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tiny house show...

Saturday, July 30, 2016
...in downtown Decatur on the weekend. Nearly a dozen tiny tidily compact houses, much smaller than the average mobile home, completely furnished with kitchens, bath space and sleeping area. Some had ingeniously contrived storage spaces, designed to make every square inch useful, others streamlined, with practically no storage, more towards the vacation hideaway end of the scale.

All were thoughtfully built, either using recycled materials to keep costs low, or using lots of energy efficient, modern technology to help reduce utility expense as well as being 'green' and environmentally friendly.  We thought we would go early, get there before the crowd and peek into the little homes, but apparently everyone in the metro had the same idea. So there were lines standing in front of every little house, people patiently waiting to get in and see the clever ways they were designed to be compact and space efficient. Some of the houses were being shown by builders, some by designers, and one by the woman who actually lives in a tiny house of her own creation.

One of the houses was made from a shipping container, with the end doors open, and a neatly made, coverlet covered double bed sitting there for all the world to see.  Appearing to be much more a DIY job than many that gave the appearance of being professionally designed and built. I firmly believe that a great deal of the sub-standard housing problems all over the globe could be solved with used cargo containers. Big sturdy metal boxes that are currently being discarded and used to make artificial reefs or left abandoned in foreign countries when the military evacuates their encampments.

There was even a developer/realtor with a sales table, showing a proposed design of a place where you could buy a teeny lot to park your tiny house on in a wee little seven acre development someone is starting in east Atlanta. I'm thinking there are going to be lots of zoning issues that will arise when people start to downsize and try to move these little boxes on wheels into established neighborhoods. The idea of developing a space that is for these little miniature homes is probably a great idea, with the developer having perfect timing.

Though I am not mentally prepared to live in such a confining space, there is a lot of appeal to the idea of paring down. Perhaps the solution is to do it incrementally, parting with stuff over time so it is less stressful? I know I would be happy with a lot less clutter, things I never use, enjoy, look at, or at times, unaware of ownership.

recent road trip...

... was a run up to SC to visit my pen pal. He is 93, so I get up to see him as frequently as I can. I  usually go about once a month, making an effort to pace myself as it is really too much to attempt in one day. I will either invite myself to stay overnight with a cousin who lives nearby in SC, or sleep in Decatur. Otherwise it adds up to about eight hours of driving - not really doable in a day.

After spending the night in Decatur, I got up early on Friday to drive up to Greenville. Always hoping to get well out of town and off the perimeter highway, past that fearful scene of twelve lanes of traffic, before the congestion is at it's peak.  They seem to go from one extreme to the other: either stalled and slowed to an 8 mph crawl, or driving at breakneck speeds. I was well on my way east, before the sun was above the tree line, so feel like I missed the most  intimidating part of the lunacy.

We had a nice visit. He as always entertaining, amusing, interesting. We talked about his family history. Someone he knows had done some genealogy research for him, and printed a lot of pages from Ancestry.com, going back well over a thousand years. Really impressive. Plus he loves to organize, so he had hole-punched and put all the amassed info. in a binder, in chronological order, naturally. With origins in France, Wales, and England before they immigrated to North America. (Interestingly enough, some were buried in the town in southwest UK I visited in early July.)

He wanted to go out in the country, west of Greenville to look for a church with a cemetery where relatives were buried. And said there used to be a fresh water spring nearby, explaining that was why the area was originally settled, with a water source for drinking. We found the church, but had to stop at a house to ask about the spring. Still right there where he left it, over eighty years ago. The church has apparently been decommissioned, and is no longer in use. We found his people, there in the cemetery, right where they were planted in the 1800's.

The heat was miserable by mid-afternoon, so we quit the search, and plan to continue when I go again. Having been taken to cemeteries as a child, by grandparents who would want to visit their forebears in middle GA., I have an affinity for visiting graveyards. Those places associated with death seem to be so peaceful and serene. Even in the blistering heat of July, that abandoned place of repose was not depressing or sad. Not a place to drag out the feeling of loss or grief, but some how providing comfort and a feeling of connection.

a crowd of people...

...came to my house recently, nearly unexpected. I readily admit to having offered, with a willingness to open the door. Agreed to let them in, but almost caught by surprise when they showed up. Even though I was sure they would eventually come, I did not know when.

The group I meet with regularly on Wednesday night takes a break over the summer. Maybe meeting one week as a study group, and deciding on where to go to share a meal in a restaurant the following week. Skip a Wednesday, then start over.  I suggested they could come to my house, instead of the usual home, where we have been going for years. I know how tedious it would be to have to be sure everything is neat and clean on a regular basis, even though I am not the world's messiest. So thought: a change of venue would be a break for the people who usually host the crowd.

I just did not know when they would be at my house: until the day before they came. I had cautioned them to come prepared for pot-luck, bring a dish to share. Otherwise it would be beer, chips and salsa. I did make a big taco salad, but they all brought things to eat, so we had plenty of food.

After I had extended the invite, I started cleaning in a random/half-hearted fashion. Whittling down the clutter - thus the epistle on Cleaning By Condensation. Which gives the opportunity to be Self-Righteous x 2. Resulting in all the clothing in the house being clean and tidily stored, plus a slight reduction in clutter. Sort of a 'good news-bad news' joke in that: laundry is done, the clutter is not visible, but the laundry baskets are now full of your junk mail/mess/stuff/hoardings.

Anyway: they came, brought good eats, enjoyed sharing food and conversation. With so little notice, I did practically no cleaning before they arrived. Stuck all the stuff in the bathroom down in the cupboard below the sink, and chose to ignore everything else. Knowing I would rather do the work after they left, to enjoy the results of my efforts when no one would come along and spill stuff.

Got up on Thursday morning and swept and mopped my kitchen floor. Yes, it is clean enough to eat off. That's the way I like it, but it does not happen very often. Just enough to avoid being a health hazard.

an amusing quote...

...the cousin had on her apron. It was long ago, more years than I care to count, when I saw it. So funny it has stuck in my brain all this time. Probably not something that has ever actually come out of my mouth, though I have thought it to myself innumerable times over decades.  When viewing some event or individual that should not have been on display. On occasions when I would have cause to think: 'this is something your mother should have talked to you about before you left home.' Or more precisely: 'Does you mom know you are out in public looking like that?' Thinking it, but not saying it, as you never know who has a concealed-carry permit in this scary world we live in.

The quote that was silk-screened on the front of the hostess apron: "Who invited all these tacky people?" Sadly, the term 'tacky' is no longer in common usage. Too old school?  Or maybe lost it's place in daily conversations due to the popularity of four letter words becoming acceptable?  Perhaps I could begin inserting 'tacky' in my speech and start a trend?

There are certain to be a variety of topics to which 'tacky' would apply? Ample opportunities to point out circumstances, individuals, events that I find inappropriate?  (Wearing short-shorts to church! Wearing pajamas in public! Wearing holey jeans as proper garb! Wearing leggings as pants!) I say: let's bring 'tacky' back into the lexicon, revive it and encourage the world to treat it with proper respect and admiration?

