The Fizz of Freedom

So we ended up at Walgreens.  It’s our new go-to place.  In fact, it is the only place we go.  After 15 months of going nowhere and seeing nobody, Walgreens is it, now that we are fully vaccinated.  Our first baby step.

We have been getting all our groceries delivered from Amazon Fresh, and we’ve been happy with that.  The food has been good, especially the produce, and the service has been great.  We have been eating well and enjoying meals.  Our cupboards are filled like never before.

But Amazon Fresh doesn’t have everything.  I like a cup of ginger ale every now and then, especially in the summertime.  Not often, just occasionally.  Amazon Fresh has 2-liter bottles but no cans or small bottles, and even the 2-liter bottles are often unavailable.  Opening a 2-liter bottle of Canada Dry just to enjoy 3 fluid ounces and leave the rest to go flat while it takes up prime real estate in our refrigerator is definitely a bit of an extravagance.

Walgreens has ginger ale in cans.  They had boxes of 12-packs stacked up by the entry doors, as if they expect them to fly out the door, like any good sale would.  A sign indicated each box was $10.99.  I expected each to cost $4, maybe $5.  Maybe even $6 .  It still seemed like the thing to do rather than open a 2-liter expensive bottle just for a few thirst-quenching sips.

I brought the 12-pack carton to the register and the masked cashier behind the plexiglass window mumbled something at me.  She repeated it a few more times until I finally figured out she wanted me to buy three 12-packs.  “Can I buy just one?” I asked.  She shook her head as she mumbled some more at me.  I concluded, best I could, that I had to buy three 12-packs or none.  So 3 it was.  Once home, Sir Braver explained that I could have bought just one, but not at 1/3 The $10.99 price.  I was ready to pay $10.99 for one 12-pack, remember?  So what if it was more than 1/3 the price!

So we carried three 12-packs home.  We are no spring chickens, you know.  It was only a block and a half, but gee, that was heavy!

At the rate we enjoy ginger ale, we now have enough cans of ginger ale to last us through the summer of 2024.  Long fizzless by then, to be sure, and a taste of our new freedom!

Outdoor Dining

Pictured:  The Matiz Latine Cuisine restaurant in Forest Hills, New York. A Screened and tented area  located in the street beyond the curb accommodates outdoor diners.
Pictured: The Matiz Latin Cuisine Restaurant – outdoor dining under an enclosed tent.

New York City has allowed outdoor restaurant dining for a number of weeks now. For a few weeks, there has also been indoor dining at reduced capacity, but that comes and goes as the COVID positivity rate changes. This is a Latin restaurant called the Matiz. It is located on the corner just steps away from our home.

I have observed maskless diners enjoying their ourdoor dining experience on many occasions, although I confess I never tried it. Recently the tent was added. I suspect there is lighting and heating provided or surely their business would fail now that nighttime comes early and winter threatens.

So the tent sits in the street (beyond the curb) along Queens Boulevard. Cars, trucks, and buses pass right alongside.

The food must be good. Don’t you think?

The Big Question

I get all of my groceries delivered from Amazon Fresh. Today they sent a survey via email. I like their service and their food, so I was happy to participate. Then came their final “optional” question:

Pictured is a survey question that asks "What is your 'current' gender?"  Current!
The survey says…

BOOK REVIEW: Calling Me Home

Calling Me Home

by Julie Kibler

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is calling-me-home.jpg
Book Cover

Isabelle McAllister, 89, asks her long-time hairdresser Dorrie to drive her from Texas to Cincinati. There is little information provided but Dorrie immediately feels the trip would give her the time and space to consider her own circumstances. Dorrie has a teenage son whose relationship with his girlfriend causes her concern, and a relationship of her own that she needs to figure out. Oh, Isabelle is white and privileged, Dorrie is black. Does that matter? Yes.

The story is told through flashbacks to 1939. Isabelle shares with Dorrie things from her past that have remained buried all through the years and once in Cincinnati her past becomes her present as the intervening years bring truths and revelations to her. And while Isabelle sorts through her life, Dorrie sorts through hers.

One of the best books I have read in a long, long time.


Available through BARD and bookshare.

Good News

We received the following memo from our building management company.

Oh, joy! Management has intercepted our packages and ordered their delivery to a new location. They have selected what was the janitor’s cleaning supply closet as the new Mail Package Room. We have beautiful new signage in the entry vestibule and at the entry to the lobby.

The new Mail Package Room is about the size of our small elevator. In fact, it is right next to the elevator. This building gets a lot of packages on a daily basis and packages would have to be stacked high to accommodate deliveries. There is room for only one person at a time to go through all the packages to find what is theirs. This “room” has no windows. It is unventilated and dark and cramped.

Pictured: New signage at entry to lobby calling attention to the new package room.

So I called the management company. I left a rather lengthy complaint on his voicemail yesterday, ending with “If you want to spread COVID through an entire building, this is the way to do it.” (I don’t remember the rest of my rant.)

