About Me

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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.


Monday, September 19, 2016

♫ I see Trees of Green; Red Roses, Too..♫

It was been a very, very trying summer for us, not totally without joy, but we have really taken quite a few gut-wrenching  hits.  

Two of the hardest ones -- our four-year old grandson tripped and fell onto a fire pit.  Although our son quickly grabbed him and got him to cool water almost immediately, Tyler suffered second and third degree burns on his face, neck, and hands.  He was air-lifted to Bloomberg's Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital where he remained for several weeks under the care of angels in the form of nurses.  He continues to improve, and believe it or not, his scars are minimal. He's quite a trooper.

Then, the first week of June, my mother had a stroke which has left her, a woman who still took care of her own finances -- and did so expertly, who walked three times a day and still argued politics and discussed current events  -- needing assisted living.  She can walk with assistance, but does not have the use of her arm.  Cognitively she is good.  Now we are faced with some very big changes that we will make regardless of our readiness, regardless of our liking.  

Since June we have lost more than several close friends.  It's just been one of those times.

These times of intense difficulty and grief occur in all our lives.  And in spite of them, we must continue to find the joys; they are always there even though we must sometimes search for them -- the laughter of children, the kindness of strangers,  conversations with friends, "the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night..."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Life's Bowl of...

Things are not great here.  They're not horrid, either, but life lately has not been easy.  As with all of us, there are good times and not so good.

Not everything is bad, though.  We've met with friends, visited with a brother who lives in Mississippi, and are enjoying our hot Maryland weather.  On Thursday I celebrated a birthday and received a new iPad which was a dual-edged sword because it won't let me into my usual sites or accept any of the passwords I provide.  

Okay -- enough whining -- here is the good.  
The gardens are in bloom.  And these bring me great joy.

Tomorrow, I go for a root canal.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Jigsaw Philosphy

I've always loved puzzles.  From the little plastic thingies with the little silver balls to get into the slots to the daily crossword puzzles in the paper.  I suppose that my favorite puzzles involve language and vocabulary, but I must admit there is no challenge to me like a 1000-piece jigsaw.

Some time ago I 'subscribed' to Jigsaw World on Facebook.  One can choose to buy puzzles, but I have never done that, opting for trading in my accrued points for more puzzles.  There are frequent competitions on this site and the winners are those who have finished the featured puzzle the fastest.  I am far from being a winner -- and am not in the competition to do so.  I just love doing the puzzles.  (I also think some of these folks are cheating, but cannot for the life of me determine how).  My friend Sharron and I usually take about three times as long as the 'winners' to complete the puzzles.  She thinks they're cheating, too.

Competitions aside, there are a few things I've learned from jigsaws - some more obvious than others:

1.  I have great success when I pay close attention to the little details like color variation and pattern.

2.  Patience is REALLY important -- not usually my strong suit, and sometimes trial and error is the only way to success.

3.  The more pieces in place; the more understanding of the big picture.

3.  And most importantly -- as in life, a piece may seem to be perfect -- the correct color or shape, but if it doesn't fit -- move on.  I can try to 'pound it in', but do so in vain.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Simple Gifts

Today -- about 24 hours after disembarking The Emerald Princess in Port Everglades.  I'm still rocking.  Haven't yet gotten my 'land ears' back.

But I am joyful.  In spite of and due to torrential rains last week, there are a few mounds of snow left;  the remnants of the blizzard.  And although Maryland does not celebrate the lushness of Florida and the Caribbean, ever-blooming palms, hibiscus and bougainvillea, today is a beautiful day:  close to 65°, beautifully sunny, with a light breeze, and the sliding glass doors on the sun porch are all open, allowing the fresh air to circulate in a house that has been closed up for winter.  

 I am doing laundry -- and yes this is a joy for me -- neatly folding the clean, fresh-smelling clothes after removing them from the dryer.  

Our trip was a good one.  We relaxed, saw beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean, met lovely island folks, rode through the Everglades, and were attended to by others.  We even watched excitedly as our ship was called to search and rescue a nearby boat that was taking on water.  

