Monday, July 30, 2007

New Orleans

Try this link and then go to the right POPULAR LINKS and click on Hear New Orleans Music. It is the music that keeps me going back!

New Orleans is all about the music!

French Quarter

White Linen Night Gallery Walk is Saturday night

Going to New Orleans

George and I have decided to go to New Orleans this weekend. This will be our fourth trip there, but our first since the hurricane. We really love the place. To love New Orleans you have to suffer. We went in May one year to go to the Jazz Festival and it was so hot we didn't even go. Sun like that is dangerous and they don't allow you to bring in chairs, water or umbrellas. I wanted to go, but I didn't want to see the show from the medical tent.

August in New Orleans is also going to be very humid and hot. I am mentally preparing myself to have a good time and ignore the sweat dripping down my face. They sell Gatorade at every corner drug store, and it is fun to duck into a restaurant or bar and get a cool drink (non-alcoholic for me, thank you) and grab some shade. I have a hat, and we have umbrellas for the chance of a brief thunderstorm. It is cooler on the riverboats, and we will be inside the museums and shops. Let's face it, half the world is near the equator. The tropics are hot, and New Orleans wouldn't be New Orleans without it's tropical flavor.

This year we will be going to the Satchmo Summerfest at the Old US Mint where they will have stages set up: Traditional Jazz Stage, Contemporary Jazz Stage, and a Brass Band Stage. We also plan on going to the White Linen Night gallery walk which takes place on Saturday night. I found a new restaurant called Cochon that serves authentic Cajun food: boudin, andouille, & something I haven't tried yet: crawfish. I'm determined to be braver and eat crawfish on this trip! My love for Cajun music has spilled over to my interest in everything Cajun.

At White Linen Night, everyone is given a fan and everyone wears white linen. It is an evening to celebrate the art of living in that kind of heat I guess. New Orleans loves a celebration. This is a "local" evening, not just for tourists and I'm looking forward to it. White Linen Night started as a celebration to get people out in the slow summer months. I like going to New Orleans during the slow times. We went for Christmas once with Mike and Michelle, and we went another time in the late summer. I would never go to New Orleans for Marti Gras. Too many crowds and too much chaos. I like it slow and simple.

This trip we will finally go to the World War II museum. They have airplanes, so of course George is very interested! And I am interested in history and am reading a great book on World War II called "1942:The year that tried men's souls" by Winston Groom. We plan on taking at least one tour, either a plantation tour or a swamp tour and we wouldn't miss a nice evening jazz cruise on the riverboat. There is also a tour of the ninth ward and the flooded out parts of New Orleans that we might want to take. They want tourists, and we will be there four days to do our part for the economy. New Orleans is never boring!

Our room at the Wyndham will have a view of the Mississippi River because I love big rivers and watching the riverboats and tugboats. We will go to the jazz brunch at Armauds on Sunday morning and eat a lot of fresh oysters at the Acme Oyster house and dance and dine one night at my favorite Cajun place in New Orleans: Mulates.

I'm packing my sandals for the heat, my sneakers for the walking, and my flats for the dancing. And a hat! It is just fun to even think about it!

Have a great day.

Market District

Oak Alley Plantation

French Quarter Wrought Iron

Friday, July 27, 2007

Jewelry class

I took a jewelry class tonight at a bead shop in New Hampshire. It was great fun. I learned how to make this peyote stitch wrapped cabouchon, in this case a vintage Swarovski crystal that is about one inch in diameter. It is sparkly and fun and something brand new. It is nice to learn new things...and I feel a lot less frustrated tonight.

Have a great night.

Call me frustrated

My mother called this morning. Her phone is not working in the kitchen. She says she needs a new battery from ATT. She said that she tried sending someone to WalMart for a battery and that it was not the same number and "didn't last long". I realize that a lot of this doesn't make a lot of sense. Why does she need a new battery anyway? The phone is not that old! My mother is just a little more technically challenged that most of us, and she is 97. She had called ATT and got the web site for me, and had already told me the price and shipping cost. She had most of the facts right, but for me there are bigger issues.

The biggest problem seems to be that I have to wait a week for it to ship to me, and then I have to ship it to my mother, and in the meantime she has to go to her bedroom to answer the phone. I asked if she would accept the solution of getting another cheaper phone to use in the meantime, but she wouldn't hear of it. I asked her to be careful and let the phone ring, and not try to run for it. I told her to tell people that she may take a long time to get to the phone. I worry that she will rush and fall on her way to the bedroom. And it is very frustrating because without a phone call, I have no idea how my mother is doing. We are completely dependent on her phone working well and her phone is hooked up to LIFELINE, which is her answer to any emergency she may have.

