Winter is here–or is it?

Everyday, I listen to our local weather on WTIC. The weather guy is taking great pleasure–sounds like glee–in telling us this is the warmest December on record in Connecticut.  images

Now you have to understand that our little river house, right on the Connecticut River, is probably one of the greatest delights of my entire life. My hubby has torn down, gutted, rebuilt, remodeled, and generally made it beautiful.

So when he informs me, as he regularly does, that he hates winter, hates being cold, I translate to that someday, he will want to take me away from my little river house. That would make me very sad.

IMG_1734      So I have an elaborate plan to “get him out of winter.” That involves taking a big portion of my retirement money–whatever is not going into the renovation–and saving it up for “getting out of winter.”

In order to communicate this intention to him, I planned, this year, for the most expensive, most elaborate vacations–out of winter–that we have ever taken. I wanted him to taste and see.

IMG_2360We just returned from Costa del Sol, where we had a fabulous time. But the temperatures were only in the mid-60s–so not exactly beach weather. We still loved the people, the scenery, the food, and the Mediterranean.

We loved Malaga. We walked everywhere in center city Malaga., celebrating our blessings with lots of red wine, sangria and lots of especial Dos Equis. No worries. We walked everywhere.DSCN1910      IMG_2612 (1)

But, as we checked our weather back at the river–it was very similar to Spain.

Now we are planning to fly into Las Vegas, en route to California, again to avoid winter, and, of course, to see the kids and grands. But, I look at Las Vegas and Los Angeles weather forecasts, and it will be “about the same” as Connecticut weather for the week.

Ironic. If we had stayed home this year, and waited for a colder winter to travel, hubby would have reveled in the “warmest winter on record in Connecticut.” It’s supposed to be mid-60s on Christmas Day.

IMG_5147Isn’t life interesting.

We are still having a great time, home or away. And, I suspect, I will get to live out my life in my little river house,

because, hubby looks at his handiwork, and he is pretty proud. And. He loves me. Very much

Reflections on connections and waiting

I have to say right out, I am addicted to technology. I wish I had grown up with more of it so it would be as intuitive to me as I see it is to my grandchildren–and less so, but still more than for me, to my children.

So, when I say that I am in daily communication with my youngest “food blogger” daughter in California   c33a8027-dee1-4215-a435-c96b194e330a(www.foodscape.vanillaplummedia.com), frequently the other three kids, and sometimes even some of the eight grands, I like it. Like when she sent me pictures of her yoga poses to make sure I was doing my stretching and breathing. Instant reminder. I would really miss not having this audio and video connection.

But, I got to reflecting on “the olden days” when I would wait for the mail, the way my cat waits for me to pour her food into her bowl. Great anticipation for a personal note from someone made mail delivery the highlight of my day. Today, as you all know, mail delivery is mostly about junk mail and the stray bill that hasn’t made its way to my online, paperless system. One of my mail carriers even told me that if it weren’t for junk mail, he wouldn’t have a job. Wow. That gave me pause. Sad to say the least, since most of that mail doesn’t even make it inside the house, but goes directly to the grey bin in the driveway.

Yet, I have to say, wonderful as it is to be messaging away, with pictures, of whatever whimsical activity (mostly food and recipes) I am into for the day, and much as I appreciate that instant answer, I do kind of miss that “highlight of the day” mail delivery experience.  Unknown

It’s a conflict. I love having the daily connections, and that a visit doesn’t seem like we have too much catching up to do. But there is an ordinariness to this instant method, and that makes the virtue of waiting a thing of the past. Patience isn’t the virtue we value anymore, and I suspect that lack of enters into our relationships more than we realize. When we want everything in “now” it brings an entitlement attitude that we see in so many places.

