Advanced Bed Making for Dummies

My mom was a stickler for a well made bed. As the only girl child in her home I was judged by my ability to create precise hospital corners and deliver a perfectly smooth bedspread. Wrinkles were a no-no. I let her down. A lot.

As a mom, I was much more relaxed with my bed making rules; although, I did attempt to demonstrate the principles my mom tried to instill in me. Neither of my kids paid much attention to the lessons, though, and I didn’t think bedspreads were the hills I wanted to die on. Pick your battles, right?

Nowadays at Doright Manor, my bed making philosophy revolves around our psychotic younger cat, Patches. I call it “Layering. It’s not just for clothing anymore.”

Patches has developed the nervous habit of peeing on just about any surface that suits her when the anxiety strikes. We took her to the vet to see if there was an underlying medical reason for her bladder control issues, and she’s fit as a fiddle. The vet prescribed a special food, but it requires about eight weeks to kick in.

She also prescribed an anti-depressant that I have to rub on the inside of Patches’s ear every 12 to 24 hours. I’m afraid the lengths I have to go to to corral Patches and administer the drug are increasing her anxiety levels and aren’t doing much for mine either.

She thinks I have an ear fetish. I’m afraid she’s right.

So what does this have to do with making the bed? Twice now Patches has relieved herself on our bed necessitating the laundering of our heavy bedspread that takes forever to dry. Following the first time I added an additional layer of covering to our bed. After the second time, I realized one layer was simply not enough. Now the rule is to have at least three layers on the bed in addition to the bedspread.

This isn’t going to get me a mention in Better Homes and Gardens any time soon, now is it? And my mom would be so heartbroken. Sorry, Mom!

Oh, before you suggest I use deterrent sprays and/or calming sprays, trust me. We’ve been there; done that with multiple concoctions. Patches seems totally immune to their effects.

She does seem to be making a bit of progress, though. Knock on wood, but I haven’t detected any pee on the baseboards or behind Studly Doright’s chair in the past couple of weeks, and those were among her favorite areas to go. And this morning for the first time in ages I watched her play with one of her toys.

We’d appreciate good vibes for Patches, and for me. It now takes me longer to make and unmake my bed than it does me to shower in the morning. And that’s the truth.

Peace, people.

Don’t be fooled by the sweet face. She’s plotting her next attack.

Plan A, B, or C

In light of our foolhardy and reckless potus doing his bumbling best to start a war with Iran, I felt compelled to tell Studly Doright what I would do if I found myself away from Doright Manor in a worst case situation.

“I’m getting home. Even if I’m miles from the house, and my car no longer runs. I’ll come home.”

“Okay,” he said.

“You’d come home, too. Right?”

“Of course. As soon as I could.”

That’s about the extent of our plan.

So, I jokingly/not jokingly asked my Facebook friends:

Even though none of them are “preppers” most had non-joking answers. One cans food and has a stockpile. Another has already thought ahead to getting enough propane to allow for hot meals. One has several cases of wine (if I can’t get home, guess where I’ll head).

A friend who lives in Taos, New Mexico, says he’ll journey out to the Taos Pueblo which has withstood the ravages of “civilization” for centuries. Still another said he’d just sit back and watch how it unfolds.

The thing about my plan is that if Studly is here with me that’s all that matters. We’ll be okay. And if we’re not okay, we’ll at least be together.

Seriously, let’s keep hoping that someone in authority practices common sense in these fractured days.

Peace, people.

Snapshot #272

On December 27, 2019, we lucky denizens of the Florida panhandle are enjoying temperatures in the mid-70’s. I’ve seen lizards skittering about and bees pollinating plants, but they all refused to remain still for a photo.

My front yard has some gorgeous pink flowers that accommodated me, though. I’m calling this photo, “Is this a Camellia?”

Peace, people!

Desperate Times

“Desperate times breed desperate measures”–William Shakespeare

On most days I have lunch alone, either here at Doright Manor or at one of a handful of Tallahassee cafes. Now, before you feel sorry for me you need to know that I enjoy my solitary lunches. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy having lunch with Studly Doright or with a friend, but when I dine alone I pull my Kindle out of my purse and read. And there are few things I’d rather do than read.

