Posted in Food and Entertainment, Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Travel

Day Trip: Woodstock NY

Ever since I narrowly missed attending the original Woodstock festival on August 18, 1969, I have been in love with the area and visit as often as I can. There’s something about the town and the people. Caring. Non-judgmental. All have always been welcome. With a plethora of cafes, bakeries, vintage clothing, jewelry stores and crystal delights, you’ll also always find a musician or two entertaining you as well as some others lecturing you on the powers that let it be.

Hubby and I took a delightful ride up the Catskill mountains where the leaves are just, oh! so slightly, starting to turn into their magical colors, to spend the day in Woodstock, NY. (America’s favorite hippie town click here). The temps were in the high 50s but the warm sun made wearing a sweater not a necessity. It was just one of those near perfect fall days. Hubs and I packed some cheeses, sliced turkey, some seltzers and a few chocolate cookies. When we are in the area, our first stop has always been Bread Alone (note the long line outside the store). We’ve been stopping off at this favorite bakery of ours since 1994. The baker/owner had an authentic oven imported in from France back in 1983 and we still don’t know how he does it BUT he bakes the finest organic French baguette ($2.75) that would put Paris to shame!

There was a Flea Market going on in downtown Woodstock. As well as their Sunday Farmer’s Market. Almost everyone was wearing a mask and try as they might, social distancing was being followed through also. Lots of foreign voices heard talking on the streets of Woodstock. It truly has become an international destination. It was nice to be out and about and see so many people! Finally!

Lastly, we stopped to have our lunch at Overlook Mountain. There was a pleasant sparkling brook passing under the overpass. The sound of the moving water made our lunch all the more special.

Here are just some of the photos I shot today. Woodstock is my happy place!

Posted in Food and Entertainment, Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Pandemic, Retirement

Finding Comfort In Movies Written To Cheer The Masses During The Great Depression And Beyond.

My father, who introduced plastic as a substitute for steel, used to make movie signs, such as this one, for Lowes Cinemas

The sign image I have uploaded above, is a plastic, hand etched sign my dad made for all the Lowes movie theaters back in the 1940s-1950s. Back then, an adult could see a full screen movie for only thirty five cents (.35) Kids were only a quarter (.25). Because my dad sort of worked for Lowes, my mother, sister and I used to see all the movies we wanted, for free!

My mother loved the movies. She said it was the greatest escape from human life there ever was. My mom and dad grew up through The Great Depression and World War II. What better way, my mom used to say, was there to spend 2 hours simply forgetting all your care and woes and escaping from the drudgery of every day life? I’m certain my mom’s movie viewing reasoning is as applicable today as it was back in the 1940’s.

Some of these movies came to TV but only the most successful ones, such as Casablanca (1942), starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman), It Happened One Night (1934)(starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and the infamous Frank Capra holiday favorite, It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. The lessons and/or the movie’s meaning is as vital today as they were back then.

You can’t get movies like these anymore today nor can you get actors and actresses as wonderful and talented as the likes of Ingrid Bergman, Clark Gable, Myrna Loy or Barbara Stanwyck. Today, most scripts are computer generated and written through a series of algorithms of what mass audiences would want to see and pay to see. Ditto for actors. Sometimes computers and CGI graphics take over so much for basic human functions, it leaves most actors useless. Even the gossip columns today can’t conjure up any more scandalous scandals because even your basic human being has done it all, seen it all and played it out all. Actors and actresses today aren’t special.

That’s why I am so excited to tell you that I have found a treasure trove of all those old time, old fashioned, real-to-the-bone movies, dating back to the 1930s, 40s and 50s (and even some silent movies dating back to the 1920s) on Amazon Prime! The scripts and story lines have been written by real live people, with real writing talent and experiences that portray human life and all it’s angst, woes and happiness in actual terms. Some of the story lines are so intense, a bit risque and so-true-to-life that for the oftentimes two hours of play time, you really do forget your own woes, your own depressions or disenchantment with life’s realities. Let’s admit that nothing on the earth was as harsh and as difficult as The Great Depression or the aftermath of World War II. Loss of loved ones, food shortages, work and job shortages, death and war, how did those Americans (or the world for that matter) keep a stiff upper lip and carry onward and upward?

According to my mother, it was the movies that were her refuge. Maybe you think that Star Wars can shelter you from our current realities but wouldn’t it be more beneficial to see the likes of Myrna Loy or Barbara Stanwyck deal with food shortages, quests to find the true meaning of life, true lost love or how to resolve a boring retirement (Yes! they used to retire back in the 1930s! Who knew?)

Here are just a few samplings of the many, many old time movies Amazon Prime is offering its customers, for free!

I’ll start right off and tell you I’ve a hankering for Gary Cooper. His ‘aw sucks’ kind of humility and humbleness you just don’t find in a human being today, especially as an actor. He’d be laughed right off of the film imprint. But Gary Cooper had a way of showing his true feelings yet maintain his masculinity and manliness, making you swoon over him all the more.