My girlfriend just told me she watched her granddaughter asking her father if he had finished working on her car. It was more of a demand than a request, and there was no tone of gratitude, thanks, and yes, patience, in the question at all. She needed the car, and she wanted it right then–not later.

black-phone   We don’t wait for much anymore. It’s not only about instant gratification, it’s really about non-stop communication, even when we want to turn it off. We don’t feel we can turn off our phones even to sleep. Granted the old home phone was “on” even when sleeping. But it didn’t beep. chime and buzz every time a Facebook message came in or an email or any of the other “icons, badges, and whatever,” day and night. It usually just rang when someone really needed to talk, especially in the wee hours of the morning.

Of course, I am not the only one to point this out. Nothing new here–except maybe to say that there is value in waiting for something, looking forward to a note from family or friends, and having the excitement involved in having to wait for people, things, and events.

I doubt if that kind of waiting often enters the minds of the young, so used to the instant communication. They don’t need dictionaries, encyclopedias, print media or much else in the way of references, since information is only a click away–however faulty it may be in accuracy, not to mention spelling and grammar. They, and we, can type in a question, or even say it aloud to SIRI for any tiny little wonderment. Who was the star of that TV show? Instant answer. No waiting.

I remember having my daughter put a purchase on layaway, just to try to give her that excitement of anticipation. She had the money for her precious antique trunk at the antique store, but that was her entire savings. I was trying to teach her to leave something in her account, as well as having this wonderful thing to look forward to. Well, my lessons completely backfired. Not only did she not have excitement in waiting, she was very annoyed with me for staging such a silly exercise, in her opinion. She had the money, she wanted the trunk, and she wanted it immediately. (I expect her to comment on this, to reiterate how silly she thought this was.

But, to me, it is not at all silly. Patience is really a virtue, even if we have to construct learning about it.

I wonder a lot about what we lose with our disdain for waiting. Are we more shallow in our relationships–meaning less able to let things work themselves out, rather than demanding instant resolution? For instance, so many of the things in my relationships that used to be annoying, have become so much less important as I have let them go, and not responded immediately to every nuance of behavior or words…as I have allowed maturity to temper my thinking. I have found that most little things resolve themselves as we allow others to also mature. If our happiness depends on demanding instant change or answers, we often worsen the conflict rather than allowing it to mellow.  
Unknown

So enough from me. What do you think? I really want to know.

Squirrels, cats, and life on the river

IMG_2205

When I look out my wall of windows and French doors, I see my beautiful Connecticut River, the October artistry of leaves beginning their changing to a rich palette of autumn color. But, I have to say, my view has begun to change to appreciating what my cat sees.   IMG_2218

I am  pretty sure her view includes the river and the trees, but what she gloms onto, focuses on, are the three squirrels who run along our deck railing multiple times a day, gathering their acorns from the oaks, and preparing for winter.

IMG_2787 IMG_2207

Watching the squirrels through cat’s eyes has given me things to ponder this October that I am not sure I have ever pondered at this level:

  1. We need to prepare for winter
  2. We need to gather while there is time
  3. We need to be busy, working, for when the time and weather don’t allow us to do so

 

I used to think about this a little bit when I subscribed to Martha’s Stewart Living, and would read her monthly calendar, where she would let me know when it was time to rotate closet clothing for seasons, and when to do the cold weather gardening, and when to bring in the plants, and when to wash and put away summer linens, and things like that. I didn’t actually do most of those “to do” things, but it did give me pause, and allow me to see an order to life that I had not appreciated fully in my busy, modern,  rushing around life.   marthacalendar

6a00d834537f7169e200e553d8ce528833-400wiNow that I have no little ones at home, I could actually do the Martha-Squirrel things. But, that is probably next year.

This year, we are still renovating. The bedroom side with its master bedroom, master bath and walk in closet should be dry-walled by November. If the flooring gets in this year, I could conceivably start to rotate my seasonal clothing by bringing down my winter things to the walk-in, and using one of the upstairs rooms to store our summer-spring clothing. That luxury remains to be seen. It could be moving down my summer clothes and storing winter ones if the work-vacation schedule make completing the flooring and shelving impossible by Thanksgiving.

IMG_2208

Stay tuned. I will let you know our progress. In the meantime, cat never tires of watching the squirrels, and I am now much more conscious of the cycle of seasons and their various tasks.