When I slipped into bed last night after a hot shower -- OUR bed, with OUR sheets and 'just right' blankets, I sighed.  It is good to be home.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Something New for New Year's

We spent a quiet New Year's Eve at home.  I read.  The Big Guy surfed the Internet a bit.

I decided a few days ago that I wanted something different for NY's dinner; something that looked good and was satisfying, so I concocted a dish:  au gratin potatoes with a twist.  It was worth every second!

Here's what I did...


1     lb ground turkey breast
5     shallots, thinly sliced
6     slices of cooked bacon, chopped
1     T onion powder
salt and pepper
2     T  chopped parsley
3     T Garlic infused olive oil

Pour olive oil into large saute pan.  Brown turkey meat and shallots;  add bacon and parsley.  Mix well.  De-glaze pan with water or chicken stock if needed.

4      large Yukon Gold potatoes sliced extremely thin  (I use a mandolin)
2      c heavy cream
1      T dijon mustard
8      oz  shredded Mexican Mix cheese
6      green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.
Layer potatoes in a buttered baking dish.  Spread all of meat mixture atop potatoes. Sprinkle on some of the cheese.
Add another layer of potatoes and cheese. 
Add mustard to cream and mix well.  Pour over potatoes and top with cheese, green onions, and paprika.

Bake for 75 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Kindness of Others

So where have I been?

Life has been a whirlwind, it seems, since Thanksgiving, which was strangely quiet -- just the two of us feasting on crab dip and watching football;  it was luscious!! Perhaps the universe was gifting us because it knew what December would hold.

My 90 year old mom had carpal tunnel release so we drove up to PA to pick her up from the surgery center, do whatever shopping she needed done, take her to lunch (yes, you read correctly -- she wanted a hoagie with everything but hot peppers), get her pain medication for her and settle her back into her apartment in the retirement community where she lives.  We then drove back to Maryland.

We decorated the outside of our house and then worked on the inside.  Everything is done except for our tree which we plan on putting up today.  It's still in the garage in a large bucket of water.

And for the past week or so we've been helping our middle child move from her townhouse to the new home she settled on this week.  We are so proud of her:  a single mom -- her dad's business partner.  She's a very busy girl.  And is totally over the moon with her new home.

Since Thursday, we've been packing up her house and taking over what we can fit in our cars.  I figured if the kitchen were totally packed, moved, and set-up in the new house, she would feed less overwhelmed.  It would make moving day (the movers come tomorrow) a lot easier, and she could at least make herself and helpers a cup of coffee without having to dig through boxes.  So that is what I did yesterday.  With the help of the Big Guy, I packed up the kitchen, drove it over to the new place and unpacked and organized dishes, pots and pans, food, spices, et cetera.  After soaking in the hot tub for an hour, I slept well last night.

What awes me, though, is the fact that so many others are helping her.  Friends gathered last weekend to put a huge dent in packing.  Lisa, a friend of mine, furnished a stack of newsprint to wrap stuff in.  Simon (her adopted uncle and a restauranteur) threw a lunch for us on the day she settled and sent a truck with some guys who work for him to move things the movers wouldn't take without charging her (it's all about weight), like huge planters and outside furniture, and boxes too heavy for us.  Mary, a co-worker and partner in crime has done a yeoman's job of emptying closets and transporting clothing.  When I left yesterday, Mary was busy decorating the outside of the new house for Christmas.  

We are so blessed and thankful for these folks!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Not Our Typical Holiday

By this time before every Thanksgiving I can remember, I've been up to my schnutz in turkey brining, pie-making, stuffing chopping, and all  requisite  pre-Thanksgiving acts.  Not this year.  Not one pie; not an ounce of turkey, not a morsel of sage stuffing...

Not sure why this was important to me this is year, but it is.  Maybe I just needed a break from what has always been my most favorite holiday of the year.

The kids are all busy:  The youngest has to work; horses don't take care of themselves, the eldest and daughter-in-law have an infant, and the middle child wanted to get together with friends.  And this is good.

