Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Hunt Country Cluster Dog Show at Historic Long Branch in Millwood Virginia

Rather than take our usual morning walk we had breakfast and were ready to head out the door for a little day trip to Millwood, Virginia. I was looking forward to seeing the Hunt Country Cluster Dog Show at the Long Branch House & Farm. We have attended the Middleburg Dog Show a couple of times in Octobers past at the Oatlands Plantation near Leesburg. The setting and time of year was simply lovely. And I had an opportunity to visit with my favorite Borzoi hounds. I had a gut feeling something might be amiss, and I was right when I checked not only the the weather forecast, but the latest information about the event. The weather update included a flood warning for the area - not unexpected for this entire month with all the rain around here. The Potomac River was over the banks yesterday here in DC. The event status stated the Dog Show was cancelled due to saturated grounds. After all, the show is held outdoors and everything would be very muddy. So we obviously didn’t go and decided to take our morning walk at a later time than usual. So I looked for dogs along our path. They weren’t exactly what I had in mind. I suppose I’m glad I checked before we left because I’m sure we would have both been annoyed if we drove all the way over for nothing. It would have been a pretty ride, but the day would have been over by the time we got back home. Now I’ll have to see if another show is scheduled. It must have been disappointing for all the participants. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

AirMax Nasal Device

My husband has what he thinks are allergies. It results in a stuffed nose that makes it difficult to sleep. He can’t take any medications for it because they interfere with his glaucoma eye drops. So we have tried a few different things including nose strips and a device that is inserted in the nose to expand it. The Sleep Rite Splintek intra nasal breathe aid seems to work okay, but last about a month. But before I reordered them we checked out other options. I came across an item called AirMax nasal dilator. I ordered it and my husband gave it a try. It’s basically a plastic device that does the same thing as the Sleep Rite item, but it is supposed to last for ninety days. The problem was it only came in two sizes - small and medium. I had a feeling the medium would be too small. But when he tried it out, he said it felt like it actually did some good. So we would find out by the next day. Well, as was expected, the thing didn’t even stay in his nose. It fell out during the night. So I guess you would call it a total fail. Maybe if it came in a larger size? All I know is when his nose is stuffed up, he doesn’t snore. When his nose is open, I can hear the snoring even while wearing ear plugs. In spite of that I wish he could find something that really worked. So I guess it’s back to the Sleep Rite product. What we all wouldn’t give for a good night’s sleep. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Gerber Toilet Tank Not Filling

I don’t care to know that much about toilets. In fact, I’m sick and tired of things breaking around this 1890’s building. It’s always something. But that’s the price you pay for wanting to live in an “exciting” neighborhood. But that’s a matter of opinion. Last week we noticed that the cheap Gerber toilet tank that was installed before we bought our unit wasn’t filling after flushing. But it would if you turned the water valve off and then back on. It was very inconvenient but at least it wasn’t completely unusable. And that is one of the main reasons we could never live in a place with just one toilet! So we called our fix it all guy who not only renovated our entire bathroom last summer, but comes visiting on many occasions for every little thing that breaks down. It obviously took him about five minutes to do the work, but we can be confident that it will be done right. He’s probably one of the reasons we stay where we live. We had that same peace of mind when we lived in the Midwest. So I know repairs and unforeseen circumstances will always arise no matter where you live. We are just getting less tolerant of it all. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Retirement Party at the Library of Congress

It’s been a while since I visited the Library of Congress. I worked there for ten years and retired two plus years ago. One of our friends - and my colleague - had a retirement party yesterday. He sent us an invitation and we thought it would be nice to go. We have a few things in common. He went to Florida State, as did I; both of his brothers played Major League Baseball - my brother was drafted by the Orioles; he grew up in West Palm Beach - I grew up on Florida’s east coast; we are about the same age; and we ended up working in the same department at the Library. So we had many morning coffee breaks together and have since become good friends. So my husband and I walked on over after lunch. The affair was in a Congressional Reasearch room on the second floor - the same floor my office was on. From the minute we got there I saw so many familiar faces and I was happy to finally introduce my husband to so many people he had heard about. All I  can say is that it feels so much better visiting than working. And I’m hoping we will see more of Mike now that he’s retired. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Medicare - Everyone Knows!

You can apply for Medicare three months before your birthday to I think three months after. So I did just that. I had already created a social security account to keep up with those benefits, even though I haven’t started collecting them yet. Somehow the two accounts merge after the “paperwork” is completed. Medicare called about my opting out of Medicare Part B. And the reason is because we get our regular health insurance from the federal government - a huge and unplanned (for me) benefit for retirees. I continued getting self plus one insurance over two years ago. It’s probably the best side benefit for working ten years at the Library of Congress. It seems like everyone on earth also knows what age I am because every day I get something in the mail that refers to Medicare, or options for getting Medicare supplemental insurance. From AARP to every health plan out there are offers to cover whatever Medicare doesn’t. It could be mind boggling thinking about all of this. Hopefully the federal laws for retirees will not touch the health plan options because it’s something I would never give up. It’s hard to believe I am even eligible for Medicare. Where has the time gone?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Redbubble French Bulldog T-shirt

