Progress on the Party Prep

We’re having a party which gives me the perfect excuse to zhush up the yard.  I made a 10-item list which is finished with 3 weeks to spare.

Tiny red rose plants in spray painted pots.

  1. Remove chicken wire fence from vegetable garden. — Charlie kindly did this chore which has made a huge difference in the beauty of the garden.

    Before removing the chicken wire fence the garden was surrounded by the fence and weeds.

  2. Weed and trim sunflower meadow. — A beautiful job completed by Sug.

    Hoping to have some bright sunflower blooms by party time.

    Looking hopeful.

  3. Sew new theme pillow covers.

    These party pillow covers from napkins and bandannas took a couple hours on Saturday morning to sew together.

  4. Paint Glade sign.


    Freshly painted!

  5. Paint hand rails. Charlie scrubbed the gunk from the back of the house and I painted.  Everything looks much fresher.




  6. Repair and paint lawn chairs.


    Party ready.

  7. Paint olive tree pots.



  8. Make a grocery list and watch for sales.  I usually start shopping early for a party.

    Menu on the left, shopping list on the right.

  9. Put party favors together.

    35 party favors finished

  10. Make a food task list and begin prep.  I’ve made a task list starting 4 days before the party.

All ten items have been checked off the list.  Let’s PARTY!


A Day in DC

Charlie and I have been trying to visit the US Capitol and Washington Monument in Washington DC since April, 2020.

We re-established canceled tickets for a tour of the U.S Capitol.

First we were stopped by a COVID outbreak which closed many sites in DC.  Then the attack on the Capitol kept things closed.

The Washington Monument seen from the tidal basin where cherry trees bloom at the beginning of April.

Finally I was able to get new tickets to both the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. We haven’t been to Washington (about 50 miles away from our home) since we visited to see the cherry blossoms in 2019.

We took the subway from Greenbelt to L’Enfant Plaza to Capitol South.

Early in the morning Charlie and I drove to a Metro station in the Maryland suburbs of DC then took the Green/Yellow line to L’Enfant Plaza and changed to the Orange/Blue line to Capitol South. By the time we reached DC the temperature was already in the mid-80s and would top at 91 degrees by the end of the afternoon.

Only one exit is possible at the Capitol South Station. After exiting look left to see the dome of the capitol building and walk toward it up First Street SE.

We walked north (about 6 minutes) on First St SE  to the east side of the Capitol then entered the Capitol Visitor Center by descending a set of stairs at the center of the lawn.

The entrance to the US Capitol for the general public holding timed entrance tickets.

We arrived 45 minutes before our tour time of 10:50 a.m. in order to be thoroughly screened.  I had brought a tote well within the size parameters so passing security was no problem. Unfortunately Charlie had brought packaged snacks which he was forced to throw away or be denied entrance.  He tossed them.

We waited for our tour guide in a long hallway.

Since we were early for our assigned time we actually joined the 10 a.m. tour which was advantageous since it made the timing of the rest of the day more relaxed.

The headsets distributed by our tour guide allowed us to hear her discourse without noise from the crowd and other guides.

After a 13 minute movie we were led out the rear of the auditorium to meet our tour guide.  Our guide Ann was very relaxed, well-educated, and clearly a student of history.  No question was left unanswered.  In addition she engaged our entire group of about 15 people from all over the world by asking questions and waiting for responses.

First we visited The Crypt where George Washington was supposed to be buried but is not.

Our first stop was The Crypt which is directly under the dome of the capitol building.  This room houses statuary of famous people from the original 13 united states.

So simple, so important.

The compass rose on the floor is the geographic center of Washington DC (where Washington was supposed to have been buried).

Before getting a dedicated building, the Supreme Court met here.

We entered the historic chambers of the building as the current Senate and House chambers are accessible only by contacting your elected representative.

The uniquely American corn cob capital.

Since this building was designed to be as American as possible even the capitals on the pillars are unique.

Columns topped with stylized flowering tobacco leaves.

Some of the pillars are stalks of corn while others are flowering tobacco plants.

Although monumental the Rotunda was not as large as I had imagined.

The highlight of the tour was the Capitol Rotunda.

The painting inside the dome seems very realistic until we were told that the human figures are about 15 feet tall.

From the allegorical painting “The Apotheosis of Washington” inside the dome to the presidential statues to the painted frieze to the large historical paintings, the rotunda of the Capitol deserves more study.

