Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thyme Tea

Recently I have been experiencing some symptoms of a slight sinus infection. My left nostril was burning, and I was getting almost daily nosebleeds. It seemed like it might be some sort of allergy. Because of the pollen in the air, I wondered if it was hay fever. I did some research online, after starting to get nervous about the frequency of the nosebleeds.

Once I had  read about these natural remedies, I decided to try them. I would use what I have in my home and garden. I brewed a cup of fresh thyme tea. It fights infection,  I also chopped up a clove of fresh garlic, and swallowed the pieces, like a pill. Raw garlic has always had a miraculous effect on my system. It's instant.

I felt an immediate sense of relief. It was amazing! My body has always been extremely responsive to herbs. I find them so comforting and elevating. I even made a mug of lavender tea, and poured it into the bathtub. I soaked in the water for about twenty minutes, allowing the nurturing, fragrant water to seep into my skin. The scent was soothing and  intoxicating.

Once in my pajamas, I felt like I had taken some sort of relaxation pill. As I laid on the couch, reading a book, my whole body felt very peaceful and receptive to healing. I felt a renewed sense of  spirituality and appreciation. My life force energy was buzzing. I mused at the power of Mother Nature.

I haven't had any more nosebleeds, and the burning sensation in my left nostril has stopped. I didn't have to see a doctor, who probably would have prescribed an antibiotic. Now I know what to do at this time of the year, when the air is dry. Do you use any herbs to treat common ailments?

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Lunch With An Old Friend At The Marmalade Cafe

This afternoon I met my friend Bob Fitch for lunch. I had been researching restaurants near where he is staying, and thought that The Marmalade Cafe sounded perfect. When I picked Bob up, I asked him where he would like to go. He suggested this very place. I was pleased with the coincidence. It's a wonderful cafe on Ventura Blvd. We sat by the window, ate heartily, and really enjoyed talking about show business. It's been twenty years since we've seen each other. The time has passed so quickly.

Bob and I both did four different tours of the Broadway hit, Sugar Babies. Mickey Rooney/Rip Taylor and Juliet Prowse were the stars. Bob has done twenty-seven Broadway shows and  is an amazing talent. I loved working with him. He was always brimming with energy and enthusiasm. At 84, he still teaches workshops for magicians all over the world.

The sweater and scarf that  I'm wearing are hand knit. I made them several years ago, and they still look like new. It's very satisfying to make clothes out of quality yarn that will last forever. I love the simple, classic, vintage designs. I got this pattern on EBay. The yarn is a combination of llama and silk. It doesn't pill. Our weather is getting cooler enough now to start wearing sweaters. They always come in handy in the air conditioning.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Purchasing Travel Insurance

Big Bear Lake, California

When traveling through California, I don't worry about insurance. I have good coverage with my medical, auto, and home policy. If going abroad, though, travel insurance is an important expense to calculate. Your coverage at home will not apply in another country. It's very important to do your homework and plan in advance. When I worked in Europe as a dancer, we had working visas, so we were covered, medically. Now that I am a tourist, it is my responsibility.   

Yesterday I did some research, and found a company with an A plus rating and reasonable rates. The one I chose specializes in cruises. I found them on this website. I was very pleased with the coverage and the price. It's so important to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong. Many travelers take their chances, but there are horror stories of people getting sick or having accidents overseas. Some have lost their homes, and everything they own. Sometimes their families step in to help, and then their financial futures are ruined Nobody thinks it's going to happen to them. It's not worth it. For $78.00, I will have peace of mind and protection.

Backstage at Theater des Westens. Berlin, Germany

On NCL, they offer travel insurance through their company. I declined it, because as a solo traveler in a balcony cabin, you are billed for two people. It's very easy to find a policy for a single person online, and you can have it paid for and ready in about fifteen minutes. You can also insure a family or a group.
Right now there are issues in Hawaii, with the cruises being delayed a couple of days. When we plan a trip, we hope that everything will go smoothly. If it doesn't, the insurance is there for security. Your port could be changed, there might be a hurricane or storm, or someone could have a medical emergency. For the uninsured, seeing the doctor on board for something simple can result in a bill for over $500.00. It's not included in your fare.

