Old and New

It is my goal to keep in touch with old neighbors as much as possible. Yesterday my husband and I walked and delivered lasagna to our “old” neighbors. They offered us a gorgeous desk from a nunnery.

My husband doesn’t want the desk because we have a flimsy table in our bedroom he never uses for his laptop and thinks he’ll have to do all the work. The table can be folded up and placed back in storage and take no space at all.

What I’d like to do is all the work myself/hired out and surprise my husband with a new, clean, lemon-oiled desk as a loaner, until our neighbors move to a place with room for it. It is a special piece.

Speaking of special things, one knock on our front door last night and we got to meet our newest neighbor, G. We were the first non-family folks who got to meet him as they returned late last night from the hospital. Sleepy, good weight, healthy. We’re happy for all. No, he’s not a dog. He’s a baby! Sheesh!

As to old and new I like to keep both in my thoughts and deeds. Old neighbors (in the neighborhood longer than us) tried to give us gifts, a plant, artsy paper flowers and a couple of books. I said the best gift I could have was to keep in touch and see them now and then. They also like my chili and don’t cook for themselves.

As for the new one, his mother probably doesn’t want chili, even mild chili, right now. I’ll have to perhaps make another lasagna. What goes around, comes around. Our dog Zoe will enjoy having their blind dog B around here for bits and pieces while they get used to the wee bairn. Oh, and how much stuff they have to carry around. It’s like me taking luggage to the airport but with diapers, clothing, milk, etc. and they have to take it all on a walk around the block! Oy vey, says this agnostic Catholic! Here’s to old and new. Dee


Home Improvement

My husband buys expensive dress shoes. I have folded “dog towels” in the entry-way for shoes.

Years ago I told a property owner that people in northern climates have no closet space. They need room for coats, boots, hats, gloves, scarves and there is nothing.

I just made our own space. It cost less than 10% of one pair of his dress shoes. For years I’ve been using folded “dog towels” and I didn’t want to do that anymore. I’ve no option but for guests to see shoes and boots on a rack but anything looks better than dog towels, which even dog Zoe doesn’t use. She has her own towels, perfectly hotel-rolled in a basket next to her/my shower and bath. They’re nicer than our towels.

In the end I may use one clean towel under the shoe showcase in case of rain, ice, snow or mud. Getting rid of stuff and boxes and paper et al is an inspiration. My husband is appreciative and apprehensive, the dog thinks we’re moving so is at my heels every moment. That’s a herder! Dee


It’s tough for anyone. Both of our next door neighbors came by to say goodbye. One with a six-pound daughter. I’d seen him on move-in day and years later on move-out day. In between he’d run a “hotel” service for paying clients and none of us thought highly of that.

Our other neighbors are due a lasagna to place in their new oven for a free and easy dinner tonight. It is my ten minute lasagna recipe on this site. I helped them pack for two days and tweaked an ankle injury I received 25 years ago walking my first dog on a craggy road. I was looking at flower gardens, not where my feet were going, and sprained my ankle. Anytime I over-do it, it tweaks a bit but is much better now.

I’ll call this morning and arrange to drop off their lasagna with cooking instructions. They called us here, to our current home, without either of us knowing it and were here five years, arrived shortly before we did. We always had fun together, and they always checked in on me when my husband was away on business.

Two neighbors have left but another is expecting a new arrival. I plan to give them a ready-to-go dinner when they return. For them. The baby will get it second-hand so it won’t be Texas chili. Other neighbors wish to get a dog over the holidays. We’re now the anchors, ambassadors and our dog Zoe protects them and their homes.

I need to go and make Beef Carbonnade for dinner. Beef, onions, bacon and beer cooked for hours. Cheers! Dee



We had moved twice from our family home in a year. Ten miles down the road, different school district and easier for Dad to get to work.

This was high school. Battle. Brawn, cheerleaders and brains. I was good at English Lit and Algebra, Alex on Geometry, we all studied together.

We came up with names from A.A. Milne, and we were all supporting characters. I remember two. Alex was Tigger. I was Piglet, a tiny girl. I realize now I was probably the leader of the group. They named me as such and when a situation comes up, I just deal with it.

I had a crush on Tigger but had never dated nor wanted to do so. After all, we had to go through Geometry after Algebra. He was my saving study grace there. I wonder what he’s doing now. Probably a home and wife and kids, perhaps grandkids, I wish him well.

Twenty years ago I was a consultant for an impoverished neighborhood striving to educate their children. We had an event one day and I was given an opportunity to assess one of the parent seminars, and I learned algebra all over again. This teacher should have made Teacher of the Year nationally. I remembered! It was so easy, that I wish math and science would have been recommended for girls back in the day. In my day it was Home Economics, and I protested it by leading the team and making our theme chocolate for everything, pancakes, whatever. I wanted to take Shop but I was a girl and even went to the Principal but was disallowed because of my gender. I could make a pie, but not a lamp.

That was years ago but if we had a lot of money I’d toss it in a foundation for math and science and reward the teachers, then the students with impartial judges as to teacher and student qualifications. The emphasis would be for women to learn early on that they can write software, do any job guys do for three times more than you can make. Thank you Mr. Burgoon (grade school), and Tigger, for a bit of math. Cheers, Dee

ps Many thanks to my husband, who is great at physics lessons on the road (what kind of smoke is this and what does this factory make) who makes me admire the math geeks. Hey, I’m married to one and try not to take long car trips with him, the dog is more quiet and in back…… D




I don’t know if you remember subway tokens. They took up your pocket or purse. Turnstiles and tokens.

