#380–Glorious springtime . . .

This is my favorite time of year with new leaves on the trees in all shades of green, rhodies and other flowers all abloom, and sunny, sunny weather!

When I left on my month-long trip on April 11, there were still snowflakes mixed in with the rain here in Florence and snow along the road between Ashland, OR, and Redding, CA, and rainy/sleety conditions all day that first day of driving. It had been a cold, rainy spring up to that point. After that first day, it was lovely in California; not something I say very often. It was green with clean air and temps in the 60s and occasionally 70s. And even some rain from time to time. It looked and felt like Oregon weatherwise. I loved it.

I got back May 10 and the rhodies were about a month late. I was glad not to miss them at their peak.It’s as if they waited for me to return before blooming. They are the superstars as far as spectacular bloom. I have several in my yard with each blooming a few weeks, spreading out over about a three-month period.

‘Mrs.Furnivall’ upper left, ‘Jean Marie de Montague’ upper right, and ‘Creole Belle’ above. Behind ‘Jean Marie’ is a while rhody that has decorated the steps with its blossoms.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve turned into a gardener––on my deck and balcony, in my yard, and in the greenhouse. I got a few six-packs of alyssum, lobelia, and petunias and redid my planters on my deck and balcony.  I even replaced two planters that were falling apart.

. . . new planters.
New plants in . . .

In the yard, I’ve planted an area that I prepared with soil and bark two years ago. I put in 36  4-inch pot size plants of Lithodora. That’s what I had there before, and they did well for about 15 years. Then they started dying out as the shade took over more and more. My neighbors cut down their tree that created most of the shade. With more sun, I’ve replanted Lithodora.  But if I want to keep them alive, I’ll have to do a lot of watering––it’s no longer the rainy season. That’s okay. I’m a happy camper now when I look out on my deck, balcony, and front area.

I have a greenhouse, and I used to grow the most wonderful cukes for making bread-and-butter pickles and delicious home-grown tomatoes—both cherry size and larger. I also grew a variety of greens in the greenhouse. But it gradually lost its sun, as the trees got larger. I did put some petunias in there the past couple of years, but what I really want is to grow veggies in my greenhouse. When I try to grow greens of any kind outside, the deer and rabbits eat them.

Last year, I had some vine maples removed that were leaning too far over; it looked like they could fall anytime. As a result, the greenhouse now has more sun. So, I planted leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, and basil––all as small plants. And I planted seeds of snap peas in four pots with netting for the pea vines to climb. And I planted a large bed of marigold seeds. I may transplant some outside, if they do well. I have high hopes.  

I just love this time of year with all the new growth and blossoms everywhere. It really brings out the gardener in me.  

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#379–My topsy-turvy, totally terrific trip . . .

When my friend, Theresa Baer, moved to the L.A. area some years ago, she told me, “If you can drive 800 miles to see your family in Bakersfield, then you can drive another 80 to see me!” So, that’s what I’ve done three times a year since she left in January 2015. During my visits, we took multi-day trips as well as day trips and had a great time on each visit. But that all came to a screeching halt when Covid hit. I did not go to California between December 2019 and December 2022. I didn’t get to see Theresa for three years; I was really looking forward to seeing her this past December. But because she had some very serious health problems and ended up in the hospital, I did not get to see her.

Fast forward to April 2023. Theresa is home and her daughter and son-in-law are there to help her.

So this past month, I planned a trip to see her as well as my family. My plan was open-ended as far as Theresa was concerned. I had the idea that I might be able to help and would stay as long as she needed me. Well, “the kids” as she calls them, had everything so well organized and scheduled that my help was not needed. I was able to get Theresa out of the house and doing “normal” things, though, which pleased her no end.

Solvang is a favorite place for Theresa and me to visit.

In fact, prior to my arrival, Theresa and I had planned a trip to Solvang if she felt up to it. After I arrived, I found that she needed a walker to go any distance, but could use a cane for short distances, and around the house, she was getting so she didn’t even need that.  Each day, I could see improvement. But “the kids” felt she needed a scooter to get around when we went to Solvang. So, they rented one, and I learned how to take it apart and put it back together. (As it turned out, we never used it.)

I was able to take her clothes shopping, and another day we went to a lamp outlet where she could choose among hundreds of table lamps for the exact one she wanted.

ON the sixth day of my visit, we left for Solvang with the parts of the scooter filling the trunk. We left on a Monday morning and returned the next Friday afternoon. We stayed in a garden lodge a few blocks from the main street where we had stayed once before. It was our third trip to Solvang, so before we got to our lodging, we hit some of our favorite spots. We had lunch, bought shoes at a favorite shoe store, and ate ice cream and bought chocolates at another favorite––Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates.When we got to our lodging, we found that we were the only room, where we could park right next to our room. And that was good for both of us.

Every day, we went to our favorite bakery for our favorite breakfast of rolls and Havarti cheese. Each day we explored Solvang or the nearby towns. We had a wonderful time. All week, we ate great food and loved our digs with its peaceful garden setting. It did have a chorus of sounds during the night that we could have done without––the heater growled each time it came on, the refrigerator whined when it came on, and the toilet added its own “I can flush by myself” sounds from time to time.

This garden lodge is now called The M in Solvang. We love the peaceful, garden atmosphere.

After returning from Solvang, I was there another week. During that week, we went for a day trip to the coast. We drove through Topanga Canyon to Malibu and up the coast to almost Oxnard, all of which was a trip along memory lane for Theresa. Then we went to Duke’s in Malibu for the best meal of my month-long trip. The dessert was the absolute best. It consisted of macadamia nut ice cream, drenched in hot fudge, and sprinkled with chopped macadamia nuts with a topping of whipped cream. It was to die for. Theresa and I shared a very generous serving.

I spent two and a half weeks with Theresa, and we had a wonderful time, making great memories.

I, who had never driven in the L.A. area except the exact route to Theresa’s house on the northern edge of L.A., was only too happy to let her be the driver on all my previous trips. She was the one who knew how to get anywhere. On this trip, I was the driver, and she was the passenger. That was topsy-turvy.

