Monthly Archives: January 2013

On Vacation! Day 1

photo-1 This is the view from the front lawn of Lynda and Brian’s home in Weaverville, just outside Asheville. Here for four days of catching up, relaxing, shopping, going to the Biltmore House (have never been!!), more shopping, and eating. You might think that taking a vacation is redundant if one is retired, but it’s not. I am free of responsibility for firewood, fires, snowy stairs, an icy driveway, critters roaming around, not to mention shopping and preparing meals. After a harrowing 10-hour drive on Wednesday that took me through dense fog, sunshine, rain, storms, and high winds, I arrived in Weaverville at Lynda’s house welcomed with a glass of red wine. A beautiful dinner followed and we planned our day in Asheville. Sydney and Enzo (pictured here) are getting along well — basically ignoring one another, but happy for one another’s company. photo-6

This morning we planned our attack on Asheville’s shops, first stopping at Tops, which is my go-to shoe store where we tried on pair after pair of shoes, each walking out with a shopping bag and happy with our choices.

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After doing some damage in Tops, we went on to Malaprops, one of the most charming bookstores around. I thought of Allison because of the proliferation of vegan cookbooks and we enjoyed talking with the staff about a couple of titles that we both bought before leaving for Blackbird for lunch. I believe we earned this lunch walking back and forth from the car to feed the meter and then up and down one of Asheville’s famed hills. I must admit I was tempted by the shrimp and grits having blogged about missing southern cooking but settled for a BLT unlike any I’ve had before — maple coated bacon and fried green tomatoes! We had so much fun catching up and we both realized that there is nothing like face to face conversation — while technology is wonderful for keeping in touch and maintaining social interaction, there’s nothing like the real thing. Lynda and I have been friends for 46 years. There is nothing we cannot tell each other and we have shared far more than most friends or, for that matter, most married couples! What a joy to spend unscheduled time with a friend.

Once we were well fed, we moved on to Mast General Store pictured here (with Lynda!). photo-3 Decided that we didn’t need anything there and moved on to pottery shops in Weaverville. My favorite potter, Mangum Pottery, didn’t disappoint. I have many pieces of their pottery — a multigenerational family business. You can tell who made the item by the glaze.

We stopped to pick up food for dinner at Whole Foods and I absolutely had to share this photo. I think it is typical of the attitude in Asheville and Weaverville. It is a lovely thought in a world that seems to be lacking civility sometimes. I was pleasantly surprised by it and it was an end to a perfect day for me.

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Living alone sometimes leaves me wanting for good conversation that is unfettered and uncensored — that you can only have with friends who know you well and have been with you through good and bad. Lynda and I were both single when we met and have remained best of friends through marriage, children, illness, death, moving, starting new lives, and have never wavered in our appreciation of one another. I am a lucky person.

My Icy Adventure!

I must first state that I am sitting at home with cheese and crackers and a lovely glass of red wine. Well-deserved if I say so myself! photo-1
This morning I left on the 6:51 bus to New York City for a dental appointment. As the snow fell more heavily as we got closer to the city, I realized that I may have made a mistake since freezing rain was predicted for the afternoon. The stubborn me did not want to give in to the weather since that is my greatest challenge at the moment, and I was already on the bus, so went on with my scheduled activities. After the bus blew a tire and we were transferred to another bus, I walked through the city snow to my dentist’s office, had my cleaning, and then took the subway to Rockefeller Center. Michael was meeting me for a quick lunch and, after walking the wrong way down 48th Street, I turned around, met Michael and we had a lovely meal together. We then went for coffee and I decided to take the early bus home rather than walk around or do some shopping in the sleet.

Port Authority was as busy as ever, I marked my place on the Lords Valley 2:30 bus line with my empty coffee cup, and bought the New York Post (which took me all of about 5 minutes to read). Some of the people arriving for the bus knew each other and conversations started, one of them that I quickly removed myself from was about “taking away our guns.” This from a guy who was reading Gun Magazine or something like that. Thankfully one of his friends arrived as he was telling me that he needed guns to protect himself and his family from the military. Not sure I understand this, but he maintained that it had something to do with our Founding Fathers! OK — on to the icy part.

By the time the bus got to Middletown I realized that the weather had taken a turn for the worse. On I84, traffic was slow, salt was being spread and it was clearly icy. But here’s the really scary part. When I got off the bus at the gas station that is probably a mile and a half from my house, I was so relieved and thought that I’d be home in no time. However, the gas station driveway was a solid sheet of ice and it took me a good bit of slipping and sliding to get to my car which was covered in a one inch blanket of solid ice. I managed to get the windshield and half of the driver’s side window cleared off and headed out to the main road. Not too bad, I thought, and then turned into Hemlock Farms where the roads had been salted but they were quite slippery and a challenge. But, I hadn’t seen anything yet!

