Saturday, February 29, 2020

Josephine the Plumber?

It isn't the toilet but aging pipes. Three and one half hours after beginning the process with a proper plunger, just when I was about to give up, the clog cleared with minimal mess in its wake.

I wish I could dance! Nothing makes me happier than knowing I don't need a plumber on weekend overtime. I also do not have the hassle of attempting to use a snake from a seated position which can be extremely awkward, if past experience is any indication.

Strong arms and an even stronger constitution have once again proven useful and I hope that tomorrow, when a friend visits, there will be no further complications.

These pipes have always been problematic. Twenty years ago as I was just moving in, a couple of helpers were forced down the street to McDonald's while I dug a plunger from a box and went to work.
Little did I realize how often through the years I would need that particular household item.

Do you know that the rounded, gasket type rubber plungers commonly available in grocery stores are actually intended for sink drains? The appropriate plunger for a toilet is long handled and has a rounded plunger with accordion folds and an opening. It works well but with older pipes, I've been advised to plunge for a bit, pause, work longer, pause again and check to see if the water in the bowl is receding slowly.

If so, continue until the clog clears. This can take awhile and hopefully, no-one will be in dire need in the interim, as I was this evening...

I have been told that caustic chemical products can actually damage pipes and have thus far avoided them. People have also shared tips such as pouring hot water down the toilet to release a clog. I have no idea if this actually works as none of these brilliant souls has included a suggestion for how I am to get a boiling kettle into the bathroom from the kitchen while pushing a wheelchair. I would hate to be burned or scalded in the attempt.

I wonder if Josephine the Plumber had more than Comet in her bag of tricks...

Happy Sunday.

Thursday, February 27, 2020


It is 4:56 AM and I've been up since just after 1 when my bladder forced me into the bathroom. I've taken out refuse, cleaned the cat box, bowls and some dishes as well as putting away a load of laundry. As it stands, I will finish this post, make a list of calls needing attention, give Lukas his breakfast and attempt to sleep for a few hours.

It rained most of the night and our pavement is slick and full of dried leaves.The temperature has fallen and it is almost cool enough for a coat which brings to mind the first all-weather coat I ever owned and wore during a rainy European summer years ago.

Coming from the tropics, a coat was unheard of and it wasn't until we reached Florida that one could be found and then packed for the second and longest leg of our trip. It was tan with a hip seventies geometric design. A mere one hundred and twenty pounds back then, most available coats were miles too long on me. It was the only one that fit.  Among many adventures were the colder parts of Norway and Sweden and well worn by the time we made it to London,  I fell asleep in it sitting on some steps inside Harrods. After several misty days, it came with me to Stratford-upon-Avon and was almost lost on the bus. A February weekend visit to Bogota one year later led to a tear on the left sleeve which never mended, expanded with time.

Returning to Panama's equatorial heat forced a temporary retirement, but only until my first Florida winter as a college student. After that, it was used only sporadically until the sleeve began separating so badly that a friend inquired whether I was practicing to be a bag lady at Halloween.

It seems funny to me that I can recall photos, places, people and journeys by what was worn or even eventually worn out. Never by any standard a clothes horse, I nonetheless had favorite garments, this being one, and I would wear each until it was utterly bedraggled unless it no longer fit.

I've sometimes wondered what happened to it after the fateful day I left it behind at a Goodwill...

Cheers on this chilly morning.

Monday, February 24, 2020


This was my favorite part of an unanticipated shop today. I had called the driver who normally assists me to book an appointment for this week and was surprised when he asked if I could be ready to go within thirty minutes as he was working and in my vicinity.
As I readied myself by gathering list, bags, wallet and keys, I thought how fortunate I am to have this help, albeit paid, because shopping alone can be a hassle. In addition to the cab fare I give him between $25 and $40 which I budget into my shop and grocery costs and we generally  get enough for two weeks, stopping for a coffee along the way. My go-to is usually the large Aldi on the outskirts of my neighborhood. Beyond basic foodstuffs, there are several higher priced alternatives, which I tend to avoid, in my area as well as the produce stand I like.

For my shop yesterday, I got both fresh and frozen vegetables, some organic strawberries and sliced watermelon, salad greens, bread and buns, veggie sausage, Kefir, cheese and half and half and my always needed cat litter. It was nice to be able to do this on a Sunday rather than a weekday evening and get it done quickly.

The afternoon was warmish and beautiful and would have been a great beach day but for the cost of getting there from where I live so I contented myself with a roll about once I was home though I would have preferred a change of scenery.

Did you have a favorite thing about your day?