One of my worst nightmares, is getting lost in L.A. at commute time. And that is exactly what happened to me upon my arrival after being on the road for about eight hours. I knew about where it should be and was looking for it, but I did not see the turnoff sign for the 118 Freeway off of I-5 after going over the Grapevine and through a few towns. So, I continued on. Soon I realized, I really had missed it. I just kept going, trying to figure out what to do. It was a weekday about 5 p.m. and the traffic was getting worse and worse. I turned off at Burbank, and it was total gridlock.

One of my favorite photos of Theresa is with her new sunglasses. We had stopped for a break on our way back from Solvang.

I turned off my audiobook and turned on my GPS. I tapped on Theresa’s address and followed it blindly. We went through a quiet neighborhood, on a few busy streets, on a freeway I had never heard of that was barely moving, and then back onto I-5 going north this time at a stop-and-go pace. From this direction, there were huge signs for the 118 Freeway, and I finally knew where I was. That was short-lived as my normal off-ramp off the 118 was closed. This really was a topsy-turvy start to my trip. And when GPS finally got me to Theresa’s house. I didn’t see it. I was looking on the wrong side of the street. It took me 45 minutes from when I turned off south-bound I-5 to when I arrived at Theresa’s. Thank God, for GPS. The next day, I refused to even get in my car. I needed a day of absolutely no driving whatsoever!

The ostrich had his eye on Theresa’s bracelet.

Other, topsy-turvy happenings during my time with Theresa. Whenever we left Solvang to visit nearby towns in the Santa Inez Valley, I would lose Solvang. So, we got to explore the countryside from time to time. We discovered that in Solvang after 5 p.m. nearly every eatery is closed. So, the first night, we went to nearby Buelton and ate at Anderson’s Split Pea Soup. It was good, and we were starved. One day in Los Olivos at lunchtime, we couldn’t find any place to eat! After much looking and asking folks, we finally found a place. These are tourist towns, and food should be easy to find! Totally topsy-turvy.

We had been to Ostrichland to see the ostriches before, but we went again. We paid to feed them and that was fun. There is a sign that says, “Yes, we like to bite!” And Theresa found out the hard way. She had on a favorite bracelet. Well, the ostrich also liked it and bit her in the process of grabbing and eating it. That was very topsy-turvy!

Back at Theresa’s home, each evening after dinner, Theresa, “the kids,” and I would play a game or two of Scrabble. I hadn’t played since I was in college and just tried for a word––any word that fell within the parameters would do. I wasn’t going for long or complex words, anything that would get me through my turn. Then I got an ‘s’ and piggy-backed on someone else’s genius. I did that again and again with other prefixes and suffixes. By doing that, I got a higher score one night than any of them had gotten before, and I got another high score a second night. Those two nights were indeed topsy-turvy!

Teeta and I went to the Stanford Shopping Center one day to see the beautiful flowers. And Teeta wore her most spring like dress. She loves color.

After 2 ½ weeks it was time to move on, but my sister was in Europe and wouldn’t be home for another five days. So, I contacted my college roommate, Teeta, who has been a close friend for 63 years. She had hoped I would be able to visit her on this trip, but I had not planned on it. When I called her, she was glad to have me. So, off I went, 350 miles to Palo Alto (instead of the 80 miles to Bakersfield I had planned for). Again, a topsy-turvy situation.

We had a wonderful, spur-of-the-moment, visit. We went to Half Moon Bay one day, Carmel another day, and San Francisco a third day. While we were in Carmel, we tried three places to eat lunch and all were closed and where places were open, there was no parking anywhere near. So, we ended up having lunch in Castroville at the only place we saw to eat in town. It was a Mexican restaurant where I had the best tacos I’ve ever eaten. What can I say, but topsy-turvy once again!

After a wonderful few days with Teeta, I retraced my route down Hwy 101 as I headed for Bakersfield 250 miles away. My sister had just returned from two weeks in Europe and just wanted to chill. So, we played crossword puzzles, watched some good movies and visited with friends. I also got to see my nephew while there. We celebrated Cinco de Mayo by making enchiladas and flan. Both turned out great, which was good since we had invited friends over.

My sister, Edna, nephew, Jason, and I always spend a lot of time in the kitchen on my visits. This photo was taken a few years ago.

Then I headed home. I stopped at Corning for gas. By now, I had been filling my car with gas for about a month. I knew what I was doing––or so I thought. When I got back on the road, I realized I only had put in two gallons–– not the 9 I thought I had. When I got to Anderson between Red Bluff and Redding, I took the wrong turnoff and got on old Hwy 99, which turned out to be a very slow route to Redding. I was beat and ready to stop at any motel. The first one I saw, was one of three all located at the same intersection. Thought I was seeing things. So, I picked one. The next morning, it took about 15 minutes of driving around and around downtown Redding before I found an on-ramp to I-5. Still a topsy-turvy trip.  

The next day, I was heading home. As I was passing a car on I-5 about 10 miles south of Yreka, I didn’t slow down right away. As soon as I realized it, I did. The speed limit was 70. I wasn’t the only one to notice my speed. A CHP officer was behind me with flashing lights. I pulled over and got all my stuff together to give him. I had my window down and waited. Then I heard a tapping on the passenger-side window. That’s where he was. So, I put that window down. He told me he had me on radar going 89 mph. He took my stuff and seemed to be gone an hour, but was probably 5 minutes. He told me that he only put down that I was going 75+, so the fine would not be as high and that I should get something in the mail within a couple weeks. If not, call the number. By now, it’s been a couple weeks and I still don’t know what the fine will be.

Then he started chatting, and 10 minutes later, we were best buds. Before he left, I told him that in the 2,500 miles of this trip, this was the fastest I had been driving and he just happened to be there. He said, “That’s why we’re here!” and smiled. In 20 years of driving back and forth to California, this was my first ticket. Later that day, I was very glad to be back home from my topsy-turvy, totally terrific trip.

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#378–Friendships that endure . . .

Note: No more blog posts until mid-May as I will be going to California to see family and friends. At times like this, I’m glad I rent my downstairs. There is always someone at home––even when I’m not.

Ever since I’ve lived in Oregon—going on 38 years—I’ve gone back to California on a regular basis to see family and friends. I was thinking about that the other day. Often, when someone moves away, the friendships slowly fade, but I’ve had a few that have endured. And I treasure them.

