2017 Life Logs, Day 321: Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Week

2017 Life Logs, Day 321: Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Week
Date: Friday, November 17, 2017
Weather: Partly Sunny, Windy, and Chilly; High 47, Low 28 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

On Sunday, the members of the Handley family that don’t live in Florida, fly there to spend four days together. Heather and family, Justin and family, and I are the only members of the family that don’t live in Florida, so we are the ones converging on the Sunshine State. I sure hope it lives up to its name next week. I’m looking forward to visiting with family while enjoying some sunshine and warmth. Unfortunately, at this point it looks like there will be thunderstorms on Thanksgiving Day on Fort Myers Beach. Since we are planning to have dinner on the beach, the weather might present a bit of a challenge. For now, we’ll just hope the forecast changes. And if it doesn’t, I’m sure we’ll figure something out. And it is also on Thanksgiving Day that the whole family will celebrate Mark’s life. I do believe the last time we were all together was over 20 years ago. Mark and I were in Florida for gatherings in 2013 and 2015, but Heather and Justin and families weren’t there. So this is going to be a very special week with family. And it is going to be so wonderful to be with Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco. I am so thankful that they are going to be able to come.

I spent today figuring out the best way to pack. I don’t need many clothes, but I am hoping to fit in a lot of food items that we will need. I can buy most things there, but there are a few gluten-free items that it will be easier to take and not have to search for once there. Ziggy really cannot have dairy or gluten and that makes a traditional Thanksgiving dinner a bit of a challenge—gluten-free stuffing, gluten-free gravy, mashed potatoes without cow’s milk, pumpkin pie with no gluten and no dairy. But I think I have found a way to make room for everything I want to take to make all of this possible. I am taking a very large suitcase that Justin and Jo will take home with them, packed with the new chainsaw we will be purchasing in Florida. I am hoping to fit my suitcase inside the big one for the trip down, but if it weights too much, I’ll just have to check two bags. In that case, everything will fit just fine.

Other than getting ready for the trip, I ran a few errands, went to the gym, and spent my evening doing some experimental baking. I tried a new recipe for a dairy-free, gluten-free pumpkin pie. I will taste it in the morning, and if it gets a thumbs-up, I’ll bake another one for a Newcomers Dining-In group dinner tomorrow night. And I will take the ingredients with me to make another one for Thanksgiving Day in Florida. It requires a powerful blender like my VitaMix to grind all the nuts for the crust, so I did all that blending tonight and have it packaged up and ready to go.

I made a couple of corrections to last night’s log, but I will also mention them here. I got a WhatsApp message from Jo this morning explaining that I had given her too much credit for her participation in tomorrow’s Day of Happiness in the community of Añasco. It is a much bigger affair than I realized, and Jo reports that her art workshop is only one station among many. There is a group of people headed by a social worker who have been working with the people in Añasco since it was devastated by Maria. They are organizers of tomorrow’s festival.

2017 Life Logs, Day 320: Touching Base with Friends and Family

2017 Life Logs, Day 320: Touching Base with Friends and Family
Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017
Weather: Overcast and Stormy; High 51, Low 35 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

I had a much needed slow start to my day, but then things speeded up a bit. I had lunch with Jane and Bruce Woodin. This was the first time I have seen them since their European tour and Jane’s subsequent Afib Ablation. Jane looks great and is feeling stronger every day. After lunch, I ran a few errands and then it was time to go pick up Sam at the bus stop. This was his first day back at school this week due to cold or flu like symptoms and it was cool and raining cats and dogs. So, I sent a text to Heather asking if it would be okay if I picked up Sam so he wouldn’t have to walk the half mile home in the rain. She gave me the thumbs up, so I picked him up and stayed at home with him until Heather arrived with the Jonah and Ollie. Then I got a call from Justin and we were on the phone for quite a while.

