Sunday, February 28, 2010

A rocker that I cherish

Blame it on the winter doldrums. Blame it on me being a sentimental old woman. Or maybe it is a combination of occurences in my life recently. A certain individual has caused a great deal of anguish in my life in recent months. Possibly another cause for me to think of this dear old rocker. . . this afternoon, my son, Michael, came over. I had a problem with some vertical blinds. I asked him to come over and see if he could solve the problem. He came over for lunch. He found a "band-aid" solution for my old vertical blinds. Then he sat down for awhile and we talked. In the midst of our conversation - about nothing in particular - I couldn't help being awestruck that "my little boy" is a grown man of 36. As I was talking with him, my mind flashed back over the years. . . the little toddler standing at the kitchen door begging to go outside on a bitter cold, windblown day. . . the day his twin brother came in to inform me Michael had fallen on his bicycle, and "Mom, you better come quick". . . a high school basketball game when Michael scored two back-to-back 3 point baskets against Gates-Chili on their court. . . the time I had to let go and realize my boys were going away to college and they would no longer be in my day-to-day life. . . his wedding day.

Tonight a lot of things were flashing through my mind. . . good things. . . painful things. . . my trip down South to reunite with my cousins for a family reunion in a couple of weeks. . .my upcoming jury duty that I want no part of, but haven't figured out how to get out of. . . You know, sometimes things just fly through your mind. Molly decided she wasn't getting enough attention, so she jumped into my lap. . . Wonderful. A 50 lb. Labrador Retriever jumping into your lap!

I happened to glance around the room and "the rocker" caught my eye. It's crazy, but looking at that rocker brought me a sudden sense of peace. I just continued to look at it for several minutes or more. Two generations of Bennett babies were rocked to sleep in that rocker and now it sits in my living room. Molly, sensing she wasn't getting my full undivided attention, reached her head up and licked my face.

That rocker will always be a cherished possession. Over the last 36 years, from Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi to right here in Rochester, NY, I have rocked my sons and later my three grandchildren in that rocker when they were infants. Just staring at it and remembering happy times helped me to put a lot of things in perspective and realize there are always going to be antagonists in your life, but being able to focus on the good things in life is what life is all about. May each of you have a rocker in your life.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Big Snowstorm!

The big snowstorm has come and gone! Thankfully, no one in our area lost power with this one.

This is the view out my front door this morning. The picture below is what a lilac bush looks like after a snowfall! Thursday night I used the snowblower on my driveway, clearing probably about 6 or 8 inches. On Friday morning things looked really bad for travel so I decided it was better to waste a day of vacation from work than to risk getting my car smacked up. It snowed all day and the winds picked up.

Around 3:00 in the afternoon, I cleared my driveway again and there was over a foot of snow. Some boys were shoveling the driveway across the street. Their mother came along in a car and told them there was an elderly lady back up the street, who lives alone and was out shoveling her driveway. This was not the kind of snowfall for a woman in her 80's to be shoveling. One of the boys went up to her house to clear her driveway. It's hard to say how many inches we got. With the blowing and drifting, it only matters how much is in your driveway and on the roads!!!
As I sit here writing this, right outside my window in front of the snow covered lilac bush, there are 2 cardinals sitting on the branches. What a striking pose they make against a snowy background.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Okay, now I'm ready

I have two five-gallon gas cans filled with gas (for the snowblower and the generator), I have food in the house and I have batteries for the portable radio to get emergency information on WHAM. Thursday afternoon into Friday mid-day is supposed to be the worst of the storm here. If the worst happens and I lose electricity, at least I can manually start my gas stove so I can still cook and use my camp percolator to make coffee. . . you gotta take care of the important things!!! Before my father died, he installed an electrical outlet behind my refrigerator, with a cord running into the basement. I can hook a line from my generator into that and keep the refrigerator running.

The one thing I can't do is keep my furnace running since that can't be run with my portable generator. I would have to turn off the water supply and drain the pipes to keep the water pipes from freezing and busting.

See what you folks in warm climates are missing!!!

Bracing for the worst. . .