The “stone” frieze under the arched windows appears to be carved but is actually trompe l’oeil painting.

I was happy to see a statue of Alexander Hamilton (I’m still reading his lengthy biography) also included in the rotunda.  While he was never president he was certainly an important “founding father”.

White chocolate capitol filled with whipped cream and mixed berries. YUM!

Then we headed to the Capitol Café Located on the lower level of the US Capitol offering continental breakfast from 9a.m. – 10:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  Charlie and I split a very generous pulled pork sandwich and some dessert.

We walked from the Capitol Café (on the right) to the Washington Monument in 45 minutes by the grey route.

After having a bite to eat we headed down the Mall to the Washington Monument about 1.5 miles (about 40 minute walk) away.  It was very hot and humid.  By the time we climbed the hill of the Washington Monument I was dripping sweat.

The Washington Monument is visible from the Capitol — just walk toward it.

By 1 o’clock we were queued up at Washington Monument with about 6 other people with whom we entered the lobby (at 1:10) at the direction of a Park Ranger.

They don’t call your name — just queue up. (Note the Capitol in the distance.)

The 8 of us took the elevator to the observation floor 500′ above the ground at the base of the pyramidion — the little pointed section at the top.

The Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin.

The observation deck provides views out two windows on the north, south, east, and west sides. Timed tickets allow an uncrowded visit to the observation deck which is staffed by knowledgeable park rangers. A small museum is located on the 490′ level.

The DC  Mall ending at the US Capitol viewed from the top of the Washington Monument.

After descending the monument we returned to Maryland via the DC Metro from the Smithsonian Station transferring at L’Enfant Plaza.

My favorite travel companion.

We drove back home fairly exhausted after spending a very hot and steamy August day in DC but it was a great excursion.


Tasks for Party Prep

We’re having a party which gives me the perfect excuse to zhush up the yard.

  1. Remove chicken wire fence from vegetable garden. — Charlie kindly did this chore which has made a huge difference in the beauty of the garden.

    Before removing the chicken wire fence the garden was surrounded by the fence and weeds.

  2. Weed and trim sunflower meadow. — A beautiful job completed by Sug.

    Hoping to have some bright sunflower blooms by party time.

  3. Sew new theme pillow covers.

    These party pillow covers from napkins and bandannas took a couple hours on Saturday morning to sew together.

  4. Paint Glade sign.

    The sign has needed a lick of paint for awhile.

  5. Paint hand rails.

    While the white exterior paint is out (see #6) we’ll paint the railing to the back steps and clean the scum from the vertical trim.

  6. Repair and paint lawn chairs.

    The birds have done a number (numbers 1 and 2) on our Adirondack chairs.

  7. Paint olive tree pots.

    The olive tree pots are looking a little rough. New paint should do the trick.

  8. Make a grocery list and watch for sales.  I usually start shopping early for a party.
  9. Put party favors together.

    Everybody loves a party favor.

  10. Make a food task list and begin prep.

    I usually make a rough hand-written plan to keep the party day (and a few days prior) on track.

If I we can get these ten items checked off in the next month we should have a relaxed party atmosphere.


August, 2022: Intentions

August is a hot and sultry month in Maryland.  Catching a cool breeze is the highlight of the day (or evening).

Now for my August list of good intentions:

  1. Go to a concert:  Lots to choose from this month.
  2.  Visit Washington D.C.  #7 on my 101 in 1001 list.

    We have re-established canceled tickets for a tour of the U.S Capitol.

  3.  Start a surprise project.
  4.  Work on simplifying the Treetops Room.

    Picture frames are a major clutter factor in the back bedroom.

  5.  See a movie:  Bullet Train 
  6.  Pack for Hawaii trip.

    I bought a new under-seat bag for the trip.

  7.  Read a book: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert


  8.  Practice the ukulele.

    My classic Harmony concert-size ukulele.

  9.  Pick a word to focus on for the month. My word: ANTICIPATION.
  10.  Write a goal list for September, 2022.


July, 2022: Well Intended

July was unusually rainy and humid which means Charlie’s garden has been producing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in abundance.

Fresh veggies everyday.

We’ve been extremely busy just doing fun stuff and crossing tasks off our lists.

Lovely Lane — The Mother Church of American Methodism

I completed #92 on my “101 tasks in 1001 days” list, visit 5 significant local churches.

I also added a few items just for fun:

  • Saw the movie:  Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris about a woman taking strides out of her comfort zone — “Oh, that’s lovely.”

