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A DIY Hobbit House January 26, 2023

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Humor, People, Sustainable Living.

Stewart Grant, now 89, moved into a cottage he bought as a wreck (no roof, no windows, and no doors).  He found it so satisfying doing DIY on the quirky outbuilding (which dated back 200 years and used to house a pig) that he decided to make it his home.

Now tourists from all over the world, especially France, stop by to check it out.

One suggested he have a collection box.  Since then, all donations have been passed on to charities.

Another wee glimpse when Stewart was in his 70’s:

Aah . . . Bilbo Baggins would love this!

Practice Makes Perfect January 24, 2023

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

Hearts, like eggs, are fragile.

However, once broken open, infinite possibilities await.

We can collapse into a pool of tears, become hard-boiled (or scrambled) by the ways of the world, or emerge sunny-side up.

Just remember, even a master chef can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs:

Aah . . . that’s better!

Baby, It’s C~O~L~D Outside! December 23, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Life Balance, Nature.
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Hope that Elliot doesn’t wreak havoc with your Christmas plans and that you devise ways to stay warm amid this windy wintry weather.

We are under a wind chill advisory for tonight.  That doesn’t happen often around here.  Here’s hoping that warmer weather returns in due course.

In the meantime, have a Hot Toddy!

Aah . . . that’s better!

How The Grinch Stole . . . My Blog! December 21, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Humor.
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Well, to be honest, it’s not my blog that’s been stolen.  It’s right here.  It’s my blogging mojo that’s gone missing.

No, not “Moose Juice” . . . MoJo.

Nope, not Moo Juice . . . MoJo.

Nope, not Goose Juice either.  Although maybe a good night’s sleep (or a long winter’s nap) is what I need!

Moo-ving on . . .

In all fairness, I don’t know that the Grinch is responsible, but by pointing my finger at him (and his hairy green prone-to-thievery fingers), I’m hoping that my blogging mojo will be returned to me bright and early on Christmas morning.


Before the Feast.  (Ours will be sans roast beast!)

If not on Christmas, I expect my Moose Juice will be back on Boxing Day.

Tuesday at the latest.

In the meantime, a Jolly Holiday to all . . . including the~the~the~the~Grinch!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Echoes In Rain November 11, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery, Music & Dance.
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My current favorite song of ALL time . . . for now, anyway, is Echoes in Rain by Enya.

She sings lots of my favorite songs, but there is something so magically resonant about Echoes in Rain (with lyrics).

Want to hear it again?

Here’s a version of Echoes in Rain (with Enya singing in front of full orchestral accompaniment).

And now for a quick update on the AMES Competition:

Emily’s team won all 3 categories.

Best oralist, brief and overall team.

For a summary in Harvard Law Today:  The Ames Game

Aah . . . that’s magic!

A Vicarious Thrill November 9, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Writing & Writers.
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My niece is a 3rd year student at Harvard Law School.

Last year, her Moot Court Team made it to the finals of the Ames Moot Court Competition

The Ames Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions for appellate brief writing and advocacy in the country. Students participating in the Final Round started the competition in the fall of their 2L year.  From there, two teams progress to the Final Round through their strong research abilities and excellent written and oral advocacy. The Final Round is traditionally judged by this country’s preeminent jurists.

The oral arguments for Ames 2022 are right around the corner.

Let the Countdown begin:

Aah . . . that’s brilliant!

The oral arguments are tomorrow night!  Click HERE for more information on the 2022 Final Round.

For a summary in Harvard Law Today:  The Ames Game

La Bella Luna November 7, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Nature.
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Total Lunar Eclipse tonight:

A lunar eclipse happens when the sun, Earth and moon align. During a full lunar eclipse, the moon falls completely in the Earth’s shadow. The phenomenon causes the moon to appear red, often nicknamed a “blood moon.”

When to watch:

The real show begins at totality, when the entire moon enters Earths’ umbra. On Nov. 8, this will occur at 5:17 a.m. EST (1017 GMT) and will last about 85 minutes, ending at 6:42 a.m. EST (1142 GMT), according to NASA. “The moon will turn a coppery-red. Try binoculars or a telescope for a better view,” NASA wrote.

Where to watch:

As long as skies are clear, the Nov. 8 lunar eclipse will be visible from anywhere across the United States and the rest of North America, according to TimeAndDate.com. People in Asia, Australia, most of South America and parts of northern and eastern Europe also will be able to see this eclipse.

Aah . . . that’s bella!

The next full lunar eclipse will occur on March 14, 2025, but there will be partial lunar eclipses before then, according to NASA.

