Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Number 19 on the List...

Couldn't resist this perfect Swiss chard
What list, you ask? The list of things that you never expect will happen to you. These are things you hear about on television, you read about in the newspaper and you chat about with a friend. The top of the list are fires and floods and tornados and dread diseases. Somewhere around number 19 is a faulty gas line in front of my building in Manhattan. I never expected to come home this afternoon and find a notice that the Department of Buildings had shut off the gas to my building, and that it might be shut off for "many months." Many months!
I'd like to say that I was totally calm about the news. Wrong, but not totally hysterical, either. I use my stove a lot. Two favorite meals are omelets and pancakes, which are quickly cooked on the stove. I'm also on a spinach/kale/Swiss chard diet for my macular problems and I stir fry spinach at least four times a week. These foods came to mind immediately.
But about an hour later I calmed down. My microwave will be my best friend and I did a search for microwave baking recipes. There seem to be thousands and I will start pinning on Pinterest. I have an air fryer that I have used twice. I'm going to start looking for recipes to make that appliance earn its counter space. I'm not buying any new small appliances until I know that I have a need for something that can't be filled with the ones I already have. I'm also going to pray that "many months" become many weeks fewer and by veggie roasting time my stove is back in business.
Fortunately I'd already cooked the majority of the rainbow Swiss chard in the photograph. I've got a few peaches I planned to turn into spiced peaches. They can be cooked in the microwave. It's not my first choice, but I'm sure they will taste good. I'm not a particularly creative cook, but it's time to become a more creative one.
There have been two terrible gas explosions in Manhattan in the last few years and despite my annoyance, I'm grateful that we are not a third. I'm also grateful that we can remain in our building while the pipes are fixed. I'm profoundly grateful that this is number 19 on the list and not numbers one to ten.
That's my news. I hope your news is that all is well and that you're keeping cool. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and appreciate your stove!   

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Double Digits to Halloween...

...And bliss right now!
 
A couple of days ago a friend posted on Facebook that the countdown to Halloween 2019 had entered the double digits. It really stuck with me. Not that I haven't thought about activities in the fall (and beyond), but the autumn celebrations are somewhere "out there" and I'm holding to my determination to "savor the now."
 
I've written before about being present to enjoy the gifts of each season, and as each birthday passes, I am struck by the passage of time. The years which seemed infinite not so long ago, certainly do not now, and I want to enjoy each season as it happens.  
 
I spent the Fourth of July weekend in Pennsylvania and discovered the Allentown (PA) Farmers Market. There is fabulous produce in every corner, but my favorite was Red Barn Produce. The people working there are super helpful and happily spent time explaining how to discern a good-for-eating cantaloupe, watermelon or peach. 
 
 Veggies as far as the eye can see!
I came away with jalapenos and a candy onion. The candy onion is new to me, and so intriguing.  
 
It was so difficult to choose and not buy one of everything.
 
Yes, it's hot and I'm probably running the air conditioner more than my electric bill and the environment warrant, but my innate cooling system isn't quite as good as it used to be. But despite the heat I want to find every good moment in this summer that I can find. It's zipping by and in a blink I'll be seeing Halloween candy and pumpkins in stores. In another blink I will hear Jingle Bells in the background in a store. But before those blinks I will be savoring the now. Time for a tree-ripened peach!
 
Today was an errand day and dinner at a Cambodian restaurant with a friend. The restaurant was new to me and so delicious. One of my plans for tomorrow is to look up Cambodian recipes and figure out the seasonings, so I can do something interesting with my crisper of vegetables. What are your plans?
 
As ever, thanks for visiting and keep cool!
 

Monday, July 22, 2019

I'm Dreaming of Inverness

When it's a heat wave in New York, I dream of being beside the River Ness once again.
 