A different September

September is usually one of my favorite months. Cooler weather, crisp breezes, and signs that fall is about to burst its pallet of color. Living on the Connecticut River, this is an added joy.  IMG_1365

So far, this September, however, there has been one of the worst heat waves in this area’s history. It’s not that I’m anxious for ice and snow, wind chills, and gloomy days. And, I really am not usually a complainer. Even my handwriting has evidence of my extreme optimism.

Unknown But, I have to say, this heat wave, with its extremely high humidity, has me not only feeling lethargic, instead of my usual September vigor, but has been so constant it’s hard even to sleep or work.

Yes, I know the heat has to subside–eventually. But, like a winter that hangs on through March, and a summer that starts in May, losing spring, as we had this year, what I don’t like is a summer that creeps through September, so that we lose fall too.  Unknown

Today, I attempted a short walk to the boat dock, about a quarter mile, because my weight loss has plateaued, mostly, I believe, from the weeks of humidity that have caused me to give up my two miles a day. I decided I just had to tough it out. I came back feeling like a human heater, gulping down water, and not sure I should be doing so much moving as the temp climbs to 88 degrees F. (Weather info says “feels like 92) and the humidity climbs higher.

Unknown-1 There is even an air quality alert–most likely intended for seniors. Beware.
Oh my. Even this much complaining is starting to affect me. I really am so grateful for our river house, and so amazed that I get this amazing view every single day, probably for the rest of my life, that it is just not right to find things not to like.

So, with perspiration rolling down my face, humidity that seems to require two showers a day–or a dip in the river, which I still haven’t tried–I suppose I will just sit in the heatwave on our deck and celebrate life anyway.   IMG_2160

 

 

 

A Pause for the comma

I believe I suffer from comma phobia. You heard me right. I have a sincere wish to avoid the little rascals altogether. They frighten me.

Unknown   I think it started when I proofread school papers for my daughter, and she would get downgraded from my removal of her commas.

This was then exacerbated when my best friend, Gail, a former college professor, raised her eyebrows at my journalistic use of commas, far sparser than her academic comma usage.

Let me also tell you, it is a point of honor for me that I scored 99th percentile in punctuation and grammar on my high school achievement tests. Every year. It is the only academic area where I can say that–except for my ability to recognize and name every instrument in the orchestra. But, that’s irrelevant here. I could diagram sentences with the best of them; I rarely got below A+ on any English grammar, spelling or punctuation test.    Unknown-1

So it rattles me that I am insecure in my use of the innocent comma.  I think some of the confusion stems from the transition from high school and college writing to journalism, where different expectations for comma usage exist, as I have already said.

Unknown-2   But, something inside tells me it is more than that. Lately I find myself insecurely adding commas where commas have never gone before. It’s a mixture of respect for Gail and her ilk, and fear of seeing them furrow their brows at my dearth of commas. I can almost hear the clicking tongues of the schoolteachers as they read my well-thought out commas.

I am no longer sure whether or not my meaning is clear without them; I end up giving the comma the benefit of the doubt, then I subject myself to more pain and suffering by re-reading my text and wrestling over whether to remove many of them.

I realize I cannot have this conversation with just any Tom, Jane or Sally, but  I know you care. I implore you to consider how much anguish we writers endure for the sake of clarity versus creativity, and accuracy versus enjoyable reading. Therein is the real problem: for some, enjoyment has nothing to do with accuracy; for others it is the very rock on which they stumble when their rules are not followed, and they cannot, for the sake of incorrect grammar, allow themselves to enjoy even an artistic sentence or phrase. It’s the old chalkboard squeak or the symphonic dissonance that they just cannot bear.

Much of the dilemma has become clearer to me in the readinUnknowng of Lynne Truss’s delightful book, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, where she devotes an entire chapter to the worthy, small, but mighty, comma. (Truthfully, she is mostly an apostrophe kind of gal, but she does wax humorous in the comma chapter). Since the title of her book belies her disdain for misuse of the comma, I guess those little dears are important to her too. I mean, in case you haven’t figured it out, her title refers to Pandas who eat shoots and leaves. But, if the comma is erroneously inserted where it doesn’t belong, you will think the Panda has visited an eatery, had some dinner, shot the patrons, and exited. All because of a comma. Imagine!