    I have admired Leslie Manville (blue cardigan) in her British TV roles.

  • I fixed my old dolly.

    My old dolly was missing an eye and some hair — she’s had a mini-makeover.

  • Also saw another movie: Where the Crawdads Sing. Genuine characters, slow moving, well-crafted mystery.
  • Ukulele class and jam at a local library.

    The library was prepared to lend a tuned ukulele to whomever needed one.

  • Reservations for a trip to the top of the Washington Monument in DC.

    We plan to visit the very top of the Washington Monument. Someday.

  • Art gallery reception featuring a lovely collection of watercolors.

    Art gallery in Historic Ellicott City, Maryland.

Now for my July list of good intentions:

  1.  Celebrate Independence Day.  Charlie and I went to a patriotic pops concert performed on organ and pianos on July 3rd.

    Our American flag hangs on the side porch.

    On the fourth we had a quasi-traditional cook-out with barbeque chicken, salad from the garden, watermelon, steamed shrimp, and brie/apricot phyllo bites.

    Red, white, and blue from the garden

  2.  See a play or 2: The Music Man and/or Much Ado About Nothing. I saw both plays at Olney Regional Theatre.  Charlie tolerates going with me especially to the Shakespeare plays.

    The entire cast — 50/50 deaf and hearing — of The Music Man at Olney was extremely talented.

    Loved, loved, loved The Music Man at Olney Theatre starring James Caverly.

    The National Players presented Much Ado About Nothing at Olney Theatre’s outdoor stage.

    And Shakespeare is always a treat.

  3.  Begin a Bible study at home.

    We started our whole group discussion in the living room (right) then used the dining room and conservatory as small group breakout areas.

    I was planning one day per week for six weeks but so many signed up we have 2 parallel classes in progress. Subject: The Armor of God.

  4.  Work on the exterior kitchen shutter.

    Charlie did much of the scraping and cleaning.

    Charlie took it down and scraped off the flaking paint, then I primed the rust and raw wood, and repainted it.  Phew!

  5.  See a movie:  Elvis. I enjoyed this movie.

    I remember Elvis Presley.

    Young Austin Butler was terrific.  I hope to see him in more films.

  6.  Get rid of a piece of furniture. I broke it down.  Charlie and Sug moved it downstairs to the side porch.


  7.  Read a book: Start the novel Hawaii by James Michener.  I had forgotten how rich in detail Michener’s account of the formation of the islands is.

    Maui is on our travel menu for this year.

    It was a long,  intentional read mostly about Maui and Oahu (but also Kauai and Molokai) that I enjoyed very much. Can’t wait for the real thing. Aloha.

  8.  Plan  more Hawaii events.  I scored a parking space for sunrise at Haleakala.

    We’ll have to get up in the middle of the night to make this happen.

    Also arranged a one-day trip to Pearl Harbor when Charlie and I change islands (Hawaii to Maui) in September, a feat of planning which I hope actually works out.

    USS Arizona Memorial on Oahu at Pearl Harbor.

  9.  Pick a word to focus on for the month. My word: DEVOTION.
  10.  Write a goal list for August, 2022.


Keep on Truckin’ Retirement Party

On the first of September our Sug is retiring from her job as a truck dispatcher.

We have a theme!

If you knew Sug it would be ridiculous to think that she’s just going to take it easy.

Retro casual:  Men think Kingston Trio or the Beach Boys. Ladies almost anything goes.

We’re hoping many of her friends and colleagues will join us for an outdoor picnic-type event.

Inspired by this photo I chose a palette of red and turquoise.

This color combination is simple and effective.

The party area will be keyed to these colors as will our clothing. I’m hoping others will catch on.

Party pillow in new colors.

As usual for an outdoor party I recovered the occasional pillows in the party theme colors.

We’re planning an early evening party in early September.

The menu (see below) is intended to appeal to a variety of people.  I’ll make the sliders in advance and Charlie will man the hot dog grill.


  • Sloppy Joe sliders
  • Ham and cheese sliders  

    Ham and cheese slider made on Hawaiian roll.

  • Hot dogs grilled to order
  • Hot dog bar with all the fixings  — ketchup, chili, cheese, relish, mustard, onions
  • Individual bags of chips

    Individual bags of chips help alleviate COVID transmission concerns.

