Sunday, August 31, 2014


Veggetti.  When I first heard about this, it was pronounced "vagetti" almost like Oprah's vajayjay.  Titillating for sure!

It's a spiralizer for the kitchen.  Supposedly you can turn a zucchini (they are now in the give away stage ....) into "noodles" which are very low carb.  Now two of my cooking friends own one.

Both have only done zucchini but of course, Google has shown me so much more!  Apples, beets, squash, potatoes, cucumbers, onions, pears ....

Now my dilemma.  Should I jump on the bandwagon?  In my tiny little kitchen(s)?  I got a Vitamix when Kate and family were living here.  But now I use it once a week ... or less.  

Would I really eat more vegetables?

Friday, August 29, 2014


My financial plan is to have enough money to last a day longer than I do.  That's my worst case scenario.  In my dreams I would like to be able to pay for college for the two babies.

I grew up rather poor in Columbus, Ohio.  Six children.  Same house until both of my parents died.  Secure but not much money.  It was a great childhood, in my mind, because my Mom spent all of her time with us!  She would play games with us or read to us until she declared "oh my gosh, look at the time!"  Then we would all pitch in to tidy up and get dinner going before Dad got home.

All six of us love to cook.  Because she liked to cook.  It's hard to imagine liking to cook for that many people every day.  She even packed our lunches!  She loved trying out new recipes.  We were lucky she tried making egg rolls and egg foo yung.  She experimented with German food.  Budget gourmet food.  And no microwave back then.  I digress.

They survived on only Social Security and $300/month pension from the Carpenter's Union.  A few of us would find ways to send them money each month (maybe in a card saying Happy Ground Hog Day).  I have just one kidult and don't want to think that she might have to financially give me a hand.

Luckily, Ralph had a 401(k) and we saved his Social Security since he worked full time until age 76.  I have a nice nest egg.  But I am so risk adverse ... or maybe emotionally ill equipped to make money decisions ... so today I met with a financial planner.  I know I would like the help.  But I had NO IDEA how much babysitting me would cost each month.

Next appointment is with a fee only, hourly rate (that still makes my head spin), financial advisor to see if I can have someone to bounce ideas with.  And I can do the actual work.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Being back in Oregon has been eye opening for me.  I have so many more circles of friends here.   And it seems easier to make new friends.  Of course, our terrific summer weather this year has been a big bonus.  We have had more 90+ days this summer than ever recorded.  Third warmest summer on record.  I've been in the pool more than I can ever remember.

I've made better friendships with several residents of our condo complex.  Maybe because they are also single ladies ... some my age, most are a bit older.  I'm impressed with what I am learning from each of them.  I've rekindled friends from my old neighborhood and enjoy the family who bought our home.

In a few instances, some friendships have not worked out as well.  These ladies do not light my path ... rather put up obstacles and darkness with their constant negativity.   Luckily, I have learned that being close friends with them just isn't working for me and I am blessed with the ability to keep my distance.  But still be friendly.  

Having the grandbabies keeps me young and tuned in with interests of almost four year olds.  He is such a hoot!  His parents converted his IKEA bed into a bunkbed and he is so proud.  "Wanna check it out Gramma?"

I am surrounded by light!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Last night I had a great time in bed.

Oh you naughty minded people!  No sex involved (this time).  When I returned to Oregon I bought a king sized Nuflex adjustable bed.  It is two twin XL mattresses so each side can move independently.

I wanted to watch some Netflix without bothering my neighbors (all of our windows are open) so chose the laptop with headphones.  It wasn't as comfortable as I liked, sitting in the living room chair (sofa on order) so I decided to try the bed.

Oh wow!   Very comfy, after adjusting it just right!  Of course, then I couldn't reach the night stand for my glass of wine.  I searched around and found a little table to bring in that worked just fine.  After an episode or two, I noticed it was 1:00 am already!  Time for some sleep.  But I just wasn't sleepy!  (It could have something to do with a three hour nap the day before!).

So I snuggled on in and turned on the vibrating system.  Thirty minutes later, when it turned itself off, I was nowhere to be found.  Sound asleep.  Miles away.  Mmmmm.

Monday, August 25, 2014


I'm beginning to see that maybe some older people do not like change.