Truss carefully explains that where the college student (or professor) might write: red, white, and blue, the journalist, me, would likely (definitely) spare you the “third degree” and write: red, white and blue. Actually, I get as frowny over Gail’s excessive use as she does my lack of. It seems to me that Gail and her colleagues simply insert commas, willy-nilly; I pride myself on deciding whether inserting that comma will better clarify the meaning of the sentence or not. If not, I restrain myself. I consider that a virtue.

The most illuminating part of Truss’s explanation is the origin of the little mark, and how it was used as much to allow the reader the proper tone, like in music, where pauses become part of the joy of reading aloud, as it was for clarity. She points out that the whole problem began when we started reading silently. So, now, I really get it.   Unknown

This is the pith of the matter: I write for audio–always have. My stuff is meant for radio, bedtime sharing, reading aloud to one’s self.

UnknownI think audio. Maybe that is why I need to be alone to write. I can’t have other noises around, or I don’t know what my words will sound like.

There you have it. I am giving myself permission to place commas only where they will “sound right.” I will know. Hopefully, you will agree. Not sure I will persuade Gail though.

The Albrecht’s – Grocery wisdom

Very few people I talked to have ever heard of Karl and Theo Albrecht, brothers from Germany who have literally changed the thinking of many a grocery shopper.

th-2When I lived in California, I took for granted that Trader Joe’s ™ would always be a part of my life. Then I moved to a little village in Northern Illinois, and much to my disappointment, no Trader Joe’s ™ in a 60 mile radius.

I don’t drive Interstates, as you regular readers know. So my options were few, so I thought, in getting the special brands I used to thrive on. I felt relegated to the basic grocery store in town, where no Pirate Booty™ existed, nor fresh wild salmon at amazing prices, nor microbrews, nor German chocolates with a deliciousness not found at Hershey’s™, or often even at Ghirardelli’s™. I got used to it, gained 20 pounds (also due to the fact of winter, where walking three miles a day in ice and snow was not likely to happen.)

Then I moved to Connecticut. Also to small town, where, evidently no market was attractive to ™Trader Joe’s, enough to plant a store within 25 miles of my house. Sad. But true.

I was chatting with my California youngest daughter one day, one of the foodies in our family, and she gave me some amazing information:

“Did you know, Ma, that there are two brothers from Germany, who came from an entreprennuerial family, and wealth, but couldn’t agree on their grocery store ambitions for a business model, so they split the business into two, and each did his own business model–one upscale wholesale groceries, the other more basic wholesale, but still specialty groceries, where the emphasis was on affordability.”mk-at857_aldi_g_20090112172432

“No, I did not know that,” I replied. Who are they?

“The Albrecht Brothers.” One started Trader Joe’s (Theo),

and the other (Karl) branded Aldi’s.  th

th-1      Sadly, Karl, at 94, the Aldi’s brother, has now also died, in 2014.

Forbes ranked his net worth at about $26 Billion. Theo, died in 2010, with a net worth of about $16B.

Both stores grew to global popularity, and the brothers also brought the idea of discount grocery to Europe.

But, what I did with my daughter’s information, was to take another look at Aldi’s, which is present both in my Enfield, CT town, and was present close to home, had I realized the offering, in Northern, IL.

After all, if I can’t drive myself to TJ’s, I could at least check out, what I imagined to be the next best thing.

On my shopping trip with my new, more appreciative eye, I did, indeed, discover things I had not discerned before I was armed with knowledge.

Aldi’s™ prices, for one thing, are not just about affordability, they are also about offering high quality at wholesale prices. Gourmet cheeses, produce, cereals, and that amazing German chocolate are there. The chocolate bars, for instance, are $1.99, where the same type of American bar sells for at least $2.50 on a good day, and $3.00 typically. Produce, like pineapple’s are $1.39 rather than the $2.99-$3.99 even at Costco, which I love.

