Life Expectancy of TVs

We clicked the remote “on.”  We got sound but no picture. We turned the TV off and tried again. Same deal, but now no sound. This was catastrophic. Photo below is not me, of course, but the expression was spot on. Maybe if I just pressed the on button harder, the TV would work.

We’d been talking about getting a new TV for awhile. This one, in the living room, is ten years old and it’s not a “smart” television. We can’t watch cute cat videos or get Netflix on that TV. The HD function quit a couple of years ago, but we didn’t care. No picture and no sound got us in the car headed over the bridge to Best Buy in Annapolis. When we asked the person at the store how long we could expect a TV to last, he said 8-10 years. We are the generation that believes appliances, including TVs, should last 25 years. The new TV will probably be seriously outdated in five.

We knew they’d have to deliver it and set it up but they couldn’t schedule us until next Tuesday. I didn’t realize how much we had the TV on. It was sort of like me going on a diet and realizing how much grazing I do. When I’m in the kitchen I might be half watching a cooking or fixer upper show. Or just listening to one of the multiple music channels on Direct TV – usually New Age which makes my husband want to throw himself out the window. I tell him to turn his hearing aids off and remind him we have a one story house.

In the meantime we have the TV in the bedroom which is pretty darn inconvenient. We’ve always been early to bed, early to rise people, but going into the bedroom right after dinner is ridiculous – especially since we are usually finished eating by six. Tuesday can’t come fast enough.

As if having a dead TV wasn’t bad enough, I went out yesterday to mow a couple of spots in the yard where the grass was getting high. We’d taken the mower in for it’s annual check-up and got it back a week ago. The mower started right up but I hadn’t gone 30 feet when our trusty little Honda mower just crapped out. I couldn’t get it restarted, and neither could the husband.

So this morning we loaded it back into the trunk and Roger drove it back to the dealer. The guy told him they’d turned the gas off before they put it in the car for us to bring home. Would have been nice if they’d told us that.The good news was that we had a working mower.

Wrong. Our high only lasted a few minutes. We turned the gas back on and I started mowing. A minute later the mower quit again. And before that the engine didn’t sound like it was running smoothly. I called the husband. He started it again and then watched while it ran for a little while before coming to a halt. Why is it I always think I’ve done something to make anything mechanical break?

So this afternoon it will go back to the shop. Something’s not right. That mower is 11 years old, so I’m hoping it can be brought back up to speed and quickly because the grass doesn’t care. It just keeps growing. Please tell me the life expectancy of mowers is not the same as that of TVs.


A Braised Short Ribs Recipe

After two days of humping loads of chips to cover the paths at the St. Michaels Community Garden, I had aching muscles and was ready for an easy oven meal (fast forward to bottom of post). That’s not me in the photo. I was the photographer who was taking a break.

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Thanks goodness for morning yoga at The Studio. We’re hoping for another load today and that job will be finished for another year. My bed is still producing. Carrots, mache (a rosette of tender greens that’s fabulous in salads), and kale.

I’ve started tomato plants under grow lights, enough to share with some friends. I’m starting Amish Paste and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. So far they look great. The heat mat helped with germination.

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We’ve had a couple of cold days, cold enough in the evening to have the last fires of the season in the fireplace. And cold enough for a hearty dinner of Braised Short Ribs. This is what it looked like before three hours in the oven. Those carrots and parsley are from my Community Garden bed.

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This is what it looked like when I took it out.

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It was so good I’m including the recipe which a friend shared. Originally the recipe came from The Village Market in St. Michaels. I got my short ribs at BJ’s which recently opened by us. They were fatty and I didn’t know enough to trim them. Next time I’ll buy the short ribs from The Village Market. I’ve been told by a friend in my yoga class whose brother-in-law works at the Market that they trim their meat!

Braised Short Ribs of Beef

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to sprinkle over the ribs before cooking

4 lbs beef short ribs, cut into 2 inch lengths

5 tbsp olive oil

8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 ½ cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, with juice

2 cups sliced carrots, 1/8 inch thick each

3 cups sliced onions

8 whole cloves

½ cup chopped Italian parsley

¾ cup red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp salt

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

3 cups beef stock


Sprinkle pepper over short ribs. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or casserole. Sear ribs, browning well. Drain on paper towels. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Return half of the ribs to the casserole. Sprinkle with half of the garlic. Layer half of each vegetable over the meat. Add 4 cloves and sprinkle with half of the parsley. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with a layer of chopped parsley. In a bowl mix together vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, 1 tsp black pepper and cayenne. Pour over meat and vegetables and then add beef stock just to cover. Cover casserole, and bring to boil over medium heat. Bake in oven for 1 ½ hours. Uncover and bake for 1 ½   hours longer.










