Thursday, July 12, 2018

Meanwhile............... Summer in the Yard and More

Thank you to everyone for your responses to my last post. No matter your thoughts on the issue. I do apologize for having put "moderation" on there for awhile, I do try not to do so. But I have a couple regular readers and helpful commenters who drop by regularly and I do not want to eliminate their anonymous responses which are often on point. However, I have one or two people who instead of responding with intelligent counterpoint respond with viciousness. If one of those two people is reading now, know that in order for your post to be seen here, you need to be "yourself". I'll happily post your vitriol, the day you accept responsibility for such.  Meanwhile I'll be working back to posting at will this week.

In other news, my summer of the local is going along very well. My "women of a certain age" gals have been meeting for lunch, with a different makeup each time, which I love (we are about fifty members plus now and I find the large group an advantage. So far the largest get together has been ten or so, which is a good number and mix).I am enjoying the fact that this is a group of people from all perspectives and with different lifestyles (married, single, widowed, grand kids, no grand kids, liberal, conservative, outside types and non outside types). It makes a good mix and I am not one to become only involved with people "like me".

 Next week we plan to go to a very large jewelry store near by, make jewelry for a couple hours and hit happy hour, and go to the local lavender and blue grass festival at the Botanic Gardens. Later in the summer we have  wine tasting. And I'm still trying to take a day to do free thinks locally like the Irish fest, outdoor museums, and free art walks in various art districts. We do plan an August break to take a Wyoming road trip ending up at Devil's tower!

For those following the World cup, let me just interject here that absolutely nothing, nothing has been as I thought, except for France. My poor little bracket did have France playing Portugal or Germany, but other than that everything has been off the charts. Which has actually made for wonderful viewing. And to my English friends, yea, I thought you would win yesterday too.

Some of you may be surprised to find out that I've been stepping outside my night owl zone. Partially because my sister begins watering the whole yard at six thirty or seven and the faucet is right outside my window, and partially because I enjoy the early morning cool before the ninety degree to one hundred degree days. The end result is that me, the night owl has been nodding her head at .....wait for it....eleven in the evening!

I continue to enjoy the yard especially in the early morning and late evening, reading, playing with the dogs and occasionally knitting outside. On the creative side, I've moved back to my naturally bright nature with my next quilt, and finished a Christmas project-a really wide table runner to use on the table shown! I can't decide if the quilt will be a donation to one of the homeless moving into our little house village program or if I will make it big enough for my bed. My walls are yellow, after all!  I've also been experimenting, as my son is not home to grill and it's just too hot for the oven. The end result? Yes, you can make country ribs in the slow cooker, as well as sausage and peppers, fajitas, and barbecued chicken thighs that are actually crispy. So I have plenty of fodder for my "frugal slow cooker" and "cooking for two posts" coming up. Unfortunately, my sewing space is a double edged sword. The huge tree outside my window cools the house-but makes taking natural light photos in that space difficult.

I've been trying to decide if I want to revert to sewing and selling, so I'll be conducting an experiment. Rather than doing custom sewing, I've spent a couple days each week in the cool air conditioning sewing Christmas and team themed items. Starting in the fall I'm simply going to share them on Facebook business page, on my blog, and in various Next door type groups. Everything I'm making is something I will be happy to keep, give as a gift or donate, so it's a way to check out if it brings me joy (and money). By the way, my tentative name is "Frivolous Necessities by Barbara". What do you think?

And finally. One of the reasons for this semi summer break was to see if this blog should be continued. Would I stay away and have no interest in blogging and not want to continue? Would I blog in a different form? While I've enjoyed not blogging and having a summer to do some major summer things here at home, I have in fact realized that I do want to continue blogging. I hope that's a good thing for my readers. In fact, I think I've decided that as I return to blogging I will do so more often. Three days a week minimum is my goal, and I had thought about five days, although the latter almost has a "diary" feel to it. Why? Because while I tend to have an opinion on wayyyyy too many things, this blog is first and foremost about my life, and how I live an adventurous retiree who lives on a fixed income. So while I will surely have long posts on opinionated topics, this blog will go back to something closer to what it was when I began. Which means posting more often. About widowhood, single retirement, creativity, travel and a host of other things-within my personal frame. And I hope that works for everyone.