In this 7th grade photo, I am to the far left and my friend, Rosemary, is second in from the right.

The earliest friend that I’m still in contact with is Rosemary. When my family moved to the Kern River Valley in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada  mountains in 1954, I met Rosemary in 7th grade when I started my new school. As it turned out, her father worked for the power company just like mine. When we did our school work, she would get the same grade as me on nearly everything. In math, we’d both miss the same number of problems or we’d get them all correct. That happened almost every day. We stayed in touch over the years through marriages, children, careers.

Here’s Rosemary when I visited her about 2010.

During the past 20+ years, I saw her at least once each year until she moved from California to near Atlanta, Georgia, a few years ago to be closer to her children. We still write and occasionally call. What’s more, our birthdays are on the same day, and we’re the same age.

My college friends came to visit me up in the Kern River Valley one weekend. Anne, Judy, Teeta, me, and Phyllis seated in front next to the family dog, Rusty.

And at college, I was placed with two dorm roommates who were best friends and had been since grade school. Teeta and Phyllis were from Mojave and I from the Kern River Valley. I was the odd one, but they made me feel welcome and included me in their activities. As it turned out, we were all in the marching band. Two clarinets and I played flute. We could all practice together.

Here’s Teeta on a visit in 2017. . .

We were friends during college, through marriages, children, careers, deceased husbands, and friendship continues to this day.

. . . and here’s Phyllis on a visit in 2016.

On my last trip to California, Christmas 2022, I visited Phyllis, who lives near Grass Valley, first for a few days and then after spending two weeks with my sister and the rest of my family, I spent a few days with Teeta in Palo Alto before heading home. Whether it has been six months or two years, when we see each other, it’s just like we last saw each other yesterday. We simply pick-up where we left off.

I had two special friends during my teaching years and the three of us started teaching at Blossom Hill School in Los Gatos, California, the same year. And the three of us were K–3 teachers in the old wing. Ann taught 2nd and 3rd grades, I taught 2nd and 1st grades, and Jean taught Kindergarten. After I moved up to Oregon, I would go back to California to see friends and family about twice a year. I would stay with Jean and for a couple years, I’d join a group of four or five Blossom Hill teachers at the same breakfast place we used to meet. Then it was just Jean and Ann I’d see.

This is the staff at Blossom Hill School in 1966. My two closest friends were Jean next to me on the left end of the second row and Ann the tall gal fourth from the left on the back row. Madeline, who died the youngest, when she got Lymphoma in the early 1990s is on the right at the end of the second row.

Fast forward 15 years, both Ann and Jean retired after about 40 years of teaching at the same school for both of them. During her last months of teaching, Ann developed short-term memory loss that spiraled into a fast-paced form of dementia. Within two years, she was gone—age 67. Then Jean developed Lymphoma. It was the first of five occurrences over the next 10 years. During this time, I continued to visit her. She survived the first four, but the fifth got her. There was Jean and me and one other gal, Madeline, who taught for 30 years in the old wing of the school who were diagnosed with Lymphoma and Ann with dementia. I’m the only one left alive. I’m convinced it was the asbestos all four of us were exposed to for decades. I can’t prove it, the old wing was replaced several years ago and everyone I worked with is no longer there.

My friend, Theresa, taken about eight years ago.

And then there’s my Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines colleague. Theresa. From the start, it felt like we’d known each other for years. She came to Florence to replace me as Managing Editor at the magazines when I retired—the first time back in 2002. I continued writing for the magazines during the next two and a half years and Theresa was my editor. We became fast friends. Then I returned to the magazine for another five years—a total of 21 years.

Theresa and I are visiting the ghost town of Calico in 2018.

She left the magazine and  worked several years as a reporter and then editor at our Siuslaw News here in Florence, and we remained friends.

Then eight years ago, she moved to California to help care for her elderly mom and stepdad in the LA area. I hated to see her leave, but I’ve seen her each time I’ve gone to California since then. During my visits we’ve taken some multi-day trips that have provided great memories. And many, many day-trips to beaches, museums, and missions that provided more great memories.

Here I am with my sister, Edna, on Vinylhaven Island off the coast of Maine in 2018.

 So, I tend to keep my friends.

And, I’ll include my sister, Edna, who is also one of my closest friends. She has come to stay with me twice in 2014-15 when I was battling chemo. She came and stayed with me for two weeks when I had my total knee replacement in 2020. And we have taken some wonderful trips together prior to Covid in 2015, 2018, and 2019. And we call each other every few weeks and talk for at least an hour each time. Prior to Covid, I came down to Bakersfield usually three times a year. And we always had a good time.

Here in Florence today, I have friends that I thoroughly enjoy being with that may turn into enduring friendships.

I read somewhere once that love affairs don’t always last but true friendships do. I couldn’t agree more.

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#377–Tax prep is the name of the game . . .

I started my tax prep last Sunday by sorting everything I had collected all year. It completely covered the dining room table. Earlier in the week, I’d picked up my tax prep package from the preparer’s office. The original that came in January had disappeared. I searched all the usual and then the unusual places, before calling to request a replacement.

It seemed like taxes consumed my life all of this past week. But there were other things to take care of also.

It’s still on a table in the garage. You can see the reflection of the shop light in the middle of the door. Not so perfect up close, but a whole lot better than it was.

Monday morning, I applied the fourth and final coat of marine varnish to the door. By now, almost a week later, the varnish has set up and the door is ready to be rehung. And the replacement door will be donated back to ReStore for them to sell again.

The door did not turn out as well as it did when I redid it in 2009, but I had someone coaching me every step of the way back then. I thought I could do it without help this time. And I did except for removal to the garage. It is not as good a job as I had hoped for, but it looks a whole lot better than it did. It has a certain uniqueness to it now, which I’m adjusting to and beginning to like.  I’ll be very glad when it is rehung.

The rest of Monday, it was back to tax prep. I did my inventory of books for my business, Crossings, where I write and sell my books and from time to time edit other folks’ books. I need the inventory to determine cost basis. And since I’ve done it so late, I had to add all books sold since January 1 to the totals.

Tuesday, I did the rental portion of my taxes. Wednesday, I did my personal taxes. And Thursday, I did my annual report for my business, which took most of the day. Friday, I got all the rest of the business stuff figured out and entered.