Filming with the cast of "42nd Street" on The Spanish Steps, Rome.

It helps to plan ahead, so that you can research your options. Studying  the reviews is very helpful. All of this takes time and effort, but it helps you to make the wisest and most frugal choices for your trip.   

Friday, August 24, 2018

Being Your Own Travel Agent

In the past year, I have learned a lot about booking discount hotels and flights from my home. It takes time to find the best deals and to secure them.  I recently have been planning a cruise on NCL from Barcelona Spain, to Rome, Italy. I chose this cruise because at four nights, it is more affordable than the longer cruises. I love the ship, the shows look fantastic, and I can't wait to see Naples and the Amalfi Coast.  I got a reduced fare as a friend of one of the VIP's at NCL. He's gotten me hooked on cruising. I save all year for the big splurge.

Initially, it was fun to search for hotels and flights. When I got down to the actual booking, I was surprised to find that my first choice of hotel was already fully booked. It only has nineteen rooms.  I love historical hotels with charm and character. I continued to search, and found another gorgeous place for an even better price: $120.00 for the night. It's in a beautiful and safe area, and there is a shuttle that drops you off from the airport, right near the door. I decided to book my flight two nights before my cruise, so that I won't be worried about missing the ship. The first night I will be in the air.

A friend of mine booked a trip a few years ago cruising with Disney. When I asked her how her cruise had gone, she answered, "Terrible. We spent the whole time chasing the ship!" Ugh. Nobody wants that to happen on their vacation. It's stressful and upsetting. I learned when traveling with Broadway shows to allow several hours of extra time to get to and from the airport. You never know what will happen. One time one of our cast members forgot his passport, and we had to turn the bus around and drive back to his apartment! This was in New York City, and I will never forget it. Because our company manager had allowed so much extra time, we still made our flight to Vienna. 

For this trip, I have a nonstop flight, which I love. I locked in a one way ticket at $300.00. I was very pleased with the price. I plan to sleep on the plane, and will wake up in Spain. Some people stay in a hotel for two nights before their cruise. That way they can rest, recover from jet lag, and have a leisurely time boarding.

This morning, while looking at return flights, I started to run into trouble. I called up a travel agent and she went through a few difference options with me.  I thought it would be nice to take a train to Venice, and then fly home from Milan. When she started quoting me the airfares home, (some of them $2,000.00-$3,000.00!) It didn't matter that I was booking several months in advance. I became  extremely nervous. It was starting to sound very complicated, expensive, and risky. I explained to her that I was worried that I might get delayed, and that I hadn't  realized how much more expensive one way flights back to LA were from other European countries.  Round trip from LA to Barcelona can be $500.00. I didn't realize that Rome port would make such a difference.

I asked her if there was any simpler way, and she suggested calling NCL. They can arrange your flight and transportation from the pier to the airport for you. This gave me a huge sense of relief. The flights are more expensive, but I felt safer and much more relaxed about letting them handle the return trip. I ran all of the numbers, and I was still within my budget. My flight home with them will cost $667.00. I will be with a group from the cruise traveling to the airport from the port. It feels safe and secure.

There are many hidden costs with travel. In my case, I board my dog, take a bus, train, and flyaway bus to and from the airport. I like to plan trips eight months to a year in advance, so that I can enjoy looking forward to the trip, and secure the flights and hotels. Do you book your own travel plans, or use a travel agent?     

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Monday, August 20, 2018

San Francisco Ballet's Jocelyn Vollmar

In my email box this morning, I received the link for Jocelyn Vollmar's obituary. "Here it is!" the message from my editor read.  It was a bittersweet moment.  I felt pleased, but also sad. Jocelyn was a stunningly beautiful ballerina, and it was an honor to write about her.

As I get older, and more people that I know (or used to know,)  have died,  it makes me see how fleeting life is. We never know how much time we will have. I feel an urge to prioritize and make big plans.