My mother has gone through about six phones in the past three years. Each one has developed a problem that we can't seem to solve long distance. None of her friends seem to be able to help either. No one wants to touch the problem of a faulty phone because they are just too darned complicated. My mother doesn't have to worry about dropped calls...she does have to worry about dropped phones--her grasp is not as good as it once was.

For my mom, big, easy-to-read dialing numbers is not the only issue. She can't see well enough to read the LED display for call backs, and she can't read the little buttons well enough to go through her messages or change her contact numbers. She has about 30 features on her phone that are totally useless to her. If I lived closer maybe I could help make this better...but it hard to replace a phone long distance.

Getting the new battery was an ordeal this morning. The model number she gave me didn't match anything on their web site, and when I called, I was told that I could buy a new battery for $19.99 with $11.25 shipping, but that they would have to ship it to the billing address--me, not her. After my order was all complete they told me that I also might find this battery at Circuit City, Radio Shack, Office Depot, Staples or Best Buy. What?

So, why am I paying $11.25 for shipping? Well, because. Rather than run around all those stores to see if they have a battery for a model that isn't even listed as one of the thousand model numbers on the web site...I thought I would just solve the problem like we often do: throw money at it.

Oh I wish things were simpler!

Have a great day...anyway.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

300,000 Scoville Units

Last spring at the garden center I noticed a particularly healthy little pepper plant. It was a habanero chili pepper. I bought it. Peppers don't do particularly well in New England, since they need a long growing season. Since I also offer safe harbor to a family of woodchucks under the garage, I figured that peppers planted in the garden would probably be eaten as salad long before they produced anything. So, I put my little habanero pepper plant in a window box on the deck railing.

It is thriving. Of all the plants I planted, this little pepper plant is going great guns. I read that the habanero chili pepper is 1000 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper. Michael told me a story of a friend of his who put three of them in a pot of chili and was disqualified from the "hot" chili contest because of ... well... because he probably injured the judges! The heat rating of peppers is called the Scoville rating. Habaneros have a Scoville rating of 9 out of a possible 10. The only thing hotter than them is pepper spray, which is used as a weapon.

So, I am not sure what I am going to do with my pretty not so little habanero peppers. I really just love looking at them as they go great guns in the window box. They are so deceptively charming!

I looked around and found this recipe:
Habanero Pepper Sauce

* 12 habanero peppers, stems removed, finely chopped
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup chopped carrots
* 1/2 cup distilled vinegar
* 1/4 cup lime juice

Saute the onion and garlic in oil until soft; add the carrots with a small amount of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft. Place the mixture and raw chiles into a blender and puree until smooth. Don't cook the peppers, since cooking reduces flavor of the Habaneros. Combine the puree with vinegar and lime juice, then simmer for 5 minutes and seal in sterilized bottles.
Heat index : 9 on a scale of 1-10.
Yields 2 cups

All yours!

Have a great day.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Good Harbor Beach

Our Lady of Good Voyage Church


Yesterday George and I went for a ride to Gloucester. On our first date, George misread the time on the movie start, and we missed it, so we took a drive to Gloucester. I guess it started a tradition. When we don't know what to do, we drive to Gloucester. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny Sunday. The air was dry and it was just a very nice day for a drive. We went by Good Harbor Beach and took this picture. It was crowded. The tide was out, so children were playing in the tide pools like they would play in a bathtub at home.

We drove by one of the nice old churches in Gloucester with great names like Our Lady of Good Voyage. This church was started in the mid 1800's by the Portuguese fisherman in Gloucester. It is interesting to imagine what life must have been like then, with no radios, radar, satellite phones, etc., and fishermen gone to sea for months at a time. I imagine that fisherman wives must have really suffered. Yesterday there was a wedding going on, and I got to see one of those huge Hummer limousines in use!

Everyone who had a boat was on it yesterday, and everyone was out. It was fun.

Have a great day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nuts to you!

Yesterday I was out in the back yard putting fresh water in the bird bath. George was upstairs in a darkened room taking a nap, a result of having flown all night from Hawaii to Boston.

I was in the middle of the yard, not far from a sailboat that is turned bottom up near the garage. I heard a strange sound. Plop. Plop, plop. I thought that a squirrel was throwing something down from the tree, or that a kid next door was plunking pebbles at our garage. Plunk, crack, pop, pop. I realized that something was falling from the tree, hitting the boat bottom and flying off into the yard.

Taking my life in my hands, I went and stood by the boat, waiting to get plunked on the head. On the ground were these nuts. They were falling steadily, 10 at a time, and it could not be squirrels or there would have to be a hundred of them up there.