Here is Sue Foster of Books ‘N’ Bears. She has carried four of my books since each of them came out. Notice my two bridge books up front!

And every day, four times a day, I’ve been putting in two sets of eye drops to the eye operated on April 22. In my opinion, it is not healing as fast as it should. It is still somewhat bloodshot and still feels irritated, with some inflammation on the inside of the lower lid. So, tomorrow, I will contact the doctor who did the surgery. He said it would take two weeks or so to heal, but it still looks like it has a long way to go, and in a few days, the two weeks will be up. So, it’s a concern.

A week ago, I was out delivering books to bookstores in Florence and Yachats. It was so good to be out delivering books again. I just love Books ‘N’ Bears in Florence’s Old Town and Books and More in Yachats. Both of these bookstores have sold my books that have to do with the coast and Florence since they first came out.

Here is Mary Crook of Books and More in Yachats. She just loves my book The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!

When I drove up to Yachats, the waves were stormy looking––just spectacular. The weather included rain, hail, snow, and sun––all in that 26-mile stretch.  My favorite memory is looking through the snowflakes hitting my windshield at the Cape Perpetua headland in the distance––bathed in sunlight! I always tell people, “If you don’t like the weather here on the coast, wait five minutes or drive five miles, and it will be different.” It has certainly been true this spring!

Yesterday afternoon, it was back to tax prep. I remembered a few things I had left out. So, got those taken care of. Then I went through everything again and got it all put together with post-it explanations where I felt were needed. Finished about 10 p.m. last night. Then put it all in a very fat, large envelope that I dropped off at the accountant’s office today.  April 2 is not too bad when the deadline isn’t until April 15.

Here Groucho sits amid the tax prep stuff a few years ago. He always wanted to be a part of whatever I was doing. I miss my tax prep helper.

I didn’t spend the whole week on taxes, it just seemed that way. I fit it in whenever I could. When I was in town during the week, I noticed lots of people. That was not unusual, it’s spring break, after all. Yesterday, while I was clerking at Backstreet Gallery from 11 to 2 p.m., there were folks from Eugene, Portland, Salem, Albany, Coos Bay, Brookings, Grants Pass, and three different sets of folks from Roseburg. Also, at the Gallery, I became reacquainted with a retired nurse I hadn’t seen since 2000 when my late husband was in the hospital. Actually, he was one of her patients in 1987 and 1988 also when he was in and out of the hospital then too. That was the old hospital. During all of those times, I saw her often. I was surprised to learn, that she has been buying my books over the years. Seeing her in the Gallery yesterday was totally unexpected and such a pleasant experience.

I’ve been a docent at the Museum for 21 years. I enjoy meeting people from all over and sharing the history of the Florence area.

Today, I was at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, where I’m on duty as a docent with fellow docent, Ellen, most every Sunday. Again, it was easy to tell that it was Spring Break. Most of the families had children with them, which is always good to see. They were from Portland, Eugene, and Alaska. And one family said they were related to Joe Blakely, one of the writers whose books the Museum carries. I asked them to tell him “Hi.” I’ve known him for many years. Tis a small world, indeed!  

Fitting in the tax prep made this a very busy week, but it’s done. I won’t have to go through this again for another year. Yay! For that, I’m very happy!

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#376–The door & humidity, the eyes and the fix . . .

Note: No blog post this Friday, 3/31 due to internet down on computer. Will post Sunday, 4/2, hopefully.

Last week I wrote:” I will post this on Friday, but will not finish the door until Saturday. At that time, I have to leave 8 to 12 hours between the two coats. It has to be dry––not tacky–which the directions say will take about 8 hours.”


This project is taking much longer than I thought.

It wasn’t 8 hours that it took to be dry enough for a second coat. It was 48 hours. Over here at the coast, we have humidity—especially when it is rainy. So, the second coat went on Monday morning. I had to be at a meeting at 10, so I got up at 5, so I’d have plenty of time to apply the coat and do the cleanup, have breakfast, and get to the meeting on time.

On this time schedule, the third coat would be on Wednesday, but I had to be in Eugene on Tuesday and would stay there until Thursday. So, once again I’m writing my post and the door is not done. It will get its third and, hopefully, final coat tomorrow.

So, why was I in Eugene.

I have runny eyes, which is diagnosed as “dry eye.” It is anything but. It makes me look like I’m about to cry and I’m not. I have to wipe my tears away often. It’s a nuisance, and a problem, making my vision blurry part of the time. So, my eye doctor suggested a procedure, which sounds totally terrible. But I was willing to try, if it would help my runny eye problem.

The first eye was scheduled for March 1, but had to be rescheduled due to snow here in Florence and in the Coast Range between here and Eugene. It was rescheduled for this week. Mostly sunny the day I went over and Wednesday, but today on my way home, it was rainy and even snowed for about eight miles in the middle at temps of 37 to 39 degrees.(We’re in for another cold spell with possible snow down to sea level this weekend.)

Pacific Surgery Center in Eugene is where I go for my eye procedures. They partner with Pacific Clear Vision.

A brief explanation of what causes my runny eyes. The tears come in the inner corner and go out in the outer corner. My eyes had something in the way causing the tears to pile up and spill over. That something was the white part of the eye that had come loose on the lower part of the eye. The fix, is to stitch it to the eyeball! Yikes! That sounds terrible. It’s called conjunctivo-plasty. Actually what happens is “a laser reinforces the conjunctival adhesion to the sub-Tenon capsule and sclera and reduces or eliminates conjunctival laxity.” Got that!

Here’s how it played out.

I went over to Eugene Tuesday afternoon and arrived at my friend Rosemary’s house. She put me up for two nights and shuttled me to and from the surgery center. As a thank you, I took her out to dinner to a place of her choice Tuesday night. We went to McMenamins High Street Brewery and Café. No brews for us as she was fighting a headache, and I was facing surgery. But the food was good––veggie burger for her and fish and chips for me. Later we took a walk around her neighborhood after dark with me handling her Golden Retriever, Brodie, and Rosemary handling, Pippa, her son’s dog that she was taking care of temporarily. Brodie slowed to my pace and was a wonderful dog to be walking around with in the dark.