A lot is happening in Puerto Rico. Electricity is returning to areas near Justin’s house, running water returned on Sunday, and most of the packages of donated items have arrived. On Sunday Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco will be headed to Florida for the Handley family gathering.
But before they leave, they have a busy two days. Tomorrow Jo has her weekly Friday ‘school’ gathering at Finca Maravilla (the name of Justin and Jo’s property). On Saturday, she is running an art workshop for children as part of A Day of Happiness festival in the nearby community of Añasco. This community lost so much to Maria, so a community group headed by a social worker has been working with the community since the storm. Here’s today’s text message to me from Jo: “Assembling supplies for this Saturday’s ‘Day of Happiness’ in Añasco. I’m going to do a workshop with the kids in the neighborhood, ‘Color, Aroma, & Being in the Body: Moving Past Maria Together’… donated paints, sketch pads, coloring books and pens, modeling beeswax, many organic seeds to distribute, priority mailer box flaps that will be painted white tonight for canvases, bag of essential oils… thanks to you and Art for Hope for so many of these supplies… thanks also to many of your friends and contacts we will have solar lights, powdered milk, batteries, beef jerky, dried fruits and nuts also to have for people to take what they need… I thought you might like to see… I will try to take a few pics from the day too…”

Moving beyond Maria is going to take quite a while. Today was a stormy day, very dark and windy, and Ziggy and Coco really freaked out. They ran to their bedroom to hide away saying that they really don’t want another hurricane. And this is from children who really didn’t lose their home. There are so many who lost everything and they are going to need support for a long time to come. So many of you have contributed so much. Justin and Jo have worked diligently to make sure that donations have been distributed to those most in need. And we just want you to know that your generosity has been overwhelming in such a positive way. On behalf of Justin and Jo and all of the people with whom they have shared the donations, a huge thank you to all of you who have given so generously.

I ended my day with a dinner with the Newcomers WIN (Women in Newcomers) dinner group at a nearby Mexican restaurant. I enjoyed the comradery of other women and the networking that can happen during a dinner. When I returned home, I got a text from Lynne of Ed and Lynne in Nyack, NY, asking if it was a good time for a phone call. It was, and we had a nice, long conversation. Life is good.

2017 Life Logs, Day 319: On Oma Duty

2017 Life Logs, Day 319: On Oma Duty
Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Weather: Partly Cloudy and Cool; High 43, Low 32 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

I got a text from Heather early this morning asking if she could bring Sam over to spend the day with me. He has had terrible congestion and what has felt like an ear infection and strep throat. But when we met Heather at the doctor’s office for a mid-day appointment, the doctor declared that he has no ear infection or strep. Something is wrong because his throat is swollen affecting the way he talks and because he gets slight fever every afternoon. But whatever, I loved his comment when he came out of the doctor’s office. He told me the doctor said he didn’t need an antibiotic and he questioned why she didn’t ‘prescribe’ other things that might get him back to a healthy place. I ask this question all the time. Doctors just don’t have the training to prescribe anything but medications, but there are a whole lot of things other than meds that can be done for almost all health issues.

Jed left early this morning to fly to England and Heather had PTO duties from 3 to 8 pm, so I was on Oma duty with all three boys for the afternoon and evening. Sam was taking a nap when it was time to go pick Jonah and Ollie up from school. I had anticipated this and told Sam that if he woke up and I wasn’t here, I’d be back with his brothers shortly. When I got home with Ollie and Jonah, they played together beautifully while I worked with Sam acquainting him with my old computer that I am giving to him. He has to work online through his Google account to do his monthly book reports and having his own computer to use will be very helpful. I haven’t used my Toshiba since I had email problems last fall, so now it is his to try out. And speaking of computers, I have been having the same email problems with my current computer that I had with the old one last fall. Jane Woodin suggested a fellow Newcomer that makes computer house calls, and she came this morning and found the problem. Thank you, Jane, for that referral. But back to the afternoon with boys . . . while Sam and I worked on the computer, Ollie and Jonah got out my dive bag and traveled to the Arctic to get into the water to tag sharks. Then they played some made-up marble games. While they were doing this, I was furiously getting dinner ready. I overheard their play, but never even had to go check on them. When I called down the hall to tell them to clean up and come to dinner, they did that without so much as a reminder. They came to the dinner table and then we left immediately to get to the school book fair. I didn’t have time to check on their clean-up job. But when I got home from taking them to the school book fair and then home for the night, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they really did completely clean up everything. Not one thing was out of place. Now, if they would just do that at home. Anyone who has been a parent knows that children will do things for others that they will never do at home. But their compliance with my request, with no follow-up, shows that they have had the right training at home whether they practice it or not. I had a great afternoon with the boys and was so proud of their cooperative behavior. Sam even wrote the next section of his book report without a single complaint. Well done, Goldpebbles (and mom and dad).

