Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Calamitous Yule & Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!
Best wishes for a bright and wonderful 2019! 

I'm sorry it's been so long since my last blog post! In fact, it's been an embarrassing length of time. Hopefully, all of the issues that kept me occupied elsewhere over the holidays have been resolved and Burt and Ivy will be making their sporadic appearances soon. Life is always unpredictable and I had a record number of unfortunate occurrences this past December. Luckily, they were nothing serious and everything was fixed by Christmas. At least that's what I'm telling myself, ha!

It all started with our fairly new furnace shutting itself off on really cold and windy days. So we turned to our gas fireplace for some heat but it wouldn't light! As it turned out, the air intake and exhaust pipes on the furnace were the culprits and an easy fix. As for the fireplace,  SPIDERS had invaded the gas line (they are attracted to the smell of gas, ugh!) and had kept the pilot light from igniting. I couldn't help but feel sorry for this poor guy who had to spend a whole morning with his head in the fire box but he got it fixed. The drawback is that the pilot light has to be on all the time to keep the spiders away and now I need to find a way to make that up to the environment.  

A few days later, with both heating issues resolved, we finally got a chance to get a tree. His Madness was very happy there were so many left! The place we buy our Christmas trees from bears no resemblance to those cute stalls in the movies. Maybe they only exist in fiction, ha! Have you ever seen one in real life? Anyway, the one we frequent is in the parking lot of a strip mall, facing a six lane highway. We have to shout to be heard over the traffic but the trees are always fresh and they smell really nice - once we get them home.

We did find a pretty tree but while bringing it into the house the top accidentally snapped off and then we noticed there were quite a few gaps and wonky branches. Fortunately, once it was decorated, it looked just fine. Lights and ornaments can go a long way in enhancing the charms of a freshly cut tree, ha! Of course, I forgot to relocate the ghost pumpkin to the basement. It sat on the hearth all during the holidays, Halloween is never really over at our house. 

My birthday falls a couple weeks before Christmas and that always gets me off track. Even though it comes at an inconvenient time, I do like having an excuse to put off working on holiday stuff for the day. Also, because I've got so many other things on my mind, I forget about being another year older! 

Luckily, it came and went without incident because there was a lot more craziness to follow.  

After the heat was restored, the tree acquired and the birthday celebrations were over, we made a trip to the veterinarian. Apparently, Stewart ate something he shouldn't have and Spenser just ate too much. In any case, everyone survived and the kitties are fine and loving the tree.

This little gem showed up in the mail with our Christmas cards.
This is my third summons, they get me every four years, like clockwork!

While catching up on Christmas shopping one day (HM can't resist a silly hat!), my credit card was declined! The bank had frozen it because they detected suspicious activity. A hacker was on a shopping spree at Walmart. Luckily, I had other cards but that was the one that was set up to automatically pay all of the utility bills for our home and the family farm, along with charitable donations we make monthly. It wasn't a tragedy for us but it took awhile to straighten out and I felt so bad that the places that help people with real problems didn't get our donations before Christmas.

In the middle of the credit card fiasco my phone finally gave up and refused to charge.
Lucky for me it was Christmas time.
(Who knew they had such cool wrapping paper at Target?)

Another piece of good luck was that Andy and Kristin were home for the holidays so Mr. Programmer was around to set up my new phone! One evening, after checking out its fancy camera, I joined them (around the now working fireplace) for what has become the typical family activity. They must have noticed they were all just sitting around, staring at their phones before I started giving them a hard time about it! Maybe not. We actually had a very nice Christmas in spite of a the hiccups. I'm truly grateful that they were all so minor, there could've been a few less of them, though.

Life has settled down for now. Apart from the blizzard on New Year's Eve, having to replace the DVR and my laptop forgetting all my passwords when I upgraded to Mojave, the daily disasters seem to be over. I'm hoping whatever was going on this Christmas season won't repeat itself next year - or worse yet, follow down the path of our Possessed Kitchen!

