Tuesday, August 11, 2020

PART 2: HOW DID YOU END YOUR WEEKEND? MY ONGOING STORY..........


PART 2:

On Saturday morning AAA charged the battery in the VOLVO so I could drop it off at my mechanic's to be worked on when they got back in on Monday. They had to order battery cable terminals and said I'll probably get it back on Tuesday (today). The JAG was running, so no worries, I had wheels when needed.

MONDAY (yesterday) was going to be a busy day for me. 

FIRST:
I hopped into the JAG at noon to drive to PHYSICAL THERAPY in West Chester. I was about halfway there when I got a call from my HOME SECURITY COMPANY that my alarm was going off. POOR CLOVER!!! I immediately turned around and headed home to turn it off. On the say I rescheduled PT for later that afternoon.

NEXT:
At 2:15 I had my semi-annual DENTAL CLEANING in Wayne. No problems there. By the time I left, it seemed silly to head home, so I drove directly to WEST CHESTER  for PT. I had a good book with me to pass the time that I'd have to wait.

NEXT:
As I'm exiting RT 202, my BRAKE PEDAL doesn't feel right - I had to push it all the way to the floor for it to brake.  I'm within 2 MILES of PT so I just take my time and stay far back from any car in front of me.  

NEXT:
UH OH
......... as I pull into the parking lot, there is a massive amount of SMOKE coming from under the hood. My mind runs through possibilities - "Does this car have brake fluid that might be leaking on the hot engine?", etc.  Then I realize "GET OUT OF THE CAR, JOAN!!" I grab my purse and cell phone and jump out. PUDDLING under the car, with a streak on the macadam from where I pulled in, is leaked GREEN LIQUID. What the heck is THAT? (I'm told later it's probably ANTIFREEZE).

I call AAA (ONCE AGAIN!) for a TOW TRUCK this time, and they tell me it will probably be a 4-HOUR WAIT (until 8:15pm) when of course the office building will be closed and it will be dark outside...... 

Naturally, I only have the BASIC AAA PLAN (this is probably only the second time I've needed AAA in 40 years!), so I'm told I will have to stay with the car to pay the driver for the 4.5 MILE OVERAGE ($18) to get the JAG to my mechanic. THAT'S not gonna happen!

Instead, I called my mechanic and got the name of the TOW TRUCK COMPANY that they use (ABEL - a local name that goes back to my very younger days!). They were able to be there in 20 min - AND - I didn't have to be there - AND - I could leave the keys with the car.

Sooooooooo...........  I'm carless. For now. 

Hey, we're used to being QUARANTINED at home these days, so it's no big deal, right?


JOAN




Saturday, August 8, 2020

HOW DID YOU END YOUR WEEK? HERE'S MY STORY.........

On THURSDAY my VOLVO wouldn't start, so I took my ANTIQUE CAR - the 33-YEAR-OLD JAGUAR that I inherited from my MOM OVER 20 YEARS AGO. I LOVE that car!!

On FRIDAY, forgetting that it wouldn't start, I got in the VOLVO to go to PT. Ooops! I then hopped in the JAG and ended up stopping at the grocery store on the way home. When I came out of the store the JAG WOULDN'T START. I turned off the AIR CO and RADIO and tried again, but no luck. I called AAA and put in 2 orders - one for each car!  Thankfully my sister was able to come to pick me up at GIANT. When she arrived, I tried one last time and got it going!  I guess I had merely flooded it.  PHEW!

So, on my way home I got a call from AAA confirming where GIANT is located (I had already given them the address of course). I canceled that service call but kept the one for the VOLVO. He was supposed to call me 15 min before arriving - this gal said he was 5 minutes away. I got home a moment before his arrival.

I backed the JAG into the garage in case someone would have to work on the engine and/or battery. Thankfully, it started right away - so FINGERS CROSSED!

