let me pick it up. I was afraid it must be very sick. It lay very quietly in my arms and let me carry it. It was a tiny little thing, light as a feather. I took it over and showed it to my neighbors, two ladies who are fellow cat lovers. They also were amazed that she had let me pick her up and carry her around.

We put her in a carrier with some food, which she ate. I wiped her eye with a warm cotton ball and put in a drop of eye medicine that we had from another cat. The next day I took her to the vet. The vet techs and the vet all fell in love with her (they confirmed that she is a girl). They weighed her and she was only one pound. They tested her for the regular cat diseases and for worms, and she was found to be healthy. The vet gave her some food and she ate. She became very active, running around and exploring the exam room. We were given some medicine to give her three times a day and some eye ointment. The vet said she only had a cold, a form of rhinitis, but was healthy otherwise.

I brought her home, and we kept her in a crate with a litter box and some milk and food. She drank a lot of milk and ate some food. She meowed at us and made it clear she wanted to be held. When we let her out of the crate, she ran right over to us and climbed all the way up to our heads and over our backs. She purred like crazy. It was so cute watching her wobbly little run as she took off across the floor!

We medicated her for three days until her eye looked better. I was anxious to let her back out with her littermates and her mom before they forgot about her. The kittens aren't completely weaned yet; they are eating dry food but also still nursing. I was afraid they wouldn't recognize her after being with us and to the vet. I have had that experience with my own cats; when one comes home from the vet's office it doesn't smell the same to the other cats.

When I first put her outside, she kept running back into the house. I was worried she wouldn't want to stay back outside, but I thought it would be best for her to be with her family. Finally, I put her out in the carrier with the door unlatched, so she could get out if she wanted to. Soon, her mother and littermates were there, sniffing around the carrier. After a while, she came out. At first she hung around close to the house even when the others wandered away. Later, I looked out and saw her playing with her littermates.

This morning my husband went out to give them food. The little family was gathered around the food dish, but when he came out they all ran... except our little patient. She stayed right there, and even followed him halfway back into the house. So, now she is with her family, but she still comes to us. Such a sweet little cat. I am tempted to adopt her, but we have sworn to ourselves that our four indoor cats is our limit. If we keep adopting them, we will become "cat hoarders" that you hear about. I look out several times a day to see how she is getting along. So far, so good, knock wood! I've seen her romping around with her littermates. I think she is doing okay.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Am Love

We went to see this movie last night. It was beautiful, and very Italian. It's a little puzzling at first, because it doesn't explain anything. You just have to watch and let it unfold. It's a far cry from a typical American movie. If that's all you are used to, you might not have the patience to appreciate it. It focuses on beautiful details and subtle gestures. More is said by nuance than by dialog.

Tilda Swinton is incredible to watch. It's her movie. She was fascinating. The movie was fascinating. Sometimes I thought the music was a bit too melodramic (especially at the end). That was the only fault I found with it. I think it's a movie that would be good to see over again, so that once you know the story you can go back and savor the details.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What A Week!

Yesterday, I had to drive an hour and a half to attend a family meeting. I noticed that the thermometer on my dashboard registered 99 degrees. Someone on a local news show was baking cookies on the hood of a car. It was hot!

The family meeting involved a farm that's been in our family for many generations. No one in the family has actually farmed it since my great-grandfather, so now it's farmed by a man who has a neighboring farm of his own. Not exactly a "tenant farmer" but a "hired farmer" I guess you could call him. In order to share the farm with all family members, the family in my dad's generation decided to incorporate it so shares could be distributed.

As a corporation, we are required to hold a meeting once a year. So, this was the "farm meeting" as it has come to be known to all my sisters and cousins. They made me the secretary, so I have to keep the minutes. I find it kind of an onerous job, but no one else wants to do it. Instead, my younger family members wait for me to read last year's minutes, then they sit there and suggest all kinds of corrections. I wish one of them would take over, but they won't. They all sit there taking copious notes, so they can correct me at the meeting next year.

Also, I broke our shredder. It's supposed to shred six sheets at a time. We receive those pesky credit card applications in the mail and they have to be shredded to prevent identity theft. Once I noticed the man who picks up our trash standing in the street, reading discarded mail. It made me worry. Anyway, to shred all our dangerous mail we have to open it and make sure we are not shredding too many sheets at once. This week I got impatient and tried to shred something without opening the envelope. Turns out it was too thick and it got stuck in the shredder. The shredder is broken. I can't get the offending piece of mail through in either direction. So, I had to go and buy a new shredder. My husband was out of town and I haven't told him. I decided to quietly replace it with the new one and hope he doesn't notice.

As usual, I babysat my nieces on Tuesday while my sister went to work. Their aunt on their father's side took the youngest shopping for her birthday. All the girls in the family have "fake Uggs" because their mom and dad refuse to pay the price for "real Uggs". Well, the lovely aunt bought the youngest a pair of "real Uggs" so now the other girls are jealous and want "real Uggs" of their own. I thought Uggs were out of style! Maybe it takes longer for trends to catch on here in Kentucky.

My husband was out of town for the last two weeks in a row. Business trips plus a weekend-in-between visit to California to see his daughter and granddaughter. I made sure to do all the chores and keep the house neat and clean, so when he came home he wouldn't find me lacking in the housekeeping department (I know, I know... but it helps to keep the peace around here). I hoped he would come home and relax for a while, and we would have a chance to talk. He did, in fact, make drinks for both of us, and we had a chance to sit and talk. Then we went out to dinner. So, the week ended on a good note. (Even if he did retreat to his "man cave" after dinner to watch sports on the big screen.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thank Goodness For You

You know who you are... my blogger friends. Thank you for your understanding, your encouragement, your hugs. It means a lot to me. You raise my spirits and keep me company, and give me the strength to keep going.