Plunk, plop, pop. I noticed that some of the nuts that fell were open or half eaten, and others were whole. I noticed that they were not pecans. I noticed that unless I got out of there I was going to be beaned on the head. So I gathered this bunch up for my blogging pleasure, and skedaddled.

This morning I finally had time to ask George about it. He has lived in this house for over 30 years, he is an engineer, he knows everything. Although he told me they were hickory nuts, I could tell by his lame responses that he was clueless why they all fell at once. No, it wasn't squirrels; no, it has rained lately so they are not falling because of dryness; no, it wasn't the woodchuck. He looked at me and smiled. He had no idea.

I guess everything has it's time.

Have a great day!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


This is my grand niece, Alyssa, who George got to visit with in Hawaii. I will post more pictures later of the whole family. So cute!

Hawaii Socks

Just as I was finishing weaving the toe of these socks George called and he is at the airport. I am on my way to pick him up. We are only twenty minutes from the airport, and it will take him that long to get luggage.

I didn't get to go to Hawaii, but I knit mom a nice pair of socks in the time he was gone.

Aloha George!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Flickr Photos

Someone posted this picture of the sunset as they left Hawaii. Amazingly beautiful isn't it. George comes home now...he is on a plane as I write this. I will pick him up at Logan at 8 a.m. He will need a nap and I will need a hug.

Flower Basket

I was knitting a pair of socks last night and I looked over at this little yellow straw knitting bag I had bought on sale, and it just seemed to cry out for some decoration. So, some sock yarn got used to make some crocheted flowers. Too bad you can't see the little crystals in the center of each flower. Oh well...makes me happy!

Have a great day.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One of my favorite bracelets. I have priced this at $25.00, even though the materials for this bracelet cost almost that much. A bargain? Maybe. Fun to make? Definitely!

A mission statement for artists

Yesterday on WBGH there was a show about crafters and artists. A man who makes large sculptures from wood was talking and he said that he felt all artists needed to find out why they created. He said that he made these sculptures so that they would bring a little happiness into someone's life.

I make jewelry so that other people can enjoy it. Wearing my own jewelry is almost an afterthought for me. I would much rather create jewelry than wear it. Over the years I have had a lot of discussions with my friends about our craft. My jewelry prices are a little lower than most of my friends who are jewelry designers. I always try to make back the money that I spent on the materials that I put into something, but occasionally it is time to let something go to a new home and not worry about the money. The "profit" I get from making jewelry is the wonderful hours that I spend lost in the creation of it. It may not be a way to get rich, but it is a way to continue exploring, learning and enjoying my craft.

Recently I have been asked several times to repair something. A local bead store is giving my card to people who come to them for help. This got me thinking about why I am interested in doing this, when so many jewelry people just want to make new things...not repair old ones. I like to repair things because I like to help people. Owning something that you love but is broken is no fun...and bringing things back to a usable life IS fun!

I don't want people to cringe and walk away when they see the price tag. I want to be paid for my talent in combining beautiful materials into something people love to wear, but I love to price things so that people are able to happily walk away with something I've created. Once I design and create something, I want to take a picture and then see it go to a person who will love wearing it. If lower prices help jewelry go to a new home, then low prices it is. Clarifying my ideas has led me to create a mission statement for my jewelry design business:

"I design and create affordable jewelry that brings happiness to those who wear it. Since there is no fun to owning something that is broken and unwearable, I use my ability and talent to repair jewelry and to reconnect people with the joy of owning something they love. Jewelry is something that should make you happy when you wear it, and my designs are priced so that the smile stays even when you remember how much you paid for it."

So, that's it for today. I'm on my way to the jewelry studio to make someone happy.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A big gulp!

Since 7-11 is my birthday, and since my son and I are having a conversation about how to cut back on caffeine, I decided to vent forth about how crazy I think we are to buy drinks in such large containers.

Recently I have discovered that if I order a small iced coffee, it has at least 3 normal cups of coffee in it, and it is by far much more coffee than I need. A medium is crazy and those big things that people buy are just insanity!

Big Gulp: Here is the actual words from the website of the 7-Eleven company about their products: "Of all its proprietary products, 7-Eleven sells more fresh-brewed coffee than anything else – more than 1 million cups each day. That’s more than 10,000 pots of coffee an hour every hour of every day of the year."

Ok, I don't blame them for wanting to sell more of anything, since that makes the company more successful. I guess I am happy that we are talking coffee and not cigarettes, although I bet they sell plenty of those too.