There was one massive disappointment during my trip. Because of high winds and rough seas, the stop in Shetland was cancelled and the Black Watch was rerouted a day early to Inverness, the "capital of the Highlands." We had already scheduled our day in the area with a trip to Cawdor Castle and Cullodeen Battlefield -- both of which were extraordinary even with massive amounts of rain -- but this bonus day gave us the opportunity to spend time in Inverness. It's a great small city, scenic and very walkable. We shopped in the afternoon, but the morning activity was a walk along the River Ness, which flows from Loch Ness. 
 
 
I loved the iron work and the houses along the River.
 
 This is as close as we got to Loch Ness and seeing Nessie, until we got to the souvenir stores. This nice Nessie called out to me and she came home to be a friend to Pep Le Monkee. Pep is dressed in his souvenir of the trip, a Liverpool Football Club scarf.
 
Pep and Nessie -- just friends!
 


The winner of the giveaway is Maureen V. 
 
Maureen, you are number 7. I will be in touch.  
 

Actually, the heat's a little more tolerable today and I'm chugging through my list of at home errands. Love being able to check things off the list! I hope everyone else did well getting through the worst of the heat.
 
As ever, thanks for visiting and keep cool!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Where Were You on July 20, 1969?

Commemorating NASA's Achievements, 1981 Stamps
 
It's not an event I think about very often, but like so many of the landmark historic times in my life, I know exactly where I was the night I saw men walk on the moon. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college. I was working as a waitress at the Maple Hill Restaurant in Hartford. My shift ended at eight and I was usually home by 8:30. I would have been exhausted. I worked six-day weeks and our busiest days were Saturday and Sunday. By Sunday night my only activity was taking off my shoes and collapsing in front of the television. In retrospect I doubt if I watched the moon landing live, since I'd been at work all day. But I still felt the excitement and I settled into my chair in our den and my parents and I watched television together.
 
It was a different world in 1969. There were no cell phones and no iPads and our total attention was the activity on the black and white screen in front of us. Men were walking on the moon! It's difficult to explain the excitement I felt watching the scene in front of me. Somehow NASA's achievement was all of America's achievement and there was an enormous sense of national pride for this "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

 There were five more moon landings to come, but I can't remember where I was for the rest of them. Like so many other moments in history they have receded into a far corner of my memory. But the night exactly fifty years ago has stayed clearly in my mind.

Where were you on July 20, 1969?

I'll be back tomorrow with the winner of the Scotland giveaway and more pictures of my trip to Scotland.

As ever, thanks for visiting and keep cool!
 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Eyes You Save May Be Your Own -- A Serious Alert from Buttercup

It's not about the pretty frames
 
I'm a stickler for regular visits to the Ophthalmologist. My mother was diagnosed with glaucoma at age 51 and early detection saved her vision. I've been treated for a dry eye condition for at least ten years and this is one appointment I don't skip. I went for my annual checkup in March and was disconcerted when I had trouble with the eye chart. After several different scans my eye doctor very directly told me that I had wet macular degeneration in my left eye. I was, to put it mildly, stunned. I had no symptoms of a vision issue and no trouble reading. I knew almost nothing about macular degeneration, except that it could cause a loss of vision.

I've done a lot of reading since that day in March. I've learned that macular degeneration affects over three million Americans and is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 50. I've also learned that the condition can be treated. As much as I liked my eye doctor I made the decision to start seeing a retina specialist (retinologist) to treat this condition, and I'm pleased with the decision. My doctor is one of seven physicians who specialize in care of the retina. They all do research and are affiliated with a major medical center. In addition my doctor is kind and thorough. Everyone I have met at this office during my two visits has been thoughtful and caring.

I made my second visit to the retinlogist this morning. They are not quick visits, but I appreciate the testing that takes place. It turns out that I don't have full macular degeneration, but a pre-version that requires monitoring. I was also given three things that may slow the progression of the disease. The first is not to smoke. The second is to eat leafy greens, especially kale, spinach and Swiss chard. I'm not a kale fan, but I have eaten more greens in the last few months than I have in the last ten years. I also take a vitamin high in lutein and zeaxanthin. These two nutrients are helpful to eye health.

