Sunday, September 26, 2010

Delightful Synchronicity

Well, the staggering, oppressive heat, breathlessly stagnant air and endless weeks without rain no sooner got the best of me than I found myself rejoicing. This was an incredible day. It started miserably enough with having to rinse the road dust from the car before I could even get in and go shopping. As I cranked the air conditioner, adjusted my sun glasses and flipped down the visor to shield myself from the blazing sun, I found myself wondering how I could at least pretend that Fall was approaching. There has been absolutely no inclination to pull out Autumn decorations and it's even been too hot to tend to end-of-season gardening matters.
The thought of 'pretending' passed from my mind almost as soon as it entered and I found myself sinking into that occasional "I miss Alaska" funk. The dirt roads that usually give me so much pleasure as they wind from farm to farm, past open fields and through the shaded tunnels created by the overhanging oaks looked somehow devoid of life. The late-season offering of weeds and wild plants that always overtake the roadside ditches were especially unlovely and dull. I noticed the Goldenrod beginning to bloom, it's bright yellow flower tassels barely discernible beneath the layers of dust.

Then I noticed something extremely unusual. My thoughts lingered on the Goldenrod. Normally, I would have cursed it knowing that it would wreak a havoc with my sinuses in a day or two that would last for weeks. But this morning I actually saw it as a sign that Fall really might be on its way. My spirits were lifted a little and I began to think of the lovely Fall colors and my intention to purchase big mounds of mums for the front porch. "But, it's too early", I told myself. And, I hadn't completely convinced myself to spend the money. At $20 a plant, that would add up to $60 and if the price had gone up this year, it could be, maybe, $75. humm.
I just didn't know. I put the thought aside so that I wouldn't be disappointed.

I usually shop at only one store but it doesn't carry my old-fashioned, percolator type, coffee filters, so I needed to run into a little local shop somewhat out of the way. When I pulled into the parking lot, I could hardly believe my eyes...potted cushion mums almost as far as the eye could see. Still unconvinced that I wanted to spend the money, I tried to stay on task, "Coffee filters. Coffee filters", I told myself. But then, just as I stepped from the car, a woman with a hose came out to water them. Before I could stop myself, I heard myself ask the price. "FIVE DOLLARS?!?!" I couldn't believe it and before I knew what had happened, I was joyfully loading three of the monster plants into the back of my car. I almost forgot the coffee filters completely.

I was so excited with my find that I got to the big store and finished my shopping almost before I knew I had arrived. Hurrying my cart to the checkout lane, I happened to pass a display of all-natural, pressed apple cider. Now, that is a staple at my house during cold weather but certainly not appropriate quite yet. Still, as though on auto-pilot, I grabbed a gallon and hurried on.

Anxious to get home and place my flowers, I hardly noticed the clouds roll in and was almost finished putting groceries away when I thought I heard the faintest sound of distant thunder. I looked up from my work and, sure enough, the sun was gone and the sky had grown dark.

Within minutes, the breeze kicked up and leaves began to flutter to the ground. I was suddenly a woman on a mission. The cinnamon candles I had just purchased on sale and tucked away for the holidays came right back out. I lit them and placed them everywhere. Suddenly it felt like Fall had arrived. I opened the front door just as the rain began to fall bringing with it all the sweet smells of clean air. I just stood there, looking, listening, absorbing the glory of it all. Then I remembered the cider.

For fully two hours, I sat on the porch watching the rain fall, listening to the thunder roll across the sky from horizon to horizon, sipped my hot cider and smiled. Flowers that I had not intended to buy - cider that willed its way into my cart - candles that were for another purpose, could it get any better than this on the day that Autumn finally arrived?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Have You Ever Seen Dry Water?

Will Autumn Ever Get Here?

Some days I can run myself ragged without moving from my desk. This is one of those days. It seems I have more projects than I can even list. Since typing and painting and mental organizing are not exactly activities in my exercise program, I did think to shift positions a couple of times during the day.
Actually, I took some of my work with me and transferred to the front porch. What a dismal disappointment that was. The birdbath I filled yesterday was dry again. The plants I watered yesterday were wilted and shriveling again. The freshly mowed lawn was littered with unlovely brown leaves, dropping more from the heat than the time of year.