My street, Longridge Drive, clearly had not been salted and was all ice. It’s curvy too, so it took me a little while to reach my driveway. Anyone who has seen or read about my driveway knows that we haven’t even gotten to the scary part! Picture your driveway with enough ice covering it for you to have an ice skating party. Once I got the car from one end to the other, pointed out, I wondered if it could actually slide backwards. I have no idea but it did occur to me. Then I realized I couldn’t really get out of the car! Holding on to the door handles, I got to the ice melt that thankfully was full and in a shaker container. It took the entire container for me to get from the car to the stairs and then down the stairs. The handrail is covered with ice so is no help whatsoever. photo-2At this point, Sydney is barking like crazy, I got to the last step, spread the last of the ice melt in front of me to get to the front door, and found the lock on the gate frozen solid. Much fiddling later and freezing fingers, I got the gate open (how else would I get in the house — surely not down the Driveway of Doom!), and was in the house. It took about 50 minutes to get the mile and a half from the gas station where the bus dropped me off to home. I wondered why I ever left the house this morning!

Now…tomorrow I will pack up the car, ice or no ice, and get ready to drive south on Wednesday morning. Before that, however, I’m going to have another drink! No ice.

Visiting The Slope

parkslope On Thursday, with the temperatures at 4 below zero in Lords Valley, I drove into Brooklyn to Park Slope to visit Rachel and to return Mason who spent a week with Sydney and me while Rachel and Dave vacationed in San Francisco. Since finding the new/old route over Bear Mountain, it only took me a couple of hours, I waited in my car until alternate side of the street parking allowed me to park right outside Rachel’s door, and had my second visit to Park Slope, a most desirable neighborhood in Brooklyn. It does need to be said that Rachel and Dave live in a fourth floor walk-up that is not quite like the buildings in the photo here, but nonetheless, it’s a fabulous neighborhood.

Park Slope is sometimes called strollerville because of all the young couples raising their families there. It has trendy coffee shops, restaurants, quirky stores, no chain stores in close proximity except for a Barnes and Noble. Everything is uphill in The Slope — thus its name — and it is populated with beautiful Victorian townhouses that are fabulous and fabulously expensive! It’s the neighborhood, Rachel tells me, that makes it not necessarily the apartment building. (As an aside, her apartment is lovely.)

So I began my brief stay in Park Slope needing coffee desperately so we went to DuJour which is very close to the car and apartment since it was extremely cold. dujourDuJour is a small bakery/coffee shop that, like every coffee shop I’ve ever been to in Brooklyn, has internet access, so there were young mothers with babes in arms on their laptops. Everyone seemed to know one another and the counter person played peek-a-boo with the babies while taking our order. Rachel’s hibiscus tea is typical of the types of drinks one gets in The Slope; I had cafĂ© au lait. One thing I really like about Brooklyn coffee houses and restaurants is that they do not ever make you feel rushed. We could have sat there for hours — one of the women sitting near us was obviously conducting business as was a man at a table behind us on his cell phone with his laptop open. Rachel and I caught up, talked about nothing of any importance, and then went to lunch. Eating is clearly a big part of being in The Slope!

stonepark When we entered Stone Park we were greeted by a waiter with a French accent, very gracious. Most of the restaurants on The Slope are small and intimate as was this one. Almost immediately two young women with baby entered and again I was struck by the nature of the neighborhood — one that caters to its residents. Coffee and bagel shops have little street level doors that dogs can use to get water or treats as well as walk-up windows for the dog walkers. The park has a place just for little children and another just for dogs (or both I guess). So many neighborhoods these days try to cater to everyone that they lose the flavor of who lives there and why. Towns seem generic and not individual to their population, but Park Slope is different — it is very much the embodiment of who lives there. After a lovely lunch, I decided to pick up some special coffee for my hosts next week, so we stopped by Cafe Martin.