I’m sure we are all familiar with his big movie hit Pride Of The Yankees (1942), the story of Lou Gehrig and his battle with Alzheimer Disease (which BTW there was no name for the disease back then, so it was called ‘The Lou Gehrig Disease’). Back in the day, no body talked about it, no one mentioned it….the disease was whispered about it but never openly discussed with anyone, especially family members. In retrospect, love of America and baseball was supreme and the police force were actually your friends. It’s also good to see Walter Brennan as a sports writer. Brennan was actually a very good actor before he took on the role of a limping Grandpa McCoy in the TV hit, The Real McCoys from 1957 to 1963. Brennan was so good with that limp that even I believed it to be real until I started seeing Brennan in different roles. Yup. Pure perfect acting!

A few weeks ago, I started watching some of these old movies, dating back to the 1930s. The Great Depression was raging outside those movie walls but you’d never know it. I found most of the story lines enchanting, well written, well acted (sometimes by actors I never knew, such as Walter Huston) and for two hours I didn’t think about our own raging pandemic, our loss of life, of loved ones, our burning cities, our mass chaos, our hatred, our anger, our food shortages, the newest hunger affecting our school age kids, the inability to attend school, our lying news media, our lying politicians, our inability to travel, enjoy life, eat out in restaurants, food shop, ride mass transit, visit friends or family and the upcoming holidays that many of us will have to spend alone.

I found great comfort in the 1933 hit, The Wedding Night starring Gary Cooper and Anna Sten. Broke and out of opportunity, Gary Cooper and his wife must give up their city life and go live, for free, at the family’s farm in Connecticut. Sound familiar? As city people they have no idea how to live on a farm, light a fire, cook their food, warm their house. They even brought along their butler who leaves at the first sign of a snowflake. Cooper’s wife also leaves as soon as Cooper sold some of the farm land to a next-door neighbor for $5,000. Five thousand dollars was A LOT of money back in the mid 30s as it is now! The wife takes the money, runs back to the city leaving Cooper alone, who then falls in love with his next door neighbors daughter, who is betrothed to another via her Polish heritage and a very mean father. Are you loving this plot already? I recommend this movie highly! My advice is to watch it to the very, very end. That’s all I’ll say!

Next movie I would highly recommend is Dogsworth (1936) starring Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton (who? I had no idea who these people were till I watched the movie). The movie gives credit to three writers in four categories. The movie plot is about a recently retired automotive tycoon and the trials and tribulations he and his wife go through during their early retirement years! Who knew, back in 1936 that people worried about their retirements? The couple each has their own different view of what retirement life should be. The husband wants to travel and see the world. The wife doesn’t want anyone to know they are retired nor that she even is a new grandmother because the wife wants to retain her youth, live the good life in Paris and Vienna and take on a lover or two or three! without her husband finding out!! As I stated above, you have to watch this movie to the very end because the plot twists and turns continually. You just never know, as in real life, how your retirement can turn out.

Writing Credits  

Sinclair Lewis(novel)
Sidney Howard(dramatisation)
Sidney Howard(screenplay)
Robert Wyler(uncredited)
You can’t get great writers like these fine men (women) anymore in our modern day IMHO!

I’m currently watching Stella Dallas (1937) starring Barbara Stanwyck and John Boles. Many of the movies back in the 30s and beyond had a lot to do with class struggle. The rich against the hard working man/woman. The struggle for money, power, fame and political standing in many a small town USA. Stanwyck as Stella knows the only way she is going to get out of a hard knock life is through marriage. So, she schemes and plots and skedaddles her way into a marriage of wealth and convenience only to lose it along the way due to her inability to keep up the fake ruse. Eventually she will have to give up her only daughter to a life of wealth and extravagance thinking that that was the only way she could give her daughter a better life. Get out the hankies ladies. This is a soaker!

Nothing can make any woman cry harder than giving up their only child in a desperate effort to provide a better life for one’s child. And to see it all, through a window, while you stand outside, cold and shivering, in the rain, on the street, as you watch your daughter get married, get dressed up by her step mother and not you, because you don’t have the standing, the education, the status one needs in this world to have a better life. (gosh, I’m crying again already)

Nope. They just don’t make movies like they used to. They don’t have actors and actresses like they used to. And yet, we still have the same problems like they used to with no solutions in sight. Just a means to escape them for an hour or two. And then keep a stiff upper lip and move forward.

That’s about all we can do. And watch these wonderful, fabulous movies!!!

Another two that I can recommend is My Foolish Heart (1949) starring Susan Hayward and Dana Andrews. (Plot: After being visited by an old friend, a woman recalls her true love, the man she met and lost years ago). How many of us ladies dream and long for the man who got away? I love it!

