A Special Diamond….

I’m not sure what prompted this thought; probably a TV ad about a jeweler. While I don’t necessarily agree with the “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” sentiment, I do like  them and for those who have ever lived there, diamonds with one’s jeans are common accessories in Texas.

Anyway, in looking at my quarter-carat ring, I recalled a couple of friends that also involve “special stories”. In one case, a friend was coming up on their twentieth wedding anniversary. She was hoping her husband would ask what she wanted which was to up-size her original ring to a full carat. As it turns out he surprised her instead with a very thoughtful different piece of jewelry which she did appreciate. That’s been quite a few years so I don’t know if she ever got the larger diamond. In the next case, the husband frequently bought jewelry as a present and therefore he had a good relationship with the jeweler. I don’t recall what the actual occasion was, but when he came home with a two-carat ring to replace hers, she was stunned. Although he did say he got it for a good price, it was definitely unexpected and she said it took her a few months to actually become accustomed to wearing it.

Now, the reason I have a quarter carat – and don’t want anything larger – is because I am tough on jewelry. I did have a larger one from my first husband and didn’t want to do the same thing again. The story with that diamond is it was his paternal grandmother’s and he had it re-set for me. It was lovely in white gold with two very small diamonds on either side of it. I continued to wear my rings for about a year after he was killed, then placed the rings into my safe deposit box in Louisiana. Three years ago when I went for my annual visit, I retrieved the ring and took it to my jeweler here. We picked out a white gold chain and he made it into a pendant. I wore it to son’s ballet performance the year they had to use an alternative theater because the one at the Kennedy Center was being renovated. I  explained to him what I’d done and said at some future point in granddaughter’s life, I would give it to her to continue the family heirloom. I have no idea yet what the occasion will be, but it will be something as special as the diamond is.

New Grill On The Way….

Hubby’s birthday gift was easy this year. The grill needed a replacement part not long ago. When the wrong part was accidentally ordered and received, it then became a question of was it better to just replace it? I pointed out birthday was coming up, so voila!, question answered. The next question was whether to stick with the same brand or change. Let me say I’ve never owned a grill nor cooked more than I think one thing on a friend’s grill. I may have posted before that I know a few women who have mastered this type of cooking and I have very occasionally, and briefly, considered it.

Hubby, like many, started with a hibachi when he was on his own and then moved up as he had the space. I don’t know when he swapped from charcoal to gas. We have friends who prefer the old-fashioned method or who simply don’t like to mess with propane, but Hubby enjoys the ability to come up to temperature faster and the control of gas. He almost always buys a grill with the side burner too, even though he doesn’t use that often. He has had multiple brands over the years, to include a Weber, and he’s decided to go again with the Charbroil (or whichever main brand Lowe’s carries). The fact is he grills at least twice a week, often three and sometimes more, so the “life” of the grill for him is measured more in service than time.We do also have a smoker which I think could use replacing, but he rarely takes the time for smoking so that may not happen. As I have posted before, the turkey fryer gets used a few times a year and that is quite the process.

Anyway, new grill is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, the day before his birthday. We haven’t had fish yet this week and the plan is to inaugurate it with a tuna filet for him and swordfish for me. (This is one of those situations where we happen to have one of each left from a three-pack)

Farewell to Cicely…..

I’ve written few posts based on watching the entire television series, “Northern Exposure” about the quirky characters and goings-on in the fictional Cicely, Alaska. It’s always interesting to see how they choose to close out a series and after six seasons, there were some definite “loose ends” to resolve. This one was done well with an montage of scenes at the end shown as an intriguing song played. I didn’t catch the title, but it contained the lyrics of “sun setting on our town”.

The problems plaguing four of the couples were happily resolved and two of the characters continued in their lives without partners although that was more in keeping with the way they had been portrayed throughout the series. Two of the four couples were older; one in their respective 70s. A recurring theme in the series had been to candidly address older characters with their perspectives often providing insight to younger characters. It was rarely couched as advise; rather as observations which frequently included consequences of decisions made years prior. One of the aspects of the writing  I enjoyed was those exchanges reflected a mix of good, regrettable, and surprising outcomes as the characters explained why they’d made the decisions they did.

And speaking of outcomes and endings, it did bring to mind my agreement to change the ending of my first novel, Orchids in the Snow. I originally had the “mega-happy” wrap-up and the editor acknowledged that was acceptable, yet suggested I reconsider based on the character of the strong female who was almost a co-protagonist. I debated the issue for a while and then realized poignancy was probably a more reasonable approach. When I discussed this later with different readers, opinions were pretty evenly divided as to which ending was preferred.

It Could Be Worse…..

