Saturday, June 29, 2013

Good Morning sunshine

I couldn’t sleep last night but I finally managed to close my eyes and drift away around 3:30 AM. Imagine my surprise when I woke up at 6:15. Oh, good grief. I’m going to warn you at this point that this is kind of a long post, ok?

I’ve had a quiet week off and after attempting on Tuesday to do one day trip with my husband, came to the conclusion that it’s best he stay at home. He agrees.

It is what it is and there are no complaints. Thank heavens that home is a good place.


DSC_1522 copy 2

The coffee was already made when I got up. This is one thing my husband does really well anymore, and he knows how much I appreciate it.

Need coffee ~


DSC_1525 copy 2

I took my cup and my camera and walked around outside in my bare feet. The lawn service came yesterday so I didn’t have to worry about bees in clover.

I’ve been doing chores around the house and the grounds that I hadn’t had time for with working so much. My son helped and we got some bushes trimmed and vines taken care of. When we moved here, the vines were climbing up the house.

Remember when I lost all of my images when my EHD crashed a couple of years ago? Well, here are a couple that I’d saved online at Photobucket. They were taken when I brought my husband to look at the house on October 12, 2008. I had already arranged for us to move in and had been given a tour of the inside. I brought my husband over that weekend to see the outside.



October 2008




And what it looks like today:

DSC_1530 copy 2



DSC_1532 copy 2

My husband always took care of the bushes and the outside of the property. The owners have a lawn service that comes every two weeks in the spring and summer but they don’t trim bushes or keep vines at bay.


DSC_1533 copy 2

I broke down and put together a couple of simple hanging baskets this week.

They make me happy.


DSC_1536 copy 2

This crazy bush thing isn’t a really bush at all. My son helped me cut it back one morning this week because the vines were over the picnic table and hitting the ground. This is an old stump from a cherry tree that fell several years ago, splitting the lilac bush (in foreground) in half. The lilac is recovering; my husband removed the tree himself. Pieces of it are standing up next to the bush and in another photo further down.


DSC_1543 copy 2

Steam rises off the roof in the early morning sun.


DSC_1544 copy 2

This planter was empty and looking lonely, so I filled it with sphagnum moss and plants.



DSC_1547 copy 2

This is where the rest of the cherry tree logs dwell. It’s a contraption that my husband built that serves several purposes. For a long time, I considered it an eyesore, but now every time I see it, I smile.

It fell down in a storm this week and my son helped me put it back together. One branch helps to hold up the wire that stretches from the dogwood to the side of the house (my husband’s ingenious squirrel-defeating system). It also acts as a place for birds to perch so that I can photograph them, and to hang suet from for the woodpeckers.

My husband is not able to fill the feeders anymore, so I’ve been doing it. It’s a pleasure, actually. When he sits at his place in the breakfast nook, he can see the birds that come to visit. At least, I hope he can see them.


DSC_1549 copy 2

I also did a major cleaning job on the kitchen & breakfast nook floor. This is something I haven’t done for a couple of years. Oh, I mop it regularly . . . but to get it this clean, I have a system that involves hours of hard labor but it ends up gleaming.

There is going to come a time when I’ll have to stop working to care for my husband, but so far things have been ok and work is kind of an escape, actually, although I dread going back on Monday. Just too busy . . .

For now, though, it is quiet. It is comfortable. And today I’m going out to look for a sofa for my husband. It’s a long story and one I won’t go into at this point. I just want him to be comfortable.

Hope your weekend is lovely ~

Thanks for coming by today. It’s always good when you’re here.


123 Signature[5]

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The secret of life, and more answers

The beloved Element is now fixed and the problem has been solved. It was the starter, as we suspected. Today I got some things done around the house, did a small grocery shop and then settled down to watch more of season 1 of Fringe on Netflix. I am so into this show right now it’s not funny. I should be reading great literature . . .

Wait a minute. I should be doing whatever makes me happy is what I should be doing. Bring on the Fringe.

Later in the afternoon, I looked outside and saw the wind picking up and the sky darkening. Good, I thought, maybe it will cool things down.