This was a good visit and I was thrilled to learn that my eyes are "stable." When my doctor gave me the test results, I told him that many people had been praying for my eyes. His response was "Have them keep praying." It's no wonder that I feel that I am in competent and caring hands.

So, my friends, today's news is a combination of kale, spinach, vitamins and prayer. I want to strongly urge any of you who haven't seen an ophthalmologist recently to make an appointment. Our eyes are precious and the thought of vision loss is one we want to avoid as much as possible. I appreciate all the good wishes and prayer from around the world. Many thanks!

As ever, thanks for visiting and thanks for being good friends. 
 

Monday, July 15, 2019

On the Good Ship Black Watch -- and a Giveaway!


One of the joys of life, watching the blue skies at sea!
 
There's lots of blog-worthy events at home, but I don't want to skip at least a few posts about my English/Scottish/Irish adventure. After our visit to Liverpool and Chester, my college classmate and present day neighbor, Betsy, embarked on our dream trip, a cruise to ports in Scotland. Betsy did lots of research and found a great itinerary that didn't empty out our bank accounts. We sailed on the Black Watch, part of the Fred Olsen cruise lines. I wasn't familiar with this company before the cruise, as it isn't well known in the United States. There are four relatively small ships -- less than a thousand passengers each -- which give them access to ports unavailable to large cruise ships.
 
The Black Watch turned out to be a great choice for us. The people we sailed with were among the most friendly I've met on any cruise I've been on. The activities were enjoyable and the food was excellent. My best discovery were English treats, including two puddings at every lunch and tea every afternoon. 
 
I had small samples every day, except for my favorite, the chocolate and orange sponge.
For that one I went back for seconds and don't regret it at all. 
 
I'm ready for tea at Buckingham Palace
 
I found this fascinator at the British Heart Thrift Shop in Greenock, Scotland. It was brand new and at a great price, and I decided it was just what I needed to complete my outfit for our first formal dinner. I'm not one for wearing hats, except for sun or cold, but this was so much fun. If I'm ever invited to a formal event calling for a fancy hat, I'm prepared. 
 

  We sailed past  Fingal's Cave on the Isle of Staffa,
which inspired Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture
 
Anyone who has ever traveled with me knows that it's not a holiday for me if I don't do any shopping. This trip was no exception. I have birthday gifts, hostess gifts and presents for Chanukah and Christmas put away. I also have several surprise goodies for a blog giveaway, too. It's an easy entry. Please be a friend of Buttercupland  (a follower) and leave a comment about what destination would be your dream trip. On Saturday, July 20, I'll choose one name and announce the winner in a post on Sunday, July 21. 
 
I hope you've enjoyed our visit to the good ship, Black Watch. Had a productive day today, I found my new sneakers at a neighborhood store -- love to shop my neighborhood -- recommended by my friend, Jane. I also got to the Y for water aerobics. We spent some time swapping stories of our experiences during the power outage. My water aerobics buddy, Charlie, had the most memorable. He was just getting out of the pool after Saturday night pool time when the lights went out. Fortunately, he wasn't in the pool, which is down a flight of twisty stairs. 
 
Tomorrow afternoon I have my first major medical appointment of the week, an MRI with contrast for a clearer picture. Appreciate your prayers!
 
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

(The Morning After) The Manhattan Power Outage 2019

Twelve hours and a mile north of last night's Manhattan power outage,
Sunday morning at the West Side Community Garden
 
My planned activity for this week's Big City Saturday Night was an after dinner walk to watch the sunset over the Hudson River. I'd spent an hour trying on sneakers -- not one pair fit -- and then went to Columbus Circle to grocery shop at Whole Foods. After shopping I made dinner, cleaned up the kitchen and caught up on the New York Times, while I listened to music. It was calm and peaceful -- no television and my phone was quiet. As I was walking out of my building I saw a message from a friend in Pennsylvania, "Do you have power?"
 