Meanwhile, pictures. Because while the grass is hot and dry (so dry that all personal fireworks were banned this year), and barely has to be mowed every other week, the plants are thriving. Especially in the morning and mainly because of all the watering done, sometimes twice a day. but never by me. And as you see we continue to reclaim the land, oasis by oasis, from the ever present rocks left behind by the last owner.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


When I was looking for a photograph for this post, I grabbed one of many from my twenty some years of living in the Washington DC area. As I joked with a friend yesterday who asked me about fireworks, except for Boston, I may never feel the need to see public fireworks again. However, I need to be honest. Had I posted a flag, my natural inclination would have been to show it upside down. Because I truly believe we are a nation in distress. In more ways than one.

Don't get me wrong, as an historian and a military veteran, this is surely a time to recognize both the history of this country, it's "birthday", and the Declaration of Independence (although it should be noted that the majority of individuals living in this country at the time were neither independent nor full citizens, including the female ancestors of this writer). As a country, we've survived 242 years. And that is a testament, absolutely, to all of us, as well as our parents and ancestors!

But we are in a time of crisis, and things seem to be getting worse. Hate crimes and acts of intolerance have gone up almost 42 percent in some areas since the election. Overt acts of discrimination and hate have become acceptable.  A man screaming in a coffee shop (at folks who happened to be citizens, mind you, in some cases) to speak English?  A woman calling the cops this week on a woman of color who happened to be a representative canvasing her neighbors on their concerns?  What have we come to? 

Just as one example,  The vitriol I see on many websites implies that people either don't know the difference between illegal immigrants and asylum seekers fleeing violence, or just don't care. When a woman walks across Mexico from fleeing from Honduras and accidental arrives at a border crossing that is not an "official port of entry", that should be considered a mistake, not a crime. Would you know which of hundreds of border crossings were ports? I don't and I speak English. A commenter on this blog implied that children taken from asylum seekers (not illegal immigrants) put in camps were in caring environments.  Where I come from, a cage where kids sleep with space blankets and adults are forbidden from touching or comforting children is not a caring environment. Are we ignorant, do we not care, or are we so full of hate for the "other" that anything goes?

Some folks may remember that I wrote a missive here on the politics of hate, immediately after the election. Specifically I said that I had personal friends who were Muslim, African American and Asian, and that they were afraid.  While some agreed with me, many others pooh-poohed that fear. The implication was that they, and I, were over reacting. The natural order of things, the branches of the US government, the so called intelligence of congress (especially moderate Republicans) would not allow that to happen. Folks, if you were one of the people that said that to me, you were wrong. Hate, idiocy, intolerance, all have blossomed in the last couple of years. And if that is offensive to some, so be it.

Years, ago, as a young college chick in the middle of one of the difficult times in our country, I woke up and realized something:  Richard Nixon not only divided the country in a way that affected it for years to come. He took great pleasure in the fact, and did it deliberately. I see that same pleasure in Donald Trump. He LIKES what has happened and is happening in this country. So to those of you who voted for him, I'll say this. If you did not know what he was, you do now.

But to be clear, hate and intolerance are not the only issues we face. We have entered into multiple trade wars. Wars which we not only cannot win, but that virtually EVERY economist, conservative or liberal assures us will end in a recession. We've apparent decided that it's okay to to leave a planet falling apart to our kids and grand kids because, well, it's their problem. If we leave a national debt for them so that we can lower taxes now, well, again, that's not our problem. Let them deal with it. And let's not even get into the fact that the President of the United States, in all seriousness now, wants to INVADE Venezuela. Has wanted to for awhile if you will, and has fortunately been held back at this point by the intelligence of the US military. Never mind the fact that our leader has alienated every single ally except for the evil empires of the world. That's right. Our President thinks that Putin is a really good, admirable guy. He thinks that he can deal with North Korea, and he admires the leader of China for making himself leader for life. If those last sentences don't give you pause, they should. The man admires dictators, rather than democratic leaders.

Now, I'm a generally positive person. I believe that we are part of a great country that has a future. But here's the thing (and where I break with some bloggers and their writings in the past few weeks). Burying our heads in the sand is not a positive solution. Can the news be too much sometimes?  Can we get overloaded? The answer is absolutely to both. But ignoring what is happening is dangerous, and yes, I mean to use that word. Disconnect from social media if you must. Choose one or two reliable news stations (I always recommend BBC America). Even though it "hurts", read the news from the perspective of the other side on occasion.