Jocelyn lived her life with passion and gusto. She accomplished her dreams, and radiated bright, hopeful, positive energy. What a shining example she was.

Here is the link.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Spending Time Outside

Lula and I have been spending a great deal of time out on the front porch, soaking in the healing vibes of nature.  I have my morning coffee and all of my meals out there. She lays on the cool cement in the evenings, snoozing under the porch light. The breeze is cool and comforting. It gives us a respite from these hot summer days.

I went grocery shopping yesterday, and bought a few treats. I decided to add some variety to my diet, since I tend to buy lots of vegetables for salad, and whatever fruits are on sale. My meals had become very repetitious, and kind of boring.

 I picked up some strawberries, peaches, watermelon, and sea salt caramel gelato. Lamb chops were marked down, so I made a package of those last night, season them with rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic. I had them with whipped potatoes. I'd forgotten how much I love a meal of meat and potatoes. There's something so satisfying about it. It reminds me of my childhood. When we were growing up, my mother always cooked us delicious dinners.

I whipped up a batch of sweetened whipped cream. I spooned in the sugar, and measured out a capful of  vanilla extract, just like my mom used to do. It was absolutely divine paired with the fresh strawberries. I felt like I was eating like a queen! Having special meals is so uplifting. It's amazing how something special in a meal can be so exciting.

The hens have been laying eggs regularly. They are enjoying fresh corn on the cob, cucumbers, and romaine lettuce. I give them a small pail full of homemade compost each morning. They scamper and scratch to find  the live bugs. It's so satisfying to collect their eggs each morning, and to harvest the fresh zucchini. I cooked one tonight, and ate it like a potato, with butter, salt and pepper. It was simple, but flavorful. It reminded me of baby food. The green skin was so shiny,  bright,  and healthy.  It looks like once the zucchini plants are finished with their cycle, I will have some pumpkins. Are you growing any food?

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Meeting People When You Travel Solo

While I was waiting at Union Station, on my way home from San Diego last week, I noticed a very striking woman sitting in the seat across from me. "I'm going to shut that door," she explained, and walked across the tiles to close it. She had short, grey hair, styled in a chic haircut that suited the shape of her face perfectly. Her eyes blazed with intelligence. She was extremely beautiful, and right away I wondered if she had been  a professional dancer.

I asked her a question, and we quickly got into an animated conversation. My impression of her was correct, she had studied ballet at two of the finest schools in the country: Harkness Ballet, and ABT School. She told me that she was in town with The Self Realization Fellowship. I answered that a friend of mine was very involved with them, and that they were probably attending the same conference. They do a lot of meditation. She had a very bright aura, and was brimming with enthusiasm. Like me, she loved to travel, and found it exciting and energizing. We sat and people watched, and I pointed out an etherial looking elderly woman, who was walking slowly through the waiting room, with perfect posture. "Elegant," she agreed. When you travel on your own, you notice the other women who are traveling alone.

She raved about the hostel near Union Station, where she was staying. She described her quad, which she was sharing with three other women. It was very clean and comfortable. The rate was only $79.00 a night, which is excellent for downtown Los Angeles.  She had just eaten lunch at a restaurant around the corner. She told me that they hire the homeless and trains them as chefs. I  had read an article about that program in a magazine recently, and told her about it.  She was highly impressed with the food and the presentation. I had seen the photos, and it looked very upscale. I agreed, it sounded like an excellent program.

We talked about ballet. She got out of it because she couldn't take all of the fighting. I nodded, sympathetically. For whatever reason, there seems to be a lot of infighting in the ballet world. All of that talent, competition, and perfection can create a stormy environment, in many cases. She was hired to dance in the ballet company at Radio City Music Hall, but her father insisted that she go to college. She did things his way, graduated, and became a flight attendant. She asked me about my dance career, and got very excited when I mentioned the shows that I had done. It made me  realize  how fortunate I had been that my parents didn't insist on my going to college. They let me go to LA and try to make it as a dancer. They even let me have my great uncle's 1967 Chevrolet Bel Aire. I had been riding around on a Yamahopper moped that I had bought with my teaching money. It only went 30 mph, but it got me to school, work, and to my dance classes.