I am busy clearing, cleaning, organizing, and making life better. I feel a new sense of purpose, thanks to you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I've Got Issues...

Sometimes I feel paralyzed. Stuck. There are so many things I need to fix. My BMI is too high. I am not fit. I can't walk up a flight of stairs without becoming breathless. So, I need to fix that.

My house is too cluttered. I don't know where to begin. The closet too full of clothes. The bathroom too full of old cosmetics. The basement too full of stuff we never use. I have made some progress but it never seems like enough. Things seem to keep multiplying. There is always too much stuff on the kitchen counters, and too much stuff piled up in the laundry room. My fridge and my pantry are both so full that I can't find anything, and every time I open the door something falls out.

I babysit my three nieces on Tuesdays. I am supposed to get them to do their chores, their spelling, their math (yes, they still have schoolwork in the summer), and practice the piano. All they want to do is watch television. They are not supposed to watch Cartoon Network or ICarly. So, of course, those are the things they love the most. Some days I am too tired to be the enforcer.

I always seem to be falling short, at least in my own mind. I go to sleep thinking of all I haven't accomplished that day. I wake up in the morning with renewed motivation, start on a project, then get tired halfway through the day, leaving "stuff" half done all over the house. I switch from project to project, never sticking with one to completion. Sometimes I wonder if I have adult ADD.

I watch the news and I get mad. I can't find peace at home because of all the "stuff" closing in on me. Oh, and I worry about money running out during retirement.

I worry about everything. My mind races, but my body is tired. I hope this is just a "phase" and I get over it. Maybe I need a vacation. But then I would have to pack. Oh dear.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Maybe My Grandmother Was Right!

My husband and I are Baby Boomers. Yes, at that age where retirement begins to loom on the horizon. We both have long work histories behind us. We did what the experts told us... invest as much as possible in your 401K.

Well, look what has been happening to those 401Ks. Losing money! Disappearing before our eyes!

I'm sorry I listened to the experts. Maybe I should have done what my grandmother believed... just put the money under a mattress! At least it would still be there.

So, now I am trying to decide what to do. I have become nervously aware of what is happening in the stock market because it affects my 401K. Should I hold on, waiting to see if I get my lost money back? Should I cash it out now, before I lose more? Maybe I need to rebalance it to reflect less risk. So, I have been looking at stocks vs. bonds. Actively managed accounts vs. index funds, etc., etc. It's all very intimidating. Retirement used to be something in the distance for us. Now it's looming. It's become something real. Too real. Something to worry about. How will we live? Where will we live?

Many baby boomers are approaching retirement age. Just our luck that this coincides with a big economic downturn. I saw a feature on the news yesterday, about how many baby boomers are going to run out of money during retirement. Are we going to have a bunch of homeless old baby boomers? Not pretty.

After my grandmother died, my family found money stashed away in her apartment. Not actually under the mattress, but in books, in old coffee cans, etc. I'm beginning to think maybe she had the right idea. At least the money stayed put!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The chills and fever are gone. I refuse to be sick on my birthday! Most horoscopes refer to July birthdays as Cancer the Crab. I'm not a crab! (I admit I have been known to hide inside my shell on occasion, though.) I've always preferred the alternative label "Moonchild". Much nicer. And true too, as I can be a bit moony at times.

I was born on my father's 22nd birthday. For all the years he was alive, we shared our birthday. So, I always stop to wish him a Happy Birthday, too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chills and Fever

Oh dear. I'm feeling sick again. My fever was 103 yesterday, so I went to the doctor. I got a shot of antibiotic and am resting at home and sleeping a lot.

I am also watching a lot of HGTV, and still wondering why everyone HAS to have stainless steel appliances. Haven't they ever seen Rachael Ray's cute little kitchen? Her appliances are YELLOW, and she cooks just fine! House Hunters International is making me want to move to an exotic location. (Belize? South of France? Fiji?) Though, I'm afraid that when we get ready to sell our house, we will have to sell it to older folks like us who grew up before stainless steel. We have a pretty little house with gorgeous tray ceilings, a finished walk-out basement, a fireplace and hardwood floors... but alas, no stainless steel appliances! Will that make it unsellable? People... our non-stainless steel appliances work just fine! (Uh-oh, we don't have granite counters either... oh no!). These are the kinds of things I think about when I am feverish...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This Was The Fourth

Cupcakes were eaten.

Kids had fun.

Nieces told stories.

Neighbor children visited.

Fireworks were all around. We sat in chairs in my sister's driveway, and we could see four different displays from there.

It was a nice holiday.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

Parades, picnics and fireworks. I made cupcakes and potato salad for our picnic. We will be having fireworks at my sister's house tonight.

I placed little flags along our walk (below). A good friend called from London to wish us happy fourth... that was nice! I hope everyone has a great day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spring in July

Look! The windows are open! Finally!

June was the hottest on record here. Not just hot... hot and humid and muggy and sticky. All month, we had the windows closed and the a/c running. I was hiding in the house to avoid the hot, sticky misery outside. Now that July is here, we are having Spring weather... finally! It's in the 70s and low 80s instead of the 90s, and the air is crisp and clean, not humid and sticky. The windows are open. Outdoor activities are fun again. (More like, even possible again!)

I have been able to go outside and do a little gardening. I'm in the process of filling up the wooden bench with pots of flowers. Finally, it's nice to sit outside after dinner and have a drink, or sit in the swing and read a book. It was just too hot to do this in June. I love Spring, whenever it arrives.

I was thrilled when I found this bench at Home Goods. It was just what I had been looking for. I hauled it into the back of my Blazer and off I went! My Blazer is twelve years old and has over 100,000 miles on it, but this is one reason I'm not willing to give it up. It's not pretty, but it sure is practical!