But most importantly, act. Vote, vote, vote, vote. Make sure everyone you know votes, even if you are opposed politically. As my daddy used to say in my radical years, a vote to abstain is a vote against. In other words, if you didn't vote last time, you helped elect the current administration. But do more than vote. Demonstrations are not for everyone. But find ways NOW, and everyday to make it clear where you stand. Put your money (however much or little that may be) where your mouth is. Say something if you observe someone being mistreated. Spend some actual time with someone who is different from you-in terms of race, gender orientation or anything else.

Because talk is cheap, folks. And while voting may be the most important thing we do, it's occasional at best. And we live in times where we need to physically (not just in writing), stand up for what we believe and let others know it. Every.Single.Day.

And finally, because I know there will be comments invariably here about my patriotism, I would remind you that I am a veteran, the widow of a veteran, the daughter of a veteran and the sister-in-law of a veteran (who served seven, count them seven tours in the middle east). He would be the first to say that what we fought for was kindness, consideration, and equality and openness-to all those in need wherever they may be from. None of us served, or fought, for isolationism or hate. And in fact, we served in a military that welcomes Muslims, gays, those who are transgender, women, folks of color and immigrants, documented and otherwise. Whether our current president likes the idea or not, those are the people who defend his right to be an president. On a daily basis.

Happy Fourth!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Glasses Update!

First of all, thank you everyone for your glasses experiences, (and opinions!) via email or in the comments, they were very helpful and informative!

In order to get a VERY ROUGH idea of what I was looking at, I did a small test order this morning with Zenni optical, simply editing in m prescription and pupil distance. I chose a simple pair of frames. I ordered two pair, polarizes sunglasses and basic progressives.

Note that I did not have a need for some of the requirements others might. I live so close to the sun that I need sunglasses when I am outside, at every time, unless there is a serious storm, even in overcast weather. So transitions, for example, are not something I would use. I also cannot use replace a lens, because I don't have backups and cannot send my frames in the mail (something I would definitely do if I  purchased at a cheaper price).

A couple people mentioned concerns for themselves. Let me say that I purchased my current glasses at Sears, and they cost a grand (so it's not just the Pearl Vision types that cost an arm and a leg in my case). I have had these glasses adjusted for looseness on the sides and the curvature around the ear (I am tough on glasses because with crafting tiny things that they come on and go off with regulariy). With the exception of one instance, I have never been charged for such help, but even if they charged me ten or twenty bucks it would have been worth it. As for sizing, my glasses show their measurements on the sides, and I will upload a photo of myself to "try them on" before ordering.

As far as the pupil distance, Pearl Vision (which is very much a for profit and try and sell you, believe me) gave me my distance with no issue whatsoever.  Other places may not be so kind, but my experience is that it is not that difficult to do yourself.

I am not minimizing the concerns with ordering online, just noting what my experience was so far.

So, for the final product. Each of the frames I chose were in the 30 dollar range, and progressive lenses. I obviously have to do my due diligence, but for now I chose recommended material (about two thirds to the top of the choices) and basic anti reflective coating (I will probably add the blue blocker on the basic lenses for another fourteen bucks).

For the sunglasses I chose an 85 percent brown tint (my personal experience is that for me brown works better than gray) in a polarized polycarbonate finish, and a standard anti reflective coating for now.

Folks, the total price for these two glasses right now is right around.....wait for it...two hundred dollars.

Now, I have a lot of research to do. I may choose a more expensive material,  I may choose a better frame (I am looking for something blue that has a wider lens area than my current glasses do, more of a square shape!). I need to compare all options and do some "glasses learning", and I need to look specifically at a company called Warby Parker that sends you five frames to actually physically try on my face.

But even if I ended up spending two and a half times as much, or around four fifty, that would still not be as much as one of my pairs of glasses at almost any local place, including Costco.