A Busy Week

It was a busy week. Cleaning out garden sheds, a Green Thumb Garden meeting, a writing conference,  a new project, and some gardening.

The family of my friend who died a week ago called to ask if I could use any of the items in her garden shed. They suggested I take anything that women in the Green Thumb Garden Club could use, so last last Wednesday and Thursday another friend and I sorted and hauled things to the Woman’s Club. They were at the club house  for the Friday meeting where people took things they could use and made a donation to the St. Michaels Woman’s Club Scholarship Fund (we give a 6K scholarship to a St. Michaels High School graduate every year).

In the afternoon I attended a meeting for something we are calling Growing Bay Hundred. It will be a collaboration of the Farmer’s Market, the Community Garden and the Stm Michaels Community Center. Lots of good ideas about how to get people to come out. For those of you who don’t know, the Bay Hundred historically refers to the area from where Harris Creek almost intersects with The Eastern Bay (in the area of Claiborn), all the way down to the tip of Tilghman Island. By the mid 1670’s Talbot County was divided into “hundreds” for administrative purposes. The term “hundred” survived from medieval England when shires were divided into segments that could each produce 100 fighting men. The Bay Hundred area is now one of the few Hundreds left in Maryland as a description of a voting district. Now you know.

Saturday was the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference, sponsored by Eastern Shore Writers Association. This was the 19th annual conference! Thirty hour-long sessions on a variety of writing and publishing topics were offered. It’s a lot of work throughout the year, and Laura and I have been involved for ten years. This year Laura wasn’t on the committee because of her work load. Most of the rest of us soldier on but it’s time to bring in some new (younger) people with fresh ideas.

This is Anny Williams who greets attendees each year. They start the day spying Anny’s yellow sweater from the parking lot and know where to go. Her big smile sets the tone for the day.

BTO 2016 Anny Williams

Below is one of the two students I sponsor each year. A budding writer, I’ve been sponsoring her since she was fourteen. This year she’s a high school senior. She’ll be attending college in the area next fall so I can continue to sponsor her. I’ve got a young man who will be a sophomore in high school next year who I’m hoping to also sponsor. It’s a little young for the conference whose attendees tend to skew middle aged, but mature, interested students can really grow from this experience.

BTO 2016 Birdie

BTO also sponsored three Chesapeake College students in conjunction with a grant from the Talbot Arts Council. They are required to write a short essay about their experience at the conference so the organizers will be interested to see what they thought.

This year we backed the conference date into March gambling that the weather would be less of an issue. When you have 18 years of missing weather bullets that would cancel the conference, you begin to get a little paranoid. The weather was great, everything went smoothly and the comments we heard were wonderful. The evaluation sheets are being tabulated and we’ll know more in a few days about which sessions and faculty had the most value to attendees.

This year I actually attended two inspiring sessions on social media with Eastern Shore Writers Association President, Mindie Burgoyne. Usually, after getting to Chesapeake College at six in the morning, I don’t have the energy. This year we started a little later, had three morning sessions, two afternoon and the conference ended at four instead of five. It made a big difference for me and I don’t think we had as many people who left before the last session of the afternoon.

On Sunday I tried to sleep in but it was the move to Daylight Savings Time which always throws me for a loop. It was supposed to rain all day, but the weather was good for working outside and I spent most of the day clipping and cleaning garden beds. This time of year is always a race to get beds cleaned up before perennials start to pop. I let fallen leaves remain in the beds as plant insulation for the winter, but it makes more work in the spring. The rain didn’t come until Sunday night so I got a lot done. Of course I was very grateful for Monday morning yoga class so I could get the body moving again.

I have lots on my desk and some conference boxes in the garage to be sorted, but I’m back to working on the next thing. That just seems to be the way I roll.


Friends Live On in Our Gardens

My friend, who was so ill, died last Friday. I was privileged to be considered a close friend and was with the family when she passed. I’m glad she’s no longer in pain, but sad because we were gardening friends and spring is almost here – a time of the year she loved.

This morning I cleaned off my garden bench in the garage. On a sheet of yellowed newspaper were some dried out hyacinth bean pods. Every year my friend would start a couple of hyacinth bean plants for me and they were beautiful during the summer and fall. Last fall, for some reason, I saved some of the pods.

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In a few weeks I’ll start hyacinth bean seedlings from the plant she gave me, and share them at a memorial we are planning. The memory of her will live on in our gardens. She’ll be smiling.