I’ve been painting custom pet portraits using my iPad for several years now. Folks send me photos of their favorite dog, cat, or bird and I hand paint a likeness that hopefully will meet their expectations. It’s a back and forth process until it’s just right. I also use the images for my stores on Zazzle, Pixels, Amazon Merch and Redbubble. It’s always exciting to get a notification from the shops that an item has been sold. It seems the black labs are most often noticed. So it was interesting when I got a notification from Redbubble that someone in the US bought a T-shirt with a French Bulldog. Generally Redbubble sales are stickers and pillows. T-shirts are the only item I sell on Amazon and the image takes up all of the space on the front. On Redbubble the image is like a little logo on the upper corner of the T-shirt. Maybe it’s the type of shirt that makes the difference, or the customer only wants a hint of their favorite pooch. Regardless, it’s always fun to do a custom portrait, but I am tickled whenever someone notices an image of something I painted out of the millions of options out there. Thanks so much for noticing my French bulldog! 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Paw Paw Fruit

We heard about it last year, but got to see it for ourselves a couple of days ago. We were introduced to the paw paw fruit when we took a little trip to Virginia. Along the James River the family owns a stretch of property. And on the property are a bunch of paw paw trees. This time of year is the very short season for them. It appears the fruit is used to make a specialty beer, but it can also be eaten raw, and used for baking. So we had the opportunity to try a couple out. It’s not very large, and the contents need to be scooped out of the “shell.” But before you can eat it, you need to navigate around the fairly large seeds. It has the consistency of custard, or a mushy banana, and has a very interesting taste. It’s also called the hillbilly mango or Quaker delight. Since the paw paw were harvested our daughter in law made bread with it, and used it in a sauce for pork that was later turned in to Cuban sandwiches. It takes a lot of time to prepare the fruit, but it was worth the effort. Now she owns a paw paw picker that looks like an orange picker. Her refrigerator is full of them now but they don’t last very long. I guess that’s what makes them so special. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

French Drain

I wish I had taken more recent photos of our patio and garden. We didn’t tend to the garden as much this year because we knew there were plans to put in a French drain along the foundation of our 1890’s building. And that would include ripping up our patio and digging a trench three feet from the house and at least that much deep. That means several plants and small trees and vines would be lost. We have been through all of this before. When we moved to DC twelve years ago, another project like this was done soon after - and we had just had the garden professionally landscaped. I’m not sure exactly what the difference between this mess is from the last one except sump pumps are going in. The foundation of the building needs shoring up and tuck pointing. For most people who live in the building it may be a minor inconvenience. But we are in the middle of it for eight to ten weeks. And when they are done with the backside of the building, they will be doing the side and front as well. So our apartment on the front side will lose all the privacy bushes and we are in for a lot of noise from 7AM to whenever every day during the week. All I care is that it doesn’t rain so the work can get done as soon as possible. These old buildings are really charming, but they are a major maintenance headache - especially if you live on the first floor. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Amazon Prime Dickens, Austen, and all of our Favorites

We love the classics and all things British - so much so that we have a subscription for Acorn television. Our main purpose for having it is to see all the Midsomer Murders as well as other great television programming. But since we have Amazon Prime Video, there is even more opportunity to see our favorite classics from Dickens to Austen. It will be sad when we run through them all. Many of the shows we like are all the Masterpiece series we watched while living in the Midwest thirty years before we moved here twelve years ago. But there is a great assortment to select from -  Bleak House, The Way We Live Now, Daniel Deronda, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Tess if the D’Urbervilles, Lorna Doone, Vanity Fair, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, Cranford, Emma, Lark Rise to Candleford, Upstairs/Downstairs, Dombey and Son, Under the Greenwood Tree, Little Dorrit, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Our Mutual Friend, Hard Times, David Copperfield, Silas Mariner.... there are just a handful we didn’t like. It feels like meeting old friends - we saw them long ago and recognize many of the actors now from their early roles. We’ve tried a few of the newer series and get very disappointed with the storylines and the acting! Some of the original programming is okay but there is something about spending time with our old friends. So now there is no excuse not to find something entertaining to watch among Comcast/Xfinity, Amazon Orime Video, and Acorn TV. But it sure is getting confusing to figure out how to make the most of all of it. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Amazon Merch Yorkshire Terrier T-shirt

I’ve been painting custom pet portraits using my iPad for the last several years. I opened an Etsy shop, followed by A Fine Art America/Pixels Shop, followed by Zazzle and Redbubble. The main difference is having to paint the portrait while working closely with a customer compared to selling my already created images on a variety of products on various websites. The last shop I opened was on Amazon a couple of months ago. It’s called Amazon Merch and the name of my shop is LITs Pooches, Kitties and Other Sweet Faces. It took me quite a while to figure out how to upload the images because everything I do is on an iPad. That doesn’t always translate well when a desktop is required for some programs. The audience for dogs and other paintings is in the millions around the world. So when I got my first sale on Amazon I was really pleased that someone out there noticed my image enough to want to purchase it on a T-shirt. It seems that black labs are a favorite, followed by bulldogs. I now have 100 images loaded on T-shirts, hoodies, and sweatshirts. So last week I was even more pleased that someone liked a Yorkshire Terrier image enough to want a T-shirt. My commission on any of these items is tiny, but the joy I feel knowing someone liked my paintings is priceless. It also takes a lot of marketing and social media campaigning to get the word out. It’s basically a full time job - but it’s a fun “hobby” in retirement. I’m glad I don’t have to make a living on it, but that wasn’t the point to begin with anyway. So thanks for noticing my work - I really appreciate it!