2017 Life Logs, Day 318: Trip to the Harvard Museums

2017 Life Logs, Day 318: Trip to the Harvard Museums
Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Weather: Overcast and Cool; High 47, Low 34 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

Today I led a field trip to the Harvard Museums in Cambridge for a few members of the Falmouth Newcomers Teachers’ Group. I had never toured the museums, but I do have lots of experience in traveling to and from Boston. That came in handy today as I was able to accurately plan the timing of the trip. I knew it would take at least an hour to drive from our meeting place on the Cape to the Quincy Adams T-station parking garage. I knew it would then take at least 15 minutes to park, get down to the lobby to buy tickets, and catch the T. Once on the T, I knew it would be a 45-minute ride to Harvard Square and a 10 to 15-minute walk through Harvard Yard to either the Harvard Museum of Natural History or the Harvard Art Museums. So off we went. I was about 4 minutes off as we arrived in Harvard Square at 10:49 am instead of my projected 10:45 am. But I consider that a win as we had made it that far without a hitch. I led the group going to the Natural History Museum and another group member who is a retired art teacher led the group going to the Art Museums. After our morning tours, we met for lunch in a Harvard student cafeteria in a delightfully modern, all glass front science building. Some people then headed home, some of us who had toured the Museum of Natural History in the morning went to the Art Museums in the afternoon, and some people chose to spend the afternoon shopping in Harvard Square. Then at 4 pm, we met near the T-stop and started our return trip. It was a full, but informative and fun day.

I started my day in the Museum of Natural History. With the rest of the group, we started by marveling over the thousands of glass models of plants. This is world-famous collection is generally referred to as The Glass Flowers and I found it jaw-dropping–so realistic. In the 1800’s, Harvard contracted with Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, a father and son team from Dresden, Germany, to create these glass replicas. Samples and detailed drawings were gathered from around the world and this obviously extremely talented father-son team produced such life-like glass models that is hard to tell they are not alive. And there is so much more to see in this museum—meteorites from outer space and minerals and gems from around the world; a vertebrate paleontology exhibit with fossils from the days of the dinosaurs; a new marine life gallery featuring sea creatures in glass and a replica of a New England oyster bed; hundreds of animal replicas from around the world; and an Arthropod display with more insects than you can possibly imagine. Good friend Olivia White and I toured together, and we had fun taking photos of ourselves alongside a display of skeletons of species leading up to human life as we know it. In the same facility, there is the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology with one whole floor dedicated to early life in the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceana. We covered the entire collection in an hour and half. But I consider this a preview. I will return, and each time I do, I will concentrate on just one area. Lunch at the café in the new science building was great and it gave us all a chance to recharge. Then after lunch, I headed to the Art Museums. There are actually three museums in one: The Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger, and the Arthur M. Sackler on three levels. I went to the top floor and worked my way down. I love the art of ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, so I particularly enjoyed the Level 3 Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art. Level 2 featured Buddhist, East Asian, South Asian, Islamic Lands, Medieval art, early European art including art from the Renaissance, and European and American art from the 17th to 19th centuries. There was a lot to see in a very short period of time, but I still had the Level 1 to go. This included Early Chinese Art, Buddhist Sculpture, Modern and Contemporary Art, and finally the Fogg Museum featuring European Art of the 19th and 20th centuries. Here I found names with which we are all familiar: Gauguin, van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Toulouse Lautrec. My very favorites of the day were from the Natural History Museum—a fossilized extinct ammonite related to the living nautilus shell and the leaves from my favorite tree, the ginkgo, done in glass. After a day like this, these old fossil bones need a rest!