Feel free to use it at your discretion, as there are many occasions for application.  You may even want to talk to your television when things happen right there in your living room that should not be on public display. This is one of the reasons I choose to not devote my time to tv. Another is the addiction factor, and the amount of time it can mindlessly steal from your day/life. So: TV = tacky.
And this is just for starters...

those fat caterpllers...

... completely decimated the parsley. There is nothing but thick stems left poking up out of that pot that was so lush and green before they found their favorite food. I've long known that the parsley was the first choice for some type of caterpillar, but did not know what it was. And guess I am a bit surprised that the plant has been striped so completely. From the appearance of the bugs, enormously well fed, as well as the looks of the nearly non-existent herb, it was a perfect match.

I am wondering what I will find when searching for cocoons. They were so big and round there on the remaining stems, I'm sure they could not have crawled off and gotten very far. Like being so full after eating Thanksgiving dinner, you need to go take a nap, lay down to ponder what caused you to stuff yourself.  Hopefully, the next step in metamorphosis will occur nearby, in the flower bed close to where they stuffed themselves like the Christmas turkey.

I noticed there were big fat caterpillars, as big around and long as my pinky finger. And several lesser ones, smaller in diameter than a pencil, and a bit shorter. I assume they came along when there was less feeding material. I don't know if those smaller ones would get bigger with more to eat, but assume they are like humans and would eat as long as there is food in front of our faces. So I have been to the Big Box for more parsley, picking out pot that had several plants. To put it in the big concrete planter where they gnawed the other down to the dirt.

Now that I know they will eventually turn into beautiful yellow swallowtails, I feel the weighty responsibility of feeding.  I will BOLO (be on the look out) for the nondescript well-camoflauged cottony cocoons and hope to watch the life cycle unfold, but awaiting the end product nonetheless. Watching for those gorgeous creatures flitting through the Butterfly Bush blooms conveniently located close at hand.

fat striped caterpillars....

Monday, July 25, 2016
.. getting bigger by the minute as they consume my parsley. The plant is in a big concrete container near the front door, and covered with maybe a dozen yellow and black caterpillars in various sizes, merrily chewing their way up the nearly bare stalks of parsley. You know I am seriously math impaired, so not sure how many. Every time I counted them yesterday afternoon, when I noticed the parsley plant was virtually leafless, I got a different number.

I'm not sure what sort of butterflies I can expect as the end product of those fat happy crawlers being so well fed on my herb plant. But I am very optimistic, expectantly looking forward to having a great crop of beautiful butterflies flitting around when this crop of chubby caterpillars transforms into winged wonders. I'm guessing if I had not smooshed the big fat green horn worm on the tomato plant, it would have made a cocoon and eventually turned into something far more attractive, but instinct caused me to act before considering.

The expert google-er reported those insects eating my herbs also like Queen Anne's Lace, dill weed, and will become big pretty, yellow and black Tiger Swallowtails when they complete the life cycle. Hopefully, if I can pay close attention, I will see the location of the the cocoons, to watch for hatching. I would love to see metamorphosis actually occur, and be witness when they emerge and spread their wings to get ready for flight.  I've seen it on a film at the Callaway Butterfly Center, but never in real life. And since I spend so little time at home, it is not likely I will see it happen. But wouldn't that be the coolest thing?

book review: "If I Am Dead or Missing"...

Sunday, July 24, 2016
...by Janine Latus. Subtitle: 'A Sister's Story of Love, Murder and Liberation'.  I did not actually 'read' it, but have been listening to the set of eight CD's checked out from the library last week. Riveting story. I found myself, more than once, arriving at my destination and just sitting someplace in the car, with the AC running, listening. Unwilling to stop the recording, in a parking lot at work, or in the carport at home, waiting to hear more. Copyright 2007, read by the author.

Most of the story is about the author's experience, growing up in Michigan, in a Catholic family with siblings, and a very dysfunctional father. Leaving home as soon as she was of legal age, struggling to finish high school, living with friends, bunking in family rooms/dens on couches, feeling like a misfit. Some sexual abuse, a rape in her late teens, so lots of emotional baggage. Marrying a guy she met in the workplace, while she was attending college, working towards a journalism degree. He was in the medical field, already married, but fell into a relationship with Janine.

When dysfunction meets dysfunction, there are bound to be blowups. They eventually got married, he had half custody of two small children, so there was 'instant' family. He was demeaning, demanding, insecure, emotionally and physically abusive, as well as bullying when he would continually remind her he was the primary source of income. Their home was a battleground, with constant criticism, self-doubt, demands, recrimination, with sweet interludes of harmony and peace, as well as fierce, needy sex, when they would make up after a battle .

The title refers to her sister Amy, who met a man online, while living in TN. This guy was Bad, seriously, with a capital B. Unemployed, criminal record, alcoholic, philanderer. But Amy loved him. And wanted to believe he loved her.  Amy had a job good enough to support him, and most of his bad habits. She agreed to buy him a truck and trailer, supplies to start a painting business.

When she did not show  up for work, though she was well liked by co-workers, dependable, responsible, they began to think something was amiss. Where upon they found an envelope taped to the inside of a desk drawer in at work, with an outline of her suspicions, as well as description of all the funds she had loaned/invested in Ron. Her body was found two weeks later, at a house construction site. Where it had been buried, wrapped in a canvas painter's tarp/drop cloth. 

The narrative takes you through many conversations Janine had with her sister, about men, life, love, living with men, self-recrimination, anxiety over being single/alone/lonely and fear of the consequences of having to live on one income. None of which are grounds for a man to strangle a woman, and hide the body. I'm left with the thought that men 'hold the power' due to pay inequality. If women were paid for their skills/talents/abilities at the same rate as their male counterparts, our society would be a different place.

it must have been 100 degrees out there...

Saturday, July 23, 2016
... and I probably got 'way too hot yesterday, as I had a headache that would not quit until bedtime. Which is, I think, a sign of overheating and dehydration. There were frequent breaks/trips back inside to cool off and drink water, replenish fluids, but it was a blistering day, at minimum in the high 90's during the afternoon. Plus I piddled around in the house, doing some of my famous 'condensing and sorting' till mid-morning. When I knew the smart thing to do would be go on out and get the work done early in the cool of day. Oh, well...

It was a very productive day. Starting with turning the laundry basket over in the kitchen, to go through all that paper, misc., and etc,. that had been accumulating on the counters for days, weeks, months, maybe even years. Putting the 'Theory of Condensation' into practice. But I can smile now, as there is Nothing at all cluttering my work space.

Then, I went out to put the wheel barrow to use. Picking up tree trash, from lots of wind and thunderstorms that have blown through in recent days. Thankful for the rains that usually come with all the noise, but it also causes stuff to fall out of the many trees we have on our lot. A few really big limbs that I had to drag up to the street for trash truck. Along with a number of trips up the driveway pushing the barrow loaded with smaller stuff piled high.

Another little project I wanted to get done: divide a plant in a large pot into smaller ones. I purchased what is hopefully a flowering almond tree back in the spring,when volunteering one day at the Callaway Gardens Spring Plant Sale. I suspected all the little plants in the big three gallon pot came from a single stump someone wanted to get rid of. I've been keeping in watered, watching it grow, and finally took the time to repot.