Having unexplained car troubles is annoying, especially if it involves needing a tow. On the other hand, when I went out Monday afternoon to head to Publix and the vehicle wouldn’t start, I naturally assumed it was the battery since it hadn’t been driven for almost a week. Technically that should have been correct as it is a 2020 and doesn’t have enough miles for the battery to be down. Weird things can happen and so it was. Hubby was working all day, but neighbor was in and the first jump got me cranked. Except, in an utterly puzzling twist, that didn’t “hold”. Okay, we all know you sometimes have to let it run a few minutes. Except as I sat inside, I realized none of the instruments were on – not a single one nor was anything functioning even though the engine was running. By this time the other neighbor pulled up and we all puzzled at the oddity. Sigh! As Hubby was scheduled to work all the way through Thursday, now I’m into the will-need-a-rental car plus get vehicle towed. In light of the oddness of the situation, I decided to arrange everything for yesterday morning. Got all set into motion. When Hubby came home and I described things, he of course had to see for himself. (I can’t blame each person who knows anything about vehicles from thinking I am overlooking something.) The tow truck driver did the same thing initially yesterday as it cranked when he put the battery charger on it.

As annoying as this is, it would have been far worse had I made it to the grocery store and been parked between other vehicles with my perishables. Although the tow guy was available for an early morning tow, that is often not the case in the afternoon when the average time is 60-90 minutes. Hope to have the problem identified today and that part or parts are on-hand.

Another “Duffel Bag Drag” Trip….

Well, my trip to Louisiana is not necessarily more complicated than at other times; merely a case of sequencing that literally won’t have me staying in any spot for more than one night. The situation for anyone who might be new to the blog is I go back to Louisiana each year (barring something like COVID) for Daddy’s birthday. We didn’t really expect him to make it to age 97, yet one never knows. I haven’t been able to get him on the phone the last couple of tries so I called the Director of the ALF he’s in. She said he’s basically in the same condition as when I was there in 2019 and does still come out to play dominoes. I was checking on the COVID rules as well – vaccination and masks as it turns out.

The difference for this trip is my sister and brother-in-law are coming over from Houston and my brother and sister-in-law up from Mandeville. (Sister-in-law will depend on how her knee is doing). In order to do my “loop” though that allows me to see some of my high school friends and the branch of my mother’s family that lives mile30 s from there, I have to juggle a bit. So, I arrive in Minden late Sep 29th. Check out of the hotel the next morning, go visit with Daddy for a few hours and drive to Natchitoches; about 1.5 hours. I have dinner with friends, check out of the hotel the next morning. Lunch with the other friends, then over to Many. Spend night with Aunt and whatever number of cousins are around. Leave Saturday morning to go back to Minden. The usual way for Daddy’s birthday is cake, cookies, and ice cream in the mid-afternoon in the dining room. We siblings will have dinner somewhere that night. I assume the others will depart for home on Sunday and I will go back by and see Daddy for a while, then drive over to Shreveport where I will spend the night and hopefully have dinner with third high school friend. I’m on the really early flight back as is my habit. Oh, duffel bag drag is a military term that means exactly that; hauling your duffel bag around without settling in one place for any length of time.

Getting Caught Up……

Okay, made the trip home with about an hour delay which I suppose isn’t bad. Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with the kids on Wednesday and extra good-bye hugs. They’ll be down for a few days after Christmas and for the New Year’s Eve party although they do have to fly back Jan 1 in order to have one “down day” before school/work starts. It will be an afternoon flight at least.

Have been chipping away at the top of the to-do list making as much progress as is reasonable considering the number of tasks involved. Have multiple activities for the day; the final is to stop at the American Legion and pick up lobster dinners to bring home. I did an article for the paper as this is a new type of fundraiser they are trying. (http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/eedition/page-a03/page_791dea2e-db2d-5fbe-9c62-4dd1102c77b6.html)

There is one other event we considered trying to squeeze in for tonight as well and decided four in one day/night really was simply too much. Three of the four things for today are outside and I am keeping my fingers crossed for no rain. We are in the pattern of afternoon rain; some quite heavy. Even though there isn’t anything one can do about it; I figure a plea to Mother Nature can’t hurt.

“We Can’t Help Everyone”……

In writing for our weekly community paper, I have and continue to cover many non-profits and often pass them along in posts here. Some are events held by the national/international organizations like the Kiwanis and others are regional or local. I have also covered multiple small groups that aren’t able to sustain even though they had good intentions. Running a non-profit requires a certain level of organization and some administration as it should if you’re going to ask people to give you money. There are, unfortunately, those groups that do spend far too much of their revenue on “administration” rather than programs and even worse are those that are out-and-out scams.

Setting aside the negative aspects, I’ve also previously posted about the sheer number of legitimate organizations means no one – not even the multi-billionaires – can contribute to all the worthy causes. Which leads to the phrase, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone”. I used that as a lead-in to this week’s article about one of the local non-profits that has managed to sustain since they started a few years ago when I first learned about them. (https://brightseasons.org) I did a post as well, but that’s been a while. The lady and her husband began with a small group of friends and have grown. Their mission and goal are to help people who are going through a “tough time” and just need a bridge to help them across the turmoil.