One day last week I had a whole list of errands to run, most of them in Tallahassee. I planned the most efficient route and left home around 10 a.m. with the goal of having lunch at the best little vegan eatery in the world, Sweet Pea Cafe.

With my errands halfway done, I drove to Sweet Pea and ordered that day’s special, Tempeh Temptation. I found a table and reached into my purse for my Kindle. Hmmm. No Kindle. I searched every zippered compartment with no luck.

“That’s okay,” I said to myself. “Just read from the Kindle app on your phone.”

“You’re so brilliant!” I answered.

“I know.” I said.

Unfortunately my brilliant self had managed to leave my phone at home as well.

As I waited for the meal to arrive I wondered how I was supposed to eat without a book in hand. How does one do such a thing?

“You can do this,” I gently reminded myself. “Just be more mindful of your meal. Pay attention to every bite. People watch. Listen to the music playing. Enjoy the experience.”

“Shut up! I NEED my book. Or just something, anything, to read.”

Gee, one of us needs anger management therapy.

In the midst of my angst I noticed a woman who’d been reading from a book as she dined at the table nearest mine. She’d finished her meal and as I watched from the corner of my eye saw that she was preparing to leave.

I hesitated for a second before asking, “Excuse me, this is going to sound weird and slightly desperate, by I don’t suppose you have an extra book that I might buy from you.”

Now, the beauty of this is she totally understood my question. The sad part is that she’d just returned from a trip to see her sister and had given the sister a box full of books that she usually carried in her car.

We laughed about our respective reading addictions. She apologized for not having a book to offer. I laughed and told her no big deal while underneath my smile I was thinking, “Couldn’t you at least have saved one book for us, I mean, me?”

She left the cafe as my meal arrived and I began to eat in a desultory fashion. The food was excellent as always, but damn it, how could I enjoy myself when there were intrepid space explorers trapped on an exoplanet in my book, and how the heck was I going to save them if I couldn’t read the remainder of chapter 55 while I chewed?

That’s when an angel came to my rescue. The woman who’d taken a box of books to her sister came triumphantly back into the cafe waving a book.

“Look what I found,” she smiled.

“It must’ve fallen out of the box. It’s yours if you want it….”

I wanted to hug her, but I restrained myself, offering effusive thanks as I tried to pay her.

“Absolutely not!” she said. “I don’t know how anyone can eat alone without a good book for company.”

A true hero, that woman.

I opened the book and began a new adventure. John Grisham paired quite nicely with Tempeh Temptation.

Peace, people.

Pee Patrol

Seems like all I do lately is clean up “accidents” left by our younger cat, Patches. From the time I get out of bed in the morning I’m on constant alert for the smell (Oh, the smell!🤢) and the telltale wet spots of cat urine.

When I return to Doright Manor after a trip to the store or lunch with friends the first thing I do is patrol the entire house, spray bottle in hand, to identify and eradicate cat pee. Before we get into bed and in the middle of the night I do walk-throughs. I’m paranoid and exhausted.

Late yesterday evening, for the first time ever she relieved herself on Studly Doright’s side of the bed. Thank goodness the bedspread prevented the liquid from penetrating to the mattress, but it was a near miss. I was up late doing laundry and changing the bedding. Studly was not pleased.

So, even though she was examined for a urinary tract infection in October, Patches and I are at the vet’s again, hoping to find an answer.

Wish us both luck.

Patches is underneath the calming blanket, and is refusing requests from all paparazzi.

Peace, people.

Christmas Decor at Doright Manor

Doright Manor isn’t a fancy place. Studly Doright and I seldom (never) entertain, and neither of us is overly concerned with having a spotless house.

I do enjoy playing with decorative items, though. And while my styling taste is on the eclectic side it’s also not expensive. All those years of having no money taught me how to make do with the decorating resources at hand.

Here’s a little tour of a few of my Christmas vignettes:

The Santa above was purchased for me when I was about four. When Mom passed away it was one of the few items I wanted. The old guy is getting pretty worn, but he’s my favorite decoration.

This Christmas bear would greet guests at the front door if we ever had any. I bought him at a post-holiday sale many years ago.

My mismatched Christmas village is mostly comprised of items I’ve found at garage sales. I like that the items are built to different scales. Imperfection pleases me.

Studly Doright has yet to notice the sprig of mistletoe hanging in the main hallway. I’ve gone unkissed for several days now. Well not exactly, but no kissing has occurred under the mistletoe.