The second is Enchantment (1949) starring David Niven and Teresa Wright. Again, another movie about class status. Adopted by a wealthy family, a young, newly orphaned girl named Lark, grows up in a mean household overrun by her over-jealous and controlling ‘step sister’ but buffered by the love of her two ‘step brothers’ one of whom she falls in love with. The movie takes place during the war, so time is of the essence. It is a story of lost love, lost chances and how one decision in life can change the course of many people’s lives. Don’t miss it!

Happy viewing. And if you have any other movies you would like to share with me and all our readers, please leave the name of the movie in the comments section. With a long cold winter looming out there, it will be a very welcome sight to view more “new” movies!!

PS: If you like my blog and want to read more, please click on the ‘Follow’ button and enter your email for the latest updates as I write them! Thanks for stopping by!

Posted in DIY Home & Repairs, Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Retirement

How Not To Buy An Expensive Vacuum

I don’t think I can ever justify buying a $700 vacuum. Yet, millions of people buy $700 vacuums. And $500 vacuums. And $250 vacuums. And $1000 vacuums. Take a look at what Consumer Reports says are the best vacuums (and this is just a sliver). Only the Hoover is priced below $200s and I’ve never used a Hoover.

I’m kind of a Bissell gal as I have always had a shedding dog and Bissell likes to manufacture vacuums that specialize in pet hair. Because I have owned several shedding dogs in my lifetime, I vacuum each and every day. Sometimes twice a day. Yup! You read that correctly. I vacuum my whole house Also, because I have always had dogs, I have always had wood floors. I used to have carpeting only in the bedrooms but I eliminated those years ago. I have laminate flooring in the bedrooms and home office too. Wood floors every where else, including the kitchen. Bathrooms are tiled.

I’ll just talk about my vacuum use over the last twenty years or so. I have very expensive bamboo wood flooring in my living room, kitchen, dining area and hallway (leading down to the bedrooms which now have laminate flooring). Knowing that bamboo is really grass but sustainable grass, I opted for the extra hard wood bamboo that was supposed to be resistant again dog nails and scratches. WRONG! My bamboo flooring shows every single knick, scratch, dog imprint, shoe imprint, plate dropping, pot dropping as well as every single droplet of water that oozes out of my mongrel’s mouth or falls out of the refrigerator!

After a year of frustration and upset, and after trying every single cleaning product on the planet, I have given up trying to keep my bamboo floors looking decent. My dogs have been forbidden to step paw inside my living room, so that area is almost pristine (the dog will slip in and try to wrangle going up the stairs to the 2nd floor where dogs are 1000% strictly forbidden due to allergies……..and leave alas, scratch marks….but they are at a minimum.) The rest of the bamboo flooring? Well, they’ve been scratched, pawed, knicked, dented and I decided one day, to mentally consider my bamboo flooring antique! This change of thought rendered all those knicks, scratches and dents to be medals of honor and symbols of a wood floor well lived! In other words, I consider those imperfections to be perfections now and are just simply showing off their good fortune in wear and tear.

I don’t even use fancy, expensive floor cleaners anymore. I found out, through a kind southern lady on the internet that just a shot of Dawn liquid into a half sink of very hot water and a mop cleans the floors up just fine! They’re grease and smudge free and actually shine. The knicks, dents and scratches give the floor a kind, worn, weathered look now and somehow it all works out. My living room, however, is another story. I use a good shiner/cleaner in there since no one uses the room and the flooring looks almost new AND shiny.

For twenty years I have used this simple Bissell stick vacuum to vacuum ALL my bamboo flooring as well as the sometimes carpeting or area rugs in my home. When I first bought this model, it only cost $15. It didn’t scratch the floor till the bottom rubber wore out, which took around 1.5 to 2 years. I would know when it was time to get a new vacuum when I would start to see scratches on the bamboo floors. The vacuum couldn’t be upgraded or repaired so I just bought another $15 Bissell stick vacuum and either re-used the vacuum somewhere else, tossed the old vacuum away or donated it to Goodwill.

Today, the same vacuum cost under $20 but when it came time for me to replace it two months ago, I noted that I had 5 stick vacuums inside my home! One I used in the RV. Another in the barn. Another upstairs in the kids bedrooms. Another hanging out in the front hall closet. Ridiculous! I decided I was going to look for a better, more expensive (within reason) vacuum dedicated to wood flooring AND pet hair and perhaps one that would/could last longer than 2 years!

I wanted to remain with a Bissell and I wanted to utilize the newest in vacuum technology which was to go ‘cordless’. Vacuums now had lithium batteries and no cords so literally, you could go anywhere in the house and vacuum away. After extensive research, I settled on this Bissell PowerLifter cordless model for $129. Amazon was giving a rebate, so the vacuum only cost me $107.50. It was fantastic. It picked up years of dirt my little stick vacuum had missed! Especially in my bedroom, where our dog slept (on her own bedding). I have a recently purchased shag rug in the bedroom (I thought it would give the bedroom a funky, trendy look) and the new cordless sucked up oodles of dog hair the $15 stick vacuum had missed. The unit was awesome! It made my floors sparkle.