So, here is what they say about the BIG GULP: "Beverages – biggest & best: 7-Eleven was the first retailer to introduce self-serve fountain drinks. When the 32-ounce Big Gulp® was introduced in 1980, it was the biggest cup on the market. In 1988, 7-Eleven introduced the giant 64-ounce Double Gulp®, the biggest soft drink on the market. Last year 7-Eleven stores sold almost 33 million gallons of fountain drinks – enough to fill 75 Olympic-size swimming pools."

Ok. I don't blame them for wanting to fill up swimming pools with Slurpies, but...can you imagine how many calories that would be?

Remember when a person would go get a cup of coffee at the diner, and sit on a stool and drink out of one of those heavy white porcelain mugs? Those hold 12 oz of coffee, which is already a cup and a half. In their day, those were considered big and bold and generous. Now, if we took that same mug and filled it up with a large iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts, we'd have to fill that mug about 16 times! The old cow poke at the l950's diner would be there ALL day trying to drink that much coffee!

It is no wonder we are all having trouble with caffeine addiction. And lets not even talk about the cream and the sugar!

Ok. I'm off the horse.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My cat is ruined!

My cat has become the ultimate beggar. I can't sit anywhere with any kind of food and she is on me like a flash. Skulking around with her claws OUT, just in case you may move and she might not be able to hang on, she paws her way to whatever is on my plate. Sometimes she wants things like sauerkraut, which you know she doesn't really want, but she scratches and claws her way across your arm to get to it. She doesn't eat corn, hot dogs, salads, but you wouldn't know that by the way she skulks into the room on her way to your plate! Yesterday she had her paws in my tuna salad (can't blame her for that one), and I had to MOVE to another part of the room, leaving her stupidly sitting on my chair all alone watching the TV as if she was interested in the show.

My cat is ruined. She is a beggar. She isn't even polite about it, and I'm tired of having a sharp knife-like claw gently touching my arm every time I want to eat something!

No, you are NOT getting my cranberry scone. Go away!

While George is in Hawaii, I will console myself with songs by Joni Mitchell. If you haven't heard any of her songs lately, listen to a few tracks on is incredible what we are missing in music today.

Aloha George!

George left for Hawaii yesterday. He had a layover in San Francisco and arrives in Honolulu today about 7 p.m. A few weeks ago, we thought it might be possible for me to accompany him on this trip, but there is too much going on here at home for me, and I couldn't take the week off. It isn't really a vacation for him, since he has to work four days...and if I were there, I'd be doing touristy things by myself some of the time, which would not be as much fun. He comes back on Friday, so it is a short trip for such a long plane ride. I am consoled with the thought that we might be able to go some other time, within a year, and that we could stay longer and enjoy it more.

Last night I consoled myself by watching two episodes of Kathy Griffin "My Life on the D List" which is my new favorite TV Show. She is an intelligent comedienne and she is off-the-cuff funny.

Then I went shopping. When the going gets tough...the tough go shopping.

Have a great day.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Notes from my garden

George and I planted 12 tomato plants this year, and next year the garden needs to be moved where it gets more sun. Shade and tomatoes is not a great combination.

Basil and marigolds together. My basil crop is outstanding this year, and well away from the pesky woodchucks.

My "kitchen garden" of herbs, right by the back door.

Light green coleus is great for making other flowers look better!

Dark leaves and white flowers are a great combination.

Habanero Peppers are 1000 times hotter than Jalapeno peppers!

I planted this little beauty hoping that the critters would eat it at their peril!

Home on Sunday

George and I went to church, where they do not have air conditioning, and even with ceiling fans my friend calls it a "hot box". It is just bearable. The weather here is sunny and warm with thunderstorms expected later in the day. George and I have remarked often that the weather here in Boston comes from a whole other place than the weather at First Connecticut Lake. Up there, the weather map shows the clouds and rain looping down from Canada, and here the weather often comes straight across from Chicago or Ohio. As soon as we get below the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the weather starts to look like a real hot summer day. Up there the days all look like a nice warm day, but not particularly summery. If you want sun every day, northern New Hampshire is not the place to go.

We are still talking about the wild life we saw and enjoyed so much this past week. Here at home it is time to unpack, mow the lawn, trim the veggies, dead head the petunias and make sure the tomatoes are safely inside their cages. My herbs have grown a foot, and the basil is flowering like crazy. The tiny chamomile plant that I bought as an experiment has grown a foot up from the window box and has little flowers on it. If I picked them I could make tea, but I'd rather look at them for a little while. The thyme and abundant, the lavender has beautiful blue blossoms and the sage is healthy and ready for a turkey.