Now I have nine of the little plants, no bigger in diameter than a pencil and maybe twelve inches tall, all in pots. Plus two I planted out in the back yard, where I hope, with faithful watering, they will flourish, and eventually grow into beautiful, decorative spring-flowering trees. They serve no purpose, make no edible fruit, but glorious to behold in the early spring when covered with blushing pink blooms.

About mid-afternoon, I came in tired and dirty, and got cleaned up to go to a volunteer job down at the Rivercenter. The city was sponsoring an event/conversation about policing and the racial harmony for the public, called 'Galvanize'. (In my opinion, a very poor word choice). A pretty good crowd showed up, concerned citizens who wanted to hear what the city officials had to say. Poor sound system made it difficult to clearly hear the officials who were speaking, moderating, causing me to leave the auditorium after about thirty minutes. Meaning I did not hear much of the conversation, and hope the city feels it was helpful, opening doors for more discussion, and peaceful resolution to questions/doubts.

a personal theory...

Friday, July 22, 2016
...of housecleaning, which has proved to be an effective way of eliminating clutter. First you do all the laundry that needs to be done. This will make you feel very productive. It also provides great deal of satisfaction when everything from all the baskets is clean and hanging in it's proper place in various closets or tucked into appropriate storage.

Then you use all the empty laundry baskets to wipe all the clutter from every horizontal surface where it has accumulated. Clean off all the counter tops in the kitchen where flotsam and jetsam lands when everyone walks in the back door. Remove all the oddments from tops of dressers and chests-of- drawers in the bedroom. Swipe everything that has cluttered the dining table into a basket. Get a dust cloth and wipe the cosmic fallout off, so every flat surface that was covered is now sparkling and spotless.

Now comes the hard part. You have to put half of that stuff in the trash. It's been sitting around for so long, un-looked at, unused, un-needed, it is obvious you don't really want it in your life. So all those pieces of junk mail, wee little screws you find lying on the floor that fell out of who-knows-what, socks with no mate: toss 'em. Or put what you can in your recycle bin.

Yay! you've done a great job, and have the baskets whittled down to manageable.  I'm sure some of what's left is things you need to donate to the Thrift store. Be sure to make a list and get a receipt to take it off your taxes next spring.

Start sorting through what's left and decide if you really need to keep those documents, and file them away in some semblance of order or you will never be able to locate when needed. If you are a tech whiz, smarter than I, you can scan and store in computer, right?   That is going to get rid of the rest of the paper, so you can shred what's still left and use it to compost/mulch in your back yard.

At this point, there should be only about one fourth of the mess you started with. This is, sadly, things you are not yet ready to part with, so you will be forced to find some place to put the remaining stuff until next time. Even so, don't you agree that my Theory of Condensation is working beautifully?

I'm going right now to start emptying the laundry basket sitting in my kitchen. I will not put that stuff back where it came from, so most will likely go to  be donated to the thrift store. And become the property of some other sucker who wants clutter.

an accidental tradition...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

...got started several years ago when I (must have, but don't really remember it happening) offered to provide a gigantic fresh flower arrangement for the opening reception of an annual event. The local Artist's Guild puts on a show each summer, giving all the members an opportunity to allow the locals in the community to view their work. Any one who is a dues-paying member of the Guild is permitted to display one piece of art, where it is hung in the gallery of the University Art Department building. Most of the art is two dimensional, paintings done swith oil, water colors or acrylics. But there are some sculptures and the occasional turned wood carving bowl or glazed and fired ceramics.

There is a really nice reception, with a number of awards given, amounting to considerable generous donations by community members. The university catering service puts out a very elaborate spread with enough food and drinks to make a meal of things you eat with your fingers, while standing around chatting up the other attendees. As we all know, nothing in life is free, but I am not in the know about how much the rental of the space and the reception food costs. When you use their space you must use their catering service, so you can't go the potluck route like us artiste's usually do.

My part is the big cut flower arrangement sitting on the table with the eats, in the big silver champagne cooler. The container was the prize for winning a golf tournament years ago, and comes out of the box about once a year to go someplace and be decorative, look elegant as part of a high class event. It's an enjoyable endeavor, due to the fact that I nearly never have the opportunity to do things on that scale. And also challenging, to fill a large container with fresh cut flowers and greenery, when there is sot of a load limit, maximum capacity it will hold.

when old and forgetful...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
... and not able to tend to things that medical community deems basic necessities, those Daily Living Activities, we need to have a plan. I've been thinking about that quite a bit recently, as I do not think the aging Auntie has put serious consideration into her preferences. If she has, she certainly is keeping it a closely guarded secret, which is first cousin to making no decisions at all. In the manner of the ostrich hiding his head in the sand: if you don't see It, it can't see You, right?

Sadly the freight train won't stop barreling down the tracks when you close your eyes to make it disappear. We need to all have a plan. This is not the time to mention that the man who lives in this house does not. Though I have asked, the best answer is 'I hope it doesn't happen', which is probably even worse than sticking your head in a hole.

I recently read a little article about ways for saving money. There was one suggestion applicable to veterans, about a resource for care givers. Funds that are available for people who have been in the service, and needing assistance. Monies to help provide in home nursing or respite care.

A bit farther down in the article was The Hint that really caught my eye. Instead of adding onto your home, to provide housing for an aging family member, there is the option of putting Granny in a Pod. Similar to the pods you can have movers deliver to your house, for you to pack up all your worldly goods and then transport to the location of your choice. No one else is packing, abusing your stuff, and you get to do it at your leisure (more or less), then call the guys with the truck to have it relocated when ever.

Did you know you can get a pod designed for a residence? Me neither. Though I have long thought the solution to lots of housing problems is all those shipping containers sitting around rusting in ports, behind commercial businesses, used for storage or worse: empty. It would not take some college students looking for a project long to figure out how to make efficient use of the interior space, and engineer a basic plan that would transform an oversized bread box into safe housing.

I need to get busy paring down, letting go of 'stuff'', so everything will fit in a semi-trailer. I've actually seen the cargo containers, stacked high, in a residential setting, where someone was living in the boxes. You just need to figure out how to make them live-able, to suit/fit your needs. My bad knee tells me I won't be climbing stairs, so my pod will be much smaller, like the faddish Tiny Houses.

an amusing little anecdote...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
...that is a post script to all the flying over vast expanses of salt water earlier in the month. The thoughtful people at Delta Air decided they would include all the movies you can watch free when you are flying in their planes. How convenient that July 1 was the first day to take advantage of this newly implemented policy: the very day we started our travels.

So while I was trapped in that metal tube winging across the Atlantic I had the opportunity to get all caught up on my movie watching. Most of the second run ones at the 'cheap seats' (where the tickets average two bucks) are some I enjoyed up in the air. Since I rarely get to the 'walk in', the idea of having a great wide assortment at my fingertips was quite a treat. Especially since I do not have the knowledge or the patience to operate the television here, that requires three different remotes to actually get the movie going.