There was just one problem. ONE IMPORTANT MAJOR PROBLEM. The ion battery only lasted 12 minutes, whereby it had to be charged and the charging took 7 hours to complete! Who in their right mind can clean a house in 12 minutes? What idiots! It was like a daily stressful challenge for me to get the vacuuming done before the battery died. It was insane! After a few weeks, I sent the vacuum back, got a refund and started aknew looking for a dependable, inexpensive, guarantee-not-to-scratch-wood-floor vacuum.

Again, silly me, thinking I would stick to Bissell (no pun intended) because of their innovative pet hair cleaning policy, I chose another stick model, but with more suction and a automatic switch from roller brush (for carpeting) to standstill (for wood floors). This 3-in-1-Turbo lightweight unit cost a bit more ($35) but I thought it would be worth it. Wrong. When the unit was delivered, first time out trying it, the unit did not switch from beater brush to standstill for wood floors. The beater brush ran continuously, which meant it would severely scratch any wood flooring irreparably. Back it went. Instantly I got my refund. And I was back to square one.

Till I remembered a YouTube video I saw from a fellow RVer.

The lady of the house/RV recommended a low cost $40 Eureka model, 169K. It had a power switch selecting either the beater brush for carpeting or the bare floor selection, a longer cord so I didn’t have to keep plugging and unplugging it around the house. It comes with two washable bags, so I never need to buy another bag for this bagless model! It also has an edge trimmer which means I could get the edges clean without using another vacuum nozzle tool. It also came apart so that it would be easy to vacuum stairs or upholstery. The lady has two toddlers AND a dog and swore by the vacuum to do all the chores one could expect from a high cost vacuum at a more reasonable price. I gave the Eureka a whirl and guess what? It’s da bomb! I love it! It super cleans my home, the pet hair and makes my floors look super clean! *AND JUST IN TIME: SEE BELOW.

The Eureka model works great on my shag area rug as well as the laminate flooring AND does NOT scratch my bamboo flooring at all!! When detached, it vacuums the mattress, and all upholstered furniture with ease.
  • Just in time: today we found out my dog has fleas. She’s had them for about a week! No problem, because I vacuum each and every day, the fleas never had a chance to multiply nor survive. Ditto for my shag carpeting. I usually weekly sprinkle baking soda on my shag carpeting to keep odors down. Little did I know that baking soda kills fleas! I did a thorough cleaning of my bedroom today (as the rest of my house, just to be sure). I washed all linens and blankets in super hot water. Ditto for doggy’s bedding. Hubby gave her a good washing with shampoo the vet recommended. Doggie now wearing a Sergesto collar ($78) after taking a super duper scrubbing bath ($16 shampoo).

So, there you have it! How NOT to buy an expensive vacuum. Would a $700 model have done any better? I doubt it. Sometimes, when money is tight, you can seek out an alternative to those high priced models which will work just as well. I love my new Eureka and I love the price I paid. It was a step up from what I was using these past twenty years and I don’t think I’ll be replacing it any time soon.

One last word of advice. I bought my Eureka directly from Amazon. Please look closely at offerings and beware 2nd or 3rd party affiliates selling their wares under the guise of Amazon. Another company was selling the same exact Eureka on the Amazon site I was on BUT the price was $30 more. Be careful and be aware!

Posted in Finance, Food and Entertainment, Gardening, Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Pandemic, Retirement

The Weekly What’s? 9/13/20

At the end of each week, I like to ask myself a few questions (The What’s?) on how my week went. I think asking myself (or yourself) a series of inquiring questions, helps keep me (or you) focused and appreciative. It certainly helps me see exactly how I am doing, where I am going and if I am achieving anything in my life!

  1. What’s doing in the garden? The growing season here in upstate New York is slowly coming to an end. In about a week or so, night time temps are going to go down to the high 30s. That’s not good. I still have around 15 plum tomatoes although big, they still have not ripened on the vine. I’m going to give them the week and then the day before the temps drop I will pick them and store them in a cardboard box. I heard they will ripen that way. I also have 4-5 eggplants that still need to be picked and 2 or 3 green peppers. I will wait till the temps change, pick whatever I can and then call it a mighty fine first growing season. I cleared out all the zinnias that surrounded the apple tree. The last of the herbs need to be picked, washed, dried and stored in the freezer.

2. What’s cooking? Apples are finally in season. So hubs and I made a visit to a local farm, bought a bag and made my infamous apple crumb pie. Don’t ask me for the recipe. I’ve been making this pie since like forever and I have no idea what measurements to tell you or how to get it all together. I like to make an open apple crumb pie, using old fashioned oats, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger as a topping. This way the pie qualifies for breakfast!

