“How Does Your Garden Grow?”

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I snapped this picture the morning before the power went out in the Tropical Storm/ Hurricane. I had intended to write about our yard, and was settling in to do so when we got a tornado alert on our phones and scurried to the basement. As you know, the next days were spent in the dark without connectivity. This time even our cell service, which worked during the blizzard which knocked out electricity, failed to work. Some towers must have gone down along with the trees. As a follow up to yesterday’s remarks on Eversource, which I am renaming Neversource, much of the state remains without power. They anticipate that 99% of people will have it by next Tuesday, a full week after we lost it.

We may have been quietly confined at home during this pandemic, but outdoors things have flourished. We have never had such abundance of zinneas. Similarly, the cardinal flowers are in full bloom. The blueberry plants, surrounded by a better netting, have produced better than ever. Last night my husband came into the house with at least 50 tomatoes from the garden, just the first of many. He may have gone a little wild with seed catalogs!

Birds have been prolific too. One pair of robins fledged three broods from a single nest. Nuthatches, wrens, mourning doves, sparrows, blue jays, carolina wrens and tufted titmice have been busy reproducing too. From the sounds we hear it appears a hawk has nested near by, since we hear her screeching as she drives away crows and blue jays.

I am comforted by nature’s resilience right now. People may not have a clue about how to function, but the birds and flowers are doing very well.

“Blog Interrupted”

053B905B-8195-48C6-9B17-DF64E1C7E368Or as Rick said in Casablanca: “I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

Well the best laid plans, as our Scottish friend Robert Burns noted in similar language, often go astray. I was ready to leap full bore into blogging, reconnecting with my friends, posting new thoughts, reading comments, writing comments, and generally restoring my blog presence. Then, right in the middle of a Zoom conversation, we received a tornado warning and fled to the basement.  Then the power went out. And stayed out.

I would like to think that there was no connection between Eversource, our power company, having their rate increase revoked last week and their failure to prepare for 70 mile an hour winds forecast for Tuesday across Connecticut. That would be easier to believe if the other power company in the state, United Illuminating, hadn’t planned accordingly. But they had. “Surprised by the storm, ” Eversource lost power for 800,000 Connecticut households by Tuesday night. And so inept they were unable to say more than “we are assessing the damage” for two days. Even their web site to report outages crashed because “we don’t have the manpower to keep our web site current.”

We lost all the food in the refrigerator. We lost all the ice cream in the freezers. Fortunately freezers are able to keep things in general frozen for 48 hours if the door is left closed. We regained our power after 47 hours, and most meat and poultry stayed solidly frozen. Many other residents are emptying their freezers as I write. And the two large grocery stores near us have had to throw out all fresh and frozen goods. This at a time when many citizens are going hungry because our national government continues to squabble over benefits. Sadly they can’t eat the spoiled food, though I suspect there are some officials who are wondering why not.

The underbelly of the United States is on full view for the world right now. It is not a pretty picture.

“Without Leaving Home”

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A popular credit card company used to have a tag line “Don’t leave home without it.” Now I experience the opposite, “Don’t forget where you put your card before you order.” In our part of the country, while many restrictions have been lifted, people over 65 are still being advised to “Stay Safe. Stay Home.” This means that I have become very used to seeing our local United Parcel Service delivery man.

When I was a child, most things came as deliveries. Milk, cottage cheese and eggs came from the dairy. Clothing and toys came from Sears or Montgomery Wards. The pharmacy delivered. Department stores would help over the phone with purchases and then deliver them. Even if we went downtown on a Saturday and bought things they were delivered to our home later that day. The only time we left home to buy things was on Saturdays. Once a week my mother used our one car to go to the grocery store and the library to stock up on food and books. My father used the car the rest of the week to go to work. But of course all of that changed over the last fifty years. Until now!

I have made the transition to even buying groceries on line and having them delivered, though I do miss just going to the store. While I miss my weekly visits, our library has recently made it possible to phone in book requests and then drive there and have a librarian put the books in the trunk of the car. No serendipitous finds, but something to read nonetheless.

Because so many people in my country refuse to follow even basic requests for masks and social distancing, the virus rages out of control here. I remain impressed by the compliance in my state, but we are very much outliers in the national scene. And of course we can’t stay return to any semblance of normal life until our fellow citizens across the nation get control of the epidemic.

Until then, I will stay home and stay safe. And I will continue to fill our recycling bin with the enormous amount of cardboard coming into our home every week. Maybe I should have invested in a carton factory!

“I’m Ba-a-a-ck”

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I finally have my new computer up and running and have managed to load all my old data from the Time Machine Apple calls it external hard drive. Though I was dubious, everything did transfer seamlessly over to the new hard drive. Thankfully I learned many computer catastrophes ago to always back up everything.

I am a little challenged about how to reenter the blogging sphere. I have missed reading friends for ten days and I know I can’t catch up both reading and commenting. I will try to ease my way back to connection and hope to respond at least to comments I received while I was incommunicado.

I really missed the interactions with friends around the world that I had become accustomed to over the last four years. I realized that the main reason I hadn’t felt isolated during Covid was that I was connected to people every day. Without that over the last week I found I was feeling as lonely as many others report these days.