  • Individual cole slaw
  • Individual Amish macaroni salad (Charlie’s request)
  • Lemonade, iced tea, water
  • Mini Apple Pies (Sug’s dessert request)

    We’re serving individual pies in lieu of a large cake.

  • Lemons with peppermint sticks (a Baltimore summer staple)

    It’s a regional thing.

  • Lindy’s Italian Ice — red and blue

    I’ll definitely be looking for food in the party theme colors.

  • Blueberry saltwater taffy

    Love these individually wrapped candies.

  • Anise squares 

These are the plans.

Everybody loves a party favor.

I have a few more ideas up my sleeve but they will remain a surprise for now.  Invitations are set to go out the second week of August.


Refitting the Conservatory

Over the past couple of years my elegant conservatory has gone to the dogs.

These loveseats lasted over 40 years.

I loved when the conservatory had a white rug and matching floral loveseats.

The dogs have made themselves at home in the conservatory — the houndatorium.

Slowly but surely, as we used the room more and more, nice things became worn.

These are comfortable indoor/outdoor chairs.

After the first loveseat wore out I replaced it with 2 woven chairs with ottomans.

The new rug is very busy and a little dark.

Then the white rug started looking grimy. I replaced it with something more practical but not nearly as elegant.

I would have liked something lighter in color but feel that is just tempting the devil.

When the second loveseat fell apart I replaced it with an inexpensive mail-order loveseat in grey.

This little drop leaf table weighs a ton.

Finally, for practicality, we put in an old, small, drop-leaf table as a coffee table.

The lamps are sitting on an overly large cedar chest.

I almost forgot that Charlie had moved his cedar chest from the mudroom to behind the loveseat in front of the window.  I really think this makes the room too small.  He needs to let go of the chest.

Even in an open plan the conservatory seems very private.

The conservatory is very functional especially when we have a party or study group at home.  In this instance form definitely follows function.

I change up the covers on the throw pillows with the seasons.

Number 17 on my 101 in 1001 days is complete.

See what I’m up against?

And, oh yeah, the dogs still love it.


Old Dolly

I have an old Raggedy Ann from my college days.

The hair at the back of her head had disintegrated or been eaten by varmints.

She had lost an eye and some of her hair.

Dolly’s eyes are purplish-blue buttons.

The eye repair was easy.  I pried off the remaining eye and replaced both with matching buttons. The buttons have a little post which I superglued into the empty hole. (This is not a toy for little children.)

Double stick tape is a neat alternative to glue.

Then I turned my attention to her hair-do.  I couldn’t find a glue stick in my supplies so I covered the bare spot with double stick tape.

The yard stuck well to the double-stick tape.

I found some dark red yarn in my knitting supplies which I laid onto the tape and clipped at the bottom.

The topknot no longer stuck up in front.

With white glue I secured her original little topknot toward the back to anchor the top of the new “hair”.

I used a large needle to style the new hair.

With a needle threaded with the same yarn, I backstitched the hair at her neckline.

Dolly’s new hair color is less noticeable in real life than it is in photos.

Now the back looks neat.

Just a little zhush for an old girl.

And she can watch everything that goes on from her seat in the bedroom.


Sprucing Up an Outdoor Shutter

A few years ago I repaired, painted, and rehung all the exterior shutters on the house.

The shutter on the small ground floor window needs some TLC.

I even cut down one of the standard shutters to fit a newly installed over-the-counter kitchen window.

The kitchen window looks bare without a shutter.

This shutter seems to get more wear and tear than the others — probably due to its unprotected position in the afternoon sun.

Charlie did much of the scraping and cleaning.

More bare wood was apparent than I had anticipated.

After removing it from the house (which I had hoped I wouldn’t need to do) Charlie scraped off all the old chipping paint and as much rust as possible.

Rustoleum Rust Reformer helps to protect metal.

I then primed the rusty metal with Rustoleum Rust Reformer.

Primer was brushed onto worn areas.

Areas of bare wood were primed with Kilz primer.

We let the shutters dry for a couple of hours and rehung them before it started raining.

After priming the metal and wood I brushed on the original custom paint color to repaint first the back then the front side of the shutter and the metal.

Charlie pinned the shutters back into place.

This very noticeable shutter is now proudly rehung.

Every little repair/improvement is a commitment.



When Charlie and I travel it is always a joy to visit famous churches, basilicas, and cathedrals.

Notre Dame de Paris

Sacre Coeur

In Paris we attended services in Notre Dame (before it burned) and Saint Sulpice.  We took in a community fair at Sacre Coeur in the Montmartre district.

