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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sand Run Metroparks in Akron, OH

Kevin and I are running out of new trails by our houses, so we ventured down south to do some exploring.  We started out at the Seiberling Nature Realm.  I love flowers, and I could look at them all day.  Kevin and I thoroughly explored it, one day.  I was so impressed by how pretty it was.  I loved the idea of building a greenhouse out of 2 liter bottles!  In the herb garden, not only did they label the herbs, but they labeled the big boulders, too,  There was one section of weeping trees, several pretty ponds, meadows, rhododendroms that must have been gorgeous when they were blooming and enough trails to keep us busy.

The next visit, we went into Sand Run and hiked the Mingo trail.  It was certainly rugged with some very steep hills.  We took the extension and ended up on a trail that is made just for joggers and walkers.  We walked that a while, but then turned around and headed up the really steep hill to get back onto the Mingo trail.  The trail was all shady and well-maintained, but you have to be ready to hike hills.

Since we didn't have enough hills, the next time, we went on the Dogwood trail.  It was similar to the Mingo trail, but shorter.  Just the 1.9 miles of that trail was quite a workout, but of course, that wasn't enough for us.  On the way back, we saw a trail that was closed and decided to explore that one, too.  It was washed out in several places, so I could see why they closed it. I hope it is just temporary because it was a very pretty trail.  There were hills, but they weren't as bad.  At the end of it, we found the jogging trail and took that back to the car.

There was still one more trail to tackle in Sand Run, and that was the Valley Connector Trail.  It was rated as moderate, and most of it was--but at the end, there was another one of the huge hills that this park seems to have everywhere.  The trail was really pretty, mostly shady and well maintained.  It was 2.8 miles, each way.  It was a hot day, and we sweat buckets.  Kevin packed a dinner, and we ate at Sieberling, again.  There, he saw an old friend of his, and we toured some of the gardens with him.  I can never see enough flowers!

As always, I have to complain about one thing about Akron--they have terrible street signage!  I have gotten lost so many times down there, that I hesitate to visit it.  We only got lost the first time, so that wasn't too bad.  We are looking forward to exploring some of the other reservations in the future.

Book Review: "Corrupted" by Lisa Scottoline

This is one of my contemporary books by an author that is still alive.  I read another of her books and liked it, so when I found this in the bargain bin at Half Price Books, I grabbed it.

She writes legal thrillers.  This one tells two stories; one of a boy who is bullied, gets into a fight and ends in jail--the other years later when he gets in a fight with the same man who is later found dead and he is accused of murder.

The two tails are intertwined and a romance complicates things.

A real page turner; once again, from Lisa Scottoline.

Book Review: "Peony" by Pearl S. Buck

Not the first Buck book I have read about China, and certainly not the last.  She brings China to life like nothing else.

Persecuted Jews traveled to China over many centuries ago, and they were greeted with much kindness, so they stayed.  They tried to hold on to their heritage, but as they assimulated and intermarried into the Chinese culture, that became more and more difficult.

This story takes place at towards the end of their era.  A Jewish mother decides that her son should marry the rabbi's daughter to to perpetuate their faith.  The son has his eye on a Chinese girl, instead.

Peony is a servant in the household that was raised with the son--and has fallen in love with him. She knows her place in the world, and feels she would be content with just staying in his household the rest of her life.  If he marries the Jewish girl, that seems unlikely.  Peony does what she can to encourage a Chinese marriage.

The story explores the two cultures as the son is torn between them.  It takes some unexpected turns that totally shocked me.

Once again, Ms. Buck hits it out of the park.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Garden Update

Garden Update

We have had so much rain that my garden has turned into a swamp.  So far, there doesn’t seem to be any damage except the lower leaves of my tomato plants are turning yellow.  That could become a big problem if things don’t dry out.  It may even be too late.  Still, I should get enough tomatoes because I planted so many of them.

I did pick my first one, yesterday.  It is an orange cherry tomato. I am going to make a salad with it, today.

My peppers look fantastic.  I thought the overabundance of rain would hurt them, but so far, they don’t mind.

I am excited about my ground cherries.  I tried growing them, last year, and they had a terrible germination rate.  To make matters worse, I had them with the rest of the tomatillos, and they were too crowded.  I only got a handful of them, but that was enough for me to know that I like them; alot.  

This year, I tried starting them in the house.  I still got a horrible germination rate--but it yielded 7 healthy plants.  They transplanted in the garden beautifully.  I gave them their own section and spaced them out correctly.  They are now blooming and soon, they will fall to the ground--hence the name.  That is how you know when they are ready to pick--or I should say--pick up.  I am looking forward to eating them, soon.

My tomatillos are blooming, too.  They are related to ground cherries, but are much bigger plants and get much bigger fruit.

The cukes and zukes are blooming.  I don’t see any female blossoms, yet.  The few bush beans I have are blooming, and I bet I will be picking in about a week.  The pole beans are looking particularly healthy, though they haven’t begun to bloom, yet.

Overall, things are progressing well.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

One Year of Retirement

One Year of Retirement

All I can say is, this is the best thing I have ever done for myself.  I just love not working.  Sure, I still work with the horses, work in the garden, work in the house and work taking care of my ever so demanding cat, Thunder, but this is work that I want to do.  I didn’t want to work for anybody else, anymore, unless they have 4 legs.