A serious THUNDER and LIGHTNING STORM was headed our way and just starting to make some noise as the AAA rep checked the VOLVO.  He gave the battery a jump and VOILA! 

So the battery WAS dead. The terminal connectors were so corroded he was afraid to change out the battery in case the connecters broke from being eaten away by the battery acid, which he couldn't fix. He suggested I run the VOLVO for an hour outside to charge up the battery, bring it back into the garage and take it to my mechanic for repair on MONDAY

He got into his truck, I turned off the garage light - closed the garage door - and the door into the house was LOCKED!!  

My dog CLOVER!!! is a FREAK when it thunders and lightnings, so she obviously jumped on the back door from inside and hit the lock.  

NOW WHAT?!

You know how your mind races to come up with a solution? 

I opened the garage door again, and thankfully the AAA rep was still there. Somehow he was able to get my HOUSE KEY off that dreaded KEYRING that was keeping the VOLVO running. I'm not sure I could have done that myself - those keyrings are TOUGH!

I tried the key and it worked on the DOORKNOB, but NOT the LOCK above it!  

He said there was another key, which he then got off of the KEYRING and YIPPEEE!! It worked.  

I closed things up again and set my PHONE ALARM for 1 HOUR so I wouldn't forget to bring the VOLVO back into the garage.

In the meantime, the THUNDER and LIGHTNING STORM came in with a VENGEANCE!! The cracks were the loudest I've ever heard/experienced. I gave CLOVER!!! more "RESCUE REMEDY" drops to calm her down..... 

Then we heard/felt the LOUDEST CRACK of all, which sounded like it was right over the house! It immediately triggered my SECURITY ALARM to go off. I turned the sound off on the security panel just as my phone started ringing - the SECURITY COMPANY was calling to tell me they got an alarm from my house that indicated the basement water sensor shows high water.  

So, I head down to the basement. Nope - no water, THANK GOODNESS!

I came back upstairs and the alarm went off AGAIN

This time it said there was no phone service for my house phone. Yup! The phone was dead........ back down to the basement to reset the VERIZON BOX and ROUTER.  CHECK!

When I got back upstairs my cell phone alarm was ringing - time to bring in the VOLVO.  I pulled it into the garage and turned it off. In a moment I turned it on again, just to make sure it would start......  NOPE, NO LUCK. 

OK, I'd say it's now time for a glass of WINE!!! Does anyone want to join me after reading this??

JOAN




Thursday, July 9, 2020

BOOK - BE FRANK WITH ME by JULIA CLAIBORNE JOHNSON (2016) (NO SPOILERS)



I give this book a 4.5 out of 5

BE FRANK WITH ME is DELIGHTFUL. It may have particularly resonated with me because I visualized FRANK (the main character) who is apparently "on the spectrum" as a replica of SHELDON in YOUNG SHELDON, one of my favorite half-hour TV shows. If you've watched THE BIG BANG THEORY, the main character is SHELDON as a grown-up.

It's the FICTION BOOK CLUB pick for later this month at our local Independent Bookstore. I love the books they choose since most are ones I've either not heard of or would not necessarily choose for myself. It won the AUDIE AWARD FOR BEST FEMALE NARRATOR (2017)

Anyway, IT WAS TIME for some LIGHT READING and this book "hit the spot". Only 287 pages, made it a breeze to read through and easy to pick up each day. 

Each of the characters (there are only 4) was quite well-developed. 
  • FRANK - a 9-year old boy
  • MIMI - Frank's mother - a writer
  • ALICE - (the NARRATOR) - MIMI's Assistant to watch over FRANK
  • XANDER - their handsome and charming "handyman"

I felt sorry for FRANK because of the bullying by his peers, yet I LOVED his creativity, his "reasonings" and his mind's ability to store ZILLIONS of FACTS.

I won't tell you any more - READ this for yourself and let me know how much YOU enjoyed it.


Here are just a few quotes to entice you.......

