My weekly obstacle course


Monday morning: I sit at the breakfast table with my second cup of coffee, the week stretching ahead. There are the usual things to do – laundry, shopping, appointments, errands; and then there are the goals I want to achieve – start eating more healthily, go through another closet or bookcase or storage area to see what can be cleared out, get back to my long-neglected blog, put away the remaining Christmas decorations that I keep walking past, start preparing paperwork for taxes, check the Christmas card list against cards received, see who we missed, whose address needs updating, etc., so that it is ready for next year.

Oh yes, and exercise.

A week later I look back and see what I managed to achieve. Laundry got done, shopping got done (but how did I not notice we were almost out of milk?), appointments were kept, and errands were run. I purchased a bag of kale salad at Costco that saw me through a few suppers, but when we went out one evening I had a burger and shamelessly ate all the fries that mistakenly came with it instead of the salad I had ordered. I worked on a couple of pieces for my blog (having been pleasantly surprised to see how many people are now following it!!!), forced myself to sit down and go through the Christmas cards, and finally put away the remaining decorations (although I noticed yesterday that the wreath is still on the front door – problem solved: I will leave it up until after Winter Carnival). Ice on the pathways was a feeble enough excuse not to go for a walk, though we did spend some time one afternoon on chipping a bit more away on the driveway. Tax work was not even attempted – I’m looking at some bank and credit card statements that need to be checked before I can start on that.

Then there were the unexpected things that cropped up, some that I did manage to deal with – a sympathy card that needed to be sent, a birthday present that needed to be purchased, a sick family member whose cold misery could be greatly helped with a large bowl of chicken noodle soup (Costco here we come again!), a child with a problem: and some that pushed other goals aside – a PTA colleague who needed help with a project, that sick family member, houseguests, an unexpected dinner invitation, an internet issue that had to be dealt with before anything else could happen.

In other words, it was a week that was pretty much like any other week!

Now, please excuse me while I go put this week’s laundry into the dryer and get down to those bank statements.


Honey and Lemon Cold Remedy

I’d seen a few people mention this on the internet so I thought I’d make some myself, since I needed to do something with all the lemons we brought back from California (see Roses and Citrus) and I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone in the family needed it!

Our local health food store sells local honey in bulk – they have containers there, or you can bring along your own container and they will weigh it before and after you fill it so you just pay for the honey you pour into it. I had some empty Mason jars, so I cleaned one thoroughly before I took it to the store and filled it with honey. I also bought a small stem of ginger – about 2 inches long.

Once home, I cleaned a second jar and washed one of the lemons I had sitting in the fridge. Since the lemons are rather large I decided to use just one. I cut it in half, cut off the ends, cut each half into half again, picked out the seeds, and cut each lemon slice into eight pieces. I put the pieces from one half into the empty Mason jar.

Next, I peeled the ginger with a potato peeler, cutting off the ends and some of the knobby bits: then I grated half the ginger into the jar on top of the lemon. Finally I added about half the honey to the jar with the lemon and ginger and stirred it all up. I then added the other half of the lemon to the original honey jar, grated the rest of the ginger, and stirred it all up before putting both jars into the fridge.


Not an hour later my daughter got home from school and announced she was getting a cold. Although internet posters had suggested letting the lemon and honey sit for 24 hours before using, we poured a mug of hot water and added about a dessert spoon of the honey to it. She sipped it rather warily at first, then drank it down and asked for another mug full!

To be honest, I cannot claim that the honey mix really cured her cold, but it certainly did seem to help stop it from developing into something major, and, judging by the number of cups she had (she even took some in a travel mug to school) she certainly thought it was helping, and sometimes I think that is half the battle!

I made another batch to send back to college with son when he came home last weekend. We’ve pretty much finished the first jar that I made, and now Bob is making his way through the second – we will see if this helps him at all.

Note: This post is written in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt “Teach Your (Bloggers) Well”

Gypsy Magic, or Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

Daily Prompt: All it’s cracked up to be. Tell us about a time when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped.

It was the smoky summer of 2003, and we needed to get away from the heavy black clouds of ash caused by forest fires and go somewhere we could breathe. I was also coming to the realization that it was time for our children to experience Summer Camp.