The temperature flirted with 100 degrees for a couple of hours, not that I stuck around to verify an actual crossing of the line. We haven't had a drop of rain for weeks and some of the lilttle puddle-ponds around here are bone dry, their muddy bottoms cracking in the unrelenting sun.

The level of our pond is dropping daily. Without a breath of moving air, it seemed to me that the water in this photo, although it is dutifully reflective, somehow appears to be dry. Dry water; that's what it looks like to me.

We are dry, dry, dry and hot, hot, hot and much in need of rain and I'm wondering if Autumn will ever get here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tailgate Grill Buddy

Sometimes I think my husband is the most clever person I know. It seems we've had a tailgate grill forever - you know, the "fold-up, carry-anywhere" type that is not only portable but is the perfect height when situated on a tailgate. Sure, we have a huge family and a huge grill but I'm surprised how often I use the small charcoal tailgate grill for just the two of us at home or toss it into the car for a picnic.
I recently wanted to give one to an apartment dweller whose only private outdoor space is an upstairs deck, enclosed on three sides. Sitting the grill directly on the deck is extremely unhandy, if you're over 12, and basically has you cooking on the floor. Equally unhandy would have been adding a table to the deck's limited square footage. My husband solved the problem in an hour with this adorable little gadget. I hope the photographs are self explanatory so that each of you with a tailgate grill or an apartment deck will hurry out to the garage and make your own.
The platform fits snugly over the rail. The edging keeps the grill legs securely in place. AND, when not in use, store the grill under a chair, toss a pillow on the platform and voila, a footrest. Can anything be cleverer than this?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


None of us want to trade our comfortable lifestyles for that of a half century ago but we are able…and knowing our abilities can be a source of comfort when finances threaten to get the best of us.

1. Reduce the number of lights per room

2. Switch to lower wattage for all light bulbs

3. Tape the bathroom light switch in the ‘off’ position

4. Put a night light in the bathroom

5. Put a night light in the kitchen

6. Put solar lights in sunny windows

7. Use solar for outdoor lighting

8. Use motion-detector lighting outdoors

9. Switch to the new ‘curly’ light bulbs

10. Unplug all chargers when not in use

11. Unplug TV when not in use

12. Unplug computer when not in use

13. Wash all laundry in cold water

14. Line-dry or rack-dry all heavy fabric items

15. Determine refrigerator needs before opening

16. Close refrigerator promptly

17. Turn off hot water valve under bathroom sink

18. Install timer on hot water heater

19. Turn off hot water heater at breaker for 18 hrs. daily

20. Watch less TV

21. Use rechargeable carpet sweeper for touch-ups

22. Vacuum thoroughly only once a week

23. Do all ironing at one time – once weekly

24. Change clothes less often

25. Have weekly family night with board games – not TV

26. Bake often in winter

27. In winter, leave oven door open after baking

28. Limit oven use in summer

29. Grill outdoors in good weather

30. Include veggies & heating bread on the grill

31. Roll newspapers into fire-starter logs

32. Add heavy drapes to windows for winter nights

33. Let the sun shine in windows on winter days

34. Cover sunny windows in summer

35. Add extra blankets/quilts to beds in winter

36. Wear warm slippers

37. Learn to love sweaters & sweats indoors in winter

38. Turn thermostat to 5⁰ or 10⁰ less comfortable

39. If you have a fireplace or wood stove – use it

40. Use flannel sheets in winter

41. Use fans in summer

42. Close off unused or seldom used rooms

43. Wash dishes by hand

44. Do not use ‘dry’ cycle on dishwasher

45. Place plastic jug of water in toilet tank to reduce water usage

46. Get a rain barrel for watering lawn & garden

47. Change children’s cell phones to ‘pre-paid’

48. Eat at home

49. Pack lunches

50. Get to 5th gear ASAP when driving a stick-shift