Pg 12
     I reread Pitched as coursework in Twentieth-Century Lit when I was a junior in college, soon after my mother died unexpectedly of undiagnosed heart disease. It was a different book to me then. That time it tore me apart. I confessed in class that I'd cried my eyes out when I finished.
     "You realize now," my professor commented drily, "that youth isn't wasted on the young. Literature is."

Pg 180
     "It must be exhausting to be so sure of yourself all the time," Mimi said. "Well, I'll let you in on a little secret, Alice. Being perfect doesn't make people love you."

Pg 181
     I know from my time in New York that anger can be an exhilarating tonic that lifts some people over life's rough patches. 

Pg 206
     "So when I change my clothes, do I do it in a phone booth?" Frank asked. 
     "Nope. Backseat of the station wagon. We won't look."
     "Good. Phone booths are hard to find these days......"

Pg 279 - Frank helping Alice after she fell down 2 steps - scraped her knees
     "I'll get the Band-Aids from your purse," Frank said. By then the kid was as familiar with the contents of it as I was. Then he instructed me to sit on the toilet while he took off my shoes and socks. He held my hand while I stepped into the tub and sat down on its edge. "For once it's a good thing you were wearing shorts, Alice," he said. "Because if you'd had on long pants, they'd be torn all to pieces. That would have been bad. Pants don't heal the way skin does."


JOAN






Monday, July 6, 2020

QUARANTINE MUSINGS



When this PANDEMIC forced us to SHELTER IN PLACE, I created a list of things to accomplish. Do you remember that we were going to be STUCK AT HOME for about 2 weeks? Then it was stretched to an additional 2 weeks..... then it stretched to the whole month of MAY and most places only began to loosen their RESTRICTIONS in JUNE

Looking back, it was BRILLIANTLY staged for us. Who could have mentally accepted the idea of being QUARANTINED at home for MONTHS, if it were introduced that way back in MARCH? Baby steps...... 

I don't know about you, but I felt PRODUCTIVE early on. I cleaned out and organized several cabinets.  




Another quick PROJECT - I removed the upholstery from a chair and ottoman that I had reupholstered several years ago. I had never done it before and wanted to try. Treating it like an ART PROJECT, I was proud of the job I did without any lessons. But now that I'm redoing the decor in my family room, new fabric is needed to go with new colors. This time I'll send it out to a PROFESSIONAL upholsterer.  






I started an indoor HERB GARDEN that was a BIRTHDAY gift.












The HERBS inspired me do more cooking and to try a few new RECIPES.


 Dill Bread


Cabbage Soup


In early MAY, after "sitting around too much (and frankly EATING too much - ANYBODY ELSE??) and because I have one knee ready to be replaced (it hurts when I walk), I realized that I had to get some kind of EXERCISE besides the stretches I learned in PT.

I got motivated to research and buy a RECUMBENT STATIONARY BICYCLE to strengthen the muscles around my knees (darn arthritis!). I even put it together myself (it certainly wasn't brain surgery). Now, the hard part - making a bike ride a HABIT. It's been 46 days and I've been CONSISTENT (so far)!






Then for some reason it seemed that I started to have trouble focusing on the simplest of things - like when reading a book - I'd JUMP from one task to the next and to the next and to the next and then sit back down to read again - the same chapter over again. Aargh.

The next STAGE OF QUARANTINE - I couldn't remember what day it was (arguably, I still can't). But the DAYS began to pass more quickly and the MONTHS were behind us before I knew it.

A DAILY ROUTINE evolved early on - around 5:00 or 6:00 I'd pour a GLASS OF WINE and sit down to watch the DAILY CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE BRIEFING. That went on for weeks. So many UNKNOWNS and lots of SPECULATION. I was excited to learn what was new each day. It was something I looked forward to - new INFORMATION.