Sunday, February 23, 2020


 Today, I had leftover veggie stir-fry of broccoli, pea pods, peppers, carrots and corn with chunks of pineapple and some brown rice. There is one portion left, so I may have that tomorrow. I've got some tomatoes that need to be eaten as well. This is a very far cry from the breakfasts I grew up on and what most Americans consume to start their day. 

As a kid and through my teens, breakfasts varied from cold cereal, milk and fruit to the hot offerings produced at the start of the weekday by my almost-somnolent mother who rose at 5:30 during her work week to have some quiet time and prepare food before getting dressed and making sure my eyes were open and I had at least one foot on the floor as she departed my room.

 We were both like bears that no-one should aggrieve upon waking, so my most common breakfast of scrambled eggs and a warmed honey bun was often silent as was the ritual of my mother brushing my hair before I headed either to the bus stop or her car for the journey to school. Though as a small child I had the then-popular Pop-Tarts, Fruit Loops or Apple Jacks, I happily rejected those for healthier alternatives as my teens ended. Never a fan of oatmeal or cream of wheat, cold cereal remained my go-to in our tropical climate. 

Yogurt and fresh fruit or toast with peanut butter were two frequent college repasts after my arrival in Florida, as both could be eaten and cleaned up quickly if I faced a hectic morning. Either could also be packed as a snack or enjoyed while walking to an early class.

My move to leftovers was years in the making and started as the result of shift work, a side hustle which grew and a series of lower paid positions which forced me to budget both money and time. As a younger adult, I learned to use my love of vegetables and fruits to transform my diet to one which was predominately meat-free, largely fresh and varied in texture, taste and cultural influences. 

Childhood in the tropics spawned a love of a range of foods, plant-based and otherwise. We had access to traditional cuisine of the region as well as a plethora of seafood, authentic Chinese fare and, because my grandparents were transplanted Southerners, eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles and various sausages and meats, including venison, pork, beef and chicken, were the norm in their home.

 My stepfather's contributions in our house included bagels, lox, herring, blintzes, latkes, matzo with eggs and jam or honey and beef tongue or corned beef. He also made a farmers salad of sour cream and cottage cheese with chopped green onion and sliced radish that I've never seen anywhere else and because he grew up in Maryland, the man could shuck oysters or crack open a shell at the speed of light and definitely knew his way around a crab cake. 

Survivors of the Depression, I often saw either or both maternal  grandparents take the heels of bread loaves and soak them in milk before eating them with a spoon and it was not at all unusual for both of them to eat grits, fried eggs and bacon all cut up and mixed together. Neither was it strange to forego syrup with pancakes or waffles. These would instead be drowned in the mixture of sunny side up egg, bacon or sausage. I must confess that I've never seen any other persons, Southern or not, enjoy a waffle or pancake this way and have often wondered about it.

 Another treat I remember was my grandfather's simple yet always perfect fried egg sandwich. Cooked in drippings kept beside the stove, the egg was almost always sunny side up with a hint of light brown surrounding the very edge of the egg white. Lifted onto a piece of warm toast with just the right amount of butter, and covered by same, it was heaven and could easily eclipse any other version served today from a fast food window or a grocer's freezer.

Alas, I rarely make eggs this way, preferring to poach or hard boil them and toast is rare unless I'm ill. Cooking for one often means leftovers and those are eaten before another entree is prepared. This avoids waste and keeps my costs down, Breakfast out remains a favorite, especially as part of a Sunday get-together with a friend or two.

Have you a favorite breakfast or any you fondly recall from childhood?

Friday, February 21, 2020

I'm No Social Butterfly But...

In the last week, I've caught up with two friends, one of whom is now retired due to medical issues. In the first instance, she and I were to meet up with a third but that did not happen. We took matters into our own hands and went for lunch at Outback in my neighborhood. It wasn't crowded or overly noisy and the service was great. We caught up and laughed, always important. This friend was a Fulbright Scholar and is very engaging. The next chapter of her life is a huge transition and I hope she will be happy.

The other friend is someone I see more often but in shorter bursts. She works full time and has a family and an equally busy life beyond her job. We made plans to go to an eatery neither of us had visited before and I treated her. She does a lot for me and Lukas and is a wonderful friend. We had a reservation for 6:15 and wanted to arrive with plenty of time to find parking.  As it turned out, she dropped me off, then had to park her car in a grass lot across the street.