My Long Term Care Plan October 24, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Less IS More, Life Balance, Sustainable Living.
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No nursing home for me.  I’ll be checking into a MARRIOTT!

With the average cost for nursing home care being min. $275.00 per day, there is a better way when we get old and gray.

Check in to The FAIRFIELD:

For a combined long-term stay discount and senior discount, it’s $79.00 per night.

Breakfast is included, and some have happy hours In the afternoon.  That leaves $196.00 or more a day for lunch and dinner in any restaurant we want, or room service, laundry, gratuities and special TV movies.

Plus, they provide a spa, swimming pool, a workout room, a lounge and washer dryer, etc.  And most have free toothpaste and razors, and all have free shampoo and soap.  Spread around $10 worth of tips a day and you’ll have the entire staff scrambling to help you.    They’ll treat you like a customer, not a patient.

There’s a city bus stop out front, and seniors ride free.  The handicap bus will also pick you up (if you fake a decent limp).  To meet other nice people, call a church bus on Sundays.

For a change of scenery, take the airport shuttle bus and eat at one of the nice restaurants there.  While you’re at the airport, fly somewhere . . . to keep the cash from building up.

It takes months to get into decent nursing homes.  Marriott will take your reservation . . . today!

And you’re not stuck in one place forever ~ you can move from Marriott to Marriott, or even from city to city.

Want to see Hawaii? They have COURTYARD there too.

TV broken?  Light bulbs need changing?  Need a mattress replaced?  No problem ~ they fix everything, and apologize for the inconvenience.

The Marriott has a night security person and daily room service. The maid checks to see if you are OK.  If not, they’ll call an ambulance . . . or the undertaker!

If you fall and break a hip, Medicare will pay for the hip, and Marriott will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.

And no worries about visits from family. They will always be glad to find you, and probably check in for a few days mini-vacation.

And the grandkids can use the pool.

What more could you ask for?

So, when I reach that golden age,
I’ll face it with a grin.

Aah . . . that’s the ticket!

Source:  E-mail from unknown author (sent by Joan M.)


IAN ~ In A Nutshell October 4, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Happiness, Home & Garden.
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Caveat:  This post is more for me than for you.  I’m sharing my notes from the last week in case any of you are curious about Hurricane Storm Prep before, during, and after a mandatory evacuation.

FYI:  There may be a few typos.  And there may be future revisions as memories resurface.

Bottom line:  There’s no place like home, especially with running water and power to cool and cook your food.

If you want to donate to the current disaster relief efforts in Florida, some organizations to consider:

Red Cross, Volunteer Florida, Feed Florida, and Florida Disaster Fund.


Sunday ~ filled tank with gas . . . Publix (broccoli and asparagus) . . . thinking about evacuating . . . made reservation for Wednesday & Thursday nights “just in case” . . . looked out some food and water and clothes to take . . . rolled down storm shutters . . . checked stash of cash and bottled water . . . filled plastic containers with water & stashed them in the freezer to make blocks of ice . . . after dinner, watched Lucy Worsley Investigates (about the Black Plague in England in the 1400’s) . . . good reminder (“Hurricane prep is a pain . . . but at least it’s not the Black Death”) . . .

Monday ~ continued storm prep . . . mandatory evacuation for Zone A (that’s us) announced, effective Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. . . . extended reservation to include Tuesday night . . . started packing car . . . boarded up front sliders with plywood (last used in 2017 for IRMA) . . . checked provisions . . . blanched the broccoli (raw broccoli =  no go for me) . . . packed food to take (cheese, bread, butter, peanut butter, jam, granola bars, lettuce, tomato, carrot & celery sticks, cottage cheese, blanched broccoli, black olives, Italian Dressing, apples, oranges, bananas, tea bags, cookies, chocolate, nuts, raisins, carrot cake) . . . gathered flashlights, batteries and battery operated radio . . . charged i-Pad & cell phone . . . packed i-Pad, cords, passwords . . . emptied cubes from ice-maker bucket into containers & stacked the now contained ice cubes in the freezer . . .

Tuesday ~ planned to leave after lunch . . . decided not to wait . . . called hotel to request early check-in . . . tossed stuff in car . . . hotel at 11 am instead of 3 pm . . . lunch & dinner in room (salad with broccoli, black olives, cheddar cheese, celery, carrots, and Italian dressing for me and cheese & tomato sandwiches for BFF with hummus and celery sticks) . . . walked to Publix (bananas, juice, instant soup, hummus, bagel crisps) . . . watched weather channel updates . . . e-mails and cell calls to friends and family . . .