3. What’s happening? (socially) Other than any social interaction I do through the internet with my family and friends, I haven’t socialized still with another physical human being other than my husband and my dog. I don’t know if this is good or bad. Either way, I don’t think it bothers me much. I find my peace and contentment minding my own business and sticking to myself.

4. What’s streaming? Amazon is still releasing very old movies, that I haven’t seen in years. I’ve been watching Wuthering Heights, starring Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon. The movie came out in 1939 and it still is the best rendition of the love angst between Cathy and Heathcliff . I’ve also been watching free movies starring Kirk Douglas, Angie Dickerson, Frank Sinatra and Lana Turner. I feel like a kid again watching these oldies. I love them!

5. What music is playing? Right now, I am listening to classical favorites by Beethoven, Bach, Debussy etc. I have been playing an album entitled ‘One Hit Wonders‘ of famous bands/singers that came out with only one hit BUT made a fortune over it. Such artists as Norwegian band, A-Ha and their one hit wonder here in the United States, ‘Take On Me‘. The song was unique AND it was accompanied by a fantastic video (remember MTV used to play rock videos all. day. long?)

6. What are you most grateful for? The more I hear about the terrible weather calamities throughout the world, fires in California, Oregon and Washington, along side earthquakes, massive flooding, hurricanes hitting the pan handle and other disasters, I am more and more grateful I live in upstate New York, where other than a season winter blizzard or two (totally manageable) nothing really goes on up here! Who’d a thunk?

7. What did you do this week to stretch a dollar? September here is school taxes due month. February is when property taxes are due. After living here almost 20 years, I think I have the payment schedule down pat. One thing any homeowner NEVER wants to do is NOT pay your home taxes or even pay them late! Fail to pay your taxes and you might just lose your home to an auction sale. I want to tell every homeowner out there to be super, super careful. Most states are money struggling now and they’d love, love, love to seize your property and sell it! So, please be extra vigilant. I usually get my September bill by the first week. This year, I didn’t. I was starting to worry by the 10th. I called the tax office but because of Covid-19 there is no one in any office. I was able to get in touch with our town secretary and he gave me an online address to go to and I was able to download my tax bill. It was September 12th and if I were to utilize the town payment plan, my first payment was due to be postmarked by the 15th! I was furious. Thankfully, I may be an older home owner but I’m able to pay my tax bill in full, which full payments are due to be postmarked by October 1st. So, I was lucky/fortunate….but what about other older home owners? Suppose they could only afford the payment plan? Now, they’d owe late fees! Plus an additional $160 when you utilize the payment plan. This is not good for older people on strict fixed incomes.

The other problem with our school and property taxes is that our town decided two years ago to tax homes in 2020 at 100% of property appraised value vs the lower assessed values. This is how our town and I am sure many, many others get around the percentage cap law governing property tax increases. Wise guys. PLUS I live in New York which has the highest tax rates in the country. The only way I can afford to pay my taxes is that I qualify for a senior citizen discount, as I am over the age of 65 and hubby and I are in a low tax bracket. Which BTW, the governor keeps lowering so that may soon come to an end.

When I got this years school tax bill (which also BTW, the school won’t be opening anytime soon) now with the 100% appraised value, my property taxes went from $1114.72 a year to a whopping $3746.14!!!! Thankfully, my senior discount brought it down to $2418.14 but nonetheless, my property school taxes more than doubled!!!! How does any senior citizen, on a fixed income pay this increase? My monthly budget went from $170.50 to $279.17, a $109 monthly budget increase. And, I will find out in February how much more my property taxes have increased, so my monthly budget expense will be higher also. (I save this amount every month so I can pay my property taxes in full, thus saving the $160 payment plan fee). What can I cut out of my fixed income to come up with the additional $109+ per month?

I am fortunate to at least have a savings account, so I was able to pay the whole $2418.14 amount long before its due date. But what about other older home owners who aren’t as lucky or fortunate as I am? I still haven’t gotten my bill! I am also lucky and fortunate that I know my way around the internet. It took a while but I was finally able to download my tax bill. Can other older homeowners do the same? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I don’t think this was an accident. I think it was done on purpose. You know me. I don’t trust or believe anyone or anything.

My advice to anyone who is still reading this, understand your rights and when bills are due making sure you pay on time. If you can, which I will be doing, is sign up for 3rd party notification. I’m signing up my daughters to be notified should any of my bills fall behind or if, God forbid, I forget to pay any of my most important bills.

In the interim, since hubby and I live very close to the bone, there isn’t much we can cut out of our budget to come up with the extra tax monies due. The only thing we can do is lower our monthly savings rate and transfer that amount over into our property tax category to prepare to pay the upcoming increases, in full, when they are due. The only money I saved this month is the $160 payment plan fee.