One of my favorite stories of many was the cheerful young man who worked at Starbucks and was a student at the local college. Aside from paying for college, his wages went to help his single mother and younger brother. So, one of the organization members learned his old car had broken down and he was waiting to make enough money to fix it. This meant taking the bus and walking to work and school which of course meant even less free time than he usually had. The first discussion was to pay for the repairs, but his car was really old. Another member had a basic used car, yet still serviceable and they said they would contribute that. Someone else did take it in to make sure it was tuned up as well as fueled. They delivered it to the young man who was stunned and incredibly grateful. While this was more of a “big project” if you consider the value of a used car, most of the good deeds they do are smaller in scope, yet greatly help the recipient.

Hectic Days and Other…..

Once again, I managed to lose a couple of days without posting due to multiple commitments and unfortunately was not able to dive during my “birthday window”. Ah well,  maybe I’ll squeeze a day in even though I have the two trips scheduled for Sept.

On the good news side, my brother and sister-in-law in Louisiana do have power back as of last night and they didn’t suffer any serious damage to their property or flooding. They were just far enough north to be hit with lesser winds. Being without power for almost five days is difficult, but the destruction for those severely impacted is always tragic.

When it comes to living in hurricane zones as we, and both my siblings do, I remember a few years ago in talking with someone who had moved from California. His view was at least with hurricanes, you have warning. He couldn’t adapt to the idea of earthquakes. Then there are the various “tornado alleys” around the country; another destructive force that comes with little warning. When we were hit by Hurricane Irma, much of that wind damage was from tornadoes spinning off rather than the actual storm winds. And speaking of annoying rather than hectic – wind insurance has jumped up again this year by right about 12%. According to our agent, that’s on the low side of the increases. There aren’t many options though. And also like most newcomers, when we moved here we were startled to learn that wind storm was a completely separate coverage from hazard insurance. I already knew hazard insurance did not cover flooding due to an unfortunate experience when I was in Texas. The fact is blizzards plague the cold parts of the country and other areas are prone to flooding. And even though we don’t have many, there is the volcano danger and that is very real for Hawaii.

The Comedy of Pompous….

Having now finished watching the series “Northern Exposure”, I had never seen the first season of “Fraiser”. That was another one we didn’t watch routinely and at only half-hour, the episodes can’t include as much as an hour-long show. For those who may not be familiar, it was a spin-off show from “Cheers” where the psychiatrist Dr. Fraiser Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer, leaves Boston after his divorce and goes back to Seattle to become the psychiatrist for a call-in radio show. His brother, Niles, played by David Hyde Pierce, is still a practicing psychiatrist. Their father, a tough cop who certainly hadn’t envisioned both his sons being so very different from him, was forced to retire when he was shot in the hip. In not yet healing, it became apparent he could no longer live at home so the first episode and several subsequent ones were the utter disruption when the decision was made for him to move into Fraiser’s well-appointed apartment. Niles has a large, expensive house with plenty of room, but his wife (whom I don’t think we ever see) has many issues that are also worth a chuckle. Naturally, there is a spunky British live-in added into the mix who helps care for the father (played by John Mahoney) and his scruffy dog Eddy.

There are the other members of the radio staff and personalities to add humor as well as the pricey coffee shop where many scenes take place. There is the constant display of how pompous both sons are juxtaposed against the common sense of the dad and assistant. At the same time though, there are the moments when the dad or assistant stop to see things from Fraiser’s perspective to draw out the gentler person he can be. A few poignant exchanges serve as reminders that most of us do at times get caught up in our own views and perhaps fail – or are slow to consider another as valid.

Birthday On the Approach…..

As it is birthday eve, Mother Nature is being a bit “blustery” and so diving tomorrow is more than I care to mess with. They cancelled yesterday afternoon’s trips and according to Hubby, the wind and waves definitely picked up the latter part of this morning. As long as I can get a dive in by Tuesday though it still counts as a birthday dive. Depending on what else I have tomorrow, I might jump in the pool to get wet at any rate. We are joining friends this evening though who are down from New Jersey. That steered me more toward a leisurely lunch out Saturday and nice steaks at home Saturday night. Yes, that’s the day after, but again, it’s close enough to count.

Since we have trip to D.C. area coming up that will also involve some nice dinners out although it’s difficult to know how things will be with the COVID situation. Hopefully, not as bad as last year’s trip with hotel services curtailed. On the other hand, we have that to use as a gauge, so don’t expect it to be worse. Other friends we haven’t seen in quite some time are coming up from North Carolina and while my girlfriend does have business to attend to she might take part of Tues, the 14th off. If she can’t, we’ll still all have dinner, plus the performance and the gala after for “catch-up” time. The reason we’re staying close to the Kennedy Center for the night of the performance is because the gala always runs late and at least we’ll have a short distance to go when we unplug. It is a school night due to how they had to reschedule from last year’s date and I don’t think the kids have decided yet if they will get up extra early to take granddaughter to school or let her skip a couple of hours. It probably makes sense to wait and see before making that decision.