Wednesday morning ~ stormy . . . power, TV, internet, and cell intact . . . breakfast downstairs (instant grits with butter and toasted toscano pano with peanut butter for me; oatmeal, juice, and toast for BFF) . . . another hotel guest helpfully pointed out a small unidentified SNAKE resting in the track of the sliding doors . . . on the INSIDE of the room . . . chose breakfast table on the FAR SIDE of the room . . . watched weather updates . . .

Wednesday afternoon ~ lunch in room (broccoli salad for me and cheese sandwich for BFF) . . . weather channel updates . . . massive flooding an hour south of our hotel . . . power out at 4 pm . . . dinner in the dark (PB&J with chips) . . . listening to radio updates on IAN . . . in bed at 8 pm listening to the radio in our PJ’s . . . relaxed, calm, cozy until . . .

Wednesday night ~ yelling in the hallway . . . banging on the doors . . . got up to investigate . . . hotel manager shouting . . . “GET OUT.  THE ROOF IS ABOUT TO COLLAPSE” . . . looked into darkened hallway . . . saw figures with flashlights at the end of the hall . . . heard water gushing into the hotel corridor . . . grabbed wallet, keys, i-Pad, eyeglasses, and sneakers . . .  ran down two flights of stairs in the dark . . . herded into meeting room . . . staked out a corner for us . . . realized that having a change of clothes in the morning would be nice . . . BFF returned to room to get our two suitcases, hurricane notebook, and toiletries . . . he tossed everything else on the bed (leaving the room in inhospitable disarray) . . . Fire Marshall arrived . . . water to hotel turned off . . . a pressurized pipe in the 3rd floor ceiling had burst . . . told that we would be allowed to return to our rooms (except for a few hotel guests with rooms at the end of the corridor where the carpet was too wet, and the ceiling tiles too far gone, for occupancy) . . . back in our room by 11 pm . . . no power and no running water for flushing . . . we did have bottled water for washing,  brushing our teeth, and drinking . . . bed at midnight . . . slept about 4 hours and then spent a few hours staring at the ceiling and listening to the storm rage outside . . .

Thursday morning ~ calm after the storm . . . breakfast in room in the dark with no running water, no coffee, and no tea . . . checked in with the manager about whether either power or water would be back soon . . . not likely . . . BFF went to the sister hotel next door to collect water to flush our toilet . . . 2 flights down and 2 flights back with gallons of water . . . I started setting the disarray to right . . . listened to weather updates on the radio . . . nothing about our neighborhood . . . we started to pack stuff to return to the car . . . still unsure whether we could get home . . . called police department (no live operator) . . . called Emergency Management for Manatee County . . . told that the bridges to Anna Maria Island would be open at 11 . . . we live just East of the island . . . decided we would check out . . . carried everything (except for a few suspect food items) down two flights of interior stairs (using flashlights to light the way) and loaded the car . . . beautiful breeze with clearing skies . . . promising . . . headed for home . . . traffic lights out . . . trees down . . . signs no longer standing . . . damage not too bad . . . route 70 mostly clear of debris . . . same with 26th St. W . . . more trees down . . . route 64 in pretty good shape . . . HOME at noon . . . no power & no water but villa intact . . . YAY!

Thursday afternoon ~ left everything in the car in case we decided to leave again . . . enjoyed a PB&J sandwich, no sides . . . good enough . . . BFF gathered buckets to scoop water from the community pool for flushing toilets (next time, fill buckets BEFORE evacuating) . . . noticed our departure checklist on the kitchen counter . . . AHA! . . . “BFF, didn’t YOU turn off the water before we left?” . . . he grinned and said he did . . . he undid that deed and water flowed forth from the faucets . . . HUZZAH!

Thursday afternoon ~ with water restored, we decided to stay . . . continued to drink bottled water in case there is “BOIL WATER NOTICE” for our neighborhood . . . unloaded the car . . . took down the hurricane shutters . . . opened the house to the gorgeous breeze . . . peeked into the freezer and saw that our containers of ice cubes were still cubes with almost no melted ice . . . shut the freezer FAST . . . called a few family members and friends but cell cut out after 60 seconds each time . . . long enough to let them know where we were . . . younger bro relayed message to rest of family . . . found out sister and family in Orlando survived the storm OK . . . grabbed a COLD beer from the fridge for Happy Hour (for medicinal purposes and to check the temp in the fridge) . . . drank it with chips and hummus . . . drove around neighborhood . . . a couple of trees down across the main drag . . . several palm trees down . . . homes intact . . . cold picnic-style dinner in the lanai watching the sunset (cheese, chips, apple with peanut butter, carrot cake, cookies, etc.) . . . stayed in the lanai until retiring for the evening . . . in our own bed for a few hours . . . then in the living room to sleep (fitfully) with the front and back doors open to the cool breeze . . . happy to be home . . .