Please note that Cafe Martin is mar-taan, not Martin! cafemartin Martin serves ridiculously expensive coffee that is amazing and worth every penny. So I bought two pounds, one for each of my hosts this week, and was entitled to a free coffee. The always unsmiling Martin was extremely annoyed when I declined. For those of you who know me, you will be surprised but remember we just came from the lovely lunch! He reluctantly sold me the two pounds of coffee and Rachel and I were on our way. I include his photo here because he struck me as the quintessential Frenchman, nice enough but unsmiling and a bit distracted. cafemartin2

So there you have it — my trip to Park Slope — Rachel and I sat in her apartment for a while chatting and then I left to get home before dark as ice and snow was predicted. You may be asking yourself, what is interesting about this and why should I care? Well…I tell you all of this in some detail to lure you north. My home in the woods is only an hour and a half from New York City and a bit more than that to Brooklyn where you, too, can enjoy The Slope! Tomorrow I’m going to the city again, this time by bus, and will enjoy meeting Michael and Allison for lunch somewhere equally terrific on the west side of Manhattan! Talk about the best of both worlds!

Mongolian Death Worm

You may think that the incredibly cold temperatures (it was 3 degrees earlier this morning and is now 0!) have addled my brain because of the title of this post. No, I’m not cooking worms out of desperation, but have been watching a lot of reruns on tv since I’m spending more time in the house. I really wanted to go to the Milford Diner this morning, knowing that I’d get a warm greeting and a hot breakfast, but staying in seems sensible. I imagined Judy and Kenny wondering where I was and felt a bit guilty to be so selfish as to stay in the warmth of my home. Back to the Mongolian Death Worm.

There is actually a channel that has a show of that name. Hopefully it’s only a one-time show and not a series, but I was intrigued thinking about who watches such shows. I suppose it’s the same people who believe that Bigfoot is wandering the woods, that Yeti is Bigfoot’s cousin in the Himalayas. I won’t say anything about the Loch Ness Monster because I kind of think that might be a possibility!! I googled the Mongolian Death Worm to see if it was a real creature. Immediately I saw the words “legendary,” “interpretation” to describe a picture of said worm, and “said to.” Aha, I thought, silly stuff, yet I read on. The Mongolian Death Worm, which doesn’t actually exist, causes instant death in a number of ways, has no head or tail, and has been a curiosity since the 1920s. Apparently Mongolians talk about it a lot but no one’s ever seen it. It is the worst kind of worm ever, turns anything it touches yellow, kills on contact and somehow discharges electricity. I looked it up on Wikipedia and (citation needed) is footnoted throughout. Now I’m a little sorry that I didn’t watch the 2010 film! I wonder what other amazing tv programs I have been missing while foolishly watching political commentary and the New York City news.

This is the kind of thing that occupies what is left of my mind after being stuck in the house for a few days. The dogs are not happy with me since I won’t let them play outside, I’m determined to do something productive although I know I won’t, and I’m not even cooking since I’m leaving town next week and have two trips into NYC before then. My trip south is obviously coming just in time to save me from the Mongolian Death Worm which, true to its name, causes brain cells to atrophy by just thinking about it. Amazing!

Living Alone Can Make You Crazy!

One good thing about living alone is that I can watch bad tv when I want to and no judgment (except that now I’ve opened myself up to criticism for not doing something more productive and mind-expanding!). I was watching a CSI rerun and one of the characters, when asked if she was okay, replied, “Living alone can make you crazy!” It’s funny how statements like this suddenly resonate with me and I thought, “Yes, it does!” As I watched the inauguration festivities yesterday, I found myself talking to the television, sending emails and posting on Facebook. There were so many times when having another person around would have made it more interesting. I decided to make a list of the pros and cons of living alone. By no means is this an exclusive list — feel free to add to it — I’ll think of lots of things after I finish this I’m sure.

Here are some things that occur to me that make me nuts.
1. There’s no one to watch sports with. Cheering with the dog is just not the same, neither is texting.
2. Watching political commentary alone (probably a good thing) falls into the same category as watching sports alone.
3. Shopping and cooking for one is sometimes difficult. I have challenged myself to not throw out so much food, to ask at the produce department for packages to be broken up, and to learn to eat leftovers.
4. Spreading ice melt in response to the housekeeper who accused me practically of trying to kill her with my driveway would have been better with company. Seriously, Diane is awesome and I am so thankful that she will come here in the winter months, but my driveway wasn’t really all THAT bad.
5. Dragging wood from the outside pile to the porch to dry out, then into the house to warm up and dry out further. This requires cleaning out the fireplace, removing the ashes downstairs, loading up logs and bringing them upstairs (seven loads this morning), and then stacking them on the porch. Believe me, this is better with another person to share the task.
6. Not having someone with whom to discuss ideas and frustrations. There’s only so many emails and texts you can send to relatives and friends before they will think I really AM crazy.
7. Thinking that I could be like one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” people on tv (clearly I am watching too much!). Pennsylvania has the second highest retired population in the nation I’ve heard, so there are A LOT of medical-oriented commercials, local and national — drugs mostly, lawyers to help you sue doctors, health care providers, etc.
8. Having to do every single little thing — let the dogs out, feed the dogs, clean up, take the trash to the dump, pick up the mail, change lightbulbs, etc.
9. Asking myself silly questions like, “What if I can’t get my boots off?”