See you soon, or whenever I finish Jury Duty!  

A belated Happy Holidays to all those who celebrated!

Thanks for stopping by and have a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Day in Philadelphia

Last month His Madness and I decided to make an adventure out of a road trip. Mostly it was to deliver a lot of stuff to our son, Andy and his wife, Kristin. They had just bought a house so we assumed they would have room to store a few extra things and it gave us a good excuse to snoop around their new place. Since we just celebrated a national holiday, it reminded me of the time we spent in Philadelphia driving home. Our first stop on the journey was supposed to be a quick look around Sleepy Hollow, NY but Siri sent us off in a completely different direction and we ended up inching our way through the Bronx and upper Manhattan before we knew what was happening. 

Much later than we had hoped, we arrived at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Philadelphia, chosen because it was close to all the historic sites and they had valet parking. It happened to be a newly redone, 1920's Art Deco style building with this cute bunny motif everywhere. Turns out, the new owners have a really great sense of humor. In its previous life as the Parker Spruce Hotel, it had quite a notorious reputation, to which the bunnies allude. The former gay, sports bar is now a hip place called The Libertine. Happily, the big screens are almost gone. The staff was great and it was a fun and interesting place to stay.

The next morning we decided to tour Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The tickets are free but when we tried to reserve them online it kept showing that all of the tours were full. There are only so many tickets given out each day so we took a chance and went to the Visitors Center first thing in the morning and surprise, there were tickets available after all - with a group of fifty-six middle school kids, ha! 

The tour was short, there are only two rooms to it. The one above is where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Our guide was knowledgeable and gave a thorough explanation about it and the importance of the Bill of Rights. He covered the 13th through the 15th Amendments to the Constitution that ended slavery and granted equal rights to former slaves in detail and then the tour was over. What? As we were leaving I thanked him and mentioned that I'd noticed he'd left out the 19th Amendment. He apologized and said he felt bad about that but they were doing more tours now so he didn't have enough time to talk about women not being allowed to vote until 1920. So, the fact that our government denied half of its citizens the right to participate in what is supposed to be a democracy, for the first 144 years of its existence, is no big deal? I disagree.

Meanwhile, back outside, on the opposite end of  Independence Hall, HM is advancing the film in his cardboard camera. Nearly all of the historic buildings are clustered in one area so it's really easy to see everything in a short amount of time. I think the Park Service could do with some funding to spruce the area up a bit. The buildings looked a little shabby and a couple of them were permanently closed. The courtyard across the street is where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the citizens of Philadelphia. Wonder if they allowed any women to listen? 

I have to say the zoning is Philadelphia is very interesting, this is the very edge of the historical park area. This photo was taken from the Magnolia Garden across the street. There are a lot of shade trees and quite a few gardens in the park that provided us with a welcome relief from the 90° heat. Unfortunately, there was no escaping the sauna-like humidity.  

Next, we headed over to the Betsy Ross Museum for a feminist view of colonial times and some excellent air conditioning. This museum has come under scrutiny for many years because its premise is based on oral history. Whether or not she designed and made the first flag or even lived in this house really doesn't matter, it still offers an interesting look at how people lived in the late 1700's. 

There is an actual record of her being paid for making flags for the Pennsylvania navy in 1778.  Although Francis Hopkinson probably designed it, Betsy Ross is credited with changing the star from a six points to five and arranging them in a circle. She was an upholsterer by trade and had to hand sew the flags at night, alone in her room, to avoid being seen. If she had been caught making flags for the revolutionaries she would have been arrested for treason. Luckily, no one turned her in! Throughout the 84 years of her life she ran a successful business, had three husbands and produced seven daughters. I think she deserves a museum just for that!