Before I had just written off the store as a warehouse grocery, without anything special to offer.

But, now I saw that the variety and the number of specialty items, though not what you find at TJ’s, is pretty special.

Aldi’s™ gives consumers these great deals by cutting costs on consumer amenities, charging for shopping carts, shopping bags, and not taking credit cards. (They do accept debits.)

So if you need the luxury accoutrement with your luxury foods, this isn’t the idea at Aldi’s.

But if you want deeply discounted goat cheese, and you bring your own bag, you will be very happy.  300x300px-LS-847cbdbc_1209646410_Ai_FWLNCAAE4MU3.jpg-large

Not sure if the business models will continue to thrive, with the passing of the two founders, but I hope so. These men, who began all of this post-WWII, made a big impression on American and European shoppers.

I don’t plan to ever move back to California, now that we have our wonderful River House. And, on my semi-annual trips to Calif., to see the kids and grands, I really didn’t like stuffing my already sparse luggage space, with goodies from my favorite California store.

Now I don’t have to.

TLC at the DMV

th-3   Avoidance of the dreaded DMV visit had to end. After all, legally, our transfer from Illinois to Connecticut should have happened in 30 days. But, that didn’t take into consideration hotel life for 17 months, the not-sale of our IL home, and the continued “temporary living” status we enjoyed for most of 2008 and 2009.
But it was time. So on our first 80 degree day in April, the air-conditioned DMV seemed like a good place to escape the heat. 🙂 Right?

My first DMV line happily placed me next to older teens who knew a lot more than I about DMV lines. They must have noticed my old-lady lost look, and they took pity, telling me I really didn’t have to do this particular line, and could go directly to kiosk (GO)–although no mention was made about collecting any salary–and in fact, the kiosk wanted me to swipe a card, get my picture taken (not for the license–who knows for what!) and obtain a receipt which would allow me the joy of skipping over to the inching centipede–thousand-legger line on the other side of the building. This line was for those wishing a CT drivers license, update, driving or eye test, or replacement license.

Thank you teenagers! The pre-kiosk line had only cost me an initial ten minutes, rather than an additional hour.  th

But, this was still an hour and a half until my turn at the desk where I had to show ID, an address with my name on it, and surrender my passport and Illinois license. Didn’t know I needed a proof of address. Raced to my car, tore off a cardboard box address label that thank God was still in my car, raced back to the desk and presented it.

Noooooo. It was NOT a piece of mail.

“Oh come on!” I mistakenly called it a UPS box, instead of the legitimate USPS. They sound so similar, and after calling on an officer of the law to accept this–which he would not as UPS, but okayed as USPS I heaved a “whew!!” I was in.

I sat back down in the eye-test waiting area and listened in on various conversations–parents and teens, new residents, disgruntled people who didn’t think it was a good idea to waste April’s first 80 degree day.
My turn at the eye test. I was really stressing out the binoculars. We already know from my trip to Holyoke that I have challenges with my amblyopic situation. My testing officer was a dear man, about my age. Don’t these police people have crimes to solve? Never been to a DMV that used police officers for eye tests.

Unknown
“Um. Can’t do the binocular thing,” I confessed. “Which eye would you like me to use first?” I think my innocence was a plus.

“Left eye, please,” he said. “Okay, then.” Numbers, not letters–aced it.

Then the dreaded right eye, which is yellowing, according to my optometrist, but not enough for cataract surgery yet. 🙁 “I slipped on prescription sunglasses.) Aced this one too.

Then he said, “Which sign is closer?”

“Oh-oh,” said I. “Also a binocular question. I have no idea.”

“Try again,” he prodded, not able to process my dilemma.

“Um. Ok. But, they all look the same.”

He gave me one of the most tender looks I have ever seen, even outside of a DMV. Well I have actually never seen a kind look inside a DMV until this day.