Ella's Folk Art Cafe, in the heart of Seminole Heights, offers its own twist on Chef-prepared southern comfort food. Besides meat loaf and chicken pot pie without the traditional pastry crust, there was blackened fish over grits, a curry dish, several pizzas, salads and burgers. I can recommend the fish over grits with greens and tomato jam. It was perfect! My friend had a another chicken dish and was quite happily stuffed, too. I got the chicken pot pie to go and it made a fabulous change from the sandwich or salad I often have at mid-day. The top is actually seasoned bread crumbs, very similar to those used for stuffing but baked and more crunchy. The sauce and vegetables were well seasoned and the chicken chunky and plentiful. While not something I eat often due to my childhood trauma over the Swanson's frozen variety of pot pies, I would gladly eat this creation again.

Though it got noisier over the time we were there, we were still able to talk and generally had a very nice evening. The one drawback was having a bar in the middle of the downstairs section. We were seated close enough to pick up both the noise from patrons and draw the eye of a gentleman who came over to our table twice to kiss my hand and try a pick up line. Wobbly, whether from his eighty years or too much beer, he was at least polite and went his way without a fuss. He wished me a long life and I wished him a happy one.

On that note, I'll wish you all a relaxing weekend. 


Friday, February 14, 2020

This Made Me Smile...

Thanks to Ivy who blogged at the Happy Whisk, I got this really cute drawing that made me smile! Wishing all who celebrated a Happy Valentine's Day. The bear below is from me to you. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

It is a Good Thing Smell-A-Vision Isn't Real...

The boy made it home today and spent the first part of the evening chilled on his mat in our front room. He drank, ate a bit and took his pain med with nary a peep, eventually headbutting, purring and licking my hand in response to stroking.

Our mutual happiness was only slightly dimmed when, two hours later, I attempted to move his carrier and noticed the distinct aroma of L'Aire du Chat, which has nothing in common with a similarly named fragrance from Nina Ricci.

Chalking this up to nervousness at being hospitalized, anesthetized, surgically altered due to a molar removal and then transported in a car by someone not his, I set about washing his carrier mat, my third small load of laundry today. The odor, however, remained. Luckily, my strong constitution prevailed

At this point, I knew the carrier needed scrubbing and took a minute to gather towels, Nature's Miracle, and assorted thoughts. Large enough for a medium sized standing dog, this thing was not going to fit into the bathroom sink. I  opted for the kitchen, clearing  the counter of everything while leaving room for the flexible hose so that all I had to do was angle its bottom and use a scrubber which could then be thrown away.

Things went well until the hose slipped from my hand, showering me and le adoring chat. Those of you familiar with cats know that short of drinking it, they hate water, especially when sprayed upon them. Mine made a break for the farthest flung hiding spot he could find in our apartment, leaving me to sop up the kitchen floor, dry out the bottom of his carrier and re-assemble it, all while waiting for the washing cycle to end so that his mat could be dried.

You might think that putting his palace to rights would be quick. If so, I won't tell you about the two hours it actually took me, wet, smelly and .peeved. The door fell in, so the top and bottom had to be loosened enough to allow it to stand in the plastic grooves intended to allow it to swing open and shut. Then, there was a small plastic lock that fell from its housing and though  nothing was broken or missing and I could see how it was supposed to fit, no  try as I might, it would not work

Undaunted by this trial to my limited fine motor skills, I took a breath, let loose a string of curses and tried one last time, finally finding just the right groove to lock the piece in place. Good thing you cannot see my self-satisfied smirk. That vaguely lingering smell? It is now ,me and comes from carrying his malodorous laundry on my lap to the washer. Happily, the second shower of the day will be in the bathroom, as it should be.


Monday, February 10, 2020


This is a photo of one side of the area in which I had Sunday breakfast with a friend. Both it and the parking lot surrounding it are large and often crowded. One of my readers asked if I was being ironic in my original description. Only slightly as this is typical of the landscape in my neighborhood. Below is another.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Beautiful Day...

It was Spring-like here today. Cerulean skies, a slight breeze and noticeable warmth. Meeting a friend for lunch at my apartment, neither of us had any problem deciding that we needed a venue with outside seating. A well-known brunch spot with scenic views of storefronts, parking and the eight-lane road which fronts my condominium was settled on. Seated quickly, we both ordered breakfasts and sat undisturbed once we were finished for a good, old-fashioned chinwag.

Confirmed bookworms, we then ventured to the only remaining brick and mortar bookstore in my area of town and browsed for a bit. I brought home a small diary from the two dollar clearance bin and a mug which was also reduced. Our adventure led to us talking about two mutual friends neither of us had seen for awhile. Upon returning to my apartment, calls were made and one of them will join us for lunch on Thursday. It will be a nice get-together.

