Almost a powder room

I’ll be you thought, since it’s been awhile, that we were finished with the first floor reno. Au contraire!

IMG_0063  Now, it’s time to get ready for guests–meaning a powder room where there was already plumbing for a washer and dryer in, I can’t believe it’s true, the entryway.  So now, instead of laundry there, we will, and by “we” I mean Jay, my hero, very talented hubby, will create a small powder room and a broom closet. Did I mention Jay used to be a water and waste engineer? He knows what he is doing. And, now he knows all about installing radiant heat.

Pecs are what carry the hot water to heat our floors.

That means tearing up the floor, putting in  radiant heat pecs there to make a “warm board,” and putting in the proper plumbing where a washer used to be.

You know what this is.

We have ordered the toilet (which Jay euphamistically calls a commode–he thinks it sounds better) and another pedestal-type sink, but it’s really a wall-mount sink.

Our wall mount sink to be.

I am so tired of ceramic and the groaty area around the caulking. With our pedastol and wall-mount glass bowl sinks, there is none of that, and it is so nice. I do have a slight discussion going on with my friend who cleans for me about how to make the glass sparkle. I care more about non-toxic, green, and she will tend to go for chemicals if they give a bit more sparkle.

I know, the space looks ugly now. That’s what a construction zone is–UGLY! But, the whole first floor used to look like this, and you should see it now. In fact, you SHOULD see it. Come on over.

In any case, I hope to have a powder room for our guests by August.

Now we just need an upstairs bathroom remodel and some futons. 🙂


The thrill of Instagram

Unknown    It’s always heartwarming to read through all of the people who LIKE something you post on Facebook, realizing that many people are noticing your postings who you may not realize are aware of you. People from your life–classmates, church friends, relatives of relatives, and, of course, your own immediate circle of family and friends.

But, I have to tell you, since I have started posting pictures on Instagram,   Unknown-1  there is a thrill unlike that of people you already know.

As my daughter instructed, “Mom, you don’t have to beg your friends to like your pictures. You are not looking to build Instagram for your friends and family. You are looking for new friends who are interested in your pictures.”   Unknown-2

Really, Instagram is a powerful business tool, that before the last few weeks, I was almost totally unaware of. I had posted a couple of personal pictures, one of my grandson     IMG_0036   George surfing, and one of our winter view of the river, and even without trying, I had a few LIKES.   IMG_1698

But, when I decided to listen to my daughter, I began to realize that focus was necessary.

I am a travel blogger (see and I really am interested in establishing that, for a number of reasons.

So as I have been chronicling our trip to Costa del Sol which we took for our 34th anniversary last year, I also decided that my Readmstradinger on Instagram should focus on travel and its related pictures.

At first I was timid, posting one photo in a month, then several, and now almost daily, I didn’t realize that consistency and frequency are both important.

And, then there are the famous HASHTAGS. That, in itself, is an art to be learned and mastered. I am getting there.

My daughter told me, “You want some hashtags that are unique and that when searched, are yours, and other hashtags that are trending, so you are found in the trends. That takes some tome, but I am learning, and have gone from a dozen or more LIKES in a day or two, to the same number in an hour, simply by knowing what HASHTAGS are about.   Unknown

The thrill of a global presence in amazing. After a picture is posted on Instagram, and the appreciation begins to pour in, it is like being on stage for a few moments.

I remember a Broadway play called, The Roar of Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd, and though I never saw it, the name implies that there is something heady about being on stage. I am pretty sure that is not what the musical, which gave us hits like “Who can I turn to,” and The Joker,” is about.

But, I can hear the greasepaint, and smell the crowd from around the world, just posting a picture and tagging it for those who appreciate things like doors, beaches, food, bullrings, and gardens. Amazing. Thrilling.

