The Old Secretary’s New Computer

Have you seen the video of a secretary who has returned to work after computers came in? If you’ve never used a typewriter, you won’t understand this. She types quickly on the keyboard, copying something on the table. She comes to the end of a line, and her automatic reflex is to hit the carriage return of a typewriter. She throws her left hand across and knocks the big monitor onto the floor. Even that is dated, but it makes me laugh every time I see it. I wish I could have found a link to the video.

I rank right up there with that secretary in misusing a computer. I am an old secretary, after all, and I almost destroyed a monitor using an old reflex. This photo shows my little laptop on the right. The new monitor and keyboard are for the desktop, which, despite the name, is under the desk.

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For the past year I used the laptop. I always closed the lid when leaving the desk to put it in sleep mode. Today I got up to take a break. You guessed it! My hand went out to pull that big monitor forward on top of the keyboard! Arrruuuuggghhhhh!


On our way home from an afternoon in the mountains, John asked if we should stop to see if there were any patriotic items we wanted. We use flag-based items from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Our collection includes kitchen towels, tablecloths, spinners, candles, bunting, flags, and lots of mugs. He pounced on the bunting that he would hang from the front porch. When I asked why he got so many, I heard him say, “I might not be here next year.”

I grabbed his arm and shrieked quietly, “WHY ARE YOU NOT GOING TO BE HERE NEXT YEAR?”

You can imagine the wild things going through my mind. Had the doctor told him the cancer had come back? Was the stent near his heart failing? Did he suspect he had brain cancer or Alzheimer’s disease? Why was he going to bail on me?

He looked at me quizzically and said, “I’m not going anywhere. I said this store may not be here next year. It’s in financial trouble and may go out of business.”

052217 John at Pisgah Inn
Not bad for a blind shot.  Bright sun washed out the image on the camera.

He looks perfectly healthy, doesn’t he?  I’m glad he isn’t heading through the clouds to heaven yet.  I took his photo on the deck at Pisgah Inn where we had a lovely lunch. The food was as good as always, but the weather gave us a real show. The dining room is on top of the ridge. On an ideal day, you watch fluffy white clouds drift by below you. This day there were heavy clouds, one of which slithered up the mountain and engulfed us in thick fog. Rain pelted down, hard enough that we could hear it on the roof. Before we finished eating, we could again see the valleys below. Going to the car, I snapped a picture of a Flame Azalea, its orange blooms a hallmark of this area. The shrubs are found in the Appalachians from Virginia to Georgia.

052217 Flame Azalea at Pisgah Inn

We headed down the mountain, stopping at an overlook to listen to thunder in the distance. We didn’t see any lightning, but I took a quick video of mist crossing the road.

Continuing down, we stopped at my favorite waterfall. This is the mountain spot to which my heart is pinned. When our son showed it to us years ago, I knew I wanted to live near it. Our house is about 40 minutes away, but John drives me by it several times a year. He’s a keeper.

052217 Favorite waterfall

Not included here is a video clip of the falls. I turned the camera to get as much of the falling water as possible, forgetting that it couldn’t be rotated. You’d have to lie down on your side in front of your monitor to see it correctly. Would you have done that for me?

Peanut Butter on Pizza

Peanut butter on pizza caught me off-guard.  This rude surprise happened in my own kitchen!!

I wanted a quick snack and got out peanut butter to spread on plain crackers. We store crackers in plastic boxes to keep them fresh and usually have several kinds on hand. I took one bite and wondered why the peanut butter had overtones of pizza. It was totally unexpected. Sniffing the crackers in the box, I knew. The last crackers stored there had been Focaccia with rosemary and olive oil. I remember seeing the box in the dishwasher, but the intensive odor of rosemary still permeated the plastic and inserted undue influence on plain crackers.

I can think of one solution. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on the crackers, top with pepperoni, and bake in a hot oven. That might be dinner for the next two weeks.

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Two different crackers.   Same taste due to polluted plastic.