Now, here are some of the good things about living alone.
1. If I wanted to I could stay in my pajamas all day long (I never do, by the way).
2. I can spread Nutella on a graham cracker and put little marshmallows on it and have that for breakfast (not that I would EVER do that!).
3. It is quiet for reading and getting work done.
4. I can read all day if I want to OR watch lots of CSI and NCIS (and any other thing with initials) reruns.
5. I don’t have to wear make-up if I don’t want to.
6. I can play Words with Friends all day long if there’s someone else doing it as well.
7. I can think about lines from old tv shows and blog about them!
8. There is an opportunity to enjoy the simple life, the quiet, the thought of writing more than the blog.
9. And, of course, there’s always trips to the diner.

It has become clear that spending too much time on my own might be a bit dangerous. The weather provides a good excuse for staying in and doing relatively little. Some days I turn around and it’s 4:00 and I couldn’t tell you what I accomplished. Perhaps that’s the beauty of living alone and one of the benefits of retirement. If nothing else, living alone makes me crazy enough to blog about living alone!!

Semantics: Back or Home?

photo-4This is my home now. I moved 8 months ago, have somewhat settled in, and am getting used to being a northerner again. I’m having difficulty with words to express my home of so many years in Tallahassee and my new home here in Lords Valley. It’s an odd thing how such a simple word can elicit such strong feelings. For example, when I refer to the house on Walton Drive in Tallahassee, I continue to call it home even though it’s not. 1207 Walton FrontI consciously try to refer to this home on Longridge Drive in Lords Valley as home but it’s not quite there yet. So, I have taken to using the word “back” when talking about my old home and “here” when talking about my new home. Both of those words, however, seem a bit cold, too generic, and not at all descriptive.

Planning a trip to Tallahassee next month has renewed this dilemma. Am I going home? Or, am I going back? When we think of home most of us get a warm feeling of welcome, familiarity, and comfort. Back indicates returning to a place you’ve once been to, not necessarily one that has any meaning or one that has a lifetime’s worth of memories. I am going to visit Tallahassee because I miss my friends and family and would like to spend time other than Skype or email talking, discussing issues, and hearing about what’s going on in their lives. I’m desperate for a dinner at Kool Beanz, breakfast at Tally Grille, and lunch at the Seminole Golf Club. Does this point to the fact that Tallahassee is home?

Today I have some chores to take care of and then will come home to prepare for a friend coming over for wine and snacks. There, I said it: coming home. Perhaps home is my stuff. My furniture, artwork, pottery, photos of family, the dog (not in that order). Maybe it’s being closer to my children and having the opportunity to see them much more often than I did when living in Tallahassee. (We all know how difficult it is getting in and out of Tallahassee.) Or, maybe it’s just a state of mind that evolves as I start a new phase of my life. I am a very impatient person so I think it’s taking much too long and I’m still yearning for things that I got used to — being able to find frozen okra in the store to make gumbo, cheese grits, Publix, buying wine in the grocery store, buying beer, diversity, warmth! If I ever write that I miss the humidity, however, you will know there is something very wrong! I will likely get my fill when I’m there in February. Looking forward to going home and then I will no doubt look forward to getting home as well!

Cooking for One

I love to cook, love to read cookbooks, and love to watch certain cooking shows on the food network. I subscribe to Cooking Light, get recipes from friends, but have never mastered cooking for myself. I think that’s because I do not like leftovers, never have and rarely eat them. There are books available, websites out there, but I think it’s very personal. One good thing about cooking for one is that I can experiment with dishes that I like without thinking about anyone else — very selfish. So, I’ve been looking for ways to cook what I like, be healthy in my choices, and not fall into the trap of prepared foods or snacking from the pantry. As anyone who cooks knows, it is easier to prepare foods you’ve done before — it tends to be for me chicken or fish. This gets boring for sure, so now and then I decide to make something like a big pot of soup or chili or spaghetti sauce. Then, my frugal self says this is a very good thing because I can freeze portions and then have lots of good things in the freezer when I don’t feel like cooking fish or chicken! Why does this make me feel a bit pathetic? Why do these dishes tend to be tomato-based (I don’t even like tomatoes that much)? Why is this even blog-worthy?