I had grown up in England where my only experience of Summer Camp had been watching Hayley Mills in the original version of The Parent Trap: how I wished I could have gone to one too! My husband had been sent to a series of summer camps, but his favorite no longer existed and none of the others really seemed right for our children. I turned to the internet: we live in the mountains so I looked for a camp that would give our children a different experience, and the one I found that looked like it would fit the bill was located on one of the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound north of Seattle, a day’s drive away.

We decided that checking out the camp would be a great opportunity to get out of the smoke, and after calling to make sure a visit was in order, we loaded up the minivan and headed west. It took us several hours, but we finally got out of the smoke and into clear skies, an auspicious omen! The sun was shining and the sky was blue as we drove onto the ferry at Anacortes: we didn’t know it then, but for the next ten summers our children would be boarding ferries at Anacortes in happy anticipation of four weeks of gypsy magic.


The camp entranced us – we had barely been there five minutes when, walking down a dusty path under the madrona trees to explore the main lodge and dock, my husband asked if grown ups could go too! The water sparkled in the sunlight as happy campers worked sailing boats and kayaks, and others played energetically on the sports fields; we could hear music and singing from the craft courts as we watched children busy painting and being creative; the clip clop of hooves announced the arrival of horses as we checked out the gardens, where a group of campers sat in a circle under a tree among the flowers. Campers – or gypsies, as they call themselves – have been returning to this eighty acres of heaven for over eighty years, and before we left we enrolled our son for the following summer.


Eleven months passed, and we returned to Seattle with two bulging duffle bags full of bedding, clothes and equipment, all carefully labeled. We stood awkwardly in the parking lot as other families drew up to put their children on the buses. The joyful whoops of reuniting campers made us feel a little easier, and all too soon we were waving our goodbyes. Four weeks later we were back: camp is an electronics-free zone (yes!!), and written communications had been sparse (“Hi parents, I am happy, bye parents”), so we hoped that no news meant good news. The buses appeared and eagerly we crowded round the doors. Eventually one rather browner (from the sun or dirt, it was hard to tell!) son emerged behind a broad smile: as he hugged my husband the first words out of his mouth were “sign me up again for next year – and Em has got to go too!”


We did sign him up for next year, and her too. Ten summers have passed and they are signing themselves up now: this summer they will return as counselor and trainee counselor, each eager to pass on the gypsy magic to a new generation of campers. Our escape from the smoke that prompted us to visit that summer camp not only turned out exactly as we’d hoped, it far exceeded our wildest expectations.

Returning To Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Yes, I loved my parents – I was a true daddy’s girl – but my hero when I was five years old was without doubt The Lone Ranger!



What was not to like about this masked hero who rode unhesitatingly into the heart of trouble and danger on his stallion, Silver, with his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, to save the day? Unlike today’s anti-heroes, The Lone Ranger didn’t come with baggage – the mask was to hide his identity, not his insecurity, because he did not seek recognition and reward for Doing The Right Thing. He knew the difference between right and wrong, and he knew who was right and who was wrong, and he always, always won. OK, I admit, there were times when it seemed that the bad guys would really get him this time, and I had to resort to watching from behind the couch in case they did, but truth and right and honor always won out in the end.


The Lone Ranger never shirked from what he saw as his duty, he was always fearless, honest, and courteous. He would have protected me from the big boys who teased me at school. He would have understood that I did not like broccoli and did not want to eat it. He would have swung down from Silver and rescued me from the dogs that jumped up and barked and scared me, and Silver would have carried me home when I was tired and didn’t want to walk the rest of the way.

But the years have passed: today The Lone Ranger is shown in re-runs on cable, the black and white images rather fuzzy after watching HD TV, and other heroes have come and gone. He has even been reincarnated in a full-length movie that I could not bring myself to go and see: that was not MY Lone Ranger! Yet still I cannot hear that trumpet flourish in The William Tell Overture without immediately returning to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when a little 5-year-old girl with braids had a weekly Saturday tea-time date with a masked man on a white horse.


Hi-Yo Silver! away!