March 16, 2015

Let Spring 2015 Begin!

I have prioritized other things the past year or so, but I'd like to get back into writing in my blog. Saturday I started fresh in my garden so maybe that's a good opportunity to start fresh with my writing.

I got an invitation to have supper with my friend Cindy and her family, so Saturday I made the 1/2 hour long drive (can you BELIEVE it?  I mean seriously, we're all in the same town, and this is not Dallas) to the Lake Washington area to hang with my old girlfriend from many years ago.  Cindy is so special to me.  Her initiative has made our friendship what it is today.  She taught me everything I need to know about how to be a friend to someone (but I still get it wrong).  But that's another story. Anyway, late yesterday afternoon I went over to Cindy's to chill and have a great grilled supper: chicken thighs, flank steak, broccoli, pasta salad, salad salad, baked beans, chips and salsa... and afterwards, a chocolate pudding pie with whipped cream, and a boatload of sliced strawberries to mound on top of it all!  *Sigh* It was amazing.

The next day I woke up feeling really antsy because Cindy had showed me her herb and vegetable pots, and I was like, OMG I forgot that I'm supposed to be starting plants now!  So I ran over to Lowe's, apparently with everyone else who went to Cindy's Saturday night, because I had to fight for a cart to haul off "Bonnie" (yes that's the brand name) plants.*  I got a cilantro, two Anaheim peppers, one green bell pepper, one jalapeno pepper, and a basil.  Oh and a patio tomato.  Plus, I got that awesome deep fuchsia geranium like I found last year at Sun Harbor, for my front pot, and also for that pot I added three other things which I have no clue what they are.

After spending the day in the hot sun I was dying to jump into the pool.  I checked the thermometer (it read 77 -- 10 degrees higher than last weekend!) and felt like it was a Go.  Boom!  In the pool. Gosh it felt awesome.  So, dear readers, Sunday, March 15 goes down as First Swim Day for 2015 at the Doty House.

The east side garden

View from the gate of the east side garden

Our gardener killed what was left of the pitiful grass on the west side.
Now we can landscape!

Terrible picture of my front porch pot.
I expect it to look much better in a couple of weeks.

Gotta sneak in a pic of my awesome grandson!

*Turns out they had the plants on sale for $2.00 -- that's why the crowds -- so I really lucked out!

February 10, 2015

Dead Computer

I'm sad to say that today I didn't fix my computer.

Because I had done so much research online, and because I got out a couple of screwdrivers, and because it was hard to see and I had to hold the flashlight in my teeth, and because it took a few hours to figure out that I had to remove the vid card to see the battery, and because I had to take off my glasses to see the tiny blue jumper, I really thought I could fix my computer by myself.  Nope.

Although I did learn a lot.  When I get back from Brian and Christine's wedding I'm going to buy a new motherboard and attempt to install it myself.  :D

Nix that idea.  We can't afford for me to buy a new motherboard LOL.  I'll just keep using my laptop. Since I don't have time for scanning and photo editing any more, and don't have time for gaming, my old Dell laptop serves just fine!

It was a day well spent though.

And I have tomorrow to look forward to!  An outing with my parents: definitely lunch, courtesy of my generous father, and most likely a car trip through the Viera wetlands to do some birding.  I am so excited!

January 19, 2015

2015: The Year of the Monkey [Wrench]

In the last months of 2014 we saw our youngest son, Chuck, return from his overseas tour in Qatar, finish his four-year Army commitment, and re-enter the civilian world by moving to Huntsville to begin an intense job search. Three weeks later he was employed. I was beyond relieved.

Also in the last months of 2014 our middle son, Luck, returned from his year in Kuwait and settled at a new post in the States. Again, my relief was immeasurable, due mainly to the horror of ISIS and the knowledge of their rapid worldwide expansion.

And finally, the Holiday Season; always a joyous time, a beautiful cap to mark the end of any year. Oldest son Captain and his wife Princess had our first grandson on the day before Thanksgiving. This blessed event made December and particularly Christmas a time of great happiness for our entire family.

Three days after Christmas we (Chuck and me in my old Odyssey van and Beaver in his Audi) drove 12 hours, convoy style, to Huntsville. The plan was for me to spend about three weeks at our apartment there, being a wife and mom, shopping and relaxing and enjoying my family, before driving to Dallas to help my parents make their move to Florida. What happened instead was this: A week into my visit a family friend from Dallas called to say that my father was in the hospital and I needed to come right away.  That night I drove to Little Rock and the next day made it to Dallas by lunchtime.

Two weeks have gone by since my drive to Dallas. Today my 88 year old dad is 100% healthy and ready to come home from rehab tomorrow morning. Our moving date of January 25 still stands. Someone threw a wrench into our Big Plan but as a result my father, physically and mentally exhausted from the burden of being a caretaker and from having had to make the hard decision to leave his home and community, has been forced to leave all care and responsibility behind and get some much needed rest. Also, and just as importantly, my mother and I have had time to work out a positive relationship based on new roles and abilities, and now we work together toward our common goal.

Everything happens for a reason!


One of the reasons I was looking forward to spending time in Huntsville was I knew I'd have time to write in this blog.  My first post was going to be an essay on craft beer tasting based on my own experience and the many scribbled notes I had made. Well, that post never happened.  But I need to get rid of these random pieces of paper. So here are my notes. Maybe I can find the photos that accompany my story when I get home, and make a proper report.

Stone Go-To IPA (4.5%):  In the flight glass, light, citrusy, hoppy.  Cloudy golden.  Carbonated - medium sting.  Very drinkable.  Slight bitter aftertaste.  After pouring it into a proper glass, it is much less citrusy, loamy smell, not an easy session beer unless you love the IPA.

Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale (5%): In the flight glass, large head. Low sting. Light amber. Feels thin, light, wheat aftertaste. After pouring it into a proper glass, it really opened up the flavor, giving it more body and aroma. Balanced and drinkable.

Lagunitis Day Time Ale (4.65%): In the flight glass, more sour.  Crystal clear, pale golden, floral smell. After pouring it into a proper glass, it smells herbal, loamy.  Nice even taste, not bitter. Medium sting.

Brew Dog 5 A.M. Saint (5%): Dark amber/orange. Somewhat cloudy, smells malty. Delicious, sweet, caramel, very sour initially, sweet and sour, hoppy finish. Malty. Solid, very cloudy amber color. Medium to small head. Low carbonation. Not as oily as a porter or stout, not as citrusy as an IPA. Great session beer for someone who wants a bit more but not uber-dark or uber-bitter. Beaver says it's similar to Negro Modelo or Pepe Nero (Goose Island).

Red Hook Audible Ale (4.7%): Clear Amber color. Very carbonated, light. Faint orange flavor, sort of a weird candy aftertaste. Carbonated like a Bud Light but tastes like beer. "Brewed in collaboration with Dan Patrick."

Founders Double Trouble IPA (9.4%): Light amber, clear, very little aroma. Smooth. Very little bite - low carbonation. Citrus finish (grapefruit).

Oskar Blues Brewery Mama's Little Yella Pils (Brevard, NC, 5.3%): Amber, cloudy, no head.  Smells like yeast.  I think we got waylaid during the Yella Pils tasting.  Must try another one LOL!

December 6, 2014

It's a Grandchild!

We knew he was going to be a boy, and we knew what his name was going to be, but no one can tell you exactly when a baby will be born. My little grand-bundle-of-joy finallycame into this world on November 26. The moment he was born the hospital played a pretty recording of Brahms' Lullaby over the speaker system, a sweet tradition they have for every baby born there.

After a day and a half of waiting in the lobby of the maternity ward we (the Mothers In Law) heard the lullaby at 1:30 and then again at 1:40. We absolutely knew one of those was our baby. Ours was the first one as it turns out.

I remember babbling baby talk to him when I finally got to hold him. Less than two hours old, his eyes were wide open and he was calmly looking all around him. It made me feel like we needed to exchange a few words. My side of the conversation came out something like this: "You're grandma's cutest little baby! Such a BIG boy! So sweet! Grandma's precious little angel! Such a pretty little baby! You're the sweetest little baby boy!" and so on.

Needless to say we are all simply overjoyed to have this new little baby in our family. To vent some of this joy I must post a few pictures.

Baby shower time!

Dr. Who fabric for the nursery (Spoonflower)

Cutest wooden baby hangers with custom covers by Grandma!

Awesome maternity shirt taken the day before labor.

And here he is!  Two hours old.

Skeptical about hearing Grandma's babbling.

Two days old, with his Granddad.

Sneak peek: The baby photographer doing her thing.

Tired dad (center) Skypes with the proud new uncles.

Day Three - Home from the hospital and in Nana's arms.

Day Four  - The swing is already a useful tool at dinner time.

October 10, 2014

Fall Garden

New mulch (left) makes the shrubs stand out.  Beds on right aren't mulched yet.

My favorite time of year in Fort Wayne was fall. Around the first of September the St. Vincent boy scouts would start setting up for their annual Haunted Castle, and as I watched them progress with their fence-building and other chores, the huge old maple tree behind the old church would start turning color. By mid-October when the Castle was open for business, the nights were cool and crisp and the days were glowing red, yellow and orange.  For 20 years, I treasured each day, not wanting fall to end, and when Halloween came and went, and they broke down the fences and cleaned up the barricades until next year, our beautiful colors were nearly gone. Driving up and down that section of Auburn Road in November amid swirling drifts of brown leaves, the only comfort was the anticipation of the first beautiful blanket of new snow.

We gave up four seasons when we moved to Florida, but in the course of a year there have been so many days that have just blown me away with their tropical perfection, that I'd say it's a fair trade. Plus, fall comes to the beach in subtle ways. Most of the year the crotons which are so commonly used in tropical landscapes don't appeal to me, but this time of year I tend to seek out the hot colors of the spectrum, and darned if those crotons don't look absolutely gorgeous!  I'm glad I put off mulching until now. Against a fresh layer of dark brown mulch, my schefflera and crotons really pop!

We only got half the yard mulched though.  Down here you can't have dyed mulch delivered by the truckload; you have to buy it bagged at a place like Lowe's.  So I ordered 50 bags, which they fork-lifted onto my driveway on a pallet, and Robyn and Mark, my gardeners, worked nearly 2 hours spreading it out.  Only half the front beds got covered!  I'm afraid I'm going to need about 200 bags total by the time we're done mulching the entire front and back yard.

I yanked out the dying geraniums and overgrown lavender from the porch pot and found some amazing fall-inspired plants at Sun Harbor Nursery to replace them.  Their mums were just about to open.  I got there in the nick of time too!  There were about six plants left, so I bought two, but now I wish I'd bought them all.  I put one plant in the pot with a sweet potato vine and a coleus, and the other plant in the bed right off the porch.  I'm interested to see how a chrysanthemum does in the ground here.

Fall colors in the porch pot.

Today I'm going to the U-Haul storage room to pull out my Halloween bins.  I've decided to let Captain Morgan and Princess go through and choose what they want, if anything, from my decorations, and then I'll give away the rest.  The kids throw an annual Halloween party so they might find some of the decorations fun or useful.  On the other hand, with a baby on the way, they are trying to get rid of stuff to make room.  I almost hate to push more stuff on them.

Any Floridians reading this?  I'd love to know how you bring fall into your yard.  Please share your ideas or tips!