Our condo complex decided to change the locks on our clubhouse and pool area.  Apparently people who no longer live here return in the summer to use the pool.  Or owners had their "do not duplicate" keys duplicated and share with their kids and grandkids.  Many of these "guests" apparently are unable to read and therefore prop open the pool gates so anyone can come in, bring in food as well as glass containers and alcohol.

Personally, I am comfortable having a conversation with someone I do not recognize.  More often than not, they ARE residents ... from buildings on the far side of the complex whom I just have not met yet.  Sometimes they are from the apartment complex across the street (who have their own indoor AND outdoor pools).  

Since I'm at the pool lots more this summer, with and without Braeden and kids, I've been stopping a lot of people who want to borrow our amenities.  I've removed the rock or brick propping open the door.  Once, as I was doing this, someone shouted my name saying "JB, that's my brick, don't move it."  I continued moving it then came in for a friendly chat.  Believe it or not, the Owner was a past Board chairperson and an attorney!  She had brought her caregiver who brought her daughter and the two grandkids over to swim.  Grandma brought snacks for the youngsters in glass containers.  

I reminded the Owner about State laws for keeping the gates locked at all times.  Then I said the glassware and the food had to go.  Grandma was indignant ... how will I feed the children?  Just outside our gated pool area is a picnic table with gazebo as well as a 30x30 foot covered patio!  The Owner lives about 50 paces and has a patio ... and I even suggested they could use my patio (I'm about 50 paces as well).  

The lock change was announced at our Annual Meeting (which was lightly attended) and I was volunteered to hand out the remaining keys.  Everyone was emailed a notice with my name, email and phone number to contact me.  95% of the people have called or emailed and we've arranged a time to drop by and sign the papers and the pool rules (oh, I didn't know we couldn't have a big family reunion and have 20 kids swimming).  The keys can NOT be duplicated at Home Depot or other retail outlets.  Only our keymaker can make one.  Replacements will need two Board member authorizing signatures and cost $100.

Some people are upset that they can't just stop by and get one.  Which of course, they can ... if I'm at home!  One guy wants me to mail him a key even though he walked between my building and the pool grumbling about whose bright idea the whole key thing was.  One Iranian lady wants keys for all her grandkids so they can use the pool even when she is not here (one is 12 and cannot swim ... and they let her go by herself)

Mostly my neighbors are grumpy because they just don't want new locks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


No.  Not me.  Never say never but honestly it hasn't crossed my mind.

I'm very concerned about my friend.  Remember the one who gave her entire 401(k) to a boyfriend .... starting just weeks after meeting him.  And she continued and continued and continued until her $100,000 was gone.  She thinks he will pay her back but honestly, I think she knows it's all talk.

Before she had even fully let him go, she began her online dating again.  She rushed into a relationship way too quickly (in my humble opinion).  Too much too soon.  Including meeting his kids.  Which is a giant no no until you have been dating at least 6 months ... or more.  And this guy was not even divorced yet!  Six weeks later it was over and she was devastated.

Until the next week when she met the next guy.  Began spending the night at his house with his 13 year old daughter there.  Including her on their "dates" which only made the poor kid even more uncomfortable.  Six weeks later, it was over. And she was devastated.

She had been trying to get together with me these past six weeks but I finally had to take a stand.  There was never a good opening to explain my feeling about not wanting to meet these passing flings.  This weekend I got my chance.

I hope I worded it with the least amount of pain for her.  She is addicted to having a man in her life.  She is gorgeous.  She is smart.  She is in great shape.  She doesn't NEED a man in her life!  I wish she could see that what she has been doing these past months (maybe longer?) isn't working for her.  I hope she will take a year off from men.

I just want my friend back.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Finally.  I signed up for two classes organized by my adult center that involve moving my body.  Too bad they are on the same day!