It’s blog-worthy because I need help. Cooking for one person is a challenge that lots of us face as we navigate living on our own. My friend, Roxanne, cooks freshly picked seasonal vegetables and is clearly a more creative cook than I am. Cathy, from my Tallahassee book club, has lots of vegetarian recipes that are wonderful. Lynda sent me a recipe for cookies this morning and talked about new things she is trying out. I have often talked about this with my cousin Jill who is single and a vegan. She makes the most wonderful soups and dishes and will eat them all week-long. Honestly, I just threw out another tub of Noodle Soup for Needy People (see an earlier post) because I only like it when it’s freshly prepared.

I know other single people who rarely cook fresh ingredients, relying on packaged mixes or prepared frozen foods. These aren’t bad, but I somehow equate using them on a regular basis (don’t get me wrong, I always have a Kashi pizza in the freezer and a couple of Amy’s Bowls!) as giving into a way of living as a single person that has been perpetuated by the advertising industry; marketing foods by implying that we single people need to pay attention to nutrition and the way to do that is to buy foods that will pay attention for us! All of this said, I welcome any ideas that you might have. Several years ago I hosted book club at my house and Anita brought a red lentil dish in a tagine. It’s been a go-to recipe for me ever since, so I hope she doesn’t mind if I share it with you here. It makes enough for 6 people easily. Let me know what you think!

Red Lentilstagine

2 cups red lentils
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. ginger, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes with juice
1/ cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
salt to taste

1. Spread lentils out, sort, rinse and drain well.
2. Heat oil over medium high heat and add onions. Cook until softened.
3. Add cumin, cardamom, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant (about 2 minutes)
4. Add lentils, broth, tomatoes, cilantro, turmeric, salt and jalapeno and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer, stirring often, until lentils are soft.

Serve over rice of your choice (Anita recommended basmati rice cooked in half water, half coconut milk — delicious!!)

Snowed in Again!

Learning to deal with winter in the mountains involves physical labor and an attitude adjustment. There’s a point where I have to ask myself, “Just how much do I want to do myself?” The snow melted yesterday and I could see the ground, so was looking at winter in a different way until I awoke this morning to 5 inches of snow that had fallen overnight. Since Rachel was here I was very concerned about her drive back to Brooklyn after dropping Mason here for a week with Sydney. photo I include yet another photo of Sydney and Mason in the new snow watching squirrels. As an aside, the squirrels up here are MUCH fatter with bushier tails than in Florida!

Looking up at the driveway, the cars were both covered with snow and I decided to trudge up the stairs and get the snow off and make sure it was clear for Rachel to leave before the temperature dropped. The snow was very powdery and soft so it wasn’t really all that difficult. But then I realized that it was piled pretty high in front of and to the side of her car so I grabbed the shovel and started to push the snow aside. It seemed so simple.

As I was grunting, cursing, and otherwise talking to myself while shoveling, I realized that there are times when one has to say, “This is ridiculous. Why am I doing this?” So, I did. I have an annual contract for plowing the upper driveway (which costs me the same as a long curvy driveway but they won’t do mine because it’s too steep). Typically they can plow enough so that I can get my car out. I called the owner of the business, told him that I needed to get Rachel’s car out, needed the stairs cleared and that they had not yet plowed the driveway. It was 11:00 AM so I thought that was plenty of time for them to do what I had already paid them to do. Two trucks showed up within 10 minutes. The driveway was plowed, stairs were shoveled, snow in front of and behind Rachel’s car was shoveled, and we were good to go. I did go out and greet Jeff who was shoveling — he is not the person who plows, only shovels — and of course he wanted to talk. We discussed new/old tires, skidding on local roads, and how I wanted to manage the two cars (which translates into where I wanted him to shovel). Rachel is on her way back to Brooklyn hopefully ahead of the freezing rain that is predicted, I cleared off my car and drove to the mail room to test out the driveway, and am back in the house ready to light a fire.

My big realization today was that it is okay to need help; it is more than okay to ask for help. And, that if I am already paying for services, it really isn’t asking for help anyway! It’s just having the expectation that others will do what they’ve promised. As anyone who has worked with me will attest, I do not always give others a chance to meet those expectations and I certainly lived up to that portrayal this morning. There’s enough to do to keep up with things in the northern winter. I do not need to do other people’s jobs as well. You may read this and think that’s an obvious conclusion but for me this is an epiphany! The promise has been made — I am no longer going to try and do the work of others, nor will I try to do work that is beyond my skills or physical ability. I’d sign this if I could!