Posted in Food and Entertainment, Gardening, Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Retirement

My Ultimate Veg

One thing I can take-a-way from my first year of vegetable gardening is that I love vegetables! Perhaps it stems (pardon the pun) from growing and eating my own produce and having to come up with different recipes to utilize my overbounding harvest. Whatever the reason, I love vegetables AND I want to start eating more and more of them every single day.

Last night, hubby and I came up with a new pizza recipe. We decided to make our Friday night pizza using eggplant, picked fresh from my garden. I made the same pizza dough I always have. Hubby, however, lined the bottom of the pizza dough with a smattering of finely sliced tomatoes from my garden. On top of that he layered thinly sliced, raw eggplant (that had been laced with salt and strained to release some of the veggie’s water). All topped off with fresh slices of mozzarella, Parmesean cheese, my roasted red peppers and lots of olive oil and fresh parsley (also from my garden). This was the (delicious) result:

I still have a few tomatoes (especially plum tomatoes, still green) ripening on the vine, as well as 3 or 4 more eggplants to go this end-of-season to pick. My green peppers are just coming in now! I’m hoping the weather holds up. We still get 80sF during the day BUT at night it’s been dropping down to the 50s and high 40s (gulp!) I may have to harvest my remaining tomatoes early and let them ripen inside a cardboard box.

I started watching this fantastic cooking show, starring Jamie Oliver and his plethora of solely veggie recipes, entitled ‘Ultimate Veg‘ on PBS. Jamie travels the globe seeking out vegetable recipes and rightly so. When prepared properly and creatively, vegetables rock! Click here to see some of Jamie’s ‘veggie creations’. It just may inspire you to not only watch his show BUT also buy his book (I get it free from the library) and start cooking up some mighty fine vegetable delights. Mind you, Jamie (nor I) are vegetarians. We just love vegetables!

Jamie traveled to India where vegetables reign supreme.

Here are some other photos of mine depicting some of the vegetable meals I conjured up this summer. I got a chance to jar my roasted red peppers and my caponata (eggplant appetizer) for the winter, as well as make up a dish of baba-ganoush (eggplant dip, just perfect on toasted pita bread). I even made a dinner solely on a fried rice recipe complete with all my little chopped up veggies. I froze ten plastic containers filled to the brim with de-skinned San Marzano tomatoes and a basil leaf. Enjoy:

Posted in Food and Entertainment, Gardening, Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Retirement

Skywalk Over The River. Farmer’s Market and My Vegetable Garden.

It’s finally fall. The temps are a wee bit lower. For the first time in like forever, I actually put on a pair of jeans (vs being in short shorts for like months!) and to my surprise, my pants actually fit! Well, that made me happy. So much so, that hubby and I went out on an adventure. Since last year, I’ve been wanting to hike over this new walkway over the Hudson River.

Starting out in either Hudson NY or Catskill, NY, the Department of Parks & Recreation created this brand new walkway (click here for more info) over the historic Hudson River. No dogs or bikes allowed and I can understand why. The traffic is fast and furious and once you get out over the middle of the river, it’s very windy. The gates were clattering and you could feel the bridge sway.

With New York City to the south, Frederick Church’s mansion, Olana to the left and the Catskill Mountains to the right, it was a wonderful walk and a great afternoon out crossing over the river on The Rip Van Winkle Bridge (I love that name!) I was able to get a good shot of Olana peeking up out of the trees. I also got some great view images AND as always, hubby must walk ahead of me, so there are some photos of his lovely back and butt!

Afterwards, we stopped at a local Farmer’s Market (open every day) and I bought some veggies I wasn’t able to grow this year (BUT will next year!). At my own vegetable garden, my tomatoes are starting to turn red and ripen. My eggplant crop was prolific. I learned so many different ways to cook (and freeze) eggplant. I’ll share them with you in an upcoming blog.

In the interim, here are some photos from today’s adventure:

Posted in Finance, Living Life, Pandemic, Retirement

Retiring Low Income, And Loving It!

Sometimes it pays to be poor. That’s true. We often think that money cures everything. Well, it doesn’t. And the pursuit of said money can, at times, cause more problems than said money is worth.

I wanted to retire a millionaire. After all, that’s what financial advisors clamor for us to do. A million dollar (plus) portfolio tucked neatly under our arm as we enter into retirement. How else can you afford to live, they say, without that million dollars?

People, if you have enough income in retirement to comfortably pay your bills without stressing AND if you have enough left over at the end of the month to safely pad your minuscule savings account, you’re doing pretty damn near good. Give yourself an extra pat on the back if you’ve managed to pay off your mortgage before you retire. Throw in a handshake if most or all of your consumer debt is gone too.