I read an old folk’s magazine, figuring the articles are aimed straight at me. The main thing I pay attention to is news of scams. Some scams are invasive enough to hit the newspapers, but I might miss them there. Within the last month I read about a delivery con game. A truck pulls up to your house, and the driver tells you he has a package for you that needs a signature. He is wearing a uniform that is similar to that of a major carrier. If you ask, he tells you why he is using an unmarked vehicle. You haven’t ordered anything, but you see a box and jump to the conclusion it has your name on it. I forget the explanation he gives for needing your credit card, but it’s almost plausible. He scans your card with a cell phone, gets your signature, hands you a box, and leaves quickly.

Fast forward to the day John left to go to the train club. I was reading the newspaper in the kitchen, and my phone rang. The man said he had a package for me that needs a signature. Immediately red flags went up in my head.

“You are here?” I questioned. I realized I was using my hard voice, one that was very unfriendly to my ears.

“Yes, in your driveway,” he replied.

I had ordered something that I didn’t expect until next week. I knew my credit card had been charged, but there had been no notice that it had shipped. John didn’t tell me he had ordered anything, which wasn’t unusual. In panic mode, I couldn’t remember the details of the scam. Should I call a neighbor to come out and witness this event? No, there wasn’t time. Go out there and be wary. Don’t sign anything in a hurry.

The truck was painted in the colors of FedEx, and the man was holding a device that was not a cell phone. So far, so good. Oh, my! The box he removed from the truck was suspiciously big enough to be a computer. The nice man explained that he called me because there was no car in the driveway, and he didn’t think there was anyone home. He could very well have peeked in the garage, too, and not seen a vehicle. I fell all over myself apologizing, and said, “There have been scams about deliveries needing signatures.”

He smiled gently and said, “I know.” It was nothing new to him. I signed his gizmo, took the box, walked sedately through the front door, and did a victory dance out of his sight. I was almost too excited to be thankful that I had heard the phone and was not still planting Sweet William seeds or taking a shower.

I wrestled a monitor from a closet shelf, hooked up the hardware, went through the start up procedure, signed into Microsoft, installed a free anti-virus application and ran it, downloaded a free word processor, installed Dropbox, and stopped for lunch. If I did nothing else, I would be satisfied. The next day I installed financial software, and I’m using the machine to write this message. This has to have been one of the easiest transitions of my life. I’m so glad I didn’t tell the FedEx man to go away.

For those who want to see neighbor Logan again, here he is playing a wicked game of checkers with John.

051717 Logan against John

Breaking the Main Rule

The first time John went to Tennessee to play with trains, I made one rule for myself. That rule was, do not say “I should…”

I refused to press myself to do anything in the “must” category. I would not dust or vacuum, clean a bathroom, whack at the wicked wisteria, undertake a major garden project, or clean out a cabinet. John was doing just what he wanted to do, and so would I. In retirement, that’s the closest I get to a vacation when most days are filled with pleasant choices. I allow just enough pressure to keep us from living in filth and squalor.

Within one hour of John’s leaving this time, I broke that rule. After walking to the creek, I saw the little dish I’d left on the kitchen counter. Aaaarrrgggghhh! I soaked Sweet William seeds overnight, and I had to plant them. Rule or no rule, those seeds had to get themselves into the ground. To make matters worse, I had decided where they were going, and the soil was weed-choked and hard. My advice to myself is, “Next time think ahead, you silly goose. Only you can deflect a ‘should’ job.”

Here is a thought on a higher plane. Son $ sent a photo of his car 48 hours after he took possession of it. He proved his prowess with a standard shift, because you can’t get to a point like this without being a nifty shifter.

051817 $ car in the mountains.jpg

Mother’s Day Plus Two

Mother’s Day Plus Two

Good things come in threes, not just bad things. I had three days in a row of being with special people and doing fun things. On Mother’s Day, son John $ came for dinner and had a couple of four-legs with him. The dogs belonged to a friend who went to Cherokee for a few hours and picked up the dogs on her way home. She brought $ to us, since he has been without wheels after my car Snot was hit by a falling tree. This sounds like falling Dominoes – $’s Mazda was scrapped, and we loaned him the Sonata until he could get another vehicle. Snot is getting new windshields and a new roof. The first car happy ending is below. Meanwhile, John grilled brats, chicken-apple sausages, squash, and Bavarian sausages for our dinner. We ate on the porch and kept the dogs company. Most appropriately, we had a dark chocolate cake that John bought for dessert. Anything that ends with chocolate is excellent.