DSC_1481 copy 2

The animals were scurrying about, and suddenly I saw a deer in the front yard.


DSC_1479 copy 2

Shot this through the glass in the front foyer which is why it’s a bit blurry.


DSC_1486 copy 2

I went outside to see if I could get a better photo of the deer, but she had bolted. Got a bluebird instead, which made me smile. Shortly after this, it began to rain steadily. We’ve had more rain in the month of June than I ever remember having. The earth is lush and green. And it’s beautiful, really.

On Tuesday, I’m going to take my husband on a small road trip to visit some old friends. It should be nice.

And now to answer your questions from today’s post.

:   :   :


Haven't heard much about the Ninja Squirrels. Did your husband finally find a way to keep them away from the bird feeders? ~ Carolyn, A Glowing Ember

In the winter of 2011, my husband strung up a wire from the edge of the house to the dogwood tree. The wire is super strong and holds a half dozen bird feeders. All of the feeders we use are strung on the wire and none are hanging from any of the trees anymore. The wire has cut down on the squirrel problem immensely although a few brave souls will actually traverse the wire and get to the feeders. I give his plan high marks in my book.


DSC_1474 copy 2

I always wonder what George is looking at when he poses like that - something vaguely worrying for a collie? ~ Kate, The Catalanway

Sometimes he doesn’t know what I want when I have the camera. Or maybe he was worried that I’d make a Warhol pop art wall hanging out of his photo. So I did. Got it at Big Huge Labs. Thanks to my friend, Mary, for the tip.



What is your absolute favorite part of the old manor house? ~ Kat, Low Tide High Style

I love this question and the real answer is that my favorite place is outside. I love the property here. But it’s the manor house itself you’re referring to, so I would have to say that it’s the living room. It’s not the prettiest room, however, and it’s a bit dark but it’s where we spend most of our time. All of my family photos are here and some of my favorite things. A couple of photos of the manor house living room are {here} but we’ve changed the furniture around since 2009 when I posted it.


What's your favorite lipstick color/brand ? ~ Beth

Fun, Beth! Right now I’m loving Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Warm Caramel. It’s very natural-looking and is also really good for your lips. When I go out, which is rare these days, I use Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine in #51 (Unique). And then I put the Neutrogena over it because that’s how I roll.


Cool! You're fielding questions? I have two.
1. What is the secret of life?
2. What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?
:-) there's always a smartass in the group, isn't there! But if you can name the referenced song in #1 and book in #2, your cool factor will shoot on out the roof. It's already pretty high in my book. ~ JaneK

Thanks, Jane. You always crack me up. But I actually think I know the answers that you seek. (Snort)

According to James Taylor, the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.  And the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is 42. Learned that in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Doug Adams.

That was fun. I’ll have to do this again ~

Enjoy your Tuesday, all.

123 Signature[5]

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vacation week, and questions answered

I’m on vacation this week and yes, this is the week we would have been in Maine. I’ve got no set plans other than dealing with a couple of issues on the home front (the Element is being towed to a service station as I write this) and the vines are threatening to take over the house.

Last week, the weather was so incredibly wonderful and I knew when it was happening that it couldn’t last. Unfortunately, I worked all week long and couldn’t really enjoy it. It began to get muggy over the weekend and today it feels like stepping outside into hot soup. I’m exaggerating here (but only a little). On days like this, I want to put on my bathing suit and jump in the pool. And then I remember that I have no pool.

I could do this, I guess: A little water would do us good


DSC_1466 copy 2

I walked around the house this morning and took a couple of shots. I have been terribly uninspired in the photography department lately.

But like the weather, I know it won’t always be this way ~


DSC_1473 copy 2

The light coming into the dining room in the morning (and the late afternoon) is quite heavenly. It’s really a pretty room.


DSC_1468 copy 2

I have a pretty dog, too.

We call him George.



DSC_1474 copy 2

All of the images in this post were processed using an action called Seamstress for the Band, by Greater Than Gatsby actions, a free download I found on FB. I like ‘em.