Rosemary and I were both editors at Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines and have been friends for years.

The next morning, I got up at six showered and washed really good around my eyes. Then I fixed my own breakfast from stuff I had brought, since I could only have certain things, which constituted a light breakfast. I was not to eat after 7:25 a.m., and I didn’t. And no more liquids after 11:25 a.m., and I had none. We arrived a little early before my scheduled 1:25 p.m. appointment. Rosemary left and could expect a call to come for me around 4 p.m.

That’s not exactly how it happened.

There were several cataract removal surgeries scheduled before mine, that normally take 15 to 20 minutes once in the surgical suite. (When I had mine done there, each was about 15 minutes.) But not this past Wednesday. At least three had serious problems that revealed themselves only after the doctor began, and each required complicated surgical solutions. Which meant that instead of taking 15 or 20 minutes, they took an hour or more apiece. So, instead of going into surgery at 2 :30 p.m., I went into surgery at 6 p.m. Rosemary picked me up at 7 p.m. It was an unexpectedly long day for everyone involved.

Rosemary’s dog, Brodie, is an unusual red Golden Retriever. He is very well-behaved and just a love.

I was prepped by the nurses and ready for surgery from about 2:15 p.m. on. I was on a recliner with a warm blanket around me and my feet up. So, I napped on and off for most of four hours. Everyone was very apologetic and poor Rosemary was told first that I would be ready to go about 5. She came to pick me up only to find that the doors downstairs had locked automatically at 5 and the answering system switched on. So, when she called, she got nobody to talk to. The surgical area is upstairs and was still going strong. Apparently, nobody was answering upstairs.

He thrived on attention, and I got my dog fix.

Finally, at 6 p.m., it was my turn. All the nurses cheered when I was wheeled in. I had gotten to know them all. We had become like family! After I was situated on the operating reclining chair that could flatten out and go up and down, my head was taped into place and my hands placed in restraints. Then I gradually lost consciousness as the anesthetic took hold. I was not totally out, but I don’t remember most of it. They also put a nerve block on my eye to numb it and one suture to hold my eyelid open.

Here’s the strange part. I did partially come to before it was over. I could see someone looming over me with eye optics and everything was bathed in wild psychedelic colors—vivid colors––that gyrated all around. Wild to say the least. Then, the next thing I knew, I was back to my recliner in the waiting area. I came to right away with no residual sleepiness or dopiness. I felt totally fine. I did have a patch over my eye taped from my forehead to near my mouth keeping it in place.

We went home and Rosemary fixed a lovely dinner of salmon and asparagus and salad. I hadn’t eaten since 7:25 a.m., so I scarfed it down with no trouble. (The next morning, I read over the after-treatment directions, and found that I was supposed to have a very light meal, such as soup, that evening.) We stayed up talking tell about 10:30 p.m. and I felt totally normal—not unusually tired and no pain. I slept like a log that night.

Rosemary’s cat, Bigs, also gave me lots of attention. I got my cat fix too.

I went back Thursday morning for my post-op checkup. The patch was removed and the doctor thought everything went well during the procedure, and that it definitely needed to be done. The white part had come very loose much more so than he thought, and it really needed to be corrected.

It was great having the patch removed. I have two sets of drops to put in four times a day and hydrating drops to put in every three hours each day for about a week. Oh joy! I have puffiness around my eye, and the eye is bloodshot. He said that should go away in a couple of days. He is hopeful of a good outcome when it comes to improving my runny eye. In a couple weeks, I come back for a second post op. And then in mid-May I plan to have the second eye done, since it has the same problems.

Wish me look on my eyes . . .  and my door!

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#375–Front doors need to look beautiful too . . .

Okay! So, I’m on a refinishing jag! I had two projects that were “must-do” this winter––the redwood deck chairs and the front door. Well, I was able to salvage one of the red chairs and it is indeed beautiful. Now, it’s the front door’s turn.

I last did a really poor job in July 2020 during the Covid lockdown. The top coat of lacquer sagged in several places before it dried, and it had dripped at several corners. I was not pleased, but it looked good from a distance. Later, it got some red paint on it that I didn’t notice until it had dried. A year later, I gently taped a message to the door—mistake. The delivery person must have ripped it off because it took the top coat of finish right off in two places. And, by this winter, all the sanding done below the top coat of lacquer was starting to show through. Up close, it definitely looked bad.

Back in 2009, I had the door taken down and laid flat, so I could really do a good job.

Back in 2009, I refinished my front door the right way. I had it taken down and placed in the garage where I could place it on a table in a horizontal position. This way, the finish coats do not drip or sag. At that time, I took it down to bare wood on all the flat surfaces, re-stained it, and put three coats of lacquer on it. It was beautiful! I was so proud of it.

At that time, a neighbor who was involved in construction and had been involved with the conversion of my downstairs into an apartment, convinced me that I could refinish my door myself. And he just happened to have a door that could take the place of my door while it was being worked on. He changed out the doors and set it up for me in my second garage, which was not in use at that time. He loaned me his rotating sander and told me step-by-step what to do.

This mostly glass door has been covered with paper for privacy. It will be my front door until I’m done refinishing the other one.

But he was not available to help me this time around. I discovered right away that you can’t just rent a temporary door, if you want to remove your front door for a couple weeks. So, I went to Restore and bought a used door of the right size. (They only had one—I really lucked out there!) And my renter’s son was able to get it to my garage. (It wouldn’t fit in my Camry! Solid wood doors just don’t bend.) Then he removed my front door and replaced it with the one from Restore. He had to so some chiseling to make the hinges fit, and he had to do a lot of adjusting when changing the locks, but he got it ready and working. I was so pleased.

He placed the door on the same table I had used back in 2009. I could take it from there.

At this point, it is a messy job with dust everywhere. After a day of using the rotating sander, my hand continued feeling like it was rotating long afterwards.

TrueValue was the store I went to and bought all kinds of stuff, some of which I didn’t even know existed. I told the gal what I wanted to do and she helped me find everything she thought I could use. I got my own rotating sander and various grades of grit sanding disks. I got flexible foam sanding pads for the light sanding of the inner parts and the main design in the middle. I got tack rags for cleaning the sanded areas and paint brushes and rags for the staining process. And she threw in foam brushes for applying the top coats. I, also, got two lights to provide better lighting in the less-well-lit garage I’ll be using this time, and the necessary stain and varnish.