Walk with Ease is the Arthritis Foundation guideline for staying active with bad knees and bad hips.  Unfortunately, I think they are going to say even though it hurts, just do it.  I did some walking while my sister was visiting and even though there was pain involved, it didn't seem worse with the activity.  The Dr. husband said walking will not hasten the arthritis in my knees so there goes that excuse.  I live in a very very walkable area of this suburb, which is why we chose the condo.  Everything we would ever need is within one mile of home.  Library, two grocery stores, banks, post office, 15+ restaurants,  hardware store, two consignment clothing stores, small movie theater, live theater, doctors, dentists and several chi chi shops (where I do a lot of looking, but no buying).
The class meets at 8am (?!) and lasts until 9:15.  A 15 minute drive to another location for beginning Tai Chi that starts at 10:15 and goes for an hour.  I'm looking forward to stretching and breathing on purpose  without getting on the floor like yoga (I'm just not there yet).  Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I made a commitment!

To celebrate this new exercise regimen ... I'm also going to cultivate my creative side (pretty much non-existent) by taking an introduction to water colors.  Oils are probably more forgiving but more expensive and scary to do at home (I'm hoping water colors don't permanently stain ....)

Monday, August 18, 2014


Sunday morning we packed up and were out of our little rental home by 6:45 am.  As you know, I am allergic to morning and this was compounded by too much gourmet food and accompanying wine from the night before.  Thankfully Janet did the driving (as she did all week!) and gave in to my coffee addiction by stopping before we got on the ferry.

It was a 2 hour drive to the airport.  Smooth driving (which isn't always the case in Seattle) so they got to their gate very early.  I'm proud that I didn't cry when saying goodbye ... because it sure was nice to have no-maintenance guests!

I loaded on my audible book for the 2.5 hour trek to Leavenworth, Washington.  A little Bavarian Christmas village in the middle of nowhere.  A friend had suggested the Bavarian Lodge and it is 4 stars for sure.  It got really HOT yesterday afternoon yet my room stayed cool.  The shops and restaurants all have water misters to keep the visitors happy.  The website said walking distance to everything and even with my kneesles, it really is!

This village was wall to wall tourists!  So many from other countries.  I browsed quite a few places but so far have not made a donation to the local economy.  Last night I took myself to a German restaurant for dinner.  It's not that I am uncomfortable eating alone (heck!  I was right next to the accordion player!!) but I miss the family style food sharing. Even though I told myself to just eat half of my schnitzel and spaetzle, it was too tasty to stop.  And I had a nice German beer as well.  Thankfully, I was able to do a little walk about before I returned to the hotel.

My hotel has an included a hot breakfast buffet that was pretty amazing.  I went down this morning at 8am to enjoy a cup of coffee and the Seattle Times.  (I am one of those people who can't eat the moment I get after an hour of lingering, the scambled eggs caught my attention).

The shops open at 10am and I will be ready!

Friday, August 15, 2014


Whidbey Island is a wonderland of nature.  We have not seen very much sunshine but we've seen a lot of Mother Nature's family.  Blue heron.  Eagles (yes, plural ... including babies in nests).  Mussels.  Starfish.  An owl.  Deer.  Breathtaking each and every time.
Not a great photo, but not bad for through the windshield

Each day we visit a different tiny town and do a lot of browsing and a little shopping.  They have been vacationing here for 20+ years and many of the shop owners remember them by name.  Just friendly and outgoing.

We have been eating like kings and queens, both in and out.  Janet and Jonathan are very very healthy eaters and great cooks.  He grilled eggplant and salmon last night while she stir fried kale with mushrooms and shallots.  Accompanied by avocado drizzled with a bit of balsalmic vinegar.  For my part, I do the dishes.  And make the coffee each morning while they are out on an hour's walk.

Breakfast of leftovers made into a hash, with yogurt, figs and fresh picked blackberries...and an egg laid by Miss Henny, my Portland buddy's chicken.

Today we went into the wilderness up to Deception Pass.  Great state park with a nice little walk.  Then on to Anacortes at the tip of another island, Fidalgo.  Stopping on the way back at Ebey's point with another little walk to see the old cemetery ... some from the mid-1800's.  They have learned about all the most interesting spots during the past two decades.  Lucky for me!

Tonight we just got back from a gourmet dinner at Oystercatcher.  Incredible food.  Tomorrow a farm-to-table fundraiser for helping the Whidbey farmers.  Just one more day.  

I think I might have to bring the little family for the next 20 years.  Perfect place for kids to be outside all day long.  Puzzles and games in the evening.  Collecting sea glass and rocks.  And making memories.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Ooops!  Sorry I haven't written for a while.  Having my sister here for a visit is keeping me busy doing many things.