The front of the duomo in Florence.

Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

In Italy we toured Saint Peter’s  in Rome and the Duomos in both Florence and Pisa and attended a service at San Marco in Venice.

Saint Paul’s in London looking toward the altar.

The choir at Westminster Abbey in London

London did not let us down with services at both Saint Paul’s and Westminster Abbey.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue at 50th in NYC.

Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In NYC we usually take in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and in New Orleans, Saint Louis‘.

Hallgrímskirkja in Iceland

I almost forgot about Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik where we spent a nice morning at the top of tower, at the church service, then having breakfast with the children.

We do literally have an al fresco chapel in our backyard.

I decided I should do a little research and see if there are any famous or special churches in my own backyard, Baltimore,  that might be worth a visit.  I added this to my list of 101 tasks in 1001 days at number 92.

Charlie tends to be busy on Sunday mornings.

Since church usually happens on Sunday morning I attended the following churches alone because Charlie is always scheduled to play the organ/piano on Sunday at 2 different churches near our house.

  1. Saint Alphonsus National Shrine
  2. Baltimore Basilica of the Assumption
  3. First and Franklin Presbyterian Church
  4. Lovely Lane UMC
  5. Mount Vernon Place UMC (closed due to COVID)
  6.  Zion Church of the City of Baltimore

Saint Alphonsus Shrine in Baltimore

The first church I attended was Saint Alphonsus National Shrine, a Gothic Revival Roman Catholic church.

The columns were painted faux marble in this monumental Gothic Revival.

For half an hour before the service started, organ music filled the church. The mass (indeed all masses) was in Latin. However, the gospel reading and homily were in English. In a traditional manner most of the women and girls wore head coverings.

The interior of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Baltimore Basilica of the Assumption, America’s first cathedral founded in 1806, was my next stop.  The neoclassical-style building is light and airy with a decidedly French influence.

A papal umbrella is ready in case the pope is present.

The mass was in English and I followed very easily and especially enjoyed the homily — a Greek word to add to my limited repertoire ὁδός (transliteration hodos).

First and Franklin boasts the tallest steeple in Baltimore.

Later the same day I attended First and Franklin Presbyterian Church which, by the way, is NOT at First and Franklin Streets. The church is a combination of 2 congregations: First Presbyterian Church founded in 1761 (before the American Revolution) and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church founded in 1844.

Gothic Revival in pink and cream.

I enjoyed both the beauty of this Gothic Revival style church and its welcoming spirit.

Lovely Lane — The Mother Church of American Methodism

My final two churches were to be United Methodist:  Lovely Lane and Mount Vernon Place (not to be confused with a church of the same name in Washington DC). Lovely Lane is a very friendly church, many people came over to talk with me.  The pastor’s message of “Peace” was well-received.

A box of palmetto fans at the entrance were provided to cool the congregation.

Historically Lovely Lane church is significant which might explain why there is no air conditioning.

Mount Vernon Place UMC in Baltimore.

Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church was to be my final visit.  I arrived with plenty of time to get seated and take in the atmosphere.  Instead the doors remained locked.  I checked the church’s status on my phone and found the service would be a remote Zoom meeting.

The front of Zion Church was deliberately designed to be reminiscent of a ship.

I needed one more church to complete my task and I still had many from which to choose. I decided upon Zion (Lutheran) Church of the City of Baltimore (founded in 1755) because it has a weekly service totally in German. They have maintained uninterrupted German services for over 265 years.  I don’t speak or understand German but I was eager for a unique experience.  I was not disappointed — the service was interesting, familiar, and uplifting. (When I travel to other countries the services are also in languages I don’t understand but I enjoy them nonetheless.)

A double row of varied stained glass windows fill the church with light.

The pastor sat with me a few minutes before the service to welcome me and tell me a little of the history.

Short benches under the pews were a way to warm up the congregation on cold days.

One unusual fact is that the small benches in front of each pew are NOT kneelers.  Instead, on cold days when the church had no central heating coals were put in a small pan and wrapped in cloth then put under the small bench.

The gate on the box pew helped hold in the heat and keep out drafts.

Parishioners closed the door to the pew and put their feet on the small bench to stay warm.

Maryland has a rich history and beautiful scenery.

This was a great experience.  We often don’t explore our home city as carefully as we do when we travel.  I’m planning to seek out more sites in my home state of Maryland and in the nearby region.