I was ready and had three days where I had to be nowhere.

In the morning on the first day, I moved my car out and positioned the table where I wanted it. I got out the rotating sander and read the directions; I figured out how to use it and attached the sanding disks. I took the lights out of their boxes and discovered “some assembly required.” (Some of my least favorite words.) But I figured it out and got them set up. With my goggles, mask, and gloves handy, I was ready.

All but the inner parts and the mariner scene in the middle were sanded to bare wood.

After lunch, I geared up and began. The goggles kept fogging up, so I took them off, but kept mask and gloves on. I had the garage door open partially. It was cold—about 50 degrees. I got half of the flat places down to bare wood and took a break. Then I did the other half. Even though the sander had a collector for the dust that I emptied every 15 minutes or so, there was a noticeable layer everywhere. I finished with the rotating sander and swept the floor.

The second day, I got the vacuum and went over every inch of the door and then the floor and shook out or dusted lots of stuff. Then I did some hand sanding on all the flat areas and used the flexible sanding devices for light sanding on the inner areas and design in the middle that had not been taken down to bare wood. I really liked the flexible foam sander. Then I vacuumed the door again. Lastly, I took the tack rag to give a final cleaning. Now, I was ready to stain.

Now it has had two coasts of stain. To the right is one of the super powerful lights that I used.

The third day, I did touch up staining on all the inner area and then did the rest in three stages, wiping away the excess stain before moving to the next stage. The directions said to wait two hours before applying a second coat. So, I stopped for lunch and other stuff. Then I did the second coat. I did all of it and then wiped away the excess.

I finished about 6 and then spent an hour in cleanup. This is not water-based, so out came the mineral spirits (aka thinner). Not fun, but it got the job done.

I will post this on Friday, but will not finish the door until Saturday. At that time, I have to leave 8 to 12 hours between the two coats. It has to be dry––not tacky–which the directions says will take about 8 hours. After 12 hours, it will require light sanding, which I want to avoid. So, I will get up at 6 and get the first coat applied with the foam brushes between 7 and 8 and then 9 to 10 hours later, between 6 and 7, I’ll apply the second coat—at least, that’s the plan. And maybe even a third coat very early the next morning.

Here is the other super powerful light on the other side of the door. It is sitting on a box of books and two bins filled with recycling.

I chose marine varnish because it is tough stuff and made for boats—the above water part. I’m hoping for a smooth and easy application with foam brushes––a new experience. I’ve never used foam brushes before. So, wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it turns out next week.

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#374–The yucky job of refinishing furniture . . .

I have two outdoor redwood chairs that I have had since 1976 that are similar to Adirondack-style chairs. I just love them and they were the first thing that my second husband helped me buy shortly after we met before we were married.

My two red chairs were quite new in this 1976 photo.

Life was easier for the chairs in California where it didn’t rain nearly so often. When we moved to Oregon in 1985, I would carry them down the outside stairs and store them in the basement during the winter and return them to the lower deck in the spring. And every few years, I would give them a fresh coat of paint.

Here they are with my mom in 1986 not long after we moved here in late 1985. Looks like they were freshly painted. The little redwood table developed too much rot and was tossed last year.

The last 10 years or so, I haven’t been carrying them up and down the stairs. So, the winter weather has been hard on them. I still gave them a new coat of paint every so often . . .  that is, until these past few years.

Last fall when I had my deck worked on, I realized how awful they looked. They had moss growing in all the crevices, ferns peeked out from below, and all over them lichen was beginning to appear. And, of course, they needed another coat of paint. So, I had them pressure washed, which got rid of all the lichen and most of the moss and ferns, but also blasted away much of the existing paint. They looked like a bad job of camouflage. I hated the way they looked.

So, on my to-do list was to refinish them. I got some CitriStrip, which is supposed to be less potent than regular paint stripper and some low-fume mineral spirits.

This is what I needed to do the job.

And heavy duty gloves and safety goggles.

I watched a YouTube video of a person using CitriStrip on a flat table with four rounded legs. She made it look easy. I, who had no experience stripping paint from anything, figured I could do this. What I didn’t realize was that my chairs were so much more complex.

The process of scrapping off the loosened paint is messy, yucky! Here is the wooden spatula that worked so much better.

I decided to do it in my kitchen because I have very good light there—both natural and great light directly overhead. And I have windows and sliding glass doors to open for good air flow. I spread plastic and covered it with a sheet and put one of the chairs on its side and got started.

I spread the CitriStrip, which is the consistency of soft pudding, fairly thick on all four sides of two legs. Then wrapped in Saran Wrap and let sit for 40 minutes. I then used, as they suggested, a plastic scraper. It was a lot of work and only got part of the paint. After a whole day of work, I got much of the paint off of two legs and the supports directly under the seat. It all looked much worse than before I started.

So, much work, and I wasn’t happy with how it was going. I wasn’t convinced that I should even continue. I totally lost my motivation.

I’ve started painting here after smoothing every surface with steel wool and cleaning with mineral spirits.

The next two weeks I was busy with other stuff and didn’t even try to find time to work on the chair. It just sat there in the kitchen. Then, the day of the heat pump installation and big snow, I decided to give it one more go. I would not try to do all of the chair, just the sections that looked really bad. And I wasn’t pleased with the rubber spatula, so I tried a wooden one. It worked so much better, and I began to feel like I knew what I was doing. Finally, I was making progress.

I spent that day and the next and got most of the paint I wanted removed, removed. Then I smoothed all the surfaces I had been working on with steel wool. Before I could paint, I had to clean every place I had put CitriStrip with mineral spirits. So, I did. Yikes! I had on my mask and that stuff still smelled awful! I had every window and the sliding glass doors open, even though it was very cold outside. I wiped off any excess mineral spirits and let it sit until the next day.

First coat and it looks good.

The painting took only about an hour and a half. A few hours later, I flipped the chair over to get some underneath parts. The next day, I gave a second coat. It looked almost new. I was so pleased. It had been worth it, after all. Now, I just had to repeat the whole process on the second chai

After the second coat, it looked fabulous! So glad I persevered.