Friday morning (Mom’s B’day) ~ returned deck furniture to deck . . . set up camp stove . . . heated water for tea and coffee . . . no 1/2 & 1/2 or milk for coffee . . . blech! . . . but we have a house . . . so no complaints . . . drove inland for ice and WiFi . . . first stop Panera . . . free WiFi for 15 minutes from Spectrum . . . sent a collective e-mail to family and friends with an update . . . glanced at in box . . . nothing urgent or alarming . . . left Panera with a baguette and a bagel . . . 7-11 (no ice) . . . Publix (no ice, but got batteries, bread, and crackers) . . . Liquor store (no ice) . . . Fresh Market (ICE! . . . plus apples and bananas) . . . put ice in freezer and cooler and shuffled some food around to preserve as much as possible . . . lunch in lanai  (cheese, baguette, hummus, celery & carrots, chips, mandarin oranges) . . . house open . . . beautiful breeze . . . took down the rest of the storm shutters . . . cooked dinner on the deck with food from the freezer (colcannon and frozen peas) . . . dinner in lanai . . . slept (fitfully) in living room with the front and back doors open to the cool breeze . . . serenaded by a chorus of contented frogs . . .

Saturday morning ~ heated water for tea and toasted bagel on camp stove . . . no 1/2 & 1/2, so no coffee . . . not worth it . . . checked ice situation . . . lots of melting ice dripping from the bags we bought . . . put containers under waterfalls of melting ice to stem the tide . . . messy situation, but not dire . . . more ice would be good . . . drove inland for ice, internet and propane for the camp stove . . . BFF dropped me at Panera for free WiFi from Spectrum . . . sent a quick collective e-mail to family and friends with an update . . . checked storm updates and weather updates . . . BFF went to ACE (no propane) . . . left Panera with BFF . . . Fresh Market (no ice) . . . Publix (no ice, but bought tomatoes, instant grits, caramels . . . over the Bridge to AMI . . . Ace Hardware (propane!) . . . cranked up cook stove . . . lunch in lanai (grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato, and pea salad with carrots & celery) . . .

Saturday afternoon ~ condensed everything perishable into fridge and consolidated all ice . . . left freezer and cooler empty . . . checked temp an hour later . . . 40 degrees . . . perfect . . . tossed a few suspect items (mayo, slushy green peppers, wilted celery, chopped tomatoes) . . . later, listening to radio . . . “Manatee County schools may re-open on Monday” . . . school board must be optimistic that power will be restored by then . . . Yay! . . . planned veggie rice dish for dinner with grilled baguette and bruschetta topping (tomatoes, olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic, chives, etc.) . . . went to the kitchen to get water and noticed that someone had left the light on in the pantry . . . walked over to turn it off . . . Wait!  Yes!  The light is on in the pantry . . . Power’s Back! . . . “BFF, can you come here for a minute?”  . . . Why? (grumble, grumble) . . . “There’s a, uh,  lizard in the pantry.” . . . more grumbling from BFF . . . until he saw the LIGHT! . . . Yay! . . . plugged TV and computer and modem in . . . service restored! . . . set the auto ice-maker to “warp speed” . . . called brothers and sisters . . . started catching up on e-mails . . . fixed a bourbon and ginger . . . moved some food and ice into the freezer . . . checked in with neighbors who returned at 5 pm . . . took them their mail and shared storm stories . . . dinner in the living room watching TV (veggie rice with toasted baguette and bruschetta topping) . . . watched storm stories on TV . . . bed early . . . and stayed there . . . at last, a good night’s sleep . . . ZZZZZ!

Sunday ~ made two pots of soup to use ALL the frozen veggies that survived the storm (spinach, corn, green beans, broccoli) plus the rest of the fresh veggies (chopped cabbage, celery, carrots) . . . added veggies to the veggie rice . . . that’s nice . . . took soup and carrot cake to neighbors who had to toss everything in their fridge and freezer . . . soup for lunch . . . baked Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies (to use 2 eggs that rode out the storm) . . . ate fresh cookies . . . yum . . . veggie rice casserole for dinner . . . watched Lucy Worsley Investigates (about Witch Hunts in England in the 1500’s) . . .

Monday ~ walk on the beach . . . library to return books and DVD’s . . . CVS (to pick up a few sundries) . . . FM (Croissants, lemons, bananas . . . but no 1/2 & 1/2) . . . Publix (for 1/2 & 1/2 . . . and ice cream, carrots, cheese, green beans) . . . had croissants and coffee (with 1/2 & 1/2) . . . finished baking cookies . . . soup for lunch . . . caught up on accumulated e-mails . . . put suitcases and flashlights away . . . breathed a contented sigh of relief . . .