Superman vs. Batman, Whiskey Fox Tango, Hail, Caesar, Zootopia, Eddie the Eagle, Allegiant, Hello, Doris, and more I don't recall at the moment. Several on the way over, when I still had reading material. And even more on the way back to the US, when all the paper books had been consumed.  After being so desperate I thumbed through the mostly promotional magazine in the seat back, I plugged in the ear buds and scrolled through the options. Amusing myself for hours. There were also a number of offerings that had been seen on HBO and Netflix, as well as several from commercial television I would not have seen.

an all 'round bug-filled day...

Monday, July 18, 2016

...that sort of makes me cringe to even think about it, much less put it in print for all the world to see. I am 'way more squeamish that I realized, since telling of all the living things I destroyed today makes me wince. The millipedes I picked up and put in the trash this  morning do not count, nor does the many legged centipede I had to get the broom and dustpan for before I left home (not at all willing to actually touch that one.)

We've had a good bit of rain in recent days, enough for me to feel it would be safe to transplant. Part of the problem is the fact that the clay here is too hard to dig, so you have to wait for it to get wet to be able to get the process underway. It's like trying to get a hole started in concrete unless it is wet. So rain encouraged me to want to go dig a couple of holes, and frequent thunder storms continue to bring enough to think my newly planted native azaleas will survive.

When I went out to get the pots to decide where to put the plants, there were at least half a dozen of those nasty, disgusting grasshoppers that got squished. A couple of them were married. They were doing something that should not take place in public, so it is obvious they have No Shame. I hope they all got their guts smooshed out before they had a chance to make or lay eggs that will hatch next year.

The other thing -even worse than grasshopper guts: a big fat green worm gnawing it's way along my tomato plant. I've killed two in recent weeks, one nearly decimated the 'Husky' grape tomato I was very optimistic for providing a bumper crop to add to salads. The other was just in the wrong place at the wrong time: on my tomato plant, so he died.

The one I picked off the tomato today (with purple gloves on) I just took off in the woods and tossed. There was some debate about amnesty versus shoe bottom, and that big fat disgusting horn worm has no idea how lucky he is today. I'd recommend going to buy a lottery ticket...

the sad truth...

...about my Auntie in Valdosta. I am pretty sure she is already on the slippery slope, and headed downhill as fast as her little sled will go on an icy surface. There is a family history of dementia, and she is a prime suspect. I got a call last week, with her sounding even more confounded than usual, which is Very.

She was asking me about her  mother, and wondering why she could not recall any of the particulars about her funeral. My response was that the details were fuzzy for me also, due to thinking that she died in 1995. My Auntie insisted it was much more recent, as in 'just the other day'. She said she had been in the bed sleeping more than usual for several days and wondering where the event took place, and how many people were there. I told her what I could remember, but now that I've had time to consider, I think the information I relayed was about my grandfather, rather than grandmother.

I've seen this decline coming along for some time, and have been telling cousins that I believe there will be an 'event', a plainly witnessed occurrence that will prove to us all (Auntie included) it is time to make some changes, for someone to step in provide assistance. I've been hoping for years that it will not involve bodily harm, her getting hurt, or driving and injuring someone else. But as a fiercely independent, 110% self-sufficient adult for over sixty years, it is unlikely she will take kindly to suggestions, advice or guidance from any of us.

Leading me up to reporting I am going to the Alzheimer's Association office this afternoon for a meeting/workshop that provides more info. for family members who see the freight train barrelling down the tracks.The workshop will cover The Ten Warning Signs, and I am, quite honestly, prepared to go in with my pen and check most of them off in ref. to my Auntie. In recent phone conversations she has been so repetitive I will occasionally screen/ fail to answer her calls, and let it go directly to voice mail until I can gather up the gumption and assemble enough patience to call her back.

I will give a report when I get home with the list of 'signs'...for you to examine yourself in the mirror. Or ask a close friend for an honest appraisal, though if any of those signs apply, you likely do not want an Honest Appraisal.


... even though applied logic and reason tells me they all serve a purpose, that everything here is part of the Circle of Life, I do  not like them in my house. I agree all are valued members of the food chain. I can accept that they are necessary, but I do wish they would keep their necessary-ness in the great outdoors.

I have picked up, with my bare hands, delicately pinching between thumb and forefinger: over a dozen millipedes this morning. I mopped my kitchen floor last Friday, and have to wonder if they know? Is the current invasion a result of their insistence that the floor not stay clean? They make a mess when you accidentally step on one, even though they just 'crunch' if they die a natural death. Making me continually stop and pick them up to avoid the ick of smushing one on the tiles.

We've had ample rainfall in recent weeks, so it is likely that the current population explosion is a result of moisture. Humidity is a fact of life here in the South. Even though I took drastic measures some weeks ago, and applied a good dose of bug killer along the outer wall where I think they gain access, they persist. Perhaps it is time for another toxic spray of aerosol to keep them at bay?

In addition to their unwelcome advances, they are really odiferous when smooshed on the floor. And equally stinky when you pick one up to deposit in the trash. If I washed my hands every time I did the 'pincher' thing to reduce the overpopulation, I would never get anything accomplished. So stinky fingers it is. Disgusting, right?

schedule for the week...

Sunday, July 17, 2016
...indicates I will be working 4 five-hour days. The first one was on Saturday, then Sun., Tues., and Thurs.When I saw what it looked like, I thought to myself:  "hmmm...certainly looks like something that will devolve into a 39 hour week." As it turned out, I was there over ten hours on Saturday, so not off to a particularly illustrious start. Plus eight more hours today. So actually really close to twenty hours, which would have been my week. Except I will go in for a few hours on Monday, when not actually on the schedule.

So we will see how this week plays out... Even though the official plan was for twenty, I am predicting nearly forty. Which will include cutting the day short on Thursday so I don't go into overtime: according to the Gospel of Publix, a mortal sin. I'm still steamed over the week I went over forty, and got a counseling statement they made me sign, saying I knew there would be consequences, and such bad behavior could result in being suspended for a week should it occur again, or possible Termination. Which says to the people who get those counseling statements from management that it does not pay to be conscientious, determined to complete your work, not willing to walk off and leave a job half-done.

Oh, Joy. Happy to be employed.....???

stompin' around...

... trying to kill those big black grasshoppers. I was truly hoping I had killed them all in the spring when there were tiny little things no bigger than an inch.  I just got out the can of spray and went: psssst. But it is apparent I missed quite a few, so assume there was another hatching, or they have been hiding on another planet, just dropped in fully grown.

I hate 'em, because they are truly nasty, but also because my dad hated them. He thought they would lay eggs in the dead foliage of bulb plants, after greenery had died off in warm weather. Then the eggs would hatch out and they would start eating on the first thing in sight: bulbs.

He would get so frustrated when they would mow down his red spider lily blooms, right before they would open in the fall. When you could see the buds were within minutes of popping open, making a glorious show in the season when most other things are turning brown and withering, those #$%& grasshoppers would chew through the stalks before the blooms would open to make us smile.

I have been our watering things in pots though we have had good rains in recent days. Some of the pots are under the roof overhang and unless I move them out into the rain, they don't get the benefit. So those things I deliberately put in planters need more attention than the ones that are in the dirt beds.