If you haven’t tried it, follow someone–me, for instance–and see what you think. It is quite an experience.   READMSTRADINGER

Each of the social media platforms has its own claim to fame. Facebook, you know; Twitter starts a conversation and allows you to comment briefly and to see what is trending in conversations; Pinterest, which has now surpassed Twitter in usage, so I read, is a plethora of resources for almost anything you want–recipes, home decor, remodeling ideas, motorcycles, gardening (why we chose purple as our main shrubery color),   jardim lilas

travel. and on and on. we decided our bathroom door ideas after perusing Pinterest, and we also looked at many shower tile patterns from this site; and Instagram, which is used the world over by “influencers” who are gathering a market for themselves, others, and established and new brands. If you don’t understand this new “world of mouth” type of marketing, and you are in business, you need to consider it. It’s trending.


In any case, I am loving it, and it is so much easier than writing blogs and hoping they get read. It is, well, INSTANT. 🙂

Check out my Readmstradinger pictures on Instagram if you wish. And, try it yourself. It is fun.

Shut your cabbage hole

I confess. I play video games on my iPad, my iPhone, and almost anywhere else I can get them. I like them.

screen640x640   My newest fav is Fairway Solitare, which I have to warn you is so addicting it has the potential to breakup marriages if played late at night.

So what does this have to do with cabbage?   Unknown

Well, as I was listening to the running golf commentary of the Scottish sportscaster, I heard him say: “Shut your cabbage hole” to the other sports guy.

That got me to thinking: We in the U.S. of A. don’t say that. We say, “Shut your pie-hole!”

And, so my random mind–which I have to tell you is on high alert during video game play, got to musing about how typical that is between our food intake and Europe’s–or at least Scotland’s.

They use cabbage as the image that is always in view, and we use calorie-laden, double-crusted pie as our typical fare of mouth.

That is so wrong!  Unknown     Unknown-1

I won’t give my usual rant (see Figs vs. Food assassins) about this, but I just want to reiterate one point: we (because of our powerful  food industry–see, for instance, Ellen Moyer’s blog post The Power of Our Food Choices on Huffington Post–and our government’s ever-growing support of lobbyists who care more about profit than health, (see post on Lobbying and Interference) we are poisoning our children, creating epidemic obesity, and lacking the basic nutrition our bodies need and crave, while the Europeans ban GMO’s, lean on vegetables, think of dessert as a treat not a triple-times-a-day or more indulgence, and don’t use the partially-hydrogenated oils and high-fructose additives that are most assuredly adding up to FAT, FAT, FAT.


The blogs, sites and research is overwhelming, and I am citing just two of many. Do your own research too, and:

Please stop buying this junk.

They can’t sell it if you don’t buy it. Save your loved ones from heart disease (See Dr. Mitchell Gaynor’s The Gene Therapy Plan), and change your genetic destiny, by eating whole foods and avoiding the packaged, processed junk and “food-like products” that we are passing off as actual food.   41p+vFDTJUL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

By the way, Dr. Gaynor was the 11th Natural Foods advocate to mysteriously die recently. Hmm. I’m just sayin’. Hmm.

In any case, you can buy whole foods on a budget–try farmer’s markets from May to October. You can buy imported foods that do not contain our “bad stuff.” And, you can just decide that it is worth the extra bucks to live a life of health.

And, no, I will NOT shut my cabbage hole about this. I really, really care about your health–and mine.

Almost a bedroom – 2

We are making great progress on our master bedroom, thanks to hubby’s talents, and somewhat thanks to unemployment, which gives him way more time for the project. The molding us up, and the contrast with our taupe color scheme is quite lovely.  IMG_0014

We have a bed being delivered soon, and then our new mattress-the old one is 20 years old and the caverns and depressions are, well, depressing!



So by the end of the month, we hope to have a bed set up, a floor deprived of paint cans, compressor, tools and lumber, and an actual beginning of life on the first floor.  IMG_0010

The bathroom, however, though functional, is not complete with lights, shelving, paint retouch and finishing touches, so I am hesitant to say it is finished. The problem is gauging how much of our resources we should apply to finishing touches when the paycheck has stopped and unemployment hasn’t started.