I remember my father saying that if I could support myself, I could be a dancer. He didn't know if I would be able to or not. "What's support yourself?" I had asked him. "That means that you can pay your own bills," he replied. "Oh, okay." I had answered.

I could tell by looking at her that she definitely could have had a successful professional career. Instead, she married and moved to beautiful San Diego. Her face radiated love, excitement, and passion. It made me realize that you can meet people that you don't even know, and feel closer to them than many of those in your daily circle. So much of our connection to others has to do with  common interests and pursuits. 

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Thursday, August 16, 2018


This morning I continued working on a shawl that I have been making. I brought it with me to the last few knitting groups that I attended. Although I had an enjoyable time socially, I messed up the count, and had to backtrack a few rows once I got home. When you have over 160 stitches on the needles, it can be aggravating to work in reverse.

As I was sitting on my couch, counting, losing count, recounting, and getting confused again, I entertained the thought of just frogging the whole project. My ego kicked in: "This fingering weight yarn is too fine, it keeps slipping off the needles, I made another mistake," and on and on. I started criticizing the yarn, deciding that it was a poor choice, even though I had loved the way it looked on Ravelry in the finished projects. I started to hate it. 

Cinderella pumpkin seedling pushing through the soil


   Feeling frustrated and inept, like I had never knit anything before, I began to blame. This pattern had been so much easier when I used worsted weight yarn that was a mixture of llama and silk. I had sailed through it that time.  In spite of my cesspool of negative thinking, I just stuck with it, and thought about how dancers rehearse. With choreography, we constantly go back and clean, and fix our mistakes. It's part of the work. It's part of being an artist. You don't whine or gripe, you just complete the task  professionally, and with a positive attitude, until it's right.

I finally found a few other mistakes. They were yarn overs. I had created two different centers.   Once I removed one of them, my count was correct. The tiny stitches are kind of a strain on my vision. I reinserted markers. I had gotten frustrated with how they were pulling the cotton/acrylic yarn out of shape, and had removed them.  They make all the difference. I will complete this shawl. It might not be the best choice of a project to bring to a group, because the stitches are hard to see. Something repetitive, like a sock, would be easier. I am determined to finish it, though. I want to see how the colors play out with the pattern.

Now it's on to work on an obituary I'm doing on a famous ballerina. I met her at my aunt's house when I was thirteen. I am struggling with this one, because she seemed so perfect. I feel like what I write won't do her justice. In spite of that, I need to plow forward and show up at the page. By putting in the time and energy, the right words will find themselves. Somehow, fixing that shawl, and not giving up on it, helps me to continue with the writing project. Perfectionism gets you nowhere. Sometimes things have to be messy and sloppy for a while, before they fall into place. 

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Traveling On Your Own

People often ask me about traveling solo. I usually will  schedule the itinerary from home,  and meet up with friends once I arrive. On the last one,  I had arranged to take the train with a talented Fosse dancer that I worked with when I was seventeen. We discussed  meeting at Union Station, which is a convenient midway point for us.  Unfortunately, she wasn't able to get away from work, so I went solo.

I enjoy traveling alone because I always meet interesting people. I also like the freedom of it. On the first train, a young man who looked to be about eighteen asked me if he could sit in the seat next to me. "Sure," I answered. He settled in with his cell phone. I found it amusing to hear his nonstop conversations with his friends. Most of them were about meeting girls and his car breaking down at the beach. It made me chuckle.

I did some work on the shawl that I'm knitting. It was a little tricky, with the movement of the car, but I managed. It's relaxing to gaze out the window from upstairs and to soak in  the ocean view. I loved the magnificence of it.  Having someone else do the driving means that  you can read, write, text, or take a nap. It's a very leisurely journey.

When I went to see the show, I was seated with a group of women who were close friends. They had been drinking at the bar. They were instantly very friendly with me, and we felt like we already knew one another. I had a great time laughing and talking with them. I had already enjoyed an animated conversation with a couple at the table across from me, over dinner. They were eager to see Ben Vereen in the show, and I told them that I knew they would love it. They invited me to sit with them, but I was content with my seat. I elected to stay there, after thanking them for the offer.