While watering, holding the nozzle with one hand, attempting to thump the bugs off plants so I could  thoroughly stomp. I have done it at least six this afternoon, and sure there are more out there, hoping to disappear in the foliage and become invisible. With their little bug brains, believing I don't see then hanging from the underside of the leaves and safe from  the bottom of my shoe.

Not only highly aggravating, but remarkably ugly too.

the vendor said...

Thursday, July 14, 2016
...when he walked through the swinging doors into the stock room today, right past where I was standing slicing vegetables: "Hey, Ya'll". It tickled my memory, and my funny bone. Making me think of a YouTube one of my kids showed me some time ago. Where guys are doing really stupid things, as guys are prone to do, often fueled with alcohol and prodded by 'Double-dog-dare-yous'.

The set up for remarkably foolish behavior consisting of stunts the onlookers know from the  get-go is certain to not only fail, but cause serious bodily harm. The kind that causes witnesses to: 2) wince as it occurs, then b) spend hours afterward sitting in the waiting area of the ER. While the damaged miscreant goofball gets stitched back together, broken bones set, wounds repaired, limbs gauze wrapped or stomach pumped.

What you would hear him say before the sure-to-fail incident occurred: "Hey, Ya'll! Watch This!!"

volunteering my afternoon...

...by going to the local Tech. school to donate a pint. My payment was a single serve packet of Nutter Butter cookies, and another of Cheezits. A pretty good deal exchange to my way of thinking.

Then I agreed to meet a friend at Recorder's Court for a hearing. Some sort of heated disagreement with a former employer. I fully understand how you can't just let some minor issue go because 'it's the principle of the thing'. But when you go stand before the judge, there is always a chance you will find yourself escorted by a big bulky officer with Glock and cuffs through the back door of the courtroom and issued an orange jumpsuit. Which likely would have happened if the friend had not taken an attorney with her, who was able to remind her of the value of keeping her mouth shut. It all worked out, but they will have to go back at some point.

My part of this sordid tale is how I could not get into the court room, to be the moral support I had promised. I was tearing down town to get there by 2:00, and grabbed the first parking space I saw, which was nearly a block away. I did not even hesitate because it involved 'parallel' parking, but just scooted right in and headed towards the building where the courtrooms are. Dashed in the door, only to find lots of loitering riff-raff, and knew I was in the wrong place: I had entered the door for the county lock-up. The next door down is Recorder's Court.

I did get into the right door, only to find a very ill-tempered deputy who made me take my folding pocket knife back to my car, a block away in the sizzling heat. I said I will just put it in the trash, and she said NO. "You have to take it to your car. This is a Jail Building, You Cannot put it in the trash can." I fully understand: the trustees do the building maintenance, and putting a knife where they could find and smuggle it is not a good idea. But she could have been more civil instead of snappish. I am sure she gets tired of saying the same thing over and over, day after day, but she signed on to be a public servant instead of acting like a shrew.

So I went back to my car, and emptied my pockets, no phone, no wallet, no anything except my key ring, with various tags with barcodes, keys and car key fob. But I forgot I have this little wee folding knife on the metal ring that looks just like a key. So, dammit. She told me I would have to take it and leave it in my car.

Then, on the third try: "You can't go in the courtroom wearing shorts". I am still wondering why she did not say that as soon as I walked in the door the first time? You are right to assume I got in my car and went home. Gnashing my teeth and cursing all the way.

volunteering my morning...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
...starting with plans to meet the vendor who stocks Sara Lee baked goods. He had agreed to provide me with 150 hotdog buns, to donate to the Summer-fest event at the Civic Center today. Only problem being, I went to meet him at the wrong Walmart. So there I was, and he wasn't. A phone call resolved that, and I got the buns, to take downtown.

Along with 6 x 24 hot dogs and a whopping big pile of donated (slightly stale) cookies. I will trust you to not repeat this: but some of them have been in my fridge for two months, awaiting the Summer-fest. Some were picked up last night, and I am hoping the people who ate them could not tell which ones were nearly fresh and which ones had been awaiting consumption for weeks.

I was supposed to be down there at 7:30, but was nearly an hour late, as a result of the non-meeting at the wrong store to bun pick up. And got there, with cookies, hot dogs, buns, and 18 x 5 cases of bottled water much later than planned. Only to be reminded: If I don't write it down, it won't happen. I had agreed to put together a gift basket for a door prize, and completely forgot. Until someone said 'gift' and I thought: 'Oh, s#%t!'

Where upon I made up an excellent lie. Saying I had forgotten it (which is truer than anyone will ever know) and that I had left it at home, and would go get it, be back before 9:00. Went to the 'just a buck' store and bought twenty dollars worth of stuff, including a little plastic basket. And across the street to the grocery store, where I know for a fact they use clear cellophane to wrap fresh fruit gift baskets. And wrapped it all up, adding frou-frou and long streamers of curling ribbon.

It all worked out - I will just add the cost of the basket stuff to the donation I will take off my taxes.  Summerfest is an annual event the senior citizens of the area enjoy where they can go and get hot dog lunch, win a variety of door prizes, a t-shirt with sponsors names printed on the back, learn about community resource. All free, just show up and enjoy sitting in the cool building, being entertained by musical acts, skits, hula dancers (fully covered.)

roaming about Londontown....

...with ample time for gawking, observing the hundreds and hundreds of other gawking tourists. On the Big Red bus again, and various and sundry trips up and down the steps of the 'tube' (underground trains, like Marta in Atlanta or Metra in DC) to get where we wanted to be. Pretty complicated syncing the maps with street map that had points of interest, Big Bus map with on-off stops, tube map for getting places in a hurry (but massively crowded during peak hours).

Fortunately, I was traveling with an excellent logistics coordinator, who I conveniently raised. Her sister and I would stand there people watching, trying to not get stepped on, or run over or pushed onto the track. While the expert repeatedly deciphered the many maps she was using to get us to monuments, castles, cathedrals, places we were desperately trying to see in a rapidly depleting amount of time.

We went back into the area of the Thames, planning to see the Tower and The Bridge. Did you know that the 'Tower' is not really just a tower, but a large rambling collection of ancient stone buildings built on the walls/foundation of a Roman garrison/fort? They call the structure in the center of the fortification the Tower, and there are rounded towers on all four corners of the square building. We did not go up those narrow winding staircases to upper levels, as I thought about feeling claustrophobic. In the area we did enter, there is an interesting display of armor, including metal plating designed to protect war horses that would carry fully covered knights into battle. Interesting bit of trivia: Guardsmen actually reside in the small apartments within the Tower complex. With families, who hang out laundry, and kids that ride bikes on the cobblestones after hours.

We also saw: safely tucked away in a huge vault, the Queens jewels, various crowns used over the centuries, scepters, ornately bejeweled gifts bestowed upon monarchs over time. Huge silver platters, serving bowls, and several empty cases, carefully designed, meticulously lined with velvet, constructed to hold the wealth when the valuables need to travel.  Plus an empty display where a royal scepter is normally displayed when Parliament is not in session, but must be ceremonially present when they are open for business.