My preppy reindeer couple and stylized Christmas trees are relative newcomers to Doright Manor. I need a backdrop for them, but nothing has caught my eye yet.

Our main tree is perfect in an imperfect way. I used to do a fancy schmancy tree, but it was sort of boring.

Above are stockings that SHOULD have been given to my children when they started their own families, but I cry every time I think of letting them go. The bear was bought for our daughter’s first Christmas and the reindeer for our son’s. Neither of them holds many goodies, which was a good thing in those years we were so poor.

Since we don’t have a fireplace, our stockings are hung on the bookshelves with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. From left are Studly’s, mine, and the two cats’.

That’s our dining table with Santa and a single reindeer.

Below is my gigantic angel overseeing the nativity. Almost a Gulliver’s Travels situation going on here, but I love my nativity scene.

Scout was interested in my placement of each piece, so I took the opportunity to tell her the story of how Jesus came to be born in a stable and placed in a manger.

Here she is, looking for the baby. Well, that’s my story anyway.

My cowboy snowman is fittingly in the Texas guest room.

This Santa is in one of the guest bathrooms. He is quite discreet when folks need to use the facilities.

On my kitchen hutch is a party of reindeer being hosted by my naughty elf on the shelf. They raise a ruckus in the wee hours.

That’s about it, I suppose. Thanks for taking the tour.

Peace on earth, and good will towards men, people!

Calling Cupid

I see Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and ________, and Donner and Blitzen.

What happened to Cupid? He was the one that got away. The reindeer ornament I never found at CVS. I had Rudolph, too, but he fell victim to a curious kitten and shattered into a bazillion pieces on our living room floor many years ago. No matter how many CVS locations I visited; though, I never found a Cupid.

As I type this, Studly Doright is searching eBay for the little guy. If he’s successful I might have him look for Rudolph, too. In the meantime I’m going to secure the remaining reindeer against a cat attack. The one responsible for Rudolph’s demise still resides at Doright Manor.

Peace, people!

Long Weekend Recap

Serendipitous. That’s what I’m calling the events of this past weekend. Although, to be honest, not all of the happenings were unplanned, but they were all happy.

Studly Doright left early Thursday morning for a grand adventure in dual sport motorcycling with buddies from Tennessee, Virginia, and various other locales. While I don’t mind time alone, I had no clue how I’d get through the long weekend without going a bit crazy out here at Doright Manor. Fortunately for me, I found ways to fill the time. Unfortunately for you all, I’m going to recount them.

Thursday:

Olli class at FSU. It was the fourth of six on The Parallel Universe of Ants. I take copious notes during these classes even though there’ll be no test, no grades. Old habits die hard, I guess.

Afterwards I had a long lunch at a Tallahassee restaurant before buying some goodies for dinner. I rented a movie on demand (Lion King) and snuggled with Scout on the sofa.

Friday:

This was the day I was most concerned about. No plans, no estate or garage sales on the calendar. Just me and two cats. I did all of the week’s laundry early in the day, and decided to make a run to Target. While I was wandering the aisles a friend, Michelle, texted me, and we chatted back and forth. I told her where I was and she asked if she could join me. Yay!

We browsed Target for awhile, talking more than shopping, then decided to go to lunch. Afterwards we went to a consignment shop and then to a bookstore. We completed the afternoon with a beer at a pizza place. Okay, I had a beer, Michelle had a slice of pizza. We talked and talked. Everyone went home happy.

Saturday:

Several members of the Olli class enjoyed a field trip to Ant Heaven.

https://nananoyz5forme.com/2019/11/02/ant-heaven/

Afterwards I came home and took an epic nap. I hadn’t looked at my email all day, so when I logged on I discovered over 200 messages. Most were easily deleted, but there was one from the Olli group. One of the class members who’d ridden to Ant Heaven with me asked if she’d left her keys in my car.

Immediately I went to the garage and sure enough, her vest with her keys in the pocket was in my backseat. I emailed her. No response. Called and left a message. Nada. Finally I texted her, and she replied soon after. Thank goodness.

In my wild imagination I’d pictured her standing in the Publix parking lot where the group had met that morning. Forlorn and hungry. Shaking her fist at the woman who’d driven off and left her alone to fend for herself. In reality, she had a spare car key and was at a movie when I’d tried calling.