So yes, I'll go to Costco, and even to eyeglasses USA, due my due diligence and research. But right now, those online glasses are looking really, really good!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Asking The Readers: Glasses

Happy Summer, everyone. I've been enjoying my summer at home, heat and all (Thankfully today we have a mid seventies break). My women's group continues to get together (jewelry making and happy hour, wine tasting, lunch). I'm loving evenings and mornings in the back yard, and spending the mid day sewing and quilting in preparation for the holiday gifting and selling season is great. Day trips are the best, and we are considering a break here soon, and cannot decide whether to drive north to Montana or to Santa Fe. I know, really opposite choices.

Meanwhile, this past week I had my very long over due (two years over due), eye exam and eyeglass check. The good news was that I didn't have to have my eyes dilated, thanks to a new computer that takes special pictures. Believe me, it was worth the forty bucks more than insurance would pay. I also have a new prescription. It seems that my left eye has changed the most. The far part needs to be a little weaker, and the near part a little stronger. Go figure.

Anywhoo, even with eye insurance, my glasses will come to a grand or more for two pairs of glasses. Yep, blind as a bat.  So, I ask you my glasses and contact wearing readers: Talk to me about ordering glasses online. I'm interested in the good, the bad and the ugly. I have my prescription in hand, including the pupil distance. I'm willing and prepared to do research as needed and am prepared to upload a picture to compare glasses styles and or wait for frames to come to me to try on.

So tell me. Have you ordered glasses online?  Did you like them? Would you do it again?  Were you satisfied with the process?  Tell me all about it.

Note, while I appreciate suggestions I am ONLY looking for advice on ordering online here. I know many folks like Costco, but their prices are not that great for me. I'm specifically looking for online options and alternatives for this situation.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

This and That

Meanwhile, post outraged rant, back in the retirement zone....what's been happening since my last summer update, what was it now, two weeks ago?

1.  My group has had three coffee meetings and this week we met for breakfast at a Cajun restaurant. Two different weeks we had about eight at coffee and conversation and for one just three or four-which is peachy. The idea for this is that no one has to RSVP, but rather show up on Fridays (we may move locations around). We had four for breakfast on Tuesday and about six committed to lunch at a brewery restaurant next week. Officially, there are probably twenty five or more on the email/facebook list, but that's fine. We all have lives and volunteer gigs and such and the goal is for people to come when they can and not worry about when they cannot. We're now looking at an evening or day time semi crafting type get together. And I have to beg out last minute of the walking group tomorrow, as I completely forgot that my two years past due eye exam will include dilation-oh joy!

2. We continue to try and eat out once a week whenever we can. I still have my Red Lobster gift certificate put away, and last week we went for the first time to the restaurant where my son cooks. I wanted to see it once, and it is very good food (and many craft beers) but the manager always feels the need to discount for "family" apparently, and I don't want to take advantage. Gift cards from passive earnings and other methods tend to fund this. 

3.  My church Bid 'n Brunch was a huge success, it sounds like they raised a little less than twenty thousand dollars. I had planned to make a couple breakfast casseroles and coffee cakes, but the entire week leading up was in the nineties, so I cheated and bought quiches and baked goods as my contribution. I offered up five trays of holiday cookies and a T-shirt/Memorabilia quilt.  I bid on a few things (knowing I would not win, or I would have been in trouble), including a Tappas meal at a friends house (which I lost) and a patio dinner at a nice downtown restaurant by hosted by friends, which I won. I do not tithe or donate every week to the plate at my church, so these kind of things tend to be my charity donations as well as donations in kind.

4. I tend to go up and down and around as to what I do creatively in my sewing/crafting studio and this month it seems to be completely sewing.  Having said that, let me say to the quilters in the bunch that I expect free motion quilting is not my thing-and I have been playing around for the last month. Which means I'll go ahead and send my vintage quilt out to be done (it will have bright blue around the edges) when I have the funds or can swap for it, and continue to come up with fun lined and curved designs all my more modern type quilts  
Taken once the clouds had come in, I'm afraid!

This month I'm working on my goal to get one Christmas project or gift done a month, by finishing this large Table runner. While everything else recently has been made from fabric on hand,  I needed (wanted) something bright after my vintage quilt and another not so bright one. I (admittedly impulsively!) chose this fabric and pattern, and instead of white, the solid color spaces will be the yellow below.  As I said, bright! And finally, I don't have enough of the blue shown to finish my t-shirt quilt. So I'm looking for another bright blue and white fabric to fill in the empty spaces. Sale fabrics only, as I am in no rush, this is a Christmas gift and I have plenty of time.  