Walked across the Thames on the Tower Bridge, which is the one with two tall stone beacons. The one depicted on postcards most assume is the London Bridge. If you are excessively brave or daring, you can go up into the heights of the towers and go from one to the other on a pedestrian walkway, over a section of the flooring that is clear, looking down on passersby and traffic crossing the river below. That was not me up there. More trivia: Did you know that The London Bridge was purchased by an (obviously quite wealthy) American businessman, dismantled stone by stone, shipped to the US and reassembled on Lake Havasu in Arizona? I did know that, and told my companions, who looked at me as if I had fallen from Mars, but when it was confirmed by a tour guide, I felt quite knowledgeable and clever. For more info., consult google.

The cousin had purchased tickets for us to go to the Globe Theater, where many of the Shakespeare plays were originally performed. It has been meticulously reconstructed (with appropriate  modern building codes observed as required). Hot as blue blazes, open to the weather, with standing for the peasants down on the bottom level adjacent to the stage. We thankfully had seats, mostly shaded.

Walked miles and miles...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

taking tea in Londontown...

... was one of several things we specifically wanted to do. Others included trying to be in the right place at the right time for seeing the Changing of the Queen's Guard in front of her many roomed home, Buckingham Palace. Tickets to gain entry into the painstakingly rebuilt Globe Theater, to see a Shakespeare play.

The High Tea was in a classically appointed room in a luxe hotel. There were crisply ironed tablecloths and napkins, an attentive staff  impeccably groomed, discreetly observing and quick to supply our every request. Tiny little sandwiches, filled with traditional fare including caviar, smoked salmon, cucumbers (none of which I care to consume - but ate anyway just to be able to tell you about the experience), egg salad, (no PBJ) plus lots of tiny delicate decorated bite-sized sweets stacked up on the little tiered serving dishes.

We each picked our choice for flavors of tea, and one of us went all out with wine as well. Then they brought out the sconces (pretty much a tall, sweetened biscuit) with accompanying butter, lemon-curd, jam. Sadly we were full before the sconces arrived, but continued to eat....

That amusing fresh floral arrangement was a nod to the Wimbledon games going on while we were there.  Pretty clever how the tennis balls were incorporated. Lots of bright fresh flowers all over the public parts of the building where we were, as well as beautiful plantings displayed on the exterior, with not a drooping leaf or wilted bloom to be seen.

Wednesday, July6, 2016

it's reeeaaaally early...

...not yet daylight. But I was just on the phone with someone who said 'text me', and I replied: "I can't do that". My phone is not 'smart', and when it comes to IT, nor am I, though I know I am not stupid. I think of the opposite of stupid as 'yet to be informed'. There is a world of facts, information, knowledge that I am not yet privy to, and mountains of books to be read. So: No, I'm not stupid, just cannot read any faster.

I am occasionally sad, and at times annoyed with my lack of technology ability, frustrated when I am forced to seek help. Aggravated when the conundrum is so complicated I cannot solve it myself, and stumped until someone else can resolve the problem. I did something here, on this screen, when I was typing a couple of days ago that completely baffled me. Trying to get all the fun we had reported on, sharing travel experiences -when suddenly the words went vertical. All the sentences on the page were standing on end. Every thing on the screen was north and south, at 'Attention!' Making it really hard to read. And typos really hard to correct when the buttons with arrows were 'reversed', with directional markings no longer accurate.

And then there's Me. With no tech. skills, not knowing what I did, to know how to un-do it. I went to a friend who's knowledge is vast as the universe as compared to mine. Meaning she is not afraid to press various buttons in different configurations, just to see what happens. But she could not find the magic combination to get my words to lay down in tidy rows. So, sadly everything caused me to develop a pain in the neck while keyboard was east/west and sentences were north/south.

I went to my work place, and asked a Kid. Yeah, I know. He said he'd done that on his computer and knew just what to do to fix it. I got the laptop out of the car and in less time than it takes to tell the story, he pressed: ControlAltArrow. Poof! Back to Normal. Yay for the Kid! He was stunned when I gave him a big smack on the cheek.

So that explains why there has been a gap in info. about the trip to UK. I will get right back on it, after I go make a cup of coffee that is  mostly almond milk and creamer. I know you have been anxiously awaiting The Rest of The Story...

poking around Londontown...

Monday, July 11, 2016
...on Wednesday. The hotel provided breakfast, and my brain was befuddled, so I prodded them into getting up and starting a day of seeing the sights. We'd decided on a two day pass for the tour bus, and wanted to be sure we got full value. So headed for the nearest stop on big Red Bus tour. That we eventually discovered included both a night tour on a circle route around the inner city, showing a variety of parks, shopping areas, historic sites.  As well as the opportunity to get on a passenger ferry as part of the Big Red bus tour that makes several stops on the Thames, taking passengers down to Greenwich and back up to a stop adjacent to Parliament building.

So yeah, we did all that. Getting our full value from the cost of the two day tickets for the Big Red. Riding in big loops along the city streets, hopping on and off at various stops, listening to the recorded tour with complimentary ear buds as the bus rolled through shopping areas, residential districts. With the disembodied voice describing points of interest: well known commercial/retail streets, fashion district, historic homes, statues of war heroes.

We lucked up on a walking tour that took us to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. How cool is that? Yeah, pretty much! The personable guide walked us to where the guys in the red coats and big beaver hats troop out, with a small accompaniment of musicians, to march down the street to the Palace. Where they are met by the fresh troops in their own beaver hats and red uniform coats to swap out duties for the next shift. Really impressive. As was the Queen Victoria statue in the roundabout in front of the Palace.

The city has lots of beautiful, well maintained green space. Public parks for everyone to enjoy. My cousin commented during our stay with her that the English do not expect fair weather for picnic-ing. She said you can see families out for the day, sitting on the blanket enjoying their basket lunch holding umbrellas in a downpour. They apparently continue with the stiff upper lip, in the 'Carry On' mode, regardless of inclement circumstances. Unwilling to let a deluge alter their plans. The parks we saw when atop the Big Red were spacious, neatly kept and trimmed. But even more attractive than parks, though some had beautiful plantings, of perennials and roses, were flowers on the streets.

It's not likely the gorgeous hanging baskets were put out just because they knew we were coming over, or even to dress up in anticipation of the Wimbledon matches, going on during our stay. But I assume always planted with seasonal decor., to add some bright color to the town year round. In addition to the many window boxes, planters hanging from facades and huge pots filled with colorful annuals at entry ways throughout the city.  I guess all those colorful planters, hanging from lightposts, on buildings, at doorways, all over every town, would have to be one of the high points for me, the plant lover.

You will be as surprised as I am, now that I think of it, to discover I made no effort whatsoever to smuggle any agricultural products back into the US. I did not even beg to be taken to a garden shop or plant store while we were there... I must be --- what's a good British expression? Daft? Bonkers?

Wednesday, July 5, 2016

riding the train again...

...much faster than the scenic tour of the south on the steam train, heading back into London on Tuesday morning. Enjoying the scenery of the countryside, though at a much faster speed than the steam engine.  We had reservations for lodging at a place, recommended by the cousin, conveniently located near the station where we would depart for the airport on Friday. Dragging suitcases, thankfully wheeled, through the station and along the cobbled streets to get to our hotel where we could lighten our loads and proceed with more sightseeing.