I started on the second one by using a metal scraper and scraping off any loose paint, which I had not done on the first one. Then I flipped the chair over. That is when I noticed, while trying to pry out some embedded moss, that the wood in one area was punky! Upon closer inspection, I found one support piece was rotted through on one end and almost as bad on the other end. And one of the pieces where you sit was looking suspicious. So, I decided that this chair was not worth doing. It is now in the garage, awaiting a trip to the dump. Dang! Well, it lasted 47 years––a very good run. Time to part with it.

I have two white vinyl chairs that will go on the main deck where the two red chairs used to be. And the beautifully refinished one will go on the balcony. At the moment, however, I have found a place for it in my bedroom until the weather turns warmer and less rainy. Too much work to let it get ruined again! From now on, it’s going to be pampered.    

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#373–What a difference heat pumps make . . .

I kept thinking of Dinah Washington’s 1959 song, “What a Difference a Day Makes,” the day after my heat pumps were installed. Thursday, temperature in my house when I got up was 58 degrees, and the next day, Friday, it was 68 degrees, although the night had been colder. What a difference heat pumps make.

There was about eight inches of snow the morning of installation, although on one side of the house, the work was done under trees where little snow hit the ground.

I have a home with a central heating system that worked fine until 2010 when I remodeled the downstairs to be an apartment with an added door that stays closed at the end of the stairway. Ever since that happened, the downstairs with eight-foot ceilings and doors, heats up very quickly. My area is very open with open-beam ceilings over the living room and dining room and no doors except down the hallway. So, my area rarely got above the low 60s. In the last two years, I haven’t used the central heating at all. So, my renter and I have been using several small space heaters, resulting in high electricity bills and not particularly safe. So, it was time to consider heat pumps.

The inside unit is placed near the ceiling.

A few weeks ago, I knew very little about them. I went online and learned as much as I could. I also checked for closest retailers to my area and Florence Heating and Sheet Metal popped up. I talked to others with recent heat pump installations, and they recommended the same business. I mentioned it to my yard guy, Todd, who said his girlfriend had recently had two heat pumps installed—one upstairs and one downstairs. She also recommended the same business. Todd knows the owner, Steve Wolford, whom he had gone to high school with. So, I felt confident stopping by Florence Heating and Sheet Metal.


This is what he was connecting to from inside.

I met Steve and his wife Krystal. We chatted and he thought one upstairs and one down would work best. And she bought four of my books!! I liked these people.

Within a few days, Steve came and measured and made notes. A few days later, I received an estimate. I stopped by the office and signed paperwork and he told me about the $800 rebate from Central Lincoln. And we set an installation date.

The inside units, both upstairs and down, fit in nicely with the decor.

Installation day turned out to be snow everywhere. Not just a light dusting but at least seven to eight inches where I live at 350 to 400 feet. And temps just above freezing and still snowing off and on––not ideal for installations that involved more of the work outside than inside. I wasn’t sure they would be there, but they were and on time.

Heat pumps come in two parts. There is a relatively small unit that goes inside on a wall up by the ceiling and a larger unit that goes on the outside. The downstairs unit was smaller in both components than the upstairs units because of a smaller space to be heated.

This is the smaller unit sitting outside on cement blocks.

Because they are heat pumps, I’m getting heating as well as air conditioning, which is one of the advantages. Another advantage is that they run on a whole lot less electricity, which makes them much cheaper to operate.

To complete the installation, the units need to be hooked up to the source of electricity. Wires running from units down conduits from inside unit to outside unit and then through basement and up to fuse box in garage. Or something like that. That’s based on watching installation upstairs inside and the occasional peek out the window to see one outside installation and hearing sounds from the basement and garage.

This is the outside unit for the larger one. It doesn’t look like it in this photo, but it is almost twice the size of the smaller unit. It is set on a bracket that is attached to the wall of the house because of the slope. It was not easy to install this one because of the cold, the snow, the slope, and being behind bushes.


After the installation, Steve instructed me on the best way to use this type of heating and how to use the remote. With a remote, I won’t need a ladder to make changes. And his helper instructed my renter with her own remote.

He said the best way to use it, was to set it and leave it. It does best on maintaining the heat, rather than turning on and off every day. I have found that the areas where I do most of my living are the perfect temperature for me—68 degrees. And the bedroom, the farthest away is a few degrees cooler and that is just fine, I prefer a cooler space for sleeping.

Bottom line: I’m a happy camper and highly recommend heat pumps. For the first time in years, I have a warm house. And it’s working just fine during the coldest days of winter. And, of course, I’m looking forward to my electrical bill going down!!

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#372–Your help needed for new book . . .

I need your help! I’m thinking about putting together another book. It would be a collection of blog posts––some of my favorites and others would be readers’ choice. At this point, it’s just in the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I-do-it stage. And if I decide to, which ones do I choose?

There is precedence for me creating books out of my blog posts: The Crossings Guide began as segments I had created as fillers when I was not home during the first year and a half of writing this blog. And the core of The Cancer Blog is the 16 posts I did while undergoing chemo. I added more chapters but the blog posts were the main part of the book.

My nephew’s wedding in Vegas.

This time around, I may use the ones with the most intriguing titles:

#291–My throat was slit (May 2021)

#235–No, it’s not a crime scene (April 2020)

#102–Quickie wedding in Vegas (June 2013)

My sister, brother, and sister-in-law all went to Montana to scatter both mom’s and dad’s ashes in 2021.

I may use some of my favorites:

#305–Montana and Mission Possible (October 2021) and #306–Onward to Yellowstone (October 2021) both of these are about my family’s trip of a lifetime.

#298–I am woman, I am strong, I am resilient (June 2021)

And more favorites:

#264–Walking Circles in the Sand (October 2020)

#245–A life of white privilege, who knew! (June 2020)

#217–The ups and downs of a single day (March 2018)

#136–Budgets & old folks require flexibility (April 2014)

#110–Rewards and revelations of research (August 2013) 

My first class as a teacher in the first of 22 years in a building contaminated with asbestos, which I think caused my cancer.