Sunday:

In spite of my long Saturday nap I slept well. Thanks to the time change I lolled about in bed way longer than I normally would. Instead of having my regular breakfast I decided to have brunch at Sweet Pea Cafe, where I enjoyed french toast with fruit, cheese grits, and hash browns. Yum!

Afterwards I returned home and watched football well into the evening. Studly called saying he’d made it safely to his hotel in Dillard, Georgia, and would be home mid afternoon on Monday. I had such a lovely weekend, but I’m ready to see my guy.

Peace, people!

Ant Heaven

(Note: I made the mistake of taking an epic nap after my trip to Ant Heaven and before writing this post; therefore, a great deal of what was learned on the field trip just floated away into nothingness. I used to be so much better at retaining information.)

Normally I’d spend my Saturday morning running around Tallahassee, going to the Farmer’s Market or to estate sales. Today, though, I went on a field trip to a place affectionally dubbed “Ant Heaven” by Dr. Walter Tschinkel, our Olli instructor extraordinaire.

I’m not totally sure where Ant Heaven is, even though I drove my car in a caravan of other Olli participants to the spot. If it were a secret location I’d never be the one to spill the beans.

Soon after our group of a dozen or so arrived at Ant Heaven, Dr. Tschinkel put us to work laying bait trails.

The orange stakes indicate the location of an ant nest, while the pink substance is a mixture of mashed up cookie with a non-toxic pink dye added. Our job was to place the small piles of bait at various distances from the nest and then to observe foraging ants carrying bits of bait back to their respective nests.

Prior to our visit, Dr. Tschinkel had gone to the trouble of raking away much of the detritus (pine needles and leaves) from around several nests so we’d have a better opportunity to watch the ants in action.

Mine is the annoying voice saying, “It might be a carpenter,” which is totally wrong. What it might be is a Harvester ant. I should’ve kept my mouth shut. If I had a penny for all the times that was the case, Bill and Melinda Gates would be borrowing money from me.

As we watched ants foraging for bait Dr. Tschinkel set up the kiln to melt aluminum for casting a nest.

It takes time to heat the aluminum to beyond the melting point, so I wandered around trying not to step on any ants.

This video above is from a Harvester Ant nest. The black bits surrounding the nest, as well as those scattered on top of the nest, are pieces of charcoal. Apparently no one knows why Harvester Ants collect charcoal and mark their nests with it.

One of the critical tools of the professional myrmecologist is a shop vacuum. Seriously. The shop vac is used to clean debris from a nest and even to suction up a large number of ants to take back to the lab for studying.

In the video above, Dr. Tschinkel is using a suction tube to pick up ants as he searches for a fungus garden in the nest of a Northern Fungus Gardening Ant. These ants collect caterpillar droppings and “feed” them to a fungus that the ants tend as nourishment for the super organism that is the colony.

I believe you can see some of the ants suctioned in the picture below; although, these might not be the fungal gardening ants.

Once the aluminum had reached approximately 1,000° C, Dr. Tschinkel began the process of casting.

Now, a lot of work went into this prior to the pouring of aluminum. He had to clean around the nest, (shop vac) and scoop a large amount of sand away from the area. It’s a labor intensive task. Oh, lest any of you worry about loss of ant life, the castings are made from abandoned nests.

This first pour yielded a small casting.

They’re incredible little sculptures.

A second pour produced a larger piece; although, I didn’t get a picture of it for some reason. Both sculptures were sent home with lucky attendees who happened to guess a number Dr. Tschinkel had in mind.

I did get a couple of pieces leftover from previous pours. Generally such pieces are melted for future castings.

One teeny tiny ant (whose name I have forgotten) coats the chambers of its nest with a black seed-like fungus. No one knows why. It’s one of Dr. Tschinkel’s newest research topics, and one of our group members found a nest of the little guys. Dr. Tschinkel excavated one of the chambers and will study it further.

After the excavation we headed back to Tallahassee. I was tired and hungry but not grumpy. After a nice meal at a sushi place I returned to Doright Manor and took a three hour nap!

Ant Heaven was an adventure. I had a great time learning a little bit more about ants, and I’m leaving out incredible stuff here. We’ll blame the nap.

Peace, people!