On the last part of the trip home, a student from LA asked if she could sit in the vacant seat next to me. I smiled and nodded. We had an interesting conversation about train travel. She has been saving money for college. She takes the Metro or Amtrak to visit her boyfriend on the weekends. He lives in San Diego. "I hate driving," she confessed. She explained to me that it's cheaper to take the Metro than Amtrak. We had a nice discussion about technology, and why she prefers having a Smartphone, (the gps,) being car free, and  other matters. She was such a sweet, bright, and polite girl. I really enjoyed her energy.

The trains are quite full this time of year. On the first leg of my return trip there was a three year old little boy traveling with his grandparents. It was amusing to listen to him. As we neared San Clemente station, he kept bellowing, "Whoa! Whoa!" I think the rocking motion was intense to his little body. He had  his legs dangling from the seat. His grandpa escorted him to the cafe car, which was probably very exciting for a child. They returned with boxed sandwiches and coffee for grandma. "That's not fair!" he kept insisting. I wasn't sure what he meant, but it was funny. If you want a perfectly quiet ride, I recommend earbuds. They sell them in the Cafe Car for $5.00.  I flipped through my email messages and Facebook as the coast rolled by on our left. I have always loved train travel. You meet the most interesting people. I was glad that I had brought my shawl. It came in handy for warmth and comfort, with the air conditioning. Once I arrived home, I sighed, picked a couple of very large zucchini, made dinner, and unpacked my belongings. "It's good to be home," I thought to myself.

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Eating Out In San Diego

After getting settled in my room at The Sophia, I decided to have lunch downstairs  at the Brasserie. I sat outside in the courtyard lined with flowers. It was perfect for people watching.  I ordered the risotto with vegetables, which was delicious. Next time I go to San Diego I will eat all of my meals there. The quality was excellent, and reasonably priced at $12.00.  I had made arrangements to meet with my friend Anita at 2:30 p.m. to knit in the lobby.

When I went inside, Anita was already there. We sat in the lovely antique chairs for a couple of hours and chatted. She was working on a sock, and I was knitting my shawl. This was the first time we've met in person, but we felt like old friends. Her husband stopped by and I got to talk with him, as well.

I went back upstairs to my room, took a shower, and got ready to see Ben Vereen's show. I had my eticket  printed out, and had carefully written down directions to Martinis Above Fourth.  I boarded the #11 bus around the corner from the hotel, and headed up to Hillcrest. I was glad that I had validated my bus pass at the kiosk when I arrived at the train station.

We passed some beautiful older homes on the way. I was concerned that the area might be unsafe, but it was artsy and  fabulous! There were lots of cafes, restaurants, and shops. Ben was terrific, as always. He brings such an emotional depth to his work. My favorites were his medley of hits from Pippin', Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, and some of his other shows. (He's done so many!) His rendition of I Dreamed a Dream made us cry. His eyes sparkle with talent, and his hands are beautiful and expressive.

When he performed the Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis songs, the audience went wild. That kind of music always makes me feel happy and alive. His musicians were excellent, and so tight! David Loeb, his arranger and musical director, was fantastic. The showroom is intimate and cozy. It reminded us of a New York Supper Club.   

My waiter, Zach, was a doll! He was so sweet and handsome. The women who joined me at the table acted like they were going through a break-up when they found out that their favorite waiter was no longer working there. They looked to be about in their mid fifties. The waiters were young, cute, and probably in their twenties, I would say. Zach made a fresh pot of coffee for me, and it was delicious. I gave him a 25% tip.

I zipped out of the showroom in time to catch the bus back to the hotel. It let me off a half a block from the front entrance. Everything had gone like clockwork, in spite of my nervousness about being in a new place.  It was a thrilling night.

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Staying At The Sophia Hotel In San Diego

Santa Fe Station in San Diego is beautifully designed. It's like taking a step back in time. Anita, (who comments here regularly,) happens to live in San Diego. She told me that the city was planning to tear it down; I'm so glad that they didn't. It's just glorious. I walked  around, soaking in the ambiance and snapping photos. What a special and scenic place it is.