Greater Than Gatsby Photoshop Actions (FB Page)

Answers to a few questions from the previous post:

On another note, what is that delicious cocktail that you made? –Sanibel Gal

The guy at the liquor store told me it was called a Snakebite, after he asked me how I mixed my Yukon Jack, but I believe a snakebite it actually a shot of the cocktail I make. I take a glass, fill with ice, pour on a little Yukon Jack and then top with freshly squeezed red grapefruit juice. I wrote a tribute to the drink {here} a few years ago.

Where is that picture of your husband? It’s not showing up for me. –Misc. readers

I actually didn’t post it and only alluded to the photo. I’m sure it’s here somewhere on a negative in one of my boxes of old prints. I’ll have to bring it home from work next week and scan it for you.

I am coveting the really cool rug at your feet below those funky pink counter tops! –Karen

That’s a Solmate Sock Rug, Karen. Bought it from my friend, Hilary, at Crazy As a Loom. It is so soft and cushy and she has a new color on her website which is perfect for summer. You can purchase here: Solmate Sock Rug



DSC_1461 copy 2

My husband used to do so much around this place. He trimmed the bushes every year and kept the vines at bay. My son and I have been trying to do our best to deal with it all. Got stung by a wasp yesterday evening while trying to tackle this vine, though. Thankfully it was only a regular wasp and not something else. (It doesn’t even hurt anymore).

Watched a very interesting documentary from Netflix last week called Searching for Sugar Man. As soon as I finished watching the documentary, I bought the music from Amazon and listen to it all the time now. Cannot believe I had never ever heard of this guy.


Here’s to better days ~ and trying to post a little more often. Apologies that.

123 Signature[5]

Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and I’ll do my best to answer them. Hope to be posting more often this week.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A good weekend

It was a good weekend here at the Casa de George. Saturday was gorgeous and I spent the morning doing household chores. My arms are still tired from trimming bushes with the hedge shears. (And I hardly made a dent). We really need some electric hedge trimmers . . .


DSC_1419 copy 2

I rewarded myself Saturday afternoon with a cocktail and a snack.

I love me some guacamole.



That evening, George and I went to the bus stop in Newark, DE to pick up my son who was coming from NYC for Father’s Day. (No, George. That’s the wrong bus. We’re waiting for the Megabus).

:   :   :

Father’s Day was pretty good. Our sons rode with us to visit my husband’s folks in NJ for lunch. The food was delicious, and we had a nice time. For the record, I love mimosas.

Each time the thought of work would creep into my head this weekend, I banished it immediately. Will. Not. Think. About. Work. And it worked. The not-thinking-about-work thing, I mean. So by the time Monday morning rolled around, I hit the ground running. You know how you have days when you cannot believe all that you have accomplished? Well, today was one of those for me. I got so much done at work, then kept at it through dinner and the dishes, too.



I made this tonight, after seeing it on Pinterest this weekend. Unfortunately, I can’t embed the photo directly to my blog anymore as they’ve updated their website. Here’s the link, though. When you get there, click on the photo to get the recipe.  Super easy, and super delicious. I served mine with Yukon gold potato wedges in butter & parsley, and freshly steamed green beans although it does look pretty on this bed of arugula and peas.

Pan Fried Chicken Paillard


2013-06-17_17-59-12_657 copy

Whenever we have lightning and thunder, George sticks very close to me. This is where he lies if we happen to have a storm while I’m in the kitchen cooking. He sure doesn’t leave much room for me to get to the stove, does he? (Please don’t be too jealous of my pink countertops. And the fact that I have to use a desk lamp for light. It makes me feel very retro, thank you).

:   :   :

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get (afford) an anti-seizure medication for my husband. This has been sort of an on-going thing since he was hospitalized a few weeks ago. We tried a med that I could afford, only it had horrible side effects, so that was off the table. I tried applying to receive the expensive med for free (laughably, I make too much, which I really don’t). Finally, the business manager at work sat down with me and we figured a way to do it through my insurance company’s Express Script. I was ready to give up, especially since I had to call the insurance company no less than three times today. Ordering through the pharmacy at Johns Hopkins would have cost me $1000 for a month’s supply of pills, out of pocket. This way will cost just over $150. I mean, if it all works correctly. (Fingers crossed).