5. In a fit of organization that is completely out of the norm for me, I spent an afternoon listing all the things I wanted to and could reasonable make for fall and winter, including the two promises above. This is so very much not me, but my goal is to limit my self to one of each kind of thing (quilt, paper project, knitting thing) except of course for the many, many many trays of cookies. This means that fewer people will get handmade gifts, because most  of these things are for me and my walls, which is as it should be.

6. Except for travel account and winter clothes account (weight loss truly is a double edged sword my friends), I have been relying on passive earnings, gifts, discounts and my extreme couponing skills for dining out and entertainment and most other expenses not bills or food. My son just learned that his financial aid has run out (he went to a proprietary school, then had to do a full undergrad cause nothing transferred) for his last semester. Colorado has an extremely expensive school system in comparison to most states, so we'll be paying close to six thousand out of pocket here soon. Yes, I know, those loans, those loans, for which I am not in a position to help as much as I would like, but for now I want him to finish without taking out a much higher interest loan one way or the other.

7. I've been, well, reading. And reading. Mainly outside on that swing when it's cool enough. I tend to reserve which book is available and has the shortest waiting list. Although I've moved to the dark side and prefer Kindle, this week all four that arrived were hardbacks. I have none left to read. And I have to say, I read three really good mysteries by a new author last week, so I continue to believe that for now, kindle unlimited is a justifiable expense in my frugal life.  
No one said my reading was intellectual. After all, for that I have my Great Courses classes.

8. I'm continuing that goal of entertaining myself with all the free stuff available to me. That includes my local city museum and art gallery, an outdoor arts museum, the Irish festival coming up shortly, various art and fourth of July events, as well as free concerts. We're also planning a "pottery painting girl's day out" (I plan to make succulent pots for my daughter) and a trip across the mountains Glenwood Springs in the next month as our two spendable events. Thanks to my movie rewards, discount cards and senior pricing, this week's day trip is to see the movie Book Club and then go to happy hour. 

9. Into every retirement summer a little rain must fall, only in this case it was the toilet over flowing. For whatever reason, it did not stop filling. Thankfully, I am a light sleeper, and the drip, drip drip from the potty overflowing (thankfully with clean water) woke me up. Albeit after some time, and I literally used quilts, coverlets and bath sheets to cover the floor in the bathroom and the hall after I turned off the water. Some still got to the bathroom immediately below, but in our hot dry weather, everything seems to be okay. There is one very large blanket still in the yard to be washed but everything else was taken care of!  This again reminds me that I am so VERY thankful to be renting, and the the landlord and I have a good relationship.I texted said landlord, and in this case he said to call someone as long as the service call wasn't over 90 bucks and just get it done. I did so, and will include that receipt along with the cash difference in the next rent. 

10.  In order to feed my brain, I am trying to do a Great Courses class every day, since there is no summer Olli (and even when there is, the good ones seem to be in the morning, when I am an afternoon type of girl.  My current class?  The History of Eastern Europe!

And now, it's in the seventies today and I promised myself along walk..........only it sounds like I waited too long, and the rain is coming in. Hopefully it will pass!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Biblical, My Ass!

I am SO VERY TIRED of people using the Bible (usually out of context or quoted incorrectly) to justify every hateful, unkind, uncaring and cruel thing they do.

This is especially true of that group of people who claim to be Christians or "spiritual", don't actually go to church or read the Bible regularly and yet feel the right to comment on everything from one's gender to the right to life of the unborn (while damning the rights of almost everyone else now living).

For one thing, it gives the rest of us religious folk a bad name. The amount of times I have to explain to people that my church has a gay priest in charge, or that we don't believe that hateful stuff about...fill in the blank...has given me no doubt that there is a large group of so called Christians who need to sit down and actually read that Holy Book for starts-and not just the New Testament.

The Bible does not justify separating children from parents. It does not justify putting undocumented immigrants (adults and children) in for profit prisons where many sleep on the cement floor in space blankets. It does not justify refusing entrance to refugees who will die otherwise or live in camps for twenty or more years, based on irrational fear. Nowhere, nowhere, does it address birth gender as such, and I can find you as many passages that support sexual freedom as do not. In fact, welcoming the stranger is a biblical directive, in both the New and Old Testaments. It doesn't say only welcome the stranger who looks like us, or who has the same religion as we do, or any of those things.