Three neighbors and I had a ladies’ day out to shop at Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Around 1937, the artists who had worked in Gatlinburg gravitated to an area called the Glades. The studios and shops are on an eight-mile loop out from the town. All of the items for sale are handmade in the US, many of them on site. Our mission was to replace a pottery chicken roaster. Connie and Marla had lived near this area before moving to our neighborhood. We stopped at a traffic light, and Marla recognized friends in the car stopped beside us. We went first to Treasures in Earthen Vessels where David Howard creates pottery. They were old friends, so they got their roaster and had a nice visit while Shawn and I looked at everything in the shop. The ladies posed, and we had David step in the picture. His son is getting married in a month, and he is very busy making a mug for each wedding guest.

051517 Connie Marla Shawn David the potter.jpg

A basket of plastic toy soldiers was near the counter. The sign urged everyone to take a free soldier home and pray for all the men and women in our military. I popped one in the bag with my purchase and didn’t think about it again until he fell out at home. The more I thought about it, the more I was impressed. In an unobtrusive way, David was supporting something that is close to his heart. His shop is Treasures in Earthen Vessels, 170 Glades Road #32, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

We went to other shops along the road, seeing wooden items, jewelry, baskets, and decorative items for the home. For lunch we went to Carver’s Orchard where the restaurant looks out over the apple orchard. The photo is dark, but the point was for you to see the background. Nice excuse for a bad picture, right?

051517 Shawn Marla Connie at Carver's Orchard.jpg

While I was out gallivanting with my friends, husband and son were looking at cars. They were gone longer than I was, after a very successful day. They put a deposit on a 2010 Subaru Forester, and the next day we took $ there to pick it up. I know he despises having his picture taken, but he agreed to a quick one, probably as payment for our help. You’ll realize $ is a very good driver when you learn that he chose a stick shift to drive in the mountains.

051617 $ with Subaru.jpg

Fun Endings

The first happy ending was at the Mid South Live Steamers on May 6 in Columbia, TN. It was unseasonably cool in Middle Tennessee, and one of John’s friends got a shot of friend Bob walking by his engine in the steaming bay. There had been so much rain that they didn’t ride very much. The ending might have been a relief, but they wouldn’t have voiced it. Even if they couldn’t be out on the rails, they enjoyed visiting with each other.

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The second happy ending is a photo of Moon Pies. After writing about Moon Pie coffee, I looked for a real Moon Pie in two supermarkets. The largest grocery in the area is Ingles, a chain based in NC with stores in five states. I walked along the cookie aisle and looked up to find Moon Pies listed on a hanging sign. That was appropriate, since the original came from Chattanooga. It’s a Southern specialty and should be featured here. Oddly enough, there was not a single one on the shelf! There were only knock-offs by a different company. Heresy! Imagine my surprise when I spotted a box of minis in Aldi, the German grocery. House brands make up a huge percentage of their stock, yet they had this Southern specialty on the shelf. If you can see the photo, you can tell a Moon Pie is made of two cookies with a filling and a glaze. I haven’t eaten one in over fifty years. For the sake of research, I need to sample one again, but I’m holding out for a large one in its own wrapper. I have a feeling it won’t be especially appealing, and therefore I don’t want a whole box of mini-MPs.

050717 Moon Pies in Aldi's.jpg

Neighbors Connie and Dave had us over for lunch this week. We haven’t chatted with them all winter, so we really enjoyed a leisurely meal, followed by a long sit on their porch. It was wonderful to catch up on news.

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The third ending in this series was spectacular. It tasted every bit as good as it looked.

051117 Dessert by Connie.jpg

The evening ended with John’s going to a baseball game in Asheville. It’s a tradition for the church choir to sing the national anthem for one home game of the Tourists, our local team. He was pleasantly surprised that the ballpark was in a residential neighborhood, and there was no charge for parking! The Tourists lost 2 to 1, but it had been a pleasant game, seen with friends.

051117 Choir t-shirt051717 Choir Tee for baseball game