I keep this photo at my desk, taken at the beach when my husband was in his mid 30’s. He is blonde and tan and beautiful and best of all, he is laughing. This photo helps me keep my resolve when it comes to dealing with medical issues.

The script has been sent and once they call to set it up with me, it will be on its way.

I hope that means it will be a good week ~

Hope it is for you!

123 Signature[5]

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Photo memory lane

I’ve filled this post with photos that I found on my Flickr stream. I haven’t been on Flickr lately, and many of these are from 2009 or 2010. I haven’t picked up my camera in over a week, and for many of you who visit this blog, you’ve seen these before but they just happen to be pictures I like.



Beach rose, taken in Gouldsboro, Maine at our vacation rental cottage.



Canada geese family, taken in Chesapeake City, Maryland.



Riverside Park, NYC 2009.



Sam & Maria, taken in Mathews, Virginia 2009.



Wild pony taken at the state park on Assatague Island, Maryland.



One of my favorite things to have for lunch in the summertime.

Recipe here: Watermelon Salad




This is a view from the top of Champlain Mountain and was the last real hike I took. My husband and I hiked the Beachcroft Trail at Acadia National Park in Maine in June of 2010. The views at the top were incredible. My knees have since told me that they weren’t having any more of these shenanigans, though. But I’ll always remember that “I did it!”

Wrote about it here: Hiking the Beachcroft Trail



037 copy

And last but not least, an image I took in the summer of 1986. My husband with our eldest son on the left, and our best friend, Warren, with his eldest child on the right. I love this photo and everyone in it.

:   :   :

Hope you liked. Crazy weather here today with a wicked storm that blew through this morning, turning the day into night with its violence. Am off to the kitchen to make dinner. Tonight it’s broiled salmon, sauteed onions, peppers & zucchini, and rice. Hope your evening is a good one.

123 Signature[5]

Sunday, June 9, 2013


When did I become so introverted? I’m sure this too shall pass, but right now I prefer keeping to myself except when I have to go to work. And it sure is quiet here on the hill.

I’m making goulash for dinner tonight, a comfort food that makes my husband happy. It’s a very uncomplicated recipe and it makes the house smell nice. All week long, we were doing nothing but take-out meals because I’d either get home too late, or we had doctor’s appointments. So tonight there will be something simmering on the stove.


DSC_1315 copy 2

I can’t thank you enough for your words of encouragement on my last post. The love seems to flow here and this blog is keeping me sane and grounded because of it. And wonder of wonders, my husband is actually started to feel a little better a couple of days ago. He opted to take a treatment that his doctors offered to him and it is already giving him some quality to his life.

So that’s good news.


DSC_1293 copy 2

Each year, for as long as I can remember, I have put together potted planters and hanging baskets and sadly, I just don’t have it in me this year. I tried to get the magic going a couple of weeks ago, but I could see it was turning into a dismal failure. Rather than beat myself up about it, I’m consoling myself with the fact that not all summers will be like this. Let it go, I told myself. Next year will be different.

Besides, I have a few geraniums from last year that look fine in their pots.

And I bought a hanging basket to cheer up the little back porch.



DSC_1299 copy 2

I bought this for myself in Bar Harbor last year.



DSC_1415 copy 4

And the birds continue to visit the feeders, as long as I keep them filled.



Camera 360

Hello, laser eyes.

I took this photo while watching a movie on Netflix last night. My husband told me I had too many pillows on the couch. It was because they were all at one end.

Ok, don’t laugh at my viewing choices this weekend. All were documentaries. One was a History Channel presentation on pirate ships. There was an entire section dedicated to Blackbeard. The other was about Lewis & Clark, from National Geographic. History interests me. But my favorite video was one called Happy. In it, psychologists tracked people from all over the world to see what it was that made them happy.