“But, then how do you see which car is closer?” he asked, totally genuine, concerned for my welfare (which we all know is well-placed concern. See Finding My Way–scroll back).

“Well, I compensate,” I told him. “And, I don’t drive at night, and I don’t do Interstates, and I don’t put myself in situations where this might be a problem,” to which he gave me a look of incredulity but still kind.   th-1

“I probably don’t see it as well as you do,” I offered, hoping ego-boosting (for him, not me) would help my case.
In the meantime, dear Jay decided this was a good time to check in, and my cell phone blared Santa Baby by Eartha. Now the sign at the desk clearly says no one can have a cell phone on. I forgot to turn mine off. Santa Baby played its whole theme because I wasn’t audacious enough to answer it, or even reach to turn it off.
The USPS approver walked through our eye test area, leaned in, and exclaimed, “You have just made my day. I love that song.”
I was so happy to have made someone’s day!! Christmas in April. Who knew? Santa Baby on a contraband cell phone!! At the DMV!

My officer was writing some things on his paper, winding up my test report, when he threw me another curve (which I could see).

“Were you using prescription glasses?”   Unknown-1

“Um. Only on my right eye. I assure you, I use my left eye more. So pleeeeease don’t put ‘Needs correction’ on that paper. I haven’t had an accident that was my fault in 40 years of driving,” I said, hoping this too would comfort him. (After leaving the DMV, I realized I have been driving a tad longer than 40 years. Oh well. I didn’t get the math genes. And, that made me sound younger.)

He sighed. I wasn’t sure what he wrote, so I pushed my luck.

“You aren’t writing glasses on that, right? Cause, really, I mostly use my left eye.” I don’t think that had been a sigh of relief, but rather of resignation.

“No,” he said, shaking his head, and still that look of, “I hope she’ll be alright.”

I took my seat for another wait–this time the real picture. Only two hours and I was more than half way through–so I imagined.

It only took a half hour to get to the picture–and these people are nice.

“You’re way too nice to work at a DMV,” I said to my final desk gal. “How do you explain them letting you work here?”

“They let us drink,” she said straight-faced.

“Nice, and a sense of humor!” Unbelievable.

It took six tries to get my picture with the hopes my left eye wouldn’t turn in, as it does when I am tired. The two hour wait wore me down. I was tired. My left eye turned in. 🙁

th-1
“So I have to wait till the renewal for a new picture?” I asked. “2016?”

She smiled. She had tried. I couldn’t ask for portrait quality, even from this obviously caring soul after her six tries to get my eye right.

Oh well. Only a final half hour to request the procedure for me saving Jay from this two and a half hours of waiting, which another very nice desk person explained and gathered forms for.

Armed with power of attorney, registration forms for two cars, a motorcycle, and a temporary registration for getting the motorcycle from Massachusetts to Connecticut for its real registration, all that remained was getting insurance on the vehicles, and double-checking the list of must-haves: copies of Jay’s license, address proofs that matched each vehicle, and bank checks in the names of all participating registerees. Sounds easy, easy as pie, right? But, then it’s the DMV, which I have to say was not as odious a visit as I had anticipated, but still not the way I usually spend the first 80 degree day in April.

NOTE: This post originally appeared in April, 2010 on www.spinningstrawintogold.blogspot.com. It is reposted here by request.

A pause for the comma

I believe I suffer from comma phobia. You heard me right. I have a sincere wish to avoid the little rascals altogether. They frighten me. I think it started when I proofread school papers for my daughter, and she would get downgraded from my removal of her commas. This was then exacerbated when my best friend, Gail, a former college professor, raised her eyebrows at my journalistic use of commas, far sparser than her academic comma usage.

th
Let me also tell you, it is a point of honor for me that I scored 99th percentile in punctuation and grammar on my high school achievement tests. Every year. It is the only academic area where I can say that–except for my ability to recognize and name every instrument in the orchestra. But, that’s irrelevant here. I could diagram sentences with the best of them; I rarely got below A+ on any English grammar, spelling or punctuation test.