Tomorrow, Lukas has an insanely early appointment for a dental cleaning and whatever needs doing to his teeth. Another friend is transporting him. He will come home Tuesday afternoon. Until he emerges from the anesthesia, I will fret, or maybe just strum my guitar.

Update: It is Monday at 4:30 AM, and I am busily trying to distract a cat who cannot understand why breakfast is not being served. This may be a very long day...


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Stormy Night...

It has been windy all day and though sunny and cool, with nightfall came rain and tornado watches. Damage has been reported now across my county and those to the north and south of me. A steady stream of water is hitting the gutter off my small porch with such force that I can hear it in my bedroom. Fortunately, there has been no loss of power or any flickering lights, at least not yet.

My normally placid feline has been in bed next to me and shows no indication of wanting his favorite chair or a stretch on the love seat in the front room. I'm grateful for his comfort and a warm bed.



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Sleepless In...

Does anyone remember the film Sleepless in Seattle? That title, if not the plot, comes to mind on nights like this when sleep eludes me and the best I can hope for is a short nap to get me through to early afternoon.

By then, my massage appointment will be over and I can have a hot shower and possibly sleep. Someone asked recently if my appointments were a luxury.

I can tell you this: Anyone with chronically tight muscles, overused joints and low back pain despite daily stretching, will benefit from the hands and knowledge of an experienced massage therapist. What was once monthly has become weekly as I am getting older. Massage cuts down on, but does not completely eliminate, the pain or stresses on my musculoskeletal system. It keeps me out of an orthopedist's office and free from long term physical therapy. Pain medication is not effective and muscle relaxants have unpleasant side effects and can impair function temporarily. Stretching, massage and movement help and have done for years. Luxury? I think not.

We each live in our bodies, no matter how worn by time, age or injury, without respite. In my case, a premature birth and diagnosis of cerebral palsy at one year of age has meant I faced challenges in movement, balance, stability and motor skills. In addition, I walked and moved differently to most folks which added stress to joints and muscles and ultimately resulted in wear and tear not commonly faced until one is elderly. These began for me in my late twenties and have grown with time. Add in a few crappy injuries and you've got a body which is prematurely aged.

That I remain upbeat and happy for the most part is a testament to something shrinks label resilience. Defined as the ability to cope despite obstacles or setbacks, it equates to mental toughness and I would add, the ability to learn to do things differently in order to get the most from every day. Why some have this quality and others do not is a mystery to me but I suspect nature, nurture, environment and example have more than a bit to do with its development. A mental health professional would be better able to elaborate on this. I am merely speaking from my own experience.

This does not mean that I do not face bad days or sleepless nights. I am having a sleepless night now. The fact that I can write about it somewhat relieves the frustration I feel and I know, like bad gas, it will eventually pass. Good sleep hygiene helps as does meditation. If nothing else my furry, nocturnal friend is entertained when I keep his schedule, play with him and feed him early.

What do you do when you cannot sleep?

Sunday, February 2, 2020

No Super Bowl Here...

Our gray, cold and dropping temperatures have once more vanished. It is chilly but sunny and clear, a beautiful day to be off screens and outside.

The Super Bowl has been to my locale twice in the time I've lived in this building. It is hard to believe it has been over twenty years. By no means an American football fan, what I recall of those events has little to do with the sport and more to do with swelling traffic, crowds, noise and other more unsavory activities.

Though this community is small, our location right off a major road has always meant that the shrill sounds of an ambulance, along with fire and sheriff vehicles, breaking into my sleep at all hours. The added volume of traffic during Super Bowl weekend meant more cars, law enforcement out in increased numbers and fitful sleep for yours truly.

Awakened, I decided to get up and take out the garbage. Returning from the dumpster, I find my elderly neighbor poking around in the grass just outside our mailboxes. He tells me he's lost his key. After ducking inside for a flashlight, I notice blood on his face and helping him inside my apartment, begin to piece together the facts of a mugging at a nearby bank machine at which he had made a deposit. 

The sheriff and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter as did his two granddaughters and a friend of theirs. While laundering the blood from his dress shirt and making sure he did not need to go to the hospital, I was relieved when the deputies and trio of women finally decamped. His wallet, found in a restaurant parking lot, was returned later that night, apparently emptied and left there by persons on a crime spree in this usually peaceful neighborhood. 

I never knew who they were or what stupidity seized them and made them think they could get away with roughing up an older man and stealing from him. Though he has been dead for years, I spare a kind thought for this neighbor and his family on Super Bowl weekends. As the rest of America waits and watches, I will curl up with a book and hope for a sound sleep.

Have a good week...