Tomorrow, Richard and I will ride up to PA to see my mom and have a Thanksgiving brunch with her, and then return to an evening of football, my crab dip, and a chopped salad.  And above all our profound thanks for all that we have.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Excuse me, Is there something wrong with your food, you haven't photographed it...

We are, I confess, "Foodies" -- those yuppies who eat out frequently, take photos of their food and post them, and who use phrases such as "off the charts" to describe an eating experience.  We have even flown across the country to visit San Diego for Restaurant Week!

Yes, we really enjoy eating out and appreciate well prepared food. 

A friend of my mother refuses to eat at any restaurant that is a 'chain', saying that the food isn't worth it.   We happen to find many regional and national chains provide wonderful service, beautifully prepared and excellent food.  Longhorn, for instance, has scrumptious broiled trout, and one of the best grilled chicken cobb salads I've ever had has been at TGIFriday.  And frankly, every meal we've had at Red Lobster has been excellent, featuring fresh fish, great salads, and those addicting  bay biscuits.  And the pasta -- particularly the fettucine Alfredo -- at Olive Garden is light and rich at the same time.

Some of our regional favorites include The Great American Restaurant Group's Coastal Flats where the service is impeccable, the menu varied, and the food itself is worth going back for again and again.  Our favorites:  shrimp and grits,the grilled snapper, the green beans prepared with pepper jelly, and ALL of their starters.  And you've got to try The Oldtown Pourhouse in Gaithersburg, where the beer and fried cheese curds aren't the only excellent offerings. And then there's....Excuse me, I've got to get some lunch...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

♫"It's May, it's May; the lusty month of May...♫"

I finished planting on Monday.  Now I just walk the yard checking, weeding, sometimes re-arranging, and waiting for the plantings to 'fill out'.  I water about once a week, but the Moisture Control Potting Soil really helps retain needed moisture.

Planted are mixed zinnias and cosmos.

The Missouri primrose on the close end will bloom (yellow), shortly.

We lost all but two of our potted roses and if the damn rabbits don't leave it alone, we'll lose one of the climbers.  The roses are in full flush and smell heavenly.  Periodically, one gets a 'whiff'.  I love that fragrance! 

Soon, dusk will bring the smell of wild honeysuckle.  I love that, too.  Come to think of it, there's not much about the garden that I don't like -- well maybe slugs and fungi...

Winter has its beauty, but there is nothing like the textures and verdancy of Maryland in May.

This is a side view of my bicycle garden.  There are three 'bikes' in this garden; not sure one can spot them.

Pink and white astilbe in forefront.  Day lilies and monarda as well as stachys (around blue pot) on left and far right.

And the front of the house.

I hope you all are enjoying nature in your yards and areas.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

WHEW, I'm glad that's over with!

Because my annual gardens are in pots,  I have a lot of planning and counting to do.  If I shop without a list, I am totally overwhelmed and wind up making way too many trips back to the nursery.  Even with the planning, I usually have to go back once or twice.

So, here's the list for this year.  ♫I'm so excited; and I just can't hid it; I'm about to lose my mind, and I think I like it! ♫

I think you all know where I'll be this week.  :)

Market Packs of Six
        2 coral
        2 red
        2 orange
        2 purple
 2   Cosmos – orange
16  Zinnia – tall growing
4    Lobelia – blue
4    Miniature zinnia/gold
2    Mixed miniature zinnia
2    (9) Coleus
1    red scarlet sage
1    purple scarlet sage

Globe basil
Italian parsley
Pineapple sage

1      Pink angelonia
9      Purple angelonia
25     Orange/red geraniums
10     Coral geraniums
5      Red tuberous begonias
2      Coral New Guinea Imp
6      Red New Guinea
7      Orange New Guinea
3      Purple New Guinea
6      Gerbera daisies
3      Scaevola
3      Diascia – orange
3      Lantana
4      Red spikes
1      Coral verbena
1      Pink verbena
1      Red verbena
2      Green sweet potato vine
2      Black sweet potato vine
6      Scarlet/wine million bells
2      Purple million bells
1      Red mandevilla