So it rattles me that I am insecure in my use of the innocent comma.
I think some of the confusion stems from the transition from high school and college writing to journalism, where different expectations for comma usage exist, as I have already said. But, something inside tells me it is more than that.

th
Lately I find myself insecurely adding commas where commas have never gone before. It’s a mixture of respect for Gail and her ilk, and fear of seeing them furrow their brows at my dearth of commas. I can almost hear the clicking tongues of the schoolteachers as they read my well-thought out commas.  th
th-1 I am no longer sure whether or not my meaning is clear without them; I end up giving the comma the benefit of the doubt, then I subject myself to more pain and suffering by re-reading my text and wrestling over whether to remove many of them.
I realize I cannot have this conversation with just any Tom, Jane or Sally, but I know you care. I implore you to consider how much anguish we writers endure for the sake of clarity versus creativity, and accuracy versus enjoyable reading. Therein is the real problem: for some, enjoyment has nothing to do with accuracy; for others it is the very rock on which they stumble when their rules are not followed, and they cannot, for the sake of incorrect grammar, allow themselves to enjoy even an artistic sentence or phrase. It’s the old chalkboard squeak or the symphonic dissonance that they just cannot bear.
th-2Much of the dilemma has become clearer to me in the reading of Lynne Truss’s delightful book, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, where she devotes an entire chapter to the worthy, small, but mighty, comma. (Truthfully, she is mostly an apostrophe kind of gal, but she does wax humorous in the comma chapter). Since the title of her book belies her disdain for misuse of the comma, I guess those little dears are important to her too. I mean, in case you haven’t figured it out, her title refers to Pandas who eat shoots and leaves. But, if the comma is erroneously inserted where it doesn’t belong, you will think the Panda has visited an eatery, had some dinner, shot the patrons, and exited. All because of a comma. Imagine!
Truss carefully explains that where the college student (or professor) might write: red, white, and blue, the journalist, me, would likely (definitely) spare you the “third degree” and write: red, white and blue. Actually, I get as frowny over Gail’s excessive use as she does my lack of. It seems to me that Gail and her colleagues simply insert commas, willy-nilly; I pride myself on deciding whether inserting that comma will better clarify the meaning of the sentence or not. If not, I restrain myself. I consider that a virtue.
The most illuminating part of Truss’s explanation is the origin of the little mark, and how it was used as much to allow the reader the proper tone, like in music, where pauses became part of the joy of reading aloud, as much as it was used for clarity. She points out that the whole problem began when we started reading silently.
th-3   So, now, I really get it. This is the pith of the matter: I write for audio–always have. My stuff is meant for radio, bedtime sharing, reading aloud to one’s self. I think audio. Maybe that is why I need to be alone to write. I can’t have other noises around, or I don’t know what my words will sound like.
There you have it. I am giving myself permission to place commas only where they will “sound right.” I will know. Hopefully, you will agree. Not sure I will persuade Gail though.

LG

LIFE IS GOOD!

On the river, there is an ever changing view, each day, each week, each month, each season, and really each hour. It’s like God has given us a dynamic art gallery, right in our backyard.

Often in the early morning the sepia tones give the river an artistic quality that almost cries out for a watercolor rendition.  Attachment-1

Then as the sun lifts higher in the sky, the river turns whatever color the day is bringing.

IMG_1838  Lately that is a muddy blue because the refuse of winter is collecting.  IMG_1734

 

 

 

 

Only a couple of days ago, the remaining pieces of ice were flowing

downriver, but now they are not to be seen.

The ice blue beauty is on its way, IMG_1698

and soon the trees will sprout their green against that amazing blue. By evening, the monochromes are back, but the wintry whites, not the browns of morning.

IMG_1608

But, whatever the view, we are so blessed to have this beauty to drink in every single day we are here.

It almost deters a person from touring the world, because, truly, we have a resort-like picturesqueness to enjoy, with no travel expenses.   DSCN0815

Spring always brings new hope, a refreshment from the long. cold. winter. And this past one was a doozy. Our heating bill just went from $798 to $520–YAY!, among other things to celebrate about spring.   th

 

Tomorrow is Easter. He is risen, in my heart, in reality.