(Re)Finding Our Footing

sydwhouse Since starting this blog, I find myself thinking in metaphors. As I watched Sydney renegotiate the yard now that much of the snow has melted, I thought about how quickly she got used to walking, running, sniffing, and otherwise being a dog in deep snow. Since the “January thaw,” however, Sydney has been tentative and, as many dogs do, must sniff each and every square inch of the yard. For some reason I found this disconcerting. I just got used to the freezing temperatures (soon to return), the snow, the house and yard in the snow and ice, and now we’re back to being able to see dry land! There is a distinct possibility that my driveway will actually be usable for a day or two!

I started thinking about my quiet simple life and how easily one can slip and slide over the difficult terrain of living alone. Obviously I HAD to get out of the house. The diner beckoned. I went to find the “usual” small booths all taken so I was directed to a table in the back. “What are you doing all the way back there?” asked Judy and Kenny who were sitting at their usual front booth for two. “The usual was taken,” I replied, which started a conversation that we finished when I was on my way out. The owner came over and said good morning, Doug Dilworth, the local State Farm Insurance Agent sat at his usual stool at the counter, and Freddy brought me my morning coffee. Yes, this is better, I thought. The single act of driving into Milford to have breakfast seemed to bring me back on solid ground.

After the diner, I took my car to S&T Auto. For $48 they changed the oil, checked all fluids, checked the tires and brakes and pronounced my car ready for my trip south at the end of the month. We chatted since the owner and I are going to be in Florida for the same week — he’s flying, I’m driving. I assisted with two crossword puzzle clues and was on my way to the Weis market to pick up a few things for Rachel’s visit tomorrow. From there to the mail room to find some “important tax documents” and a card from my friend Beth. Order has been restored.

sydsniffing When I finished unpacking groceries, opening mail, doing a few things, I took Sydney outside to play a game in the yard. She was totally engrossed once again in rediscovering her world, just as I was this morning. Watching Sydney reminded me that finding our footing is something we do every day. We just don’t usually have the time to think about it. Retirement has given me that luxury — to find pleasure in small things like rediscovering how to enjoy quiet times and like taking time to have conversations with not quite strangers. It’s a challenging new world.

My Glamorous Life

After a morning full of chores, I am sitting here contemplating a sunny, warm (40s) day and hoping for a lot of melting!! That’s what my life in retirement has come down to it seems. I’ve already been to get a flu shot — had to drive 35 miles. My local Rite Aid told me they didn’t have any, I was too late, and what was I thinking waiting so long! I called a CVS in Hawley and they had plenty and told me to come at 9:00 AM, which is apparently what they told everyone else. This was my first flu shot. Must admit, my Facebook friend, Libby, strongly encouraged getting one and told a story about why it’s a good thing; my friend, Robin, also said I was foolish not getting one and recounted her bout with flu turning to pneumonia in 1999. So…I took myself to Hawley this morning and got one. That was the highlight of my day so far.

After Hawley, I went to the mail room. Since there is no street mail delivery, I pick up my mail at a box. The room itself is open 8:00 AM-10:00 PM, but the window is only open from 11:00-1:00 and on Saturdays 11:00-12:00. The dump, one of my daily stops, is open hours totally different from the mail room except on Saturdays. The issue is, if I’m expecting a package, it might be delivered to my house and it might be delivered to the mail room. If it’s at the mail room, I can only get it between 11:00 and 12:00. Very complicated.

photo-7We are in the midst of a “January thaw” apparently. The local weather person said that “It feels like March.” I’m skeptical, but very hopeful that I will see my driveway sometime in the next couple of days. photo-6

Tonight I’m going out for pizza with a friend. We have options that include wings or pizza. Fine dining, Lords Valley style, is at least 8 miles over back roads in the dark, cold, ice and snow, so not an option. And, the local version of fine dining consists of NOT pizza and NOT wings. However, it’s the company that counts and nice to get out. Retirement means that I have all this time to reflect on the way my routine has changed. The good thing is I have time, lots of it, to read, to blog, to haul wood and take long walks if I want to. That’s not bad at all. So, glamorous or not, it’s my life and so far so good. Of course, I am planning a trip into New York City next week and a trip to Asheville and Tallahassee, so I’m not so resigned to the simple life as to ignore other opportunities!!