I haven’t done anything spectacular with my time, and that is just what I expected in retirement.  It is about the day to day living, not the big events.  I take long walks with my dog--that’s not exciting--but when I find a new dragonfly or flower, it is exciting for me.  

Of course, I ride nearly every day.  I have to make a conscious effort to give Cole a day off.  Most days, the rides aren’t long, but they are always fun.  I contemplate getting a second horse, but that’s as far as it gets.  I do help my sister take care of her retiree, Ranger, so it is almost like having a second horse when she isn’t there.  I just take him on walks.  He is a good walking companion--something I missed when Cruiser died.  I mostly walked him the last year of his life, too.  

I joke about it, but there is a lot of truth when I say that I retired so I could take better care of Thunder.  We formed a mutual admiration society.  My day isn’t complete if I don’t get to spend a lot of time with him.  I don’t know how I managed on those busy work days when I went right to the barn after dinner and right to bed after the barn.  He wants me with him all the time.  I am so glad to say that he never seems to get tired of me being around.

I get along much better with my dog, Maggie, now that I can spend more time with her, too.  Sounds odd, but she just needed more attention and longer walks.  Now, I hardly ever call her Dumb Dog, anymore.  She is a fun little dog to be around.

I can finally get enough time in the garden without thinking I should be doing something else at the time.  I try to time it during Thunder’s naps.  My veggies are doing well, so far.  If I get any bumper crops of anything, I have all kinds of new things I can try with them.  Right now, it looks like I will have more peppers than I have had in years!

Of course, I spend lots of time with Kevin, too.  I think he is as happy as I am that I retired.  He rides with Ellen and I quite often.  We hike all the time.  Now and then, we go on excursions--but not as often as he’d like.  I have a hard time taking time away from Thunder...We watch a lot of DVDs, too.  Both of us get them from the library, of course.

Retirement has brought me to a very contented state of mind.  I seldom feel like I am in a hurry--something I always felt when I was working.  I was very depressed after my dad died, and that lasted so long.  I truly didn’t shake it off until I did retire.  Sometimes I still feel a little down about “whatever” but I don’t feel the black cloud enveloping me, anymore.

Oddly, I don’t worry about money half as much as I used to, even though I get no paycheck or pension.  If my investments go south, I will just have to deal with it.  After weathering the great recession, I feel like I can get through anything besides a huge disaster.  I can’t predict the future, so I no longer worry about it.  

So retirement has meant more time and less stress.  I recommend anyone who can afford to retire early--should.  Life should be about enjoying it while we can.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Review: "What Maisie Knew" by Henry James - 1897

I swore I would never read anything by James, again, but I got tempted, and I am glad I did.  His work can get so bogged down in language, sometimes I just don't know what is going on--and sometimes nothing is going on at all!

Not much went on in this one, but it was still a fascinating story.  It is about a young girl whose parents divorce.  They start with sharing custody, and eventually don't seem to want her at all.  That is where the step parents step in with the help of a governess.

The morals of the day as far as divorce and such were very different, then.  That caused a lot of conflict and uncomfortableness in the story.

It kept my interest and I enjoyed it.  I won't completely write off Henry James, anymore.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Garden Update--Thank Goodness for Volunteers

Volunteer Tomatillos, that is.  This is the third year that I planted them.  The first was on a whim.  The second, I gave them more room.  This year, I gave them special treatment.  I didn't just scatter seeds, I planted carefully--and got terrible germination.

I was very upset about it, and then I found a volunteer--then another one.  Every few days, I find one.  They are in all different spots--a few are nowhere near where they were growing last year.  I think I have about a dozen, but there may be more.  They are thriving, too.

It will be interesting to see where they grow the best and with what plants.  Will the one with the peppers grow as well as the one in the cucumbers?  How will they get along with beans and eggplant?

I also have volunteer winter squash. At least that is what I think they are.  I ate my big winter squash in March and tossed the seeds in that area.  It was a good squash, so I am pleased I will have more.  It is possible there are some pumpkins mixed in, but right now, nothing is looking like a vine.

I even have a few volunteer tomatoes.  Since they happen to be where the tomatillos are supposed to me, that worked out well.

 The peppers look better than they have for years, and the tomatoes look awesome.  I didn't have the best germination with my beans and limas, but I replanted the areas with dried beans, which I had an abundance of seeds.
Of course, I have volunteer basil, I always do.  Good thing, since I got poor germination from the basil I planted.

The cukes and zukes look great, too.

This might be a fantastic year, but I won't get my hopes up.  Usually, something goes wrong, somewhere...

Book Review: "Pirate Latitudes" by Michael Crichton

This is Crichton's most current book--published after his death.  Of course, I liked it, as I like all of his books.  This one was a bit different than most of his recent books.  It is historical fiction rather than current fiction with a scientific bend.  He did manage to be just as scientific--he talked about the science of the time.

It takes place in 1665 in Jamaica and the waters thereabout.  Pirates were legitimate government business.  Our pirate, Charles Hunter, plans and attempts to execute the most daring escapade in history.  The greater the risk--the greater the reward.

With the help of science, technology and even geometry, this exciting adventure story keeps you on the edge of your seat.  It is fast - paced and fun.  Everybody is a bad guy, too.   I sure will miss this author.