Tuesday ~ wrote IAN: In A Nutshell . . . 

Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you ever had to evacuate? What did you leave behind that you wish you had taken? What did you take with you that you didn’t need?

My answers:

*This is our 2nd mandatory evacuation.  We also had a voluntary evacuation when we lived in Maryland on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.  That time, we stayed home with Tigger and sustained some storm surge (which deposited 100’s of jellyfish on our lawn) but we never lost power.

*I wish I had brought a set of “winter clothes” (long pants, turtlenecks, sweatshirts, slippers, flannel pj’s) to leave in the car during the storm . . . in case the villa was wiped out and we had to head north to stay with family for an extended period of time.  I also wish I had remembered to bring some chapstick.  😀

*The storm shift caught many people by surprise since the expected landfall & ETA wobbled about.  We didn’t think the hotel we chose would lose power.  It did.  We thought the power would be back on soon.  It wasn’t.  We didn’t know that we would lose running water in the hotel.  We did.  In light of potential (and realized) issues with power and water, I wish I had just stuck with PB&J sandwiches and snacks (fruit and cookies) rather than bringing perishable foods that had to be eaten before the power went out (e.g., broccoli, salad dressing, lettuce, yogurt, cottage cheese, 1/2 & 1/2).

What is imperative during an evacuation?

*Stash buckets of water in the tub for flushing toilets and washing up on return.  Bring lots and lots of bottled water with you in case the water pipes in the hotel burst and the water main is shut off.  Leave lots and lots of water at home in case you don’t have water on your return.

*Get as much ice into the fridge and freezer as possible before you leave or take all perishable food with you.  Don’t leave loose (or bagged) ice in freezer where it will melt over food.  Put all ice in containers.  Check freezer on return to see if ice cubes are still cubes.  If so, most food should still be frozen and safe to eat.  Buy ice as needed.  If unavailable, consolidate all food and ice in one spot with a thermometer.  Check to make sure temp stays below 40 degrees.  If it goes above 40 degrees, start tossing things like mayo, thawed veggies, etc.

*Keep your cell phone charged.  If a neighbor is running a generator, ask if you can re-charge your phone for a few minutes. FYI:  a fully charged phone is no use without cell service and we lost many towers with IAN.  We still don’t have cell service, except sporadically.  I received 9 voice mail messages today (Tuesday) ~ they have been hovering somewhere in cyberspace since last Thursday.

*Don’t unpack your suitcase and toiletries at the hotel.  That way, if you are evacuated in the middle of the night, in the dark, without power, due to the anticipated imminent collapse of the roof, you can grab your bags and race to safety.  Also, keep your flashlights handy.  We kept one in our pocket at all times.

***Maintain a sense of humor and find things to laugh about (“at least it’s not the black plague”).

Not Sure Where To Retire? September 15, 2022

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Joke, Life Balance.
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Not sure where to retire?

Let the stars be your guide:

The City You Should Retire in Based on your Zodiac Sign

Well, I’ll be jiggered . . .

Who knew that retirement planning should include consultation with an astrologer as well as a financial planner?

Not me.

While I often find horoscopes amusing and entertaining, I have never made a major change in the trajectory of my life based upon a daily, weekly, or monthly horoscope.

But there is a first time for everything, right?

If not now, then when?

Caveat:  I have no idea whether your astrology sign will align with the stars’ prediction of a perfect retirement spot for your given predilections, but this article suggests that my decision to retire to the Gulf Coast of Florida was the right move for me.

More specifically, the article encourages those of us born under the sign of Cancer to consider Boca Raton, Florida:

baco raton
iStock / 6381380

Forget what everyone says about you being too emotional or dramatic, Cancer. You’re actually one of the more laid-back signs of the zodiac and have a natural ability to adapt to every phase of life. When it comes to choosing the perfect retirement spot, all you need is a view of the ocean, some nice weather, and delicious food. If spending your golden years reading romance novels on the beach sounds like a dream come true, Boca Raton is the place for you. The laidback Florida city has a go-with-the-flow social scene that’s sure to hit just the right note.

Even though I don’t live in Boca Raton, Sarasota and the surrounding area offers many of the same amenities ~ ocean views, lovely weather, delicious food, and excellent libraries for Beach Reads!

So that’s the good news ~ I located to the best retirement destination for me.


Now for the bad news:

BFF is a Scorpio and the Stars are sending him to South America.

I hope our long distance romance survives the separation.

Aah . . . that’s better!