It confirmed my belief that the reason I am able to get through some adversity is because I am basically happy. And when I’m not, I address it – usually with a dose of nature. I recommend the documentary.



I left the house for an hour on Saturday and went to town to get a pedicure as a reward for doing my chores.

I decided that I truly dislike the color. If they were the same color as depicted here, I could live with it. But in reality, the color is closer to more of a neon pink. Totally not me.


    • 1 lb. lean ground beef
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, diced
    • olive oil, about 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp.
    • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes (with juice)
    • 1 small can tomato sauce
    • 1/4 cup jarred pasta sauce
    • 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 cup water (or more)
    • 1 to 2 cups dry pasta shapes
    • Freshly ground parmesan cheese (for serving)
    • Heat skillet, add olive oil, then onions and sauté until translucent. Move onions to far side of skillet, adding ground beef, then cooking until browned. When beef is done, stir with onions, then add diced tomatoes, sauces, soy sauce, seasoning, bay leaves, and water. Cover and simmer on medium to medium low heat for 20 minutes. Add dry pasta (I use 2 cups), adding a little more water if necessary, and continue to simmer on medium to medium low for another 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle fresh parmesan on for kicks.

Sorry I posted a recipe under a picture of my feet. How very impolite of me.

Hope your week begins (and ends) well ~

123 Signature[5]

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Evening with the 50mm

I have been terribly absent from this space and, for my regular readers, I apologize for this. I’ve been remiss in online visiting as well, which is why you don’t see me very often at your space. I took these photos a few evenings ago and they’ve been sitting in this post since then. It’s become one which I’ve re-written over and over again.

It’s time to just say it, I guess.

My husband is not doing well and this is why I can’t write. I believe you may have suspected this and although it’s not my story to tell, it’s a story that affects me in every single way.


DSC_1252 copy 2

This is the chair where he used to sit after working in the garden. I was actually taking a photo of the sun glowing in the trees behind it, but the empty chair is the thing I notice first. He cannot work in the garden anymore and I don’t have that much extra time to do so. Plus, I am tired when I come home.

He was hospitalized last week for several days after I took him to the ER at Johns Hopkins for what appeared to be brain swelling. (I was correct). He is stable now, and this week I began working full time again but only because our son is in the house with him during the day. Our son works 3rd shift and he keeps an eye on his dad, texting me throughout the day. Mostly, he tells me that his dad is taking a nap.



DSC_1255 copy 2

I cancelled the trip to Maine because I don’t want him to be too far from his doctors, and it’s just too risky driving with someone in his condition.

I do not know how long I will be able to continue to work, but so far, so good.


Untitled_Panorama1 copy 2

But I damn well do not want one bit of sympathy for my life as it is now. I don’t see it as terribly, awfully sad. My husband was diagnosed over nine years ago with a brain tumor that would continue to recur and was given three to six months to live. I read online back then that the median for most people with this particular type of tumor would be to live about 18 months after such a diagnosis. He has had more than nine years.

He has amazed his doctors. They have much respect for him.

And much interest in his case.


DSC_1271 copy 2

We have had nine years to enjoy each other’s company, to appreciate the little things, and to try and live as best we can with the blow we’d been dealt.

It’s not always peachy, but you knew that. Geez – I’m not a freaking saint.



DSC_1281 copy 2

We moved to this wonderful old manor house in 2008 and became its caretakers. It has been a refuge for both of us ever since.


DSC_1283 copy 2

I will not continue to write about my husband’s illness,

although you may hear it from time to time.

It doesn’t define who we are.

Who I am.


DSC_1287 copy 2


I am thankful.

I am kind.

I am empathetic.

I am strong.

I am afraid.

(but only sometimes)

I am blessed.



DSC_1275 copy 2

Goodnight, sun.

Another day is done.

I did my best.

With no regrets.


123 Signature[5]

Thank you so much for your continued support, your visits, your kindness. All of the photos in this post were taken at dusk with my Nikkor 50mm lens. It lets in a lot of light. And it’s all about the light ~