There was a time (maybe a day or two) when I felt a bit DOWN - I think it was early MAY - and a number of FRIENDS expressed the same was going on with them. It was part FRUSTRATION with continuing UNKNOWNS and wondering "HOW LONG is this going to last"? FACETIME with FAMILY and friends helped to bring back the HUMAN CONNECTION. And monthly ZOOM BOOK CLUBS were a GODSEND

FLOWERS started to BLOOM, giving the outdoors (and indoors) new color.  My grass was actually NEON GREEN!














One of my sisters lives in the neighborhood, yet our FIRST time together wasn't until over the MEMORIAL DAY weekend - an outdoor dinner, social-distancing on my deck (ITALIAN takeout from ALLEGRIA!!). We had both been VERY DILIGENT about QUARANTINING!






And then it was JUNE

Looking back, I noticed that in MARCH and APRIL I was blogging a lot, but in MAY and JUNE - NOT ONCE. I wonder what happened? Not really sure, but it's interesting to note.

Sometime in JUNE I began to LOSE INTEREST in the news (however, I didn't lose interest in my "DAILY 5'OCLOCK SOMEWHERE WINE".....). The CORONAVIRUS updates were over, GEORGE FLOYD was killed, PEACEFUL PROTESTS began but then outsiders swooped in and created CHAOS and DESTRUCTION with RIOTS and LOOTING. THAT was just too disturbing, depressing, and disheartening. I guess that's why I stopped watching the news.

I picked up TAKE-OUT FOOD only a handful of times. When outdoor dining became possible just a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to meet some friends out - deciding I'd try to do this perhaps once a week. 

We had our FIRST BOOK CLUB OUTDOORS with social distancing last week. It was HOT out and difficult to hear each other over the live music playing at the outdoor restaurants nearby. Although it was GREAT to be together in person again, I think ZOOM might be more effective and more comfortable. (DID I JUST SAY THAT?)

I'm RETIRED and I don't have to worry about MAKING A LIVING or RAISING CHILDREN. I'm thankful every day for how FORTUNATE I am - to be in this time of my life for this crazy PANDEMIC. I WORRY for those who have to tend to these responsibilities every day during this already STRESSFUL time.

Although this has been a DIFFICULT and CHALLENGING period of time (making the HISTORY BOOKS for sure), don't you also think it's been a good time to get mentally and soulfully centered, to count your blessings, to appreciate time with FAMILY and FRIENDS and to realize what you do and don't "NEED"?

How LUCKY we are to have our current TECHNOLOGIES, with INFORMATION (and ENTERTAINMENT) at our fingertips (literally) and EASY COMMUNICATION methods to stay in touch with friends and LOVED ONES? 

BLESSED to have food, air conditioning, clean sheets and towels, and a friendly neighborhood. 

BLESSED to have my GIRL CLOVER!!!, who keeps me entertained and who reminds me when I've been spending too much time on the COMPUTER

BLESSED to have my eyesight to read GREAT BOOKS, watch TV, search the WWW, and enjoy nature.

BLESSED to have thoughtful and helpful neighbors and friends. 

BLESSED to have good health and clean air to breathe, a beautiful home, and outdoor environment. 

This QUARANTINE time has been a time to REFLECT, LEARN, SLOW DOWN, SET GOALS, CLEAN HOUSE, and APPRECIATE all that LIFE has to offer. 

HOPING that you are faring well and have discovered many BLESSINGS in your life too. 

The QUARANTINE? This too will pass.........


JOAN



Friday, July 3, 2020

BOOK - THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by MURIEL BARBERY (2006) (NO SPOILERS)







Do you think I liked this BOOK????  

Every once in awhile I read a book where the writing really GRABS me! This is one of those books. As you can see, I used STICKY TABS AND a YELLOW HIGHLIGHTER. I haven't used a HIGHLIGHTER on a book in a LONG time. But when I'm inspired to do so, that tells me that the story is really going to impact me. I LOVE and RESPECT a well-written book. 

The STORYLINE is quite simple, but it's written in a way that provoked much THOUGHT for me. 