I also like the ones where I had to do some research:

#360–The case against the death penalty (October 2022)

#321–The why behind my cancer (January 2022)

#271–Remembering Big Basin (September 2020)

#253–Restless Leg Syndrome (August 2020)

I had waited almost a year for my new septic tank.

And I especially like the ones about unlikely topics:

#300–In praise of my refrigerator magnets (July 2021)

#283–Happiness is a new septic tank (March 2021)

#240­–In praise of rest stops (May 2020)

 #234–Happiness is toilet paper (April 2020).

Sir Groucho was a good subject for a photo essay.

The photo essays also meant a lot to me:

#273–Ornaments and memories (January 2021)

#243–Sir Groucho––a photo essay (June 2020)

#241–Rhodies, glorious rhodies (May 2020)

#204–Arrival in Bakersfield (January 2017)

Mom and me in Hawaii shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed.

A few were on a more serious note:

#315–Surviving aftermath of Pearl Harbor (December 2021)

#311–Thoughts upon turning 80 (November 2021)

#254–Anyody can be scammed (August 2020)

#190–Travel woes at SFO (January 2016)

This bookstore has carried my books since I started with Crossings.

And then there are the ones most visited by readers:

#244–Mari’s Books is now Books and More in Yachats (June 2020)

#269–Life and the Good Feet store (December 2020)

#223–Where has the summer gone (November 1918)

Here we are with Mt. Vernon in the distance––part of our trip to Washington D.C.

And some of the fabulous trips with my sister got a lot of hits too::

#197–A gen-u-ine vacation (July 2016). (A road trip to some of the famous sites of the Northwest that included Port Angeles, Victoria, Seattle, and the San Juans.)

#224–227, November and December 2018). (We flew from Portland, OR, to Portland, ME, rented a car, and took a road trip along the coast of Maine, covered in four blog posts.)

#230–232, March 2020. (We flew to Washington D.C. and spent 16 days exploring all the sights we planned to see and much more, covered in three blog posts.)


I have written 371 posts prior to this one. And I thought maybe 40 or 50 of them might make a good book. Or it could be more or less or no book at all. I would love your input on whether to do it, and if so, how many and which ones.

Each post listed has month and year to find easily in the archives, if you wanted to check out any of them. I would also like to use the photos used in the original postings. This book will not be out any time soon. At best, mid-2024.

I greatly look forward to your input. Thank you!

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#371–Stair treads––a necessity . . .

I’m still working on my stairs. Once I had the stairlifts removed, 10 of the 15 steps had four holes each where the screws that held the stairlift supports were drilled in. They looked awful, and I could either get some decorative sticky something or others to cover them or use stair treads. I opted to go with stair treads.

I saw some in a catalog using braided rugs that I rather liked. I also went online, and all I could find on Amazon were like carpet scraps with binding. And they all had square corners or very slightly rounded ones. None had a color I liked, and all were solid colors. I wanted something that could tie in with my mossy green rugs.

The yellow plastic protective covering was difficult to to get started on its removal, but once started was easy.

I also read all the reviews. On the carpet types, they were inexpensive, but the corners came unstuck and turned up, becoming a tripping hazard. On the braided-rug style, working with the adhesive was a pain, but the treads lasted well. One woman ordered a small rug to match the stair treads that she had ordered five years earlier, and they matched perfectly. They hold their color. After reading the reviews, I went with the braided ones.

I ordered them, and about two weeks later, they arrived. That was three days ago.

I immediately opened the package and was so glad to find that the colors of the treads tied in nicely with my other rugs.

I found that scratching, scratching at one corner eventually created an opening.

Right away, I placed the treads on all the stairs just to see how they would look. And I liked the look. But I couldn’t leave them there, because they were dangerous with nothing holding them down. They were so slippery, one step, and I would go flying.

Enter, the “installation kit,” as it is called. It’s a roll of mesh that is sticky on both sides and has a protective sheet of plastic stuck to one side to be able to handle it.

Here you see one tread firmly in place, one adhesive segment firmly in place, and the folded tread ready to be pressed firmly on top of the adhesive segment. And you can see the four screw hole, which are on 10 of the steps that I’m trying to cover up.

If you’ve ever dealt with double-sided tape, then you know how much fun this was. The adhesive roll was like tape on STEROIDS. The roll was about 6 ½ inches wide and 28 feet long and meant to be long enough for 13 steps. I had 15. They suggested 26 inches per tread. I did some math and figured 23 inches would work for 15. And it did—miracle of miracles.

The treads are on the upper and lower stairs with the entry rug in place.

I had watched a video on the braided rug website regarding installation, and, of course, everything looked so easy. I also read the reviews regarding installation and nearly everyone complained about removing the protective plastic. The video suggested folding in the middle, making a cut and working in a finger and then your hand and loosening it that way. One reviewer suggested a skinny spatula or bread knife at any edge.

I tried cutting in the middle and found it just as difficult as any other edge to try to get into. After trying various ways, what worked best was just taking my finger at a corner and scratching at it until It finally came loose. As soon as you can get a finger in, you’re in. Easy, peasy from then on.

So, I cut my roll of adhesive into 15 23-inch lengths and stacked them. Then I washed and dried each step before applying anything.

Once the stairs were ready, I removed the protective plastic on one adhesive section, took it in one hand and a tread in the other and walked over to the stairs. I determined exactly where I wanted the tread, which also determined where the adhesive segment would go.

I like the treads on the stairs as well as the entry rug. It makes a nicer entry.

I pressed down the adhesive segment first and then the tread on top of it, trying to keep the tread straight before I pressed down. Then I repeated each step 14 times. Once I got in the groove, the whole process went quickly.

The rug that matches the stair treads that I ordered to go between the stairs and the front door was too small, and I didn’t want to use it there . . . or so I thought. After a couple days, though, I tried it there again and liked it. Go figure! It was not too small, after all.

The results: All the screw holes are covered; not one shows. Mission accomplished! Best of all, I like the way it looks. I never liked the way the stairlift looked, but as long as it was useful, looks didn’t matter. Now, I’ve got my stairs back and like the new look. It makes a nicer entry. And there’s a bonus. With the treads, it’s safer because the wooden stairs are slippery—the treads are not! All in all, I’m very pleased with the results.

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