Monday we left Portland (after feeding Eli's chicken and watering his plants) and headed over to the Pacific Ocean to take the scenic route up to Whidbey Island, skipping Seattle and their traffic.

Unfortunately, Hwy 26 was stopped for over an hour while working on a bridge.  Good thing husband Jonathan brought audible books which helped pass the time.  We toodled along, stopping in Seaside for lunch and a walk about.  We made it as far as Aberdeen and as luck would have it ... a great Bed and Breakfast!

Not so early Tuesday, after a gourmet breakfast, we meandered through the Olympic National forest stopping in Forks, WA (where Twilight movies were filmed) arriving in time to take the 6:30 ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island.

Upon arrival, the Navy air force began to practice, with the loud rolling thunder of "the sound of freedom" as the local call these maneuvers.  We started our 1,000 piece puzzle after a late and great dinner.  With earplugs at the ready, we enjoyed a pleasant sleep .... starting at 1:00 am.  When the maneuvers stopped.  But it was cool and foggy and just right for pleasant dreams!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Janet and I made a lot of progress in the junk room.  A load to Goodwill, a load to the dumpster and lots of things put into their own space.  Three or four more days like that and the room will become an office again.

I didn't realize how much crying would be involved.  

We have lots of doo dads which collect dust as well as look interesting, so I made some tough decisions to get rid of some.  Every once in a while, I would say no ... not my style ... but Mr. Ralph really loved that ... no, set it free.  Then we noticed he had etched his Social Security number onto the bottom!  He was saying YES, keep that one!  And so I did.

His photo popped up several times which made my heart ache to have him back.  I guess he will just always be here with me.  And every once in a while he will show himself.  I can cry and love him and miss him.  Although my sister and I have had quite a few laughs about irritating husband habits this week!  

What made me even sadder was coming across notes from AlAnon and family counselors and personal counselors and group counselors on dealing with addiction.  It shocked me to realize how long this has been affecting my life.  Right now I have some serious concerns about my little family.  If my suspicions are true, I have some difficult work ahead of me.  I have to turn my mothering gene off.

Nothing I have done has "worked" or "helped" so this time I do nothing.  Sink or swim.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


What is the deal?!

I have always had a great memory (selective, of course) but the past year I have been making myself crazy.  Usually, I'm pretty good about putting things back where they belong.  With the widow thing, I decided to shake things up and move things around a bit ... in a way that makes more sense in my daily routine.  Multiply that by TWO homes, and I can't seem to remember what I have where!

The condo still has a storage room with 30+ boxes and other stuff that have no home.  Due to grandchildren, five roommates for six weeks and planning (and procrastination), I have not finished my "plan" for the kitchen.  I have too much stuff.  I did decide that I don't need a huge pantry of food ... for just one person.  The grocery store is four blocks away.  Plus, the pantry is too deep so no one knows what lurks in the back anyway.  Each side is very very narrow so probably not worth putting in sliding shelves/drawers.

Yet it seems perfect for housing large serving dishes, bowls, pitchers, warming trays and appliances.

My dream would be to have an organized little condo with a place for everything and everything in its place.  Outdoor items stored together ... pool toys, cooler, picnic basket.  Linens and blankets and towels.  Toys, art supplies and grandboy stuff.  Office and photos and reading.  And then there is the HUGE closet (I think 22 linear feet with two upper shelves) in the master that could hold the seasonal decor, seasonal clothing and keepsakes.  As well as my clothes and shoes

Today is a little overcast and cool and my wonderful sister said why don't we spend two hours in there and see what we can do.  You know, sometimes I just need a partner in crime!  

Afterward ... we are rewarding ourselves with pedicures!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


First let me admit I am new (today) to this app for my iPhone.  My sister shared HER favorite app!  She learned about it from my fabulous tech nephew (her son), Isaac.  He is my biggest source for great apps (that even his old Auntie JB can use....)

Dark Sky.  A wonderful weather app!  I know, I know ... we get one included with our iPhone.  Dark Sky is an additional $3.00 but oh Nellie! (Braeden's favorite term these days!)  Dark sky does so much more.  You can add as many locations as you want (relatives, future vacation spot,  Devil's Triangle) and then check.  This app shows temperature, humidity, "feels like" temperature (for the wind chill or heat/humidity).  