2017 Life Logs, Day 317: Errands and Preparations

2017 Life Logs, Day 317: Errands and Preparations
Date: Monday, November 13, 2017
Weather: Overcast with Rain; High 52, Low 38 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

My day flew by. I went to the gym for a 9:15 am class, returned home to make a list of all the things I needed to accomplish this week, took off shortly after lunch, and didn’t get home until after 9 pm. I spent my evening at Heather and Jed’s with Sam and Ollie. Heather is in Boston until tomorrow night and Jed and Jonah had Scouts tonight. So did Sam, but he didn’t go to school today due to an ear infection. So he and Ollie stayed with me tonight. Early tomorrow morning I head out for a day-long field trip to the Harvard Museums in Cambridge. I am the trip coordinator, and part of today was spent preparing for that. The other part was spent preparing for the trip to Florida on Sunday. Heather gets home tomorrow night and early on Wednesday morning Jed leaves for England. He returns on Saturday. So I am trying to get the things I want to take to Justin and Jo, who will be meeting us in Florida, and get those things packed now so that I can help Heather with trip preparations this weekend. What a crazy life we lead around here!

2017 Life Logs, Day 316: Update on Puerto Rico

2017 Life Logs, Day 316: Update on Puerto Rico
Date: Sunday, November 12, 2017
Weather: Overcast, Turning Partly Cloudy in PM; High 48, Low 36 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio, Falmouth, MA

“We got water back this morning!!!!! Long may it last!!” My day started with that text message from Jo. A while later, I got a text message from Justin with two photos attached. He explained that Ziggy and Coco had taken advantage of the running water to wash their hair and Jo took post-shower photos of the wet heads. Such pleasure from something so simple as running water. As Jo said, long may it last. Justin also sent then and now photos of a spot on their land. The ‘then’ photo was taken just after Hurricane Maria hit and the ‘now’ photo shows how the green is coming back. It looks like the land will be recovered long before the people. Next Sunday night, Heather and family, Justin and family, and I will arrive in Fort Myers Beach for a Handley family gathering. This was planned months ago as a gathering in Mark’s honor and I am so glad that Justin and Jo are going to be able to come. I wrote to tell them that I just can’t wait for a great big group hug. Again, I’ll quote Jo. “We are all so looking forward to that group hug, relaxation, feasting, family time and thanksgiving too!!” It will be wonderful to all be together after the last couple of months of struggles. And days in the 70’s and nights in the 50’s sounds a whole lot better than days in the 50’s and night’s in the 40’s. It will be a warm up for those of us from Cape Cod and a welcome cool down for the Puerto Rico gang.

Another day slipped through my fingers with not much to show for it. Unfortunately, I am dealing with email issues again. It all started yesterday when I got an email from Avast, an internet security system. The email said I had a payment due in November and it would be automatically deducted from my bank account. I know I just had the same message in July and September. So I called to find out what exactly I was paying for. The call turned into an afternoon affair as I had to get out my old computer, as well as the one I use now. The very patient guy on the phone told me how to access the services I receive and it turns out that I have been paying for internet security on two different computers and Avast computer clean-up on the two. I had 4 different billings and haven’t used the second computer since last fall. By the time we got it all sorted out, I was exhausted with computer issues. But he asked me to run the computer clean-up before we got off the phone. I noticed a message that said my router had issues, but I ignored that. When I got off the phone, I turned my attention to something else for an hour or so. When I got back to my computer, I could not get email. I just kept getting a task error message. This is what happened on the other computer last fall. Somehow I think the problem happened when I ran the Avast clean-up program. Today I took the computer to Heather’s to get some help, but it works just fine there. The problem does seem to be with my cable router, but I don’t know what to do about that. This same problem caused me to abandon one computer last fall as I never got the issue resolved. Heather is out of town for the next couple of days and then Jed leaves for four days and returns just in time for us to head to Florida. They are busy, busy. So, I am going to search for some service that can make a house call because the problem has to be resolved here between the computer and the cable router that supplies my internet service. In the meantime, I am struggling with using gmail on the internet. The issue there is that I have two email addresses which complicates matters tremendously. But at least I can limp along getting mail on my phone and through the internet. It is just not convenient, but I’m not totally disabled.