The tiles and the decor in the cafe were so artistic and distinct. I didn't have a cup of coffee while I was there. Next time I will. I loved the energy in the waiting room. The windows and the floors were so pretty. The archways were grand and impressive, too. The wooden benches  reminded me of the rich past. I love the quality. They are so much nicer than those made of plastic. 

I knew I'd be walking away from the ocean, up Broadway. I glanced at my notes to check the address of  The Sophia Hotel. Broadway was clearly marked at the station, so I just followed the signs. There is a vintage trolley that you can take, as well. I figured after all of that sitting on the train, I'd rather get some exercise. I had my Burley Travoy Bike Trailer with me,  which doubles as a luggage cart.

Shortly after I started walking, I was there! I saw the front of the hotel. It's a  grand entrance. "There it is!" I thought to myself, excitedly.  When I was researching where to stay, I felt like my mom was whispering to me, "Stay at The Sofia!" This nudging  happened a couple of times, as I was comparing prices. After reading the reviews, I knew that it sounded like the kind of style that I like, so I booked a room. It is a very classy and posh hotel. Since I was only in town for one night, I decided to splurge. It was definitely worth it.

I had arranged for early check in, and my room was ready to go. The desk staff was very polite and helpful. I took the elevator up to the seventh floor, and let myself in with my key card. The room had a fridge, microwave, flat screen television, wifi, and toiletries. It was all very luxurious. There was even a personal coffeemaker, which I love. They offer free bicycles and yoga classes.  I unpacked my bags and carefully researched the bus schedule. 

More on this trip over the next several days....Thanks for visiting. 

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Taking The Train Along The Coast To San Diego

Tuesday morning I got up early and prepared for my trip to San Diego. First I drove up the mountain, and dropped Lula off at the kennel. She stays at a gorgeous place five miles from here. The location looks like a campground; she absolutely loves it.  As I was packing her things in the trunk, she zipped in front of me and jumped into the back seat of my Beetle. It was as if she didn't want me to forget her. She's so funny. For the past few days I had been telling her that she was going to "dog camp". She seems to really enjoy being with all of the other dogs. It's a very popular place.

After dropping off Lula, I returned home. My neighbor dropped me off at the train station, and I took the commuter train to Union Station, which is an old, classic landmark. I love the style of the decor. They've kept the charm and historical feel. I sat outside in the courtyard and read my kindle. The shady trees and fountains create a peaceful atmosphere.  The waiting room there is absolutely gorgeous. I was so impressed. The other times that I've used Amtrak, I have waited upstairs in the VIP Lounge, because I had a sleeper car. It's completely modern.  I was just as happy with a coach ticket, sitting in the regular waiting room. It really has a feel of old California, back in the day...I munched on the homemade parmesan popcorn that I had packed in my backpack.

The view on the three hour trip was spectacular. The ocean was so inviting. It made me long to live in a house on the beach.  The cliffs and hillsides were breathtaking. The views took my breath away. It made me feel so fortunate to live in California. We stopped in Fullerton, where my mother was born and raised. I said a mental hello to her.  The stations all had so much charm and character. I had a smoked turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch that I had brought with me. This train doesn't have a dining car, but it does have a cafe car. I went there and bought a day pass for the buses and trolleys in San Diego. It cost $5.00, and came in very handy. They also sell sandwiches, chips, nuts, and snacks. You can buy a cocktail or a cup of coffee, as well.  

Once I arrived in San Diego, I found the entrance to Broadway, and walked up the street to The Sophia Hotel. There were bicycles and scooters parked near the businesses and court houses. It felt exciting to be in a city near the beach. You can also walk to the cruise ships from Santa Fe station, which was my stop. There are all kinds of travel possibilities! More about the trip tomorrow...