I knew my travel companions would have to keep a close eye on me. And suspect they knew too, knowing how it would be: frequently taking me by the hand to avoid my wandering away. Probably like traveling with small children, who are best managed with those little fuzzy backpacks that are actually leashes to prevent loss of relatives. I guess attributable to having lead such a shelter life, and so easily impressed with things that are not part of my normal life, daily exposure to routine sightings. I am such a gawker, impressed with architecture, or trees, statuary in parks, passing scenery, or just  people watching, like a kid, prone to not be paying sufficient attention to traffic or child-snatchers.

There is so much to see in a city with such a long rich history, it would have taken months if not years to see everything. We bought tickets for the sightseeing bus, the kind where you can get on and off all day long, taking the entire tour, or jumping off for some diversion and getting back on for more touring at the next stop down the street. A two day ticket gave us plenty of touring, with earbuds to plug in for info. in twelve languages. Plus a trip along the Thames, and a night tour for no extra fees. Not that it was cheap... but well worth the price to get the ride, guided tour and see the sights from atop the double decker bus.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

taking the steam train...

...on Monday to Dartmouth. It's pretty obvious now, but at the time, it did not occur to me to think that going to Dartmouth means to make a trip to the Mouth of the river Dart. It was very scenic. A steam engine pulling several cars of tourists through the lush, green English countryside. Passing through several tunnels, under a number of roads (often referred to as 'carriageways'), along the waterway, to the south of the country.   The train unloaded at the Dartmouth station, where we had to take a quick ferry across the river to get into town.

A quaint little village, hundreds of years old. With homes built on a steep hillside, dozens of old stone houses with slate roofing, leading down to the water's edge, where commercial district is located. And a multitude of boats of all sizes, tied up in rows in the river, and along the docks.We had lunch bought at a little French patisserie. I was told the mouth of the river has been historically chained off over the centuries to prevent enemy entrance in times of war.

Beautiful wildflowers blooming everywhere. Things that we would normally see growing prolifically on the right of way here, and things that are apparently native to the area. Lots of Queen Anne's Lace, which is very common in the US. And something really pretty, with a bloom shape comparable to verbena, but growing more upright. It was pink, and finally identified as Valerian. Something that I suspect could easily get out of hand, and quickly revert from pretty wildflower to nusiance weed. Oh, and the gloriously blooming hydrangeas... wow!

The weather was misty, moist-y and somewhat overcast. But like Florida, quickly changing from damp and dreary to clear and bright. Pretty and sunny in the afternoon, when I had some time to sit down and write all those postcards. I depended on my travel companions for figuring out the funds, keeping up with our cash when we exchanged US dollars for English pounds. The postage was a bit higher than the cost of stamps here, but the compulsive correspondent was compelled to generate mail. Knowing I would likely get back to the US before the cards were delivered. As is the nature of 'having-a-wonderful-time-wish-you-were-here' missives, mailed from  exotic locales.

Monday, Independence Day, July 4, 2016

over the moors...

...on Sunday. After a night in a real bed, though still in possession of confused brain from time zone travel. We all packed  into the car (they are all very small in the UK: small country, narrow roads, high gas prices, tiny parking paces, wee little garages) and went on a tour of the hills in south-western England. I'm not knowledgeable about landscape in UK, though I have read several books referring to wind-swept moors,  or rough, rocky, infertile hills, or craggy mountainsides. And seen Youtube videos of amazing dogs herding sheep across the unfriendly pasture lands, rough terrain that does not seem to slow them from their appointed tasks.

The views were stunning. Beautiful, wide open spaces. Gorgeous hills and valleys, with tiny dots of grazing sheep on distant green fields. And in between, along country roads so narrow two cars from opposite directions cannot pass. The highest points on the hills are remnants of funnels of volcanic rock, eroded over time, into lichen, moss-covered stones. The dividing lines between pastures look like hedges, mostly stacked rock from the clearing of fields. But they have shrubs, small trees that have grown up over time along those rock fences, so that all the separate pastures are outlined with hedges, kept neatly trimmed by livestock: cattle and wild ponies as well as the roaming sheep.

There are lots of domestic farm animals. Loose to graze the moors. We crossed over a couple of cattle gaps, but mostly they just roam.  Barely contained, with little fencing to control their wandering. Crossing the roads at will, standing there blocking traffic, or stretched out on the warm tarmac, snoozing. Vehicles are expected to give way, and there are times you just have to wait them out.

The landscape, when you are at the pinnacle of a winding road, from the vantage point of a hill overlooking miles of scenery, appears to look just like the postcards. Well, yeah. That's where the photos on the postcards came from. I bought, wrote and mailed a dozen or so, with stamps that have Her Majesty's Regalness on them. And as expected, beat them all back to the US.

After driving over the moors, we stopped to visit a little country stone church with an overgrown grave yard and markers so scoured by time, grown over with mosses and lichens, you could not read the engraving on the stones. Then back in the car for more of the beautiful countryside. Where you can see nearly forever from the highest hills: all the way to the English Channel twenty-five miles distant. Bleating sheep, marked on their backs with colored paint for easy identification by owners, meandering cattle browsing across the fields, and little wild ponies dozing in the sun.

On to the town of Exeter, where we went into the cathedral. I don't know when it was built. but it is definitely Old. Partially destroyed in bombing raids of WWII, my cousin pointed out a huge stained glass window made to replace one that was destroyed by German bombs. And replaced by one that showed the devastation of the times, with search lights in the heavens and flames blooming from the homes set ablaze by Germans. A beautiful old building, lots of people buried under the time worn floors of marble, with much traditional, medieval type architecture. I could have spent the day craning my neck enjoying the detail, carefully and painstakingly done over the centuries by gifted stonemasons and skilled woodworkers. We were shoo'ed out of the building by a man in a long red robe, I guess nearly closing time. But enjoyed the resounding voices of the boy choir as they had rehearsal while we poked though numerous small chapels, little vestibules, odd corners with monuments dedicated to long dead bishops, dukes, military heros.

Lunch in a pub, overlooking cobblestone streets, and across the lane from the Cathedral.

Monday, July 4, 2016

random movie recommendations..."Foxcatcher", "The Other Man", "The Water Diviner"...

... as a result of perusing the stacks at the public library. Where DVDs were chosen haphazardly off the shelf in  hopes of finding some that were worth the time investment to view. Several that were pretty good and deserve being better known.

One, that I saw the trailer for and meant to see when it came out, but missed. A bizarre tale about Olympic level wrestlers and a man who was obviously a bit off center. "Foxcatcher", with Tatum O'Neal and Steve Carrell. Carrell played the part of John DuPont, scion of chemical industry wealth, a man who seemed to have lost touch with reality due to being raised in an environment detached from reality. DuPont wanted to be associated with Olympic fame to the extent of offering his estate in Virginia, developing a training facility for potential Olympic level athletes.Whatever the word is that means well past 'obsession', that describes DuPont. 