Tomorrow George leaves for Hawaii, a rather sudden trip and one that I cannot participate in. Maybe next year. Someone has to stay home and take care of the hacienda and the kitty. She has had good care while we were gone, but needs a pal in the house. George is going to be gone less than a week, so that is a long airplane ride for a short stay. As an important client said once in a meeting I attended, "a long run for a short slide." We wish him a healthy and happy trip.

Time to go water more plants. Have a great day.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A vacation for wildflowers and wildlife!

Snapshots from our vacation

Blueberry "cabin" pancakes

Lemon Meringue "Birthday Pie"

Mr. Rabbit who surprised us on the road one day.

George's happy chipmunk.

My "Monet" picture of lilypads on the river.

Happy fisherperson!

My least favorite thing about fishing--taking the hook out of the fishes mouth. This fat salmon was put back into the lake --just say yes to catch and release!

Night falls.

East Inlet River leading to the lake. Perfect for flyfishing!

A loon visited every day

A week at the lake

George and I got back this afternoon from a week in Northern New Hampshire. It is called a “fishing trip”, but we do a lot of other things and just a little fishing. First Connecticut Lake is one of a series of four lakes created by damming the headwaters of the Connecticut River. The lake is surrounded by mountains and woods and there is no industry and very few jobs. "Town" is 35 miles away. Because of the lagging economy, and probably the difficulty of owning a property where summer lasts only two months and winter lasts forever, almost every other property you see has a For Sale sign in the front. It is tempting. I have heard that you can buy a cabin on 5 acres for $25,000. Of course, in such a cabin, running water may be a problem, and frozen pipes are certainly going to be the norm. But, it is still tempting. The Northwoods of New Hampshire are truly beautiful.

We do a lot of wildlife viewing when we are there. Rather than spend the whole day down at the lake reading, or on our lawn playing games or cooking, we like to take long drives through the woods, discovering new places to fly fish and exploring out of the way logging roads leading to who knows what. We made a list of all the wildlife we saw on our wanderings: loons, deer, moose, a coyote skulking our neighboring cabin, mallard ducks with ducklings so small George said they were still “egg shaped”, yellow shafted flickers, a beautiful Merganser momma duck with 16 little ducklings rushing along after her, a lovely big brown rabbit who looked like he wanted to come home with us, and a wild turkey that barely missed a collision with our front bumper. We went out in the evening to look for moose and never came back without seeing at least one, and usually two or three. Moose are big and dumb looking, but they are elegant in their surroundings, and it is apparent immediately that you don’t want to run into one in your car. Driving slowly, we scan the woods and usually find them near muddy depressions along the road.

George fed a chipmunk who became a frequent visitor to our cabin, thanks to a whole can of expensive mixed nuts which George fed him one by one over the course of the week. Chipper would eat one or two, and then scamper off to his hole not far away to stash the others away in his storeroom. A charming red squirrel eventually found out about the bounty of nuts and came around to visit too. George also hung a suet feeder in the pine tree near our cabin so we could enjoy chickadees and woodpeckers who stopped by for the feast. Even crows came and jumped up from the ground to see if they could get to the greasy suet. In his own nice way, George made sure that we also had something interesting to watch from our cabin front porch.

Fishing news: Yvonne caught TWO beautiful lake salmon off the dock. At 7:00 pm, we would go to the dock with our bug spray and chairs, and fish for lake salmon or lake trout that come to the dock about that time. Connecticut Lake is deep and is not a place where it is easy to catch a fish. Catching two in one trip is a real accomplishment for me, a novice fisherperson at best. It was fun to bring them in, watch them fight and gently tug them into the net so we could release them unharmed if we wanted to. The first and bigger fish was a lovely fat salmon that we managed to get off the hook without harm and plunked him rather ungracefully back into the lake. The rock pier was too high to lay him in the water gently like you're supposed to. He was a little stunned at first, but eventually recovered and took off like a shot. The second fish I caught, a 17" lake salmon, was donated to our cabin neighbors who very badly wanted to have a fish dinner and hadn't caught anything. I was happy to share, since we had already had our dinner. Catching fish is so much fun. Every once in awhile during the week we would say to each other, “And we caught TWO fish!”

We both read three books and I knit a pair of yellow socks and we had a great week of fun and relaxation. The bugs weren't bad, and my mosquito repellent worked like a charm. The weather was dramatic: sun and clouds, thunder and lightning, then more sun. The stars were so bright on our last night that I had to wake George up to come and see them. The big dipper looked like it was hanging in the sky about thirty feet overhead. I have never seen stars that bright, ... and the wildlife!!

What a great vacation we had. Have a great day.