I am so thankful to God for arranging the universe to let us have our river house, and all of the joy it brings.

From nuts to heaters and buckwheat to gifts

I have to admit it. I am an AmazonLLC addict. And, I am not apologizing!

I remember reading a New York Times story a few years ago about a woman in New York City who was a GrouponTM addict. She bought so many Groupons that she ran out of time to use them all before their expiration dates. That gave me fair warning and I immediately cut down on my ordering, learned to put them on my calendar right away to view the number of coupons and the expiration dates, and generally became a sensible saver, mostly for dining, massages and home decor products.

No such warning occurred for ordering from AmazonLLC. Truthfully, no such warning would get through to me. What happens is I go to a store to find a product, and often they don’t have my color or my size.

Or I go to the store to buy food, and then have to lug it home. So, I began to compare and price these items on Amazon LLC, and much to my surprise, there was almost nothing I was buying anywhere that wasn’t readily available on with free shipping (I am a Member) and two-day delivery.

That meant I could order my Tax software,  

my bedroom slippers, my canned goods, my bulk nuts and organic flours (often from Bob’s Red Mill),

and a wide variety of other things–even toilet paper. A little note here about Bob’s Red Mill. I thought I was ordering Buckwheat Groats for homemade muesli, but instead ordered Creamy Buckwheat cereal. So I called Bob’s Red Mill to ask about toasting the flakes and not using water to hydrate them. Not only were they helpful, I felt like I was calling family. They were friendly, and we had quite a little discussion about my question. I ended up being happy I had mistakenly gotten the flakes, because they are better for toasting and the muesli will be softer, so we don’t break a tooth on the groats if they are not hydrated. So happy to be their customer.                                                                                           

I could buy toys and gifts for my four children and eight grandchildren and have it shipped free to them in California. Way better than going to a store, wrapping the gift, mailing it myself. I have sent Legos, chess boards,  comic books, jewelry, books and gift cards to them, and there’s been no hassle.

The only product I have had trouble with has been the Mocking Jay necklace I have now ordered twice for my granddaughter. The first one never arrived, and the second attempt, if it does arrive, will be here after her birthday, even though I ordered it a month ahead of time. This one is not from AmazonLLC direct, but from a third-party vendor. That can be a problem, but has not been a problem with their own merchandise.

I began to, just for the fun of it, compare even things I would have never expected to find on Amazon: like the tankless water heater for our river house renovation, which was the same price as from the manufacturer’s site, and the bathroom fan and light,
but came to us in two days.

Once I realized I could order my organic almonds, coconut sugar, organic rolled oats, and tankless water heater in the same order, I became a little nuts about this system. I also learned about their subscription program for groceries. So now, although I am still a Costco TM member, I can purchase many grocery items at a 15% discount (if I have five products on order), and space them however I wish on the program, and then have them delivered to my door, so no lugging. I’m telling you, this is just too easy.

I can’t really find a disadvantage to this shopping site, except maybe clicking “add to my cart” is a little too easy. But, I guess that’s really what’s it’s all about. It so easy and convenient, and most of the time, I was going to buy these things anyway, that I just enjoy having it all ordered from one place.

This online company has brought one-stop shopping to a new level–and I like that. For those of you who have to see and touch before ordering, I recommend going out and seeing and touching and then coming home and finding it all. Returns are also easy. What a company! I was already sold on Kindle and ebooks. And, I love my Membership for Movies and Videos, especially their original programming like their original shows. And I love my music, although this needs a little work, because they haven’t really streamlined it yet for things like Sonos speakers ( also bought my
wireless Sonos from. This has to be one of my favorite all time purchases. I can stream radio and music throughout my whole house.

So, since almost everything I buy is on Amazon LLC (I mean is there anything Amazon LLC doesn’t sell?), and since I usually pay no shipping, and since I usually find what I need exactly in right size and color, why not use this convenience for everything I can?