If the weather forecasting computers are accurate, Rochester and the Northeast are going to get clobbered on Friday with a massive blizzard. One weather forecaster has said "12 inches of snow and that is a conservative estimate". If only I could get all my Southern relatives up here that think snow is fun and let them see what a snow storm is really like!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A delicious brussel sprout recipe

I know. Brussel sprouts are one of those foods that are good for you but nobody likes. Until now. I ran across a recipe on the internet that sounded intriguing, so I tried it. Hey! It's delicous! Brussel sprouts are high in phytonutrients that protect against disease, including cancer. They have more than 100% of your daily need for Vitamins K and C and are also high in folate, potassium, Vitamin A and dietary fiber. Try this one.

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

1 3/4 cup Swanson's chicken broth
a pound of fresh brussel sprouts, with the bottom part cut off

2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Cook the brussel sprouts in the chicken broth until tender. Remove the brussel sprouts from the broth but save the broth.

Combine the cornstarch and water and add to the broth. Stir till thickened. Combine the lemon juice and Dijon mustard and add to the broth.. Stir. Pour over brussel sprouts and serve.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A month from today!

This time of year in the North Country, it is so easy to succomb to the winter blahs. . . all you see is dirty snow, gray skies, cold, gloomy weather. Even the deer and rabbit tracks in my front yard aren't cute anymore.

But I am reminded that one month from today I will be at the "Second Annual Morgan Family Reunion" on our "ancestral land" down South!!!! Last year my cousins and I gathered on the land that has been in our family for over a hundred years for a really fun day. We had so much fun that we decided to do it again this year. These are my cousins that I didn't see, for the most part, for over 30 years. I moved up North and they were scattered in Alabama and Florida. When my dad died over 6 years ago, we saw each other again and picked up right where we left off as kids.

Just like last year, we will get together, have a camp dutch oven meal cooked out "in the middle of no where", do some target shooting - my cousin, Ken, and I are certified gun nuts - walk the land, just enjoy being together again. I can't wait!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A fun day

Wow! Did I have fun today! I took an all day class on Defensive Pistol, learning to use a pistol in self defense. The morning part of the class was inside with classroom instruction. We learned what the legal justification is for deadly force in New York State. Then we practiced - indoors - with dummy bullets. This was to simulate a misfire (when a bullet does not fire) and what to do if you are threatened by an assailant and this happens to you.

THEN. . . in the bitter cold and snow. . . we went to the OUTDOOR range. I was ready to back out right then and there! The reason for making us shoot outdoors - for three hours, I might add - is to get you accustomed to firing your weapon in all kinds of conditions. Let's face it, you may not have a warm sunny day when you need to defend your life. I found I cannot adequately fire my pistol with even thin gloves on. My fingers were stinging from being cold! But you know what? If you can fire a gun and hit a target under those conditions, you can fire a gun the right way anytime!!!

We again practiced with a full magazine (that is what holds the bullets in a pistol and feeds the bullet into the chamber to fire) with one dummy bullet randomly placed inside the magazine. Okay, you are aiming at an assailant just yards from you and your gun does not fire. We learned what to do and how to engage the assailant while you are doing that! Yes, it was fun and the instructors added a lot of humor to the situation. But we all realized this was serious stuff and could save our life someday.

I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the right to own firearms. I also believe if you are going to carry a handgun for personal protection, you have an obligation to get all the training you can get. When you train and practice over and over in controlled environments, if the time ever comes for the real thing, you will do the right thng without even thinking about it.

To the horror of some of my liberal thinking friends, I love target shooting and I have a small collection of handguns. I have been shooting handguns since I was a small child. It has only been in the last few years that I seriously considered routinely carrying a concealed weapon, given the increase in crime and attacks against innocent people. It is a personal choice. It may not be right for everyone.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Right now that word, "snow", is a 4-letter word to me and I am sick of it and long for warm weather to return.

But today, if only for awhile, I saw a different side of that word. Most of my relatives live in the South, in Florida and Alabama. My "little cousin", Rita, filled up my inbox with picture after picture of snow in Andalusia, Alabama. Her posts on facebook the last few days were all related to "snow"! [I can call her my "little cousin" because she is much younger than me and my earliest memories of her were being a pain-in-the-butt little kid, always picking on me and I was the one that got in trouble for it. "She's just a baby, you have to understand that and overlook her antics," I was told as a child.]

Anyway, her pictures today showed BARELY two inches of snow! She sent pictures of a big snowman they built. . . hhmmm. . . I can't remember the last snowman I built. Her facebook posts were filled with childlike joy at so much snow.