If you are one of those people who has to justify their hate or fear, please find another way to do so besides using religion or any one's good book to do so. Stop blaming it on God, or the written word. Admit that you're (unreasonably) worried about your job, the color of their skin, against their religion or whatever else your problem is.

Because while taking a nursing child from it's mother's breast and putting said child in a home may be many things, Biblical it ain't.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sunday, Not Friday.........

But an update nonetheless........

So........I had been having this thought in my head, and on the spur of the moment, I put a question to a Word of Mouth Facebook group that I am in, "If I started a group for women of a certain age, what should I call it?".  Mind you, this was something that was just sitting in the back of my head, percolating if you will. Immediately, and I do mean immediately, I started getting questions. "How do I join your group".  "I want to join your group". Stuff I wasn't prepared for, to say the least. Obviously I was not the only gal who had the same idea, or the same issues: wanting to meet others for coffee, conversation and the like. And I consider myself fairly social, at least.

The end result? I grabbed a Facebook page as a place to land, invited people in who expressed interest, and last Friday we had our first coffee and conversation,  9 or so of us. Our afternoon lasted from one until almost four at our local independent coffee shop, and I would say a very good time was had by all. Since then our group has grown by leaps and bounds. I don't know what will happen with it and am trying to take it slow. I expect I and some others would just as soon jump right into book groups and girl's day out type trips, but we are taking it slow for now, weekly coffees and every other week lunch or brunch, and seeing how it goes. It may work, it may fizzle out. Who knows?  All we can do is try.

In other summer vacation news:

1. While I miss my daughter, unless she needs me for puppy sitting, I'm holding off until September, even though she'll be back in school. The temps will be mainly 100 and above between now and then, and I don't look forward to going from air conditioning to air conditioning. I've planned a birthday vacation in Hill Country and the beach area, and will invite her along on spend two weeks with her then.

2. In looking for new places to dine out, I've found that Denver has more than one outdoor eating patio that allow canine family members. I'm thinking that next Sunday or the Sunday after, we'll load the pups into the car (giving them a mini road trip, which they'll love) and enjoy Sunday brunch.

Double pillows to add height for my crippled knees.

3. I've spent an inordinate time in my favorite place to be in the summer, the swing in my "needs remodeling  but we can't decide what to do" pergola area. The grapevines have climbed and climbed, giving me built in shade after about one or so, as well as privacy, and I've spent time there reading, napping, watching dogs play and even knitting. Meanwhile, the plant whisperer has reclaimed even more ground under the rocks and weed barrier as well as planting a tree. The yard continues to bloom, with no thanks to me.  

And yes, of course, there's a dog in the photo!

4. I've made a goal of not using my oven (it's Denver, we try and keep the house closed, the air at 78 to 80 depending and open the house at night), and relying on stove top, slow cooker and grilled recipes when the grill master is home.  The end result? Country ribs can be cooked in a slow cooker and don't even need to be grilled or broiled if you turn it on high at the end. The same with barbecued chicken parts. My next goal is to try two pork tenderloins and see if they can actually still be that very slightly pink but not over done after three to four hours on low.

5. As part of my explore the local, it's amazing to me how much local there is to explore, much of it for very little in terms of cash. I come from Washington DC, the land of free museums and parks and other things, so sometimes I don't immediate recognize all that this area has to offer. I've come to realize that I will have a full summer and no desire to travel until fall with all the things available to me. This week: Outdoor museum, free concert, and a special exhibit of local artists at our little museum, as well as a barbecue fest.

This week coming? I'm mainly playing Barbie homemaker. My church is having a silent auction and brunch and I'm contributing breakfast casseroles, coffee cakes and the like as well as offering up a memorabilia quilt and Christmas cookies at the auction. Add that to coffee, lunch, knitting with happy hour and my backyard and you have summer in Colorado!

Meanwhile............... Summer in the Yard and More

Thank you to everyone for your responses to my last post. No matter your thoughts on the issue. I do apologize for having put "mod...