Thank you for all your writing and responding. You make a real difference in my life.

“Another One Bytes The Dust”

311A4105-4983-4EBF-A276-708B2D40D189We have had a great run, but I am saying good bye to my beloved IMac. It has served me as faithfully as all of its predecessors over the last forty years. I remember  my state of the art Leading Edge computer which allowed me to retire my IBM Selectric typewriter. I could now “process” words and more. I could “cut and paste.” ( Ironic  that the old journalism terms were used for this new machine’s capabilities.) So Word Perfect and MS-DOS and games that were all text based are in the past. So many skills so quickly obsolete. But I should be able to make a fairly smooth transition this time.

It is too difficult to continue Blogging on my IPad, so I will be silent for the week it takes my new machine to be built and shipped. I will—to echo General MacArthur—return!

 

“Computer Problems”

I am writing a quick post on my IPad since at the moment I can’t get my Mac to function. I can’t post comments or reply to comments until I fix this major glitch. Will return soon with either a fixed desktop or a new one.

Thanks  to all. Back soon.

“Requiescat in pace”

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U.S. Representative John Lewis, Georgia, February 21, 1940–July 17, 2020

He has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith.

For those of you who missed it, I reviewed the film, Good Trouble,  focusing on John Lewis on July 12. It is available to stream in the United States. I am not sure of its availability outside my country. An inspiring man who fought for justice his whole life, he succumbed to pancreatic cancer diagnosed in December, 2019.

“House Guests”

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A friend reminded my this morning that before the eagle was chosen to be the national bird of the United States, the turkey was under consideration. This morning I was finally able to take a picture of the mother turkey who has been frequenting our yard recently. Hard to make out, the little beaver looking blob on the fence to the right of the photo is one of her offspring facing backwards. This is the first time we have spotted the mother on top of the playhouse, but it does give her a wider view than from the top of the fence. Perhaps she is looking for the other four young turkeys.

At the moment I think that the turkey would be a much more fitting national bird than the eagle. Certainly vast portions of our country have managed to allow the covid virus to run rampant while their citizens fight over mask wearing. There is nothing soaring and majestic as an eagle in most of the nation right now. Connecticut is known as the “land of steady habits,” so I guess once we donned our masks in April amid the devastating effects of the disease here, we never stopped wearing them. We never had a chance to think they were political, so scared were we of getting sick.

So we are home still. And I expect we will remain so as it is impossible to isolate Connecticut from the rest of the country. New Zealand is an island nation and can restrict its borders and did so to contain the virus. We aren’t and we can’t. But at least we have a supply of masks in the meantime, no matter how long “meantime” ends up being.

“A Loaf of Bread and Blueberries?”

The grocery order came with two baguettes rather than the one I had ordered. We can only eat one in a day or so, and I had no idea what to do with the other. As it dried out I remembered bread pudding as an excellent use for stale bread. On the counter sat a large bowl of blueberries, freshly picked and not yet frozen. My husband’s blueberry garden has been particularly productive and we have had blueberries galore. Perhaps I could find a recipe for blueberry bread pudding.

I love my well worn cookbooks, but this search sent me to the internet. Here I found countless recipes, most of them requiring heavy cream, lots of butter and copious amounts of sugar. None sounded either appealing, simple or healthy. Then I ran across the “Kemptville Blueberry Bread Pudding” recipe. I planned to link it to the post, but found you would also get numerous ads. Suffice it to say it is easy to find using its title. This recipe actually asked for cubing a stale baguette! After adding skim milk,vanilla, two eggs, a cup of sugar, one and one half cups of blueberries and dotting the top with butter, I popped it in the oven.

I would have featured a photo of the product, but my husband got to it before my camera did. Best about this version is that the crunchy crust of the French bread gives the pudding a satisfying contrast between the milk soaked bread and the top. Next time you find yourself with an unexpected baguette, I recommend the treat.

“Return to Manderley”

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When I was thirteen I read Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca. Although I didn’t remember the plot, I recalled my immersion in the reading and my understanding that I could now read “adult” novels.( Before I was thirteen I had to have a note from my mother to allow me entrance to the adult section of the library. Needless to say that encouraged my leap to more difficult reading.)

I suggested to my covid bound thirteen year old granddaughter, an avid reader, that she try Rebecca for herself. For the last three days she has reported the experience she is having reading it. We sit six feet apart and she regales me with the excitement, the reading challenge, and the plot of the book. I am genuinely curious about the plot since I don’t remember it, and any young reader loves to recount the story line to a receptive ear. I expect that at our evening’s get together tonight she will have finished the novel and I can find out what happened at Manderley after years of only remembering the famous opening line, Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

I asked her if the book was challenging to read. She told me that she can understand the words but that the plot is complicated and sometimes difficult to follow. Most delightfully for me, a retired English professor, she said “they used more verbs then.” What a wonderful commentary on the rich language in ordinary popular fiction. I am glad she rose to the reading challenge and has been swept away as I was sixty years ago by good writing.