I hate to admit it, but she made me see the joy in fresh fallen snow again, the beauty in a large field covered in untouched snow.

Okay, enough of that sentimental stuff. . . BRING ON SUMMER!!!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jury Duty

As if the harsh winter we are having isn't enough to crush my spirit, this afternoon I found a jury summons in my mailbox. The week of March 8th, I am to call each day and hope my number doesn't come up. If my number does not come up - I am juror #407 - then all I am out is the time it takes to make that phone call each day. If I am told to report, then I sit and wait - up until 5:30 pm each day - till they decide if I am chosen for a jury.

I realize that jury duty is a responsibility for the privilege of being a United States citizen. I will do it if I am chosen. But I won't like it. I am leaving on vacation toward the end of the following week. The week before I leave for vacation is going to be frantic at work due to deadlines. I sent my boss an e-mail informing him of my jury summons. With all we have going on at work, I didn't have the heart to stand and face him and tell him I could possibly be gone that whole week.

There are other reasons jury duty bothers me. I really don't care to be forced to listen to lurid details of a court trial. Want to know another reason? I'm a very opinionated person, as anyone who knows me well will tell you! After listening to evidence in a trial, it would take me all of five minutes to make up my mind of guilt or innocence and I would have no patience at all with a room full of people taking hours to make up their mind.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Guilty of DWCL!

DWCL is short for "driving without corrective lens!"

Yesterday afternoon I went to the gun club where I belong to do some target shooting. Getting back in the car to come home, I banged the big plastic box that I keep all my target shooting gear in against the side of my head, causing one of the lens in my eyeglasses to pop out.

I tried really hard to get it back into the frame but it just wasn't going to work. My drivers' license is stamped "restrictions: corrective lens". I tried putting my glasses on with just the one lens in place. That greatly distorted my vision. I decided that would not be a good way to drive. There was no way I was going to humble myself to call and ask someone to drive me home. NOT MY STYLE! I'm just too independent for that.

I had no idea how well I could drive without my glasses since I haven't tried that in years. But off I went. Turns out I did just fine. I could even tell the difference between a red light and a green light! Or a stop sign and a yield sign!

Now the smart thing would have been to first place the box in the car and THEN get inside, but no, I tried to get both my body and the box at the same time in the car.

Fortunately, I have a back up pair of glasses to use until I can get the darn lens back in place this week. But I didn't have them with me in the car yesterday.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A sad discovery

A friend sent me a web link -

You can go to this site, punch in any address and it will show a picture of that address and you can move the mouse around to get a 360 degree angle. I played around with different addresses - it is not 100% accurate. However, I typed in the address of the house my father built in the early 1950's on 62nd Avenue in Pensacola, Florida and where we lived for a number of years. It is no longer there. I used the 360 degree tool to make sure this was the same place. . . it was.

It was a sad moment in my life to find that home is no longer there. As a child of 5 years old, I watched my father draw the blueprints for that simple little 2 bedroom ranch style concrete block home. I would sit on the floor next to where he was drawing up the plans and draw my own blueprints! He taught me how to read blueprints, a skill that I have carried with me ever since. When I was in real estate in the late 90's, early 2000's, I could not understand why some otherwise intelligent adults, could not read blueprints!

Until the day he died, my father was proud of that modest little home. He not only designed it, drew the blueprints himeself, but he built the home with his own hands. I remember playing on the concrete subfloor of the house while he was laying the blocks and putting up the studs.

I last saw the home about 3 years ago on a trip to Pensacola. It was old and had not been maintained well since we moved away in 1962.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The downhill side of winter!

It's February! We are on the downhill side of winter!!! I said that to someone today and she gave me a dirty look and then said, "This is Rochester." She's right. Winter in Rochester can hang on till the first half of May. One year, no joke, on May 10th, there was six inches of snow on the ground in the morning. Of course, that time of year, any snow you get is going to melt soon - by the end of the day for sure. By this time in winter, my skin starts to crawl. . . I need to get out and be free. I need to get outside and do things without heavy winter garb, or without my fingers stinging from the cold, or being able to walk without fear of slipping on ice and falling. . . done that enough times! I need to see flowers blooming. I need to see green leaves on trees. I need to sit by my Weber grill with a glass of wine waiting for my meat to cook, taking in the life around me. . . people walking their dog, people riding bikes down my street. . .