The characters are well developed and each is so different from the others - QUIRKY - INSECURE - KIND - CONFUSED - INTELLIGENT - UNEDUCATED - SEARCHING - ORDINARY - REFINED - PREDICTABLE. The author certainly built-in an ARRAY that integrated beautifully.

She also challenged me with BIG WORDS - UNFAMILIAR WORDS - JAPANESE - FRENCH - ENGLISH WORDS, so that I had to stop and search for the definition. (Admittedly, I have a limited personal vocabulary.) I marked each word - there were 50 of them!! And on PAGE 117 alone, there were FIVE
  • FRISSON
  • SPATIOTEMPORAL DIMENTION
  • ETIOLOGIES
  • OBDURATE
  • INTERSTITIAL IDIOPATHIC CYSTITIS (The main character, Renee's cat had this)

This book is RICH with TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION for any BOOK CLUB. Ours is later this month, which I'm preparing for now (if you want my outline, please ask). 
  • POVERTY
  • WEALTH
  • FAMILY DYNAMICS
  • THE UNEXPECTED
  • INSECURITY and SELF-ESTEEM
  • DESPAIR
  • CURIOSITY
  • SYNCHRONICITY
  • TAKING A RISK
  • ANTICIPATION
  • COMFORT IN ANOTHER'S PRESENCE
  • RITUALS
  • PUNCTUATION, WRITING, GRAMMAR

Without telling you what the story is about, I hope I've INTRIGUED you enough that you'll give it your consideration. One BOOK CLUB member mentioned that it was SLOW to start and she put it down. When encouraged to TRY AGAIN, she jumped to the middle and by the end of the book, she enjoyed it enough to start at the beginning again. She gave it a 4 OUT OF 5, so I encourage you to STICK WITH IT.

I finished the book on Tuesday...... and the next day, I immediately started again at the beginning, reading full chapters and AT LEAST the paragraphs that I had highlighted. I give it a 5 OUT OF 5. But, fair warning - if you prefer a FAST-PACED, SUSPENSEFUL book, this is not that book. This is one to SAVOR.........

THANK YOU JOANIE LINDSTROM, for recommending this book to me. YOU never fail to suggest the BEST BOOKS!!!


JOAN



Sunday, April 26, 2020

QUARANTINE UPDATE


CLOVER!!! and I have been QUARANTINED for weeks and weeks now........


On MARCH 22, at the beginning of our QUARANTINE, I decided to set some small goals.  That was FIVE weeks ago, plenty of time to almost completely REDO my house, right?? 




I went back to my MARCH 22nd post and here are the goals I set:
  • Under-sink cabinets in the bathroom (2) - CHECK!
  • Medication cabinet in the kitchen - CHECK!
  • Catch-all cabinet in the kitchen - CHECK!
  • Kitchen desk drawer papers - CHECK!
  • Plant indoor herb garden - TODAY PERHAPS??
  • Filing on the studio cabinet - NEXT.......
  • Garage cabinets/drawers - WAITING FOR WARMER WEATHER

Looks like I'm accomplishing ONE SMALL TASK/WEEK.  Not bad for a person in RETIREMENT...... Hahahaha

Oh, one more thing that I accomplished that wasn't on my LIST -

Years ago, I RE-UPHOLSTERED my big, comfy chair - just to see if I could do it. It was a really fun and satisfying project. BUT, the fabric no longer goes with my decor (nor does the original fabric), so I decided to strip it all off and will soon send it out to be professionally re-upholstered with fresh, new fabric that will go with my upcoming NEW WALL COLOR.






Don't get the wrong idea - I'm not being a total slug...... I READ every day (my book and articles on the Internet or that are sent to me), TALK to FAMILY/FRIENDS, ZOOM a BOOK CLUB every week, and ZOOM with family/friends to keep in touch and feel like we are SOCIALIZING







CLOVER!!! lets me know if I've been reading for too long.......