I’ll be the first to tell you that once I came upon the realization that my retirement was going to be lower income than expected, I didn’t take the news too kindly. First off, I didn’t want anyone to know. And how would people know? By looking at me, of course. Image is everything, right? So, what did I do? The year was 2014 and I just sold a real estate investment. That $150,000 profit I expected turned into a $100,000 loss. Throw in a few stock market disappointments and I was feeling AND looking mighty low. What did I do to make myself look and feel good?

I bought me a brand new car. In cash.

I said to myself, ‘if I’m going to be poor(er) I don’t have to look poor(er)‘. Thus I justified the brand new SUV. I didn’t keep it for long. It turned out to be a gas guzzler. I traded it in for a used SUV that was good on mileage and could also double as a tow vehicle. I tossed aside any semblance of maintaining a false lifestyle. I had to face my wealth truth. Which was, I didn’t have any.

I do believe that wealth has a lot to do with luck. Rich people may think they are geniuses but sometimes it simply boils down to being at the right place at the right time. I’ve never been at the right place at the right time. Ever. Try as I might, I just don’t have the knack. Oh, I’ve had a few hits vs misses but nothing to write home about. I scored very well selling my Hampton home back in 2001 and downsizing to a less expensive lifestyle but that was almost twenty years ago. I haven’t hit a home run since.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be for me. Maybe THAT is my luck. Maybe I accomplished my wealth status long ago and didn’t notice. One thing this pandemic has taught me is to count my lucky stars. I have no trouble paying my bills (provided I keep a sharp eye on expenses). I have just about anything a person could need: a (paid-for) roof over my head, anything in the food category on my table, an annual snowbird RV vacation here or two, family in good health, loving husband, kids, grandkids and some semblance of a savings account socked away for either a rainy day, new roof, a calamity or a cruise around the Greek Islands.

Being low income means I get a tax break. I’m also off the hook from impressing people. I have a good excuse as to why I can not donate, contribute to a good cause or pick up your dinner tab. I simply don’t have the money for those things. I can’t go out with you on a Saturday night date. I can’t have lunch with ‘the girls’. I can’t RV at the same places you do. I can’t give parties like you do. I can’t socialize as well as you do. I can’t buy new clothes. I can’t take vacations. I don’t have stainless steel appliances (yup! there’s that chant again!) I can’t keep paying cash for most big ticket items anymore. I ‘need’ zero interest financing.

I’m low income and I’m loving it. I’m free from most everything now. I live by my own rules. My own guidelines. My own set of circumstances. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. I just shrug my shoulders and simply say “I can’t afford that” and everyone seems to understand it. No judgment. No explanations. Thanks to this pandemic, everyone seems comfortable with what ‘frugality’ actually means, having been bit by the bug themselves.

My priorities have changed. I’m managing to make it on much less for my retirement and maybe that’s the wealth secret of all time. Isn’t it nice to tell those financial gurus that I really didn’t need that million dollars after all? I’m no longer consumed with consumerism. I don’t have to impress anyone any more.

How cool is that?

In less than 3 months, I’m going to turn seventy years old. I’m going to be really retired by then! I don’t have to plan for my retirement anymore because I will be officially there once and for all! I reached the end of the road and I’m now at the end of the rainbow. I don’t quite see a pot of gold anywhere. What I do see, however, is a life unfettered and free of all the chains society put upon us whether legal or rightfully so.

I think I can finally relax and enjoy my next thirty years. It’s OK if I find it a little bit too difficult to walk down the basement stairs or up to the unused second floor. It’s OK if my house interior isn’t sparkling clean or if I misplaced the butter in the sink. I made it to old age and I want to enjoy each and every second of it. I want to enjoy my grandchildren and I want to reflect back on a life I think I damned near lived very well.

Maybe I retired that millionaire after all. Just not in a currency that gets any respect.

Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.

Hubby and I during our most profitable working years.

Hubby and I today. Happily retired, living on less and loving it!

Posted in Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Pandemic, Retirement

Discovering A New Beach

This pandemic has caused many people and their localities to re-discover what once was a toss-away society. I recently came across this local article of an inlet that is being re-discovered as a “new” beach. Located in a quiet cul-du-sac, with river water clean enough to swim safely in, a local town has touted a resurrection of sorts. Situated near an old brick-making facility (note chucks of broken brick pieces scattering on the sandy beach) families are flocking to a beach re-born. The local town was kind enough to provide a lifeguard, a revamp to the restrooms, a tidy clean up of sorts, ample picnic tables, ample places to park as well as provide hand sanitizer, mask wearing signs and a suitable place for the locals to find some solace during this pandemic. There’s a boat ramp just perfect for kayaking, lots of scattered trees just perfect for some shade from the sun and a view that will take your breath away.

See for yourself:

It’s low tide right now, but you can see, this is a very fine “beach”.

I’m certain, as more and more beachgoers flock to this fantastic “new” find, a collection of sorts will be taken and the sandy beach will get a better clean up. In the meantime, we all just found ourselves a paradise.