IMG_0015        IMG_0018IMG_0019

We will see. But, don’t forget, only a short time ago, the bedroom looked like this:

Getting ready for dry wall
Getting ready for dry wall

In the meantime. isn’t it always the case that when you have money, you have no time, and when you have time, you have no money. Life’s challenges are ever presenting, and our response has to be faith, hope and love. That’s the way we are.



Feng Shui and Ch’i

Feng-Shui-Remedis-e1360538276283Let me start right out apologizing to all of the people who will read into the following some “tone” or disdain for the practice of Feng Shui that are not intended.

But, let me also say that I do not practice these philosophies in the manner in which I am sure I would need to do to be approved. I am not sure if Christians will allow me to embrace an ancient Chinese practice with Eastern spiritual implications. (This is the part where I expect to offend almost everyone.)

That said, I have to tell you that in reading a news article about Feng Shui-ing bathrooms, I was intrigued. Not intrigued enough to buy into this with any kind of ritualistic or spiritual commitment, but intrigued enough to take a look at our space in a new way.  I thought it fascinating that bathroom color shouldn’t exaggerate water (blue and black), so that energy there is more controlled.Unknown

I may not know which things are tall or circular or even life endangering about my bathroom, or my kitchen, living space, bedroom or any other rooms in our home, and I may not be paying enough attention to the positive or negative (Ch’i) forces or yings and yangs of my decor, but I am now convinced that some changes are in order. And, really, how could this balancing, as those practicing this philosophy believe, be bad?

images I know what makes me feel good: green things (plants), soft and vibrant colors, order and cleanliness. I know what things make me feel bad: dust, clutter, drab colors, and decor that never changes.

So, I have begun my own version of Feng Shui-ing my rooms.  I started with the kitchen. I cleaned the countertops, put away 30 per cent of the clutter (things sitting there to make readiness and convenience, but not beauty).  designing_your_kitchen_feng_shui_kitchenrk_3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.581.436

I lit candles. I like good aromas. I put a pretty glass bowl of fresh fruit in place of a line of empty bowls, empty candle jars (pretty sure this is bad Ch’i, and empty cups. Then I threw away the pads under my teapots, got some fresh, clean ones, and put away many of the dishes, again sitting out for convenience.

In the bathroom, I disinfected the shower curtain, and I threw away products that were older than a year, emptied out the drawers containing old medications, almost finished tubes of creams and gels, and lit another candle. I placed the flowers on the bathroom table in a more attractive place. I closed the lid cover to the toilet (okay, I yielded to one actual Feng Shui suggestion just to see if the negative forces I have been living with in my many bathrooms, will turn more positive).

Unknown-1    In the entry-way, I discarded the pots of dirt that no longer contain plants, and bought new, living plants, which will remain on the table until I kill them. I will eventually kill them. I always do. Unless the Feng Shui works, that is. My Ch’i is awaiting the verdict.

That is all I have done for now. And, yes, Feng Shui or no, I should have been doing these things all along. So I feel better, happier, cleaner, prettier already–well, my home does.  Unknown

Winter. It’s almost over. Really we totaled about three weeks of actual winter weather this year. And, rather than yielding to the doldrums the last of winter usually brings, I am trying to change some of the external cues, as well as my internal ones (my spirit, my heart, my thinking), to let in the light, of which we have an abundance on the river, and to celebrate the emerging season, refresh the environment, and become more aware of the impact my space has on me, my husband, and my guests.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, let me know about your own Feng Shui efforts. I want to know.

Almost a bathroom

Oh the progress is exhilarating! I l keep telling kitty we all want to get into that bedroom, but because the shower tiles and flooring are being installed, we have to wait.  IMG_2949

Waiting is hard. As I have said before, when the waiting is for a year, it is easier than when we are down to weeks, because we can see the possibility.

Hubby has lovingly, painfully, laboriously laid one tile at a time, all by himself.

He is saying things like–“A smart person would have done this an hour at a time on weekdays, instead of ten hours on a Saturday.”

IMG_2920     I’m pretty sure “smart” is not in question. But, I know he will be thankful when the bathroom shower and flooring are finished, and the sinks and toilet can be installed.