And each evening, I pour a glass of wine and watch some news and entertaining TV shows. 

I'm now up-to-date with HOMELAND, OUTLANDER and SISTER WIVES (I know I know......) and am looking forward to the new season of BILLIONS, THE BACHELOR, THE BACHELORETTE, COUNTING ON (the Duggar Family), BIG BROTHER and OUTDAUGHTERED (The Busbys and their quintuplet girls). I do like these REALITY TV shows! 

Oh, and I watched the TIGER KING series (WEIRD PEOPLE) and am ready to start OZARK.




And on Friday I went grocery shopping for the first time - with MASK and GLOVES. It was supposed to be a PICK-UP from INSTACART, but while I was sitting in the parking lot at the appointed time, they CANCELLED!!  HMPH!  

So, in I go, filled with ANXIETY about facing "THE BIG BAD WOLF" - CORONA. Yes, I've been afraid of the VIRUS.......

It wasn't awful.  People DISTANCED and most followed the arrows up and down the aisles. The shelves were being restocked, but there were certain items not to be found (FLOUR, RICE, HAND SANITIZER, and WIPES of course). I came home feeling a bit DIRTY with GERMS/VIRUS/BACTERIA - you name it. 

But, I have to say that I'm happy to have gotten my INITIAL OUTING out of the way. FACING YOUR FEARS really does work!

What have YOU been up to??


JOAN













Friday, April 24, 2020

THE BIRTHPLACE OF LEONARDO DA VINCI IN ITALY



While planning for a few free days in ITALY last Fall, I discovered the town of VINCI, which is about 1 hour west of FLORENCE. 

I put two-and-two-together - LEONARDO DA VINCI means LEONARDO of VINCI. I knew immediately that I had to visit and am so THRILLED that I did. Hopefully, you can get the feeling of his BIRTHPLACE through my photos here.

LEONARDO was born on APRIL 15, 1452!!!  Think about that....... almost 600 years ago!

The town of VINCI is way out in the countryside. As you can see, VINCI is very proud of its HERITAGE.










In the central square, there is a STATUE of a HORSE that LEONARDO had drawn.




We finally had to stop and ask where LEONARDO'S actual birthplace is and were directed to ANCHIANO, a village 3 km outside of VINCI

Looking at the surrounding landscape you can see what must have inspired him in his paintings.


 





We found it!

LEONARDO was born the illegitimate child of a domestic servant (a peasant girl) and a wealthy Florentine notary, PIERO FRUOSINO di ANTONIO DA VINCI. He was born and lived in ANCHIANO until about age 5, when it's believed that he then moved to the town of VINCI to live with his Father, Grandparents and Uncle.  








His stone home and courtyard were BEAUTIFULLY restored in 2012, led by a  TEACHER at the UNIVERSITY OF ARCHITECTURE in Florence.




The INTERIOR - only 3 rooms - is sparse (but impressive) with simply a few reproductions and some items for sale.






Naturally, DA VINCI'S "THE LAST SUPPER" (reproduction) is on display. The original is in MILAN, ITALY.













Along the roadway, out by the ENTRANCE, people leave FLOWERS at this SHRINE. I love the mixture of brick and stones here. And of course the brightly-colored ITALIAN POTTERY.








There are many VERY OLD OLIVE TREES on the property and in the surrounding area.




LEONARDO died in FRANCE in 1519 at age 67 of a probable stroke. Legend has it that he died in the arms of his trusted friend and confidant, FRANCIS I, KING OF FRANCE.

He's buried in the COLLEGIATE CHURCH OF SAINT FLORENTIN at the CHATEAU D'AMBOISE in France.

20 years after LEONARDO'S death, FRANCIS I is reported as saying -

"There had never been another man born in the world who knew as much
 as Leonardo, not so much about painting, sculpture and architecture, 
as that he was a very great philosopher."



JOAN