Posted in Gardening, Health and Wellbeing, Homesteading, Living Life, Pandemic, Retirement

Dealing With Depression And Stress During These Covid Times

I’ve been through some rough times in my lifetime. I’ve faced poverty, asset re-possessions, job loss, possible foreclosures, divorce, marital strife, bankruptcies and near-death experiences. I’ve been through the Viet Nam war, 9/11, numerous stock market crashes and several recessions. During none of those times I have listed have I ever reached for a drug, a drink or contemplated suicide. Not so with Covid-19. It started with the death of my beloved brother at the very onset of the coronavirus back in March 2020. His death was quick and horrible. And a wake up call to the seriousness my family and I were now facing.

All I want is for the pain to end. But it doesn’t. My brother’s wife, since his death, has locked herself up in her Florida condo and still, to this day has not come out. Between being terrified of the coronavirus to feeling extreme fear and trepidation, each and everyone of my immediate family is in some state of depression, stress or anxiety. Most everyone is either on zanax, escitalopram or some sort of medication. I will admit that I’ve been smoking pot in the beginning until my supply ran out. I could ascertain more weed but as I have originally stated, I’ve never done drugs or alcohol my whole entire lifetime in times of calamity. Why should I start now?

Instead, I have miraculously found solace in my current living conditions. I’m settled into a spacious 3.5 acre property filled with nature and animals and bugs and flowers that constantly amaze and calm me. I’ve realized that depression occurs when you delve into your past. Anxiety and stress rear their ugly heads when you think about tomorrow or your future. If I can live and remain in the present time, the here and now, I find an amazing feeling of tranquility comes over me and I can cope with my current situation.

I’ve been given the opportunity, the blessing, to stop and look at the current world around me. My environment is filled with rabbits and frogs, deer and squirrels, spiders and bees, grass and non-ending trees, birds of song and birds of prey, a stream and a pond. Everybody here seems to be happy and just getting along splendidly. So, why can’t I?

It’s no mistake that I am currently here on this estate. It’s as if ‘being’ or ‘spirit’ knew what future lied ahead for me and made all the provisions possible. All I had to do was start living in the present, forget my past and not think about the future and all would be well. And it is. I have always said it was the ‘powers that be’ that made this transition possible.

For the first time I no longer think about ‘me’. I think about the earth. I think about my garden instead. I think about the safety of the deer and the squirrels who live here with me. We co-exist. We coincide. The chipmunks and the frogs. The bees and the birds. They concentrate on the present. They live in the now. They don’t worry themselves about their past or their futures. They have learned to take care of today because today has been provided for them. Today is guaranteed.

I’ve been freed of all material possessions. There’s no one any more who can judge me. And if there is, I won’t know or hear about it. Nor will I care. I’m in to a whole new world of enlightenment. I found an internal peace no drug or alcoholic beverage could provide me with. I won’t say that my pain is completely gone. I do feel the loss every once in a while of our family patriarch (my brother) and I do find myself crying at times over the state of our world today, but there is nothing that I can do about it. Except accept my bubble and be thankful for its presence. And to delight in the world that is available to me and encircles my very being.

If you concentrate on the now, if your realize that there really are forces around you that can help you get through your day, those feelings of anxiety, depression and loss will evaporate. You have to condition your mind to think in the now. To think in the present. Concentrate, as the animals, birds and insects do, to get through the day. If that means you have to rely on the kindness of a neighbor or a stranger, the deep pockets of the government, your local church or place of worship, then so be it. Do it. They’re all here for a reason. And if every once in a while or if it is every day, take whatever prescribed medication is necessary. I’d lay off the drugs and alcohol. They only lead to a decline in health and that’s not going to do you or anyone near you any good. Live in the now. Understand its power.

Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.” Wayne Dryer

Posted in Health and Wellbeing, Living Life, Retirement, Travel

Cooler Weather Means Back On The Walking Trails

Now that the temps have dropped back down into the 70sF, hubby, our dog and I can get back to walking and hiking again. We had a lot of hot 90sF days this summer which made walking outside a bit difficult. But no more. Happy to say it’s Happy Trails again.

This past weekend we were back at Mariner’s Harbor. The downtown area butts on an inlet leading out to the historic Hudson River. The downtown features a Farmer’s Market on the weekend plus musicians splattered around (note the guitarist in the plastic face protector. yup! everyone must wear a face mask when social distancing isn’t possible).

There’s a plethora of chic and gourmet eateries. Many with river views boasting fresh trout and lobster. Too expensive for our retirement budget (but we have been known to spring for a pizza and a quiet outside table to enjoy a latte or two). In any event, the walk along the waterway is divine. Tug boats. Museums. A trolley. Lots of sailboats. Lots of ducks. Lots of blue skies and bountiful white clouds. Perfect! And if we time it right, we can catch a glimpse of the Hudson Riverboat (which BTW is always booked!)