Pictured: Two doors along the left wall of a short corridor (about 8-10 feet long). The first door (on the left) is the new package room. The door to its right is the elevator.
Pictured: The interior of the new package room. The room is about 6 feet deep and about 8 feet wide (very approximated by me). Along the right side is a wall-to-wall desk (6 feet?) and chair where several packages are placed awaiting pickup. This is the janitor’s cleaning supply closet and his vacuum cleaner is also seen. The left wall (unseen in photo) contains some shelves with cleaning supplies and other unknown “stuff.”

I got no response so I called again this morning and our management person answered the phone. He denied receiving a voicemail from me, so I started from scratch. This time I recorded the conversation.

Phone Conversation

He is going to talk to the Board (he is on the Board) and will call me back. In the meantime, our packages are being diverted to the Package Room.

Such good news! Not!

Any Way You Cut It

Smell that fresh baked bread straight from the oven! Tasting it is even better. A slice of heaven!

I have been baking bread in my bread machine.  Lately I have been doing so quite regularly and I have gotten quite good at it (honestly, Hamilton Beach makes me look good!), I thought the whole experience might rise to the next step with the purchase of a bread slicing guide.  Imagine evenly sliced fresh bread.

So I purchased a bread slicer on Amazon. It got good reviews. 

The advertisement described the benefits of their slicing guide for use with breads made from bread machines.  Given that, they should know, generally at least, what size bread to expect.

Pictured: Advertising image of bread slicing guide with 2 long thin loaves of Italian bread ready for slicing. This size and shape of bread does not come out of a bread machine.

My bread, it turns out, is too big for the “large” bread slicer.  My bread rises a full 2 inches or more above the slicing guides and I found it awkward to saw back and forth as instructed and land my knife squarely between the bread slicing guides.

Pictured: Bread in slicer rising 2 inches or more above slicing guides.

I contacted the seller to discuss  my predicament.  Their response: Make smaller bread.”  Of course, to do so would require using an oven and not a bread machine.

BOOK REVIEW: A Journey to the New World

A Journey to the New World

by Kathryn Lasky

Dear Emilia,

My name is Remember Patience Whipple.  I am 12 years old.  I traveled with my family to the New World on the Mayflower exactly 400 years ago.  Crossing the Atlantic Ocean was very difficult – the stench onboard was unbearable and the winds and waves made everybody sick.   Our crossing took over 60 days.

 I kept a diary so I would live up to my name and remember what it was like.  The trip was hard. Very hard.  What we experienced in the New World was even harder.  But one thing kept me excited and that was seeing feathered men.  I was just so curious.  Wait until I tell you about the swaddled Indian baby I met.


                         Mem (that’s short for Remember)

Pictured:  Book cover

P.S. – This book is part of the Dear America series, a series of historical fiction presented in the form of diaries. and written especially for young people.  Don’t forget to read the epilogue, too, because there is even more information that you will definitely want to know.




This book is available through BARD and bookshare.



BOOK REVIEW: Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane

by Kristin Hannah

Tully Hart and her drug-addicted mother move to a house on Firefly Lane across the street from Kate Mularkey and her family.  The two girls are very different in many ways, yet they become friends, best friends in fact.

The friendship began as teenagers on Firefly Lane.  This is the story that traverses the course of their lives together and apart, through thick and through thin, for the next 30 years.This is the story of their friendship.  Best Friends Forever:  Tully and Kate.

No spoilers here,  I will just say that the character development is excellent.  Kristin Hannah nails the emotional impact each character provides.  It is a page-turner.  Have a box of tissues handy.

Have You Seen My Paddle?

I have no bread flour.

I have no rapid-rise or bread-machine yeast.

But I do have a bread machine.  And I have a desire to bake bread.

So I consulted with my bread guru.  Z told me to use all-purpose flour and the more common active dry yeast,  both of which I do have.  He gave me instructions on how to make the active dry yeast work with the bread machine.

I followed Z’s instructions.  I added the yeast to some warm water and stirred it until the yeast was fully dissolved.  Then I added a teaspoon of sugar.  When the mixture bubbled, I added it to the other ingredients.

Fresh Bread

Pictured: A loaf of fresh-baked bread on a cutting board.

The bread was kneaded and rested and kneaded some more and then baked to perfection, all while I went about doing other things.  (Bread machines work quite independently.)  After 3 hours, the bread machine signaled it was done.  Lo and behold the bread rose.  It looks like a loaf of bread, smells like a loaf of bread, and best of all, it tastes like a loaf of bread.   Warm inviting bread fresh from the oven.

Just one little thing …

The bread machine’s paddle is missing!

Fresh bread, bottom up

Pictured: A fresh-baked loaf of bread sitting upside down on a cutting board. There it is! In the center is a perfectly round hole. Inside is the bread machine paddle. It is neatly tucked inside the bread.

OMG Zoodles


Zucchini spaghetti – also known as Zoodles.  They are quick and easy to prepare.   Delicious and nutritious.  And low calorie too!