Then the bedroom flooring can be finished, the moulding can be installed, and, WOW, THE NEXT STEP is a bed!

It’s only weeks now, Lord willing, until we have a first floor bedroom, complete with a master bath and master closet.   IMG_2929

We can’t wait. And, kitty will be so happy when that cardboard barrier is removed.


I can see my clothes! I have a closet!

I had looked forward to the day, had hoped, had waited with great anticipation and not a little patience. And, lo and behold, the day has arrived!  I can see my clothes.

You have to understand that I have been using cardboard movers’ wardrobes as my closet, with a small rack in our upstairs bathroom, behind the door fronted, I might say, by the cat litter box. Not the ideal environs for things I would like to wear and have people’s sense of smell exposed to.  And, did I mention the cat likes to jump on top of the cardboard box? To her it is a perch. So, you see the cave-in, while my clothes were still resident. I tried to make the best of it, but, the 17 months since we moved into the river house were even a little harder than the six years of waiting for a house, because having a real closet seemed possible, and even probable.IMG_2937


But, now, thanks to my talented and hard-working hubby, I have a real closet. And, it isn’t just real, it’s a big, walk-in, with shelves and rods and light, and no trace of cardboard.

There is so much room, I can peruse what I might have a whim to wear, and I can see every, single shirt, blouse, sweater, trouser and jacket, before I grab it to don. Wow!  IMG_2929

You may not have ever had your clothes in cardboard, or stored in storage for six years, or had a year and a half in a hotel, where your wardrobe is whatever you could fit in a couple of suitcases for the airplane. I have.

IMG_2930   So this accomplishment is so ready to happen.

I do think of all of the peoples of the world who may only have one garment to wear–and not the wildness of so many things to wear as I have. And, I am grateful. I will never take this privilege for granted. And, some of the benefits of seeing my clothes, are that, now, I can quickly realize I do not need another pair of black trousers, or another black sweater; and, I can, now, quickly separate out the things I want to give away–things I have not worn for six years, but are sitll in good condition. Things, with my weight loss, that I am not likely to wear again. And. just things I don’t want or need that someone with less can appreciate.


Life is good.

Almost a bedroom – the renovation on the river house continues

So in between the “getting out of winter” trips to Spain, California, and soon Jamaica, my hero-of-a-husband is working hard on getting us a first floor renovation of our bedroom by mid-March. We have been looking from the kitchen side at our little bi-fold door leading to the bedroom, and kind of pining away for it being “our space” as soon as possible. I might mention that kitty is also very keen on getting into that space-although, for now, she is banned. Too mucIMG_2923h concrete work, dust, and an aversion to wads of white cat fur in the work area. Not that we have succeeded completely in getting that ban accomplished.

IMG_2911 (1)We tried multiple blockages, which kept US out, but was un-daunting for a masterful prowler-type (cat).  Turned out a simple piece of cardboard did the trick. She is still trying though.

The area has been under construction for so long, getting dry wall and paint seemed shocking. Renovations, even with a gorgeous view of the river, do seem to take forever.


But getting everything finished is no small order: we, and by we, I mean–he–has to finish hooking up the electric everywhere–although we do have lights in there now; he has to install the tile in the shower, put in a ceramic bathroom flooring; install the pedestal sinks; build shelving; do the flooring for the walk-in closet and the bedroom area; install the closet “system” for shelving, hangers, and storage; finish the molding and edging around doorways, windows, and French doors; attach all of the light fixtures; assemble anything we buy that needs assembly (read everything!); and generally clean up the mess after all of that is finished. We didn’t even mention picking up 15 cartons of bamboo flooring from Home Depot and then carrying them to the deck and into the house. Big job! (Um, I don’t do heavy lifting.)


And…you know this is all on weekends and evenings. He does work full time!  As I said, no small order.

Most of this work he is doing himself. We have been fortunate to have some talented friends help. IMG_2920                      IMG_2917


IMG_0597 So if the man wants a little beach time, I think we can manage that.

And, when we return, this stark indoor view, should be almost transformed into a completed first floor renovation.      Wow.

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(, 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.  

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