Monday, October 28, 2019

Miss Hargreaves

I read a book that is so amazing and original that I am putting it on my list of 20 top favorite all time novels I've read.
"Miss Hargreaves" by Frank Baker.
Written in 1940 and set in England, a college age man named Norman and his friend Henry invent an eccentric old lady to explain their presence to a sexton in an old Irish church where they shouldn't be. As part of this lark they enjoyed making up all sorts of details about her. They decided her name is Miss Hargreaves (pronounced Har graves), she is 83, eccentric, travels with her talking parrot, dog, harp and a bath.
On a whim  Norman sends her a note inviting her to come visit him and his parents and sister, making up where to send it. The most amazing thing happens. Miss Hargreaves received the note and  arrives in town, causing Norman much fear and trepidation. She is sure they are old and very dear friends, which is pretty much impossible to explain to his family, his girlfriend, and circle of friends in town.
Miss Hargreaves establishes herself in town and amazing things happen.
I will say no more. I enjoyed reading it. Some reviewers didn't like it, as is always the case, people's reading tastes vary. I bought a used copy online and it is a keeper, one to loan to friends. In the comments Rita says she found online an audible copy, now that is one I would like to listen to.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

My goal is to age a bit disgracefully

I am a senior citizen and have decided it is time for me to grab more silliness. Let's face it, life is short, whether 10 days or 100 years, I have always realized our time on earth is short. Just a blip of days or years.
I mentioned my goal of aging disgracefully five years ago in a Christian writers' group here in my town. We were truthfully telling our oldest member that she is a great mentor, both for writing and for living. Someone told her that she is aging gracefully.
That is a big compliment. I then chimed in that I have a goal of aging DISgracefully. You know, liven things up a bit. Wearing my hats even when no one else wears hats. Who cares? I have a selection of hats that are covered in sequins. One is a bright lime green. When I don't wear one one of my sparkly hats to my favorite garden store my favorite clerk tells me he is disappointed. Plus my wide brimmed lavender sun hat. Oh, and one with butterflies on it. I do care less now about pleasing other people.
Some of my hats and dresses below:

Another recent change is that beginning in September I started wearing dresses. Before that I hadn't worn a dress or skirt in more than 10 years. I bought a loose flowing dress and wore it to my son's birthday lunch. My sons were suitably surprised. I bought several more and am wearing them to church and to meet friends. Now that is NOT disgraceful, I know, just a change of pace for me.
A fun find I bought for me and for my niece, a daily calendar with inspiring and irreverent quotes.
Here is a quote from the above calendar: "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." Eleanor Roosevelt
Another quote "As far as I am concerned, age does not exist. I know twenty-year-old girls who are older than me." Zsa Zsa Gabor
Another quote I found online is "Do a loony-goony dance 'cross the kitchen floor, Put something silly in the world that ain't been there before." Shel Silverstein
I think it is never too late or too soon to shake things up a bit. See you dancing in the kitchen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bougainvilleas, one that invaded our house, and Senior Angels program

I took these photos yesterday. What a richly colored happiness-evoking bougainvillea. And gold stars for everyone who can spell this plant's name, it is rather tricky.
I pass this magenta bougainvillea every day while walking with Bounce. The color is more like the top photo, and less of a red like the second photo, but I want to show you the size and shape of the bush, it reaches the top of the door.
A bougainvillea invaded our house
Decades ago when we bought an old wooden farmhouse, on the farm we transformed into a small winery, there was a stunning bougainvillea, which turned out to be growing into the attic and its vines were wrapped around the electrical wires to the house, inside the attic.
An electrician told us this monster vine had to be removed because it was a fire hazard as it clutched the electrical wiring. My husband had to cut it down with a chain saw, the trunk was about a foot across and very hard wood. The spikes or thorns were fierce and sharp and my husband was a brave man to do battle with it.
The plant liked what it decided was an invigorating pruning and quickly grew back and we kept it pruned to a modest size, no longer growing into our house.
Senior Angel Program
I don't recall which of my dear blogger friends recently suggested Chemo Angels and Senior Angels on her blog, to do as a volunteer. I want to thank you, please tell me who you are. I signed up to be a Senior Angel, haven't gotten matched with my senior yet, but I am excited to begin. It sounds like a good program that we can do from our home which is super convenient. The responsibility is to write notes of encouragement a couple times a week and to send small gifts if you want, I think it said the gifts should be only 2 or 3 dollars, just a friendly token.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tea With The Dames, lavash for lunch, sunflowers

I don't post often about food, since cooking for one is not that interesting to me, but I discovered Lavash recently, a flatbread, just bought it on a whim. It seems to stay fresh longer than a loaf of bread, about a week. I cover it with grated cheese, tomatoes from my garden, taco sauce, put it in the microwave for 20 seconds, and then roll it up and eat it. Yum. Nice with olives and an avocado on the side. The traditional way to enjoy lavash is to spread it with cream cheese and add things like sliced ham and lettuce before rolling it up.
Above is a native penstemon, which is purple with undercurrent of blue. There are 4 different purple native penstemon, some with a white throat. My five plants are all purple and bees and butterflies and people like them.
After a decade of dropping cable and not watching much TV I have discovered the delights of streaming channels. I subscribe to Hulu and recently watched the documentary Tea with the Dames. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins (she is Aunt Ruth in Doc Martin which I am watching). I found it delightful as the four actresses shared laughs and career highlights and family and husband moments. Some of the laughs are bawdy. Other Hulu favorite shows for me are Blackish, New Tricks and Elementary.