We did, indeed, have power. The Manhattan Blackout of 2019 extended from Times Square at West 42nd St. to West 72nd St. My building is not quite a mile north of 72nd Street. Aside from an occasional fire truck it was a typically quiet summer Saturday evening. Riverside Park, on the Hudson River, was lively, but not crowded, and there were a number of people walking their dogs. The Whole Foods where I had been just a few hours before had been evacuated and the subway beneath it, as well. Several thousand people had been stuck on subways on my regular line and led out of the stalled trains by subway personnel. Thankfully, I wasn't one of them.
 
By 11:00 power began to be restored in the area and I got a text from my friend, J., whose building is in the center of the blackout zone, that their electricity was back. And twelve hours later and a mile north you see a serene moment at the West Side Community Garden in its summer plumage.
 
Otherwise, it's been a quiet weekend. I had a long list of errands I wanted to accomplish and I'm happy to report I checked a number of them off my list. I've got two days of medical tests this week and I wanted to get as much done as I could before my first test on Tuesday afternoon. I start tomorrow off with water aerobics and then I'm continuing with the "Great Sneaker Hunt." Does anyone else have trouble finding shoes that are comfortable?
 
As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and have a happy and healthy week! 


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Now I'm Sixty-Four, Plus Five


 I spent part of my 69th birthday at one of my favorite places, the West Side Y.
 
My 69th birthday has come and gone. As birthdays go, it was a quiet one, with a small celebration -- eating wings! -- in the evening. I had two celebrations before, a weekend of fun and two celebrations are yet to come. I thought about how I wanted to spend the day and realized I wanted to go to my water aerobics class at the Y.  
 
Though I haven't become a "gym rat" and likely, never will, I do enjoy my exercise time. I took up water aerobics, which is technically "Aqua aerobics for active older adults with arthritis," a few months ago and love it. I love being in the pool and exercising to music. I've still got "Take Good Care of My Baby" on the playlist of my mind from my class on Monday. It's a lively and very friendly group and I enjoy seeing my water buddies every Monday. One of my Y friends who is a regular at the morning class celebrated her birthday at the Y with her water aerobics buddies. She is turning 70 in a few days and has inspired me for possible celebrations for next year. 
 
At sixty-four plus five I'm more committed to good health and healthy habits than I was at 64. Every year seems to bring a new health awareness and I want to keep up the most active life possible. I know how quickly good health can slip away and am grateful for the opportunity to exercise and eat healthy. I like my treats, but the wings I enjoyed on my birthday are just that, a treat, and not a daily or even monthly occurrence. 
 
Here's a cheer for another birthday! So grateful for another year of adventures, great and small, good times and I pray, the blessing of health and peace for family and friends. 
 
On a different birthday note, I received my new driver's license today. If there is an award for the worst photograph taken at Department of Motor Vehicles in 2019, I know I will be in contention. My previous picture was pretty good, maybe even good for a license picture. This one will scare small children. It looks like I've just come face to face with an axe murderer in a movie I would never see. It was about ninety degrees at DMV and any makeup I started with has vanished and my hair is sticking to my head. I'd think about going back for a new picture, but the cost and the time deter me. The picture really is that bad.
 
As ever, thanks for visiting and Louisiana and Gulf friends, stay safe!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Long may it wave! Old Glory in Guilford, CT 
 
Two hundred and forty three years ago in Philadelphia America was born. The Declaration of Independence is its birth certificate. An extraordinary document and the extraordinary commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I've just reread it and as always, I am struck by the courage and vision of the founders of the United States. 
 
I'm off on a little adventure, not far from where America was born. I'm bringing my iPad and hope to post pictures while I'm away. Wishes for a bright and sunny Fourth of July and a great weekend.   
 
As always, thanks for visiting. Happy birthday, America!