Now I’ve an issue with the new chip reader machines. With some I have to leave a card in there for up to five minutes and always worry I’ll leave it behind. My husband made sure I’ve a photo of our dog on that card and I certainly do not wish to leave her behind, ever.

Most days I took lunch to school. I didn’t like it. Usually a bologna and cheese sandwich because I never enjoyed PB&J like the other kids.

Moms were given the option of buying monthly tokens for lunch and a separate token for milk. It was thirty-five cents for a horrible hot lunch of rubbery “cube steak,” and a two cent token for a cup of regular milk. My allowance was fifty cents per week. No, I didn’t trade tokens for money.

If I got a hot lunch and milk, I splurged and may have spent two cents per week for chocolate milk (it was three cents when regular milk was a two-cent token). Many years later, I buy this chocolate milk every once in a while to have in the frig. Sometimes my husband even has a glass.

In a day where I can take a photo with my cell phone and have a chip card in my wallet I don’t need tokens but they remind me of childhood.

This post is dedicated to a retired architect and his wife, a feminist and advocate. They move out (next street over) today. We’ve been neighbors for nearly five years and they check on me every week as my husband is off on business a lot. They will be missed. I am making them a special lasagne they can just pop into their new oven and have dinner ready in a jiffy.

We’re down two Swedish families. One single guy taught me Kottsbullar (pronounced Shots BULL-are) that are Swedish meatballs. I taught him true Texas chili. We believe he met the love of his life here and they’re probably married now. Last time we talked he’d taken her home to meet Dad and it went well.

I flew to Texas to meet my future-in-laws. Sweden is serious, and I love G’s father, got to go to botanical gardens and art museums with him and loved driving him around town. We still have one Swedish family we know, with two young boys who love balloons. Yes, my husband twists balloons when he’s not saving huge companies from software issues. He orders the balloons from ….. Sweden.  Cheers! Dee


Amazon now has its own truck service. Problem is, they don’t know addresses or where to park.

We buy a lot from Amazon because my husband is on the road for business and we don’t wish to spend weekends out shopping.

Yesterday a new driver was here with a package for a sister address. I was in the lobby awaiting the “manager” and reading the newspapers. He asked where the sister address was located. I told him.

He went to walk out the door and I said, “but all their packages get delivered here.” He told me he’d have to talk to the manager on that issue. I said I’d been here longer than the manager and I know all the packages are kept here in a secure room.

She walked in, with her fabulous outfit and jewelry and simply said “what she said.” How I love my little “sister,” yes, the manager.

If Amazonliness is near to Godliness, heaven forbid you don’t give GPS to your drivers or have them know the neighborhoods they serve. Perhaps you can hire the USPS to give them a primer.

If Amazon wants to give us gift certificates or something for our birthdays we’re six weeks apart, I’m Scorpio and she is a Sagittarius. I think we work well together, and between us we kept him from another drive or two, and a pricy parking ticket. We’ll both be of a certain age and she always looks better than me and it’s not just that I’m in dog walking clothes. We both look good in jewel tones. Cheerily, Dee

Looking Out, Looking In

Today was a gorgeous day. Blue skies, a few clouds, lake and sailboats probably going home to “roost” for the winter that is to come.

There were strong winds and I can’t believe the window washers were allowed to hang from the roof. The result was spectacular. No more spider webs and dying/dead trapped insects.

As I do every year when they’re here (their work boots and suction clamps alert Zoe there are intruders) I take her out on the balcony and introduce her and tell her these are her friends. They’re visitors. Later on when they moved to other windows they waved to us.

I asked them to be careful, as the winds were heady. Our views improved incredibly and seeing out the non-spider-webbed windows and seeing sailboats on the crystal blue water made my day.

Now, I wonder what they saw. They waved at us. What do they think of the people who live here? Are residents neat, messy, naked, ironing, cooking, at the computer paying bills? Are we nice, nasty or do we just dismiss them as people who don’t matter?

My father used to take me to the tobacco store in our small village and I’d sniff tobacco from glass jars (same as I do today with Penzey’s herbs) while he talked to the owner or clerk. He “schmoozed” every waitress he ever met. No, I don’t smoke, just love the smell of pipe tobacco. I don’t drink coffee either but love the scent of the grounds and do go to Starbucks occasionally, but only for herbal tea and a muffin.

People help us all day long, I’ve known many postal service personnel over my adult lifetime, plus UPS, Fed Ex. We now have a concierge, security and maintenance. Yes, I cook for all of them, tastings and treats. If the dog needs to go out at three a.m. I feel safe taking her.

Tomorrow I make a farewell lasagne for our neighbors. They called us over here (telepathic) nearly five years ago and although they’re older he always checks in on me weekly. They’re moving down the street this week. I hope we still get to see them and I promised them a lasagne to pop into the oven their first night. I’m thinking of putting baby arugula and marinated gigante beans into the cheese layer. It’s a veggie lasagne, they don’t cook and may want some protein and veg.

We neighbors try to take care of each other, and I say hello, good morning, how’s the weather to everyone. And I open and hold the door. Not for long as the dog and I are getting older and the winds are stronger.

It is clear, dark and nearly midnight. I’m leaving the blinds up tonight so I can watch the sunrise tomorrow and then close up to save the art I’ve spent a lifetime not making, I’m not that talented, but framing. What is life but memories. My father took up painting at age 80. I’ve three of his works, all exquisitely framed and hung in our home. I’ve been outside our childhood homes for many years, his paintings of Tuscany and New Zealand allow me to see him. Dee