You can also set the app to notify you when YOUR weather changes!  Mine is set to light rain ... if wherever I am (GPS activated) will start to rain, the app sends me a text message saying "light rain heading your way in 20 minutes."  So I will know if/when I should pop the umbrella into my purse.  Janet said this app is THE most accurate ever (and she has three!).

Right now Hurricane Iselle is heading towards Maui and it is predicted to be a doozy.  Today the NOAA weather has been downgraded her to merely a cyclone with LOTS and LOTS of rain.

Maui is the second island from the right.  Somehow a cyclone looks just as dangerous as a hurricane to me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


My baby sister arrives today for TWO WEEKS!  She is my only sister and eight years younger.  She is my best friend!  Despite knowing all my ups and downs, she still likes me.  

She and Mr. Ralph got off to a rocky start (she was concerned about our age difference down the line) but gosh did she go into overdrive when he started dying.  We planned a trip to Scotland via Road Scholars (her idea!) because that was the one country Mr. Ralph never visited ... and it's his mother land!  But (fortunately?) I decided not to commit since his cancer was not under control.

Her hubby is a doctor with conferences and symposiums all over the world.  They always came to any in Hawaii so they could swing over for a visit.  When they came in February 2013 and saw for themselves how much he had deteriorated, she rounded up her son and daughter and they all came back for a last visit in March of that year.  She came early and cooked and gave me some hours off.  They finally bonded!  (Did I mention Mr. Ralph could really hold a grudge??)

She returned again to make sure I had not fallen too deeply into the grieving hole.  And here she comes again!  Hopefully this time will be more fun for her.  It's just the two of us until Fri when the Doctor arrives and they are taking the weekend off to visit friends a few hours from here.  Upon their return, we drive 7 hours to Whidbey Island for some great R&R.  

They are very active and physically fit (and uber healthy eaters) but I know they will understand my limitations.  She is choosing an audible book for the ride up and I have one for myself for the ride home (I'm dropping them off at Seattle airport).

In the meantime ... we'll be having fun!

Photo taken on our three week bicentennial road trip 
across the country, 1976

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Mr. Braeden is currently my main man.  I'm grateful Kate and Jesse let him spend the night here once a week.  Of course, I bribe them all to come over and swim, then dinner (last night we ordered pizza!).

Their schedule is different from mine, so I asked if we could skip his nap (too late in the day for MY agenda) and he went to sleep about 11pm.  That way I can get up and have the essential cup of coffee before the talking begins.  He joined me about 9:30.  He enjoyed a bowl of Cocoa Krispies (mini boxes on hand since I usually have Cheerios only).

Next we toddled over to the Clubhouse for Mug and Muffin Saturday (once a month).  He provided the entertainment (with dominoes and a matching game) while we residents discussed the Newsletter, our upcoming resealing and striping of the parking lot, the Farmer's Market, the Antique Faire at the Adult Center and so on.

Back home for "real" breakfast (to which he said "no tank yoo") but he ran in and got his stool because he wanted to cook.  He got to crack the eggs (shells provide fiber and nutrients), stab the yolks with a fork (saying Yah Yah with every death prick) then stirred in milk, salt and pepper.  He did allow me to cook them.  Once it was all arranged on MY plate, he decided to devoir the scrambled eggs along with most of the GF toast (to which he added honey because that is how Poppa always ate his toast).

Fortunately, he had a plan for the remaining crusts ... feed the doves!  He stood duty and chased away any crows (they are big enough to hunt their own food!).

Anyway, I'm always entranced with his imagination.  Now he is playing Legos.  I brought out a container of water (occupies him for hours in this nice warm weather).  He uses two cork coasters for "rafts" and an individual size Pringles container for a boat.  He always wants to raid the kitchen for even better toys ... measuring spoons, cups, plastic cups and bowls.  A wooden spoon to make waves.

Like my neighborhood, his Lego people get along pretty well together and help each other when one is drowning or being chased by bad guys.

I will never forget these Awkward Widow moments.

P.S.  Best tip ever ... use a white sheet or tablecloth when playing Legos.  Easy fold up clean up to dump back into toy bin!