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Monday, August 6, 2018

My Mom's Kindle

It's been over three years since my mother died. When I returned home to sort through her things, my father gave me her kindle. His voice broke as he explained to me, "She read this thing all the time. She had over two hundred books loaded onto it. Maybe you would like to read them." I thanked him, and agreed. She had been an invalid for several years, and every time I went to visit her, she was reading her kindle. It was like her companion.

At first I had trouble understanding how to use it. I played around with the buttons, and  started reading one of her books. It was one of the most depressing things I had ever read. It took place in Chile, and was very political.  I would force myself to read it, and then feel terrible. I eventually put the kindle in a drawer and forgot about it. I decided we must have very different tastes in reading material.

Last night I was chatting on the phone with a neighbor. She had seen me reading a library book on my porch, and mentioned that she really liked her kindle. I confessed that I had one, but didn't really know how to work it. I didn't understand what the symbols meant. She offered to help me, and gave me the phone  number of I didn't realize that it was through Amazon.

This morning I decided to call them and see if I could get it transferred into my name. The man on the other end of the line talked me through it, and it was fairly fast and easy. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to grasp how it worked. He was a patient and helpful teacher. I started reading another book that my mother had bought. This  one is about dogs, and I absolutely love it. Everyone in my family loves dogs.

I see now why my mom and my neighbor were (and are) so enthusiastic about their kindles. I remember that Oprah Winfrey used to rave about hers, too. I think it will be great to take traveling. It's light, and it will save me storage space in my home. I just ordered a new book from and had it delivered. It feels exciting to have a new toy. (Especially now that I know how to work it.) How about you? Do you have a kindle?

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Saving Money By Growing Food

When I first bought my cottage, I wanted to make use of the land. I knew that it would be ideal for growing fruits and vegetables. We get a tremendous amount of sun in Southern California. It provides the plants with the light that they need. Sometimes I struggle with the unpleasantness of the heat, but I know that our hot summers are what's needed in order to grow food, (Especially year round.)

I picked another zucchini this morning. Rather than cooking it in butter and garlic,  I decided to eat it raw. I cut it into matchsticks. To my surprise, it was delicious! Sometimes the home grown vegetables taste best with very little preparation. The young ones are so tender.

The hummingbirds have been visiting the Four O'Clocks. They are tubular flowers, that are excellent pollinators. I save the seeds each year, and scatter them. Some people consider them as weeds, but I like them. My neighbor gave me the initial seeds twenty years ago. I always think of her when they bloom.

Each morning I check for male and female blossoms on the zucchini. I pollinate them by hand. That's a male flower above, and a wilted female flower at the end of the zucchini next to it.  It's easy to transfer the pollen. The sunflowers are buzzing with active bees. I love sitting on the porch and watching the birds, butterflies, bees, and lizards. It makes me feel happy and connected with nature.

Although I don't grow as much food as I used to, it still is a big help, financially. The routine of farming  feels healthy and earthy. I enjoy drinking  fresh orange juice for many months of the year. The lemons and limes are delicious in cooking and baking. I eat the fresh vegetables daily, and use them in salads.  It's convenient to go "shopping" for food just outside your doorstep  in your own garden. Do you grow your own food?

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Heavenly Gift of Lavender

I received a large envelope filled with lavender sachets yesterday. Anita, (who comments here regularly,) mailed me a generous amount from her garden. I have them in all of my drawers now. The mailbox was filled with the scent. It is divine and intoxicating!

I finished the picot hem on the Baby Eyelet Cardi today. The little details make such a difference. This one has kind of a scalloped look to the edging.  Tomorrow I will start working on the sleeves. I plan to do them on dpn's.

I've been planning and researching an upcoming trip. I've really got the travel bug, I think it's my age.  I enjoy thinking about and taking short jaunts around California. There are so many places that I still want to see: Yosemite, San Diego, Mammoth...

Making travel arrangements from home is so convenient now. You can arrange for your flight or train, print out your boarding pass, and reserve your hotel room online. It's like being your own travel agent. My latest journeys  have been to see friends. (and shows with people that I knew when I was performing.) It's always a treat to get together and reconnect. . Some of these relationships go back thirty years.  The memories warm my heart.

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.