Zoodles GIF

Pictured:  A series of 5 shapshots that change every 8 seconds.  The first shows a spiralizer, bowl, and 2 zucchini.  The second shows a zucchini inserted into the spiralizer held over a bowl.  The third shows the zoodles spread out on a cutting board, and a knife.  The fourth shows a bowl of cooked zoodles.  The fifth shows a plate of crab cakes and a bowl of zoodles – ready to eat.


  • 2 Zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil


  1. Wash zucchini.  Do not peel.  Cut off ends.
  2. Insert zucchini into one end of the spiralizer and hold over bowl or cutting board.
  3. Twist zucchini until there is nothing left to twist.
  4. Generously salt zucchini noodles and blot dry with paper towels or tea towel.
  5. Cut zucchini into smaller strips with kitchen shears or knife.
  6. Add zoodles, oil, and spices to pot or pan and saute for about 2 minutes.  (A pot will keep any spatter away from you and will keep contents from spilling out.)


Crab Cakes recipe is under tab RECIPES > DINNER at top of this page.

Spiralizer is available on amazon.

Getting Started – Pastel Painting

With a new hobby and very little space in my home, getting started can be tricky.  Here is what I have learned and how I have gotten started.

UPDATE: Surprise!

An update to yesterday’s story:

A neighbor rang our doorbell late this evening to inform us that the bags sitting outside our door were distributed by the city and contained food.   Though the bags were unidentified and unexpected and were not even accompanied by a knock on the door, all the bags distributed to the apartments on our floor were sitting in an unairconditioned hallway for many hours.  Still, there is good news to be had:

  1.   The bags of food sitting outside 5 apartments all day on a near 90-degree day  and in an unairconditioned hallway and not yet started to smell.
  2. 2.  Unwanted critters had not yet begun to gather.

Mystery solved.


We opened the door to our apartment sometime around noon today and found 3 packages neatly lined up in front of our door.  And there were three identical packages lined up in front of the apartment door next to ours.  And there were three identical packages lined up in front of the door across the hall.

COVID, people!  We are not touching them!

We went out for our walk a few hours later. All the packages were still just where they were when first discovered.  The two apartments at the other end of the hallway also had like packages.

We walked down to the third floor.  Not a package to be found

Not a package on the second floor.  Or the first!  Only our floor.


Door C

Pictured:  Three filled plastic bags (one white, one black, and one orange) are lined up in front of our door, and in front of the apartment door next to ours.

Please View and Vote

Below are 3 pastel paintings, all of American goldfinch birds.  Please vote for the one you like best.  Your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you!

Goldfinches 1-A


Goldfinches 2


Goldfinches 3-A


Please go to the poll:     –     Please click this link to take the poll

BOOK REVIEW: A Brush With Darkness

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.A Brush With Darkness

by Lisa Fittipaldi

What happens when you lose your sight? How do you feel?  What do you feel?  How do you go on?

Lisa Fittipaldi lost her sight.  It was unexpected, unplanned. She was thrust into a world without sight and suddenly everything was different. Even the simplest acts, like brushing her teeth, became an overwhelming ordeal, one event among countless others that had to be relearned and conquered.  It was her husband who  put paints and brushes in her hands and told her to go with it.  I suspect she had painted before, or at least expressed an interest, but this was different.  This was learning to paint when she did not even know how to walk.

A BRUSH WITH DARKNESS:   Learning to Paint After Losing My Sight by  LISA FITTIPALDI - FIRST  EDITION - 2004 - from Gian Luigi Fine Books Inc. (SKU: 037026)Lisa Fittipaldi articulated so many of my experiences.  I could relate to her trials and tribulations, her awarenesses, her triumphs and failures.  Yet I was born that way, always having to learn to do things my way, all the while dealing with people who just do not get it.

This book is inspirational. A must-read for anyone who has lost their sight, or hearing, a finger, a leg, or anything else that others may label a disability. You just may find an inner strength that makes you even better.

 “Being blind is like being blond. It just is.”    (p. 125)

Party Time

Anniversary Party

New York   >  Minnesota  >  Oregon

3 different homemade cheesecakes, all winners.

And I am still verklempt!

Zoom Znniversary

Pictured:  All of us



Pastels and Fixative

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars..




Set aside

Set aside

Thrice applied
Thrice dried
Daylight denied

The paper curled.
The colors dulled.
Dark of night.

Pastel Painting – Day 3


Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.


Seashore – Day 3


I dabble a little and then I let it sit.  When I take a look hours later, I see things differently.  Then I know what I want to change.   That gap in time seems to make a huge difference.

Here is the evolution of my Seashore pastel painting, so far.

Seashore GIF

Pictured:  Three photos of my pastel painting taken on 3 successive days, each after changes were made.

Pastel Painting – Day 2

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars..

Pastel Painting: Seashore


Another day, another layer.

Shore day 2