Another library DVD we recently watched was "The Other Man", with Laura Linney, Liam Neeson and Antonio Banderas. I don't remember any advertising at all about it, so it might be one that was not released to theaters. I will not spoil the story by outlining the plot, but it was sweet, surprising and well worth watching. Hearing stories of 'the other woman' is not uncommon, so you might deduce for yourself how the story goes from the title...unexpected twists and turns, well-written, and if I am remembering correctly, the screenplay is based on a book.

"The Water Diviner" is another one that I do not recall seeing any promotional material about. I'm not even sure it was released in the US. I don't go to movies much, and it might have been in theaters and I just never saw the trailer, especially since I don't watch TV to see lots of advertising. Staring Russell Crowe, about an event that was more pertinent to Australian history. Having to do with war, useless killing that was a result of men, aggression, political uprisings, how the people who declare war are usually not the ones who go to war and end up bloody, dismembered or dead. It was a thoughtful story. I saw another copy when walking through a store in the UK. I noticed a rack of DVD's and was quite surprised to see this one, as I had never heard of it before checking it out of the library recently.

sleeping or not...

...sadly I am more towards the 'not' end of the scale. I know from experience, history that I've never slept well in an upright position. Envious of people who can, those who are devoted to their recliners and can easily doze off with television blaring, as long as they are in their comfort zone. That is not me. I've been on cross country flights and known there is no point in closing my eyes, leaving home with ample reading material to while the hours away, with no effort made to get any shut-eye.

In recent years, I have though trial and error over time, found a combination of OTC that helps with routine awakening. I'm understanding part of the wakefulness is aging, but knowing the reason does not make being wide-eyed any easier. And know part of the problem with not sleeping in flight was my failure to factor in the hours and hours spent getting across the Atlantic. I should have had my 'magic potion' more accessible (sadly, in checked luggage), to at least provide a little spark of hope for sleeping.

Though we were packed in like sardines, the airline does provide passengers with some handy items that might improve success for resting. Flight attendants pass out little bags containing sleep masks, to block light, and ear plugs to block snoring neighbors.  I have it on good authority from a reliable source that the flight staff has sleeping quarters for overnight/long distance flights, so they can actually get horizontal in bunks during the trip.

A recent addition for the insomniacs among us is a variety of inflight movies, TV and music. Another little plastic bag has ear buds for listening to a variety of movies or television/HBO shows or your choice of music. Conveniently, suddenly, all for free on July 1, which  happens to be the day we were leaving for Europe. A variety of entertainment forms for those who were wide awake around the clock, dashing through numerous time zones overnight. Mostly, me.

But seeing Stonehenge was well worth the lack of sleep. We stopped there after lunch in a little 'carvery'/pub on our drive to Devon. Those stacked stones are amazing. Hard to conceive of the work that it took to move and stack those monumental stones all done by hand with primitive tools and no modern equipment. Remarkable feats of engineering, especially to have been done hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Leaving a lot of the construction to be wondered at, pondered on, with little in the way of facts for explanation. Some of the stones are more or less local, while some came from Wales, hundreds of miles away. There are a number of burial mounds in the area, that do provide some details for greater understanding of the people and customs, but still leaving lots more questions than answers.

leaving the US of A...

(Statue in a London Park of Charlie Chaplin, was born in London, though most of his career was spent in the US. I forget why he became a persona-non-grata in the states, but do know he spent his waning years as a near-recluse in Switzerland.)

...was a pretty complicated procedure. Packing, for who-knows-what sort of weather? Hot, cold, wet, dry, soggy, damp, or xyz? Putting on layers works for me, so I packed enough to be able to keep warm, as well as discard as needed, peeling them off when the weather was pleasant. Plus the constant checking on 'where is my passport?' when squeezing everything into the suitcase.

I had the time to putter around the house on July 1, getting all the laundry done and put away, before leaving town around noon to head to Decatur. The flight from ATL departed around 9:00 pm, but concern about processing through security was weighty. Meaning we had hours to kill when we got through the TSA for international flights, and waiting at the gate for boarding. Interestingly, Delta had oversold that particular trip, and we heard numerous announcements asking people to give up their seats in exchange for tempting benefits of rescheduling. We did not.

I knew we would be a long time getting there, leaving at 9'ish in the evening on Friday, arriving at Heathrow at nearly noon on Saturday. And I also knew I do not sleep well sitting up, expecting to not get any rest during the trip up the eastern seaboard and across the north Atlantic. But for some unknown reason, failed to factor in spending the night in my clothes.

Admittedly there have been times I have slept in my day wear:  exhaustion, excessive coldness making me unwilling to peel off layers. But the failure to go to bed has not been one of the reasons. Until recently, upon spending the night sitting bolt upright in a narrow airline seat, wishing for sleep, drugs or a rubber mallet.

There was some turbulence, which is another reason sleep would have been beneficial. To be oblivious when the huge metal tube is jouncing you around, being blissfully unaware of sudden, expected lifting entirely from your assigned seat due to sudden drops while in flight. Several times over the vast ocean, and quite a bit when descending into UK airspace. But obviously survivable.

We arrived in London, with nothing to declare in customs, so quickly got through the entry process, to find the cousin who would be meeting us. Thankful for a 'native', who would guide us through the complications of London traffic, and out into the English countryside. Which is beautiful, lush, green, lots of wildflowers blooming along the right of way. The fact that the country is on a island contributes to the plentiful rainfall, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your tolerance for constant damp. Reminding me of Florida, where you realize if you don't like the weather, you only need to wait an hour for something entirely different.

the trip to UK...

...prelude: an introductory performance, action or event preceding and preparing for the principal or more important matter. You might find interesting the back story relating how it happened, before reading about the entertainment and amusement that occurred. At least as much fun as the trip last summer when we went west and spent several days visiting and touring in Seattle, driving through Washington state, and sightseeing around Portland, OR.

When visiting my brother a couple of years ago, (if you've heard this story, skip down several paragraphs), I went to lunch one day with his wife and her dad. Her parents  moved from AL to VA several years ago, her mom has since died, but my sister-in-law enjoys spending time with her dad. They do something together nearly every day: running errands, shopping, doctor's appointments, delivering meals-on-wheels, volunteer projects at church. Or just lunch.

The day we went to lunch together, when I tried to pay the tab. Ray said: 'No'.  And told me that he always pays for meals when they go out. Ray said he told his daughter, 'We are spending your inheritance'. Which sounds like a Great Plan, to not be anxious about the future, and things you cannot control. Realistic, practical, but deciding to not worry.

So now when we go places, do things, have fun, I try to remind myself of that wonderful idea: that we should be enjoying every day as much as possible. With little regard to worrying about funds, deliberately deciding I'm not fretting about expense. 'You Can't Take It With You,' or maybe more along the lines of: 'Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead.'

Lesson learned from hauling the laptop computer a great distance: leave it at home to lighten your load. Make a few notes to help you recall the sequence of events, but save yourself the trouble of taking things you will not use. I will apologize for being incommunicado for over a week, and hope that a day at home will allow me to get caught up. Now that I've slept for twelve hours and beginning to feel like a real person again.

july 11, 2016