Below is another photo of the penstemon with some of my new bottle bush plants on the left. I had 11 bottle brush planted on both sides of my driveway and they are the kind that only grow to 3 or 4 feet tall, which is what I wanted. Many bottle brush grow to 6 or 8 or even 10 feet tall and all are gorgeous when covered with their red flowers.
And my neighbors faithfully plant many sunflowers from seed each year and the flowers are blooming now.
I thank their perseverance because last year they barely had any plants survive an onslaught by squirrels and birds as the squirrels dug up the seeds and birds ate the seedlings. Last year they kept planting more seeds and even put netting over the planting area to little avail. This year the sunflowers are back and didn't bloom til September and they are very welcome.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Bits and Bobs

Here is a gathering of recent photos I took.
Above are some heart shaped leaves I found while walking Bounce. The tree is tall, maybe 40 feet tall, and healthy and had been trimmed so there are leaves on the ground. I wonder if it is a type of eucalyptus. The leaves I gathered that are in my photo look like they are made of bronze; one friend said they look like they are made of gold.

Can you see how big these zucchinis are? I put a pair of garden gloves on top of the pile to show the scale. My friend uses large zucchinis for baking, but I don't. I am sorry I let these get too big. I only planted one green and one yellow zucchini but I am not keeping up with them, obviously.
My very old cement sun bird feeder; I like to photograph this and the volunteer nasturtiums that climb up to it.
Two words new to me that I like the sound of, and that I found in a UK blogger's post this week:
I hope they aren't rude!
I decided to look them up online and they meant what I thought, faffing is doing something slowly, taking your own sweet time, not in a rush. Like faffing about in my garden.
Pootling means moving leisurely without a plan or goal or time frame, like pootling about on a country walk or drive. and seeing what you find. British friends, if I am on the wrong track with these definitions let me know.
Do you like the waterfall cascade effect of these orchids? This orchid is a prolific and dependable bloomer and I bought it for a low price at a big chain food store, Safeway. I am pleased with it. I have six orchids in my kitchen in front of an east facing window.
Here is a closeup of Mary who continues to reign in my garden bringing a peace with her. I used money from payment for a garden article I wrote decades ago, it seemed an appropriate way to spend the money.
So now, if you are like me, let's take some time to do some garden or library faffing and then pootle around the neighborhood. I think dogs are the kings and queens of faffing and pootling and they can teach us well. Be sure and wave if you see me.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Happy Birthday to my darling Will, I miss you

My husband Will would have been 72 on this his birthday, on August 27. My words are not able to convey how much I miss him, so I include here the profound words to Death Is Nothing At All

Original version read as a sermon upon the death of King Edward VII
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Bounce sitting on Will's memorial bench that we donated to the park near our house, where we can sit and watch the skateboard park and children's swings. Can you see the rose made of straw left there by an unknown person? The bench says "Bike Adventures" and has a bike carved into the back. That was my man!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Feeling Blue, Give P.G. Wodehouse novels a try

I think that if you read Plum, as P.G. Wodehouse's friends and readers call him, his words will give you many cheerful heart moments. I find that his world of silliness is a good one to enter. If you are feeling down, or even already cheerful, read a Plum novel for laughter. Good news is that he wrote about 90 novels.
"It is impossible to be unhappy while reading the adventures of Jeeves and Wooster. And I've tried." -- Christopher Buckley.
Wodehouse is known for his Jeeves and Wooster books, and Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie did a brilliant job acting in the TV series "Jeeves and Wooster". So funny to me and to many.
Here are covers of some representative titles. My favorite Plum novel might be "The Code of the Woosters." I gave a copy to our minister when he left on a sabbatical; I have seen that being a minister is a very tough job and laughter can be applied as needed.
I find I can turn to any page in a Wodehouse book and find humor. Here is one random snippet from page 2 of My Man Jeeves. "After this," I (Wooster speaking to Jeeves) said, "not another step for me without your advice. From now on consider yourself the brains of the establishment."
"Very good, sir, I shall endeavor to give satisfaction."
And he has, by Jove! I'm a bit short on brain myself; the old bean would have appeared to have been constructed more for ornament than for use, don't you know; but give me five minutes to talk the thing over with Jeeves and I'm game to advise anyone about anything."
Another fabulously funny series is the Blandings Castle books featuring Lord Emsworth, not the brightest guy around, and his devotion to his prize winning pig, The Empress. See above photo, Uncle Fred in the Springtime, on the cover is the Empress taking a bath. Just the character names alone bring me smiles, uncle Fred is the Fifth Earl of Ickenham and he dependably drags his nephew Pongo Twistleton into trouble and somehow they survive.
Proverbs 17:22 reminds us that "A cheerful heart is good medicine".
Here is our esteemed author himself, living in the USA.