Having cooled off a little we headed for Elfreth's Alley, the oldest continually inhabited residential street in the United States. It was named after Jeremiah Elfreth, a blacksmith and property owner. The homes were built between 1702 and 1830 as working class housing for tradespeople like glassblowers, silver and pewter smiths, furniture makers and shipwrights.     

Today there are thirty-two residences, two serving as a museum and is all residential but 300 years ago the ground level rooms were used for business with the residents living above. In the 1770's one third of the households were headed by women. The museum recreates a colonial-era home of a pair of dress-makers but unfortunately it wasn't open the day we visited. 

In fact, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, apart from a very friendly kitty. We hand just wandered off a side alleyway when I decided to take a photo and who walks into the picture? 

A Minuteman dude. He was leading a tour of European tourists who were looking around skeptically and probably wondering why anyone would think these building were that old.

It's a cute place, if the cobblestones would have been more even, it could be in a Disney park! Given what the rest of the buildings look like in the surrounding blocks, it's a miracle it has survived.Thanks to many dedicated people, working diligently over the years, it was saved from real estate development and Interstate 95. 

We finished off the day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art because they were open late that evening. This is the view from the top of the steps. Thankfully, the cheesy statue of Rocky has been moved to another place. There's a whole lot more to see and do in Philadelphia but we managed to get in quite a bit in just one day. Hopefully we will visit again, the gardens should be spectacular in the spring. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Friday, November 23, 2018

It's Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, I hope everyone had a great day!

We were invited to a Thanksgiving Feast last weekend and today it's just us. Can't say I wasn't tempted to blow the whole thing off! I knew I wouldn't miss the cooking and cleaning but the thought of not roasting a turkey felt a little strange - and I don't even like it that much!  

"Please don't make me cook the turkey, it's five times bigger than me!

So the preparations began with His Madness turning a pumpkin into a pie.

While I made the easiest thing on the menu.

We stuck with the traditional dishes because we knew if we didn't make the same dinner we have been making for all of the past Thanksgivings, we would be completely confused about what holiday we were actually celebrating. Who knows what might happen next, we might forget to go shopping!

It all worked out in the end. We got to talk with Andy and Kristin over FaceTime and now, much like everyone else, we will be eating leftover turkey for weeks. How do we always make too much?

Of course, no Thanksgiving is complete without falling asleep watching the afternoon rerun of the Macy's parade. It's hard to believe it was colder in New York City than it was here, burrrr!!!

Thanks for stopping by! Sorry for being late in sending out good wishes to everyone.
To all of you who don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a great Thursday!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Some Silliness on the Change of Seasons

HM and I went for a walk one day,
to enjoy all the autumn color.
We were a little late for the show
but that's how it goes,
at least it was beautiful weather!

Fall leaves disappear in the blink of an eye
but crabapples stay around forever.
Their bright colors attract lots of critters, in fact,
which turns out to be really quite clever.

It's been a lot colder than normal this fall,
although that's not really something I dread.
It brings out the autumn colors quite well 
and all of the mosquitoes are dead!

Dark clouds usually hang in the sky overhead
so the bright blue was quite a surprise.
For now I'm quite happy with things as they are  
but it's kind of hurting my eyes! 

Leaves float on the top of the Frog Pond,
eventually to sink in the end.
Bare trees are reflected on the surface
and photobombed by HM. 

Sometimes you can't see the forest
because there are too many trees.
That's what's special about autumn,
we get to them all differently.

It's nearly the end of this season, 
another one soon will begin.
Mother Nature is laughing her ass off
 and planning a do-over again.

Though the gold of the birch and aspens
was swept away weeks ago,
the oaks and maples around,
kept our spirits from getting down,
about the inevitable snow. 

Back at home there was still lots of color,

unfortunately, primarily in the street!

Then white arrived on the scene, 

putting an end to the green,

and poor orange was overcome with grief!

As this very strange blog post is ending,
there's one thing that's important to know,
this can't be a good start to winter 
 with leaves on top of the snow!

Thanks for stopping by and