Sunday, March 29, 2020

247 Our quarantine

Our Quarantine 

No, thankfully, we are not sick and have no signs of Covid-19! 

Knock on wood--I probably just jinxed us. We hope you will identify with some of the smart (i.e. savvy) things we are doing and some things that are downright stupid.
I have been on Amazon far too often in the past two weeks. BUT we do not have to go to the grocery store. Amazon delivers. Schwan Foods delivers! Sheetz for gas and junque food and a drive-through McDonalds for a wonderful soda fountain diet Coke (why do sodas taste better from a fountain?)

Picture this scenario. I bet I make you laugh! I bought new toilet brushes for the bathrooms. I started by cleaning the tiny little toilet and sink bathroom built underneath the stairs (you remember, house 1808 – no closets, no amenities, but charming). I even cleaned the floor with Clorox wipes, the sink, the faucet, the hot and cold taps, wiped down the baseboards as well. I wore rubber gloves. Go, Glenne! How smart of you.

HA! I threw all the wipes and a couple of old magazines that had found their way to this tiny bathroom into the trash can. Pealed off the rubber gloves. Threw them into the trash can. Picked up the trash can, took it to the porch and dumped the contents into a large garbage bag. This did not seem very smart. I threw away the gloves before I emptied the trash. 

I went back to the bathroom and sang Happy Birthday to each dog who sat watching my every move. No more paper towels in the bathroom. What did the Savvy Board do? Wiped my hands on the back of my sweat pants. OH, how very bright. Who knows what viruses or dirt or dust was collected in the fabric? I washed my hands in the kitchen sink this time.

New gloves! Back to the porch to retrieve the garbage bag to tie up to take to the dumpster. Well, just guess who are playing in the trash? You got it in one! The pups had trash strewn all over the porch as the bag had both kitchen and bathroom debris. Bogie, the younger, was licking a microwave throw away pan and Max was playing roll the empty dog food can. Across the rug were bits and pieces of the Clorox wipes.

Okay, put the dogs out and shut the door on them. (ha! No doggie door available for a bit.) With the new gloves on, got another garbage bag, picked up all the trash, sprayed the rug and gave it a quick vacuum. That’s it! No more cleaning for me for a bit. Another day, MAYBE another room. I don’t like housework, anyway.
In the meantime, dear husband and I are being really conscious of the six-foot rule. One hug while holding our breath at bedtime and no kissing. Six feet is the approximate width of your car, the height of a door, and an extended arm by each of two people. 

And, of course, never touch your face. That is SO HARD not to do. I estimate 25 times I rubbed an eye, brushed back my hair, rubbed my nose, pushed up my glasses. Wow! As I became conscious of these automatic tics, I am really surprised we don’t have more diseases.

I have switched back to storage room clean out. That will likely be the next blog. LOTS of old stuff collected from three generations. Nothing valuable so far, but interesting to us. I am reading an 1881 history of New York City that must have belonged to dear husband’s grandmother. 

To all of our readers and friends, stay safe, and let us know how you are spending your time. We’d love to hear from you!

The best to each of you, 

Savvy (or not-so-savvy) Glenne            

p.s. Is it ironic that this is the Chinese Year of the Rat?

Sunday, March 22, 2020

246 Tremendous tree

Tremendous tree 

I had longed to see the Angel Oak Tree in St. John’s Island, S.C. for many years. Not sure how I had heard about it, but I could not get it out of my mind after seeing photos.

A professed tree hugger, I would plan to visit it every time we went to the beach in South Carolina--usually four or five times a year. But we never made it. It was too long a drive (about an hour from where we were staying), too much traffic, etc. Finally, I made it!

We decided to head to Jekyll Island, Ga. a few weeks ago. I knew we would go near the beloved tree so I made sure it was part of the trip. Believe me, it did not disappoint. Even my husband who is not easily impressed was taken by the enormity and condition of the amazing oak.

It sits closer to the road than I thought it would, but it was an easy drive with enough parking surrounding the area. It is enclosed by a fence, and the park is free and open to the public.
Branches cascade from the mighty tree to the ground often propped up by timbers and poles. It measures 28 feet in circumference and is 66.5 feet tall. From tip to tip, its longest branch distance is 187 feet, according to It produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet. 

It is hard to get a true feel for size and circumference when visiting the site. All we could say was how really huge and amazing it is. We were not alone as we took in the wonder of the amazing oak--it is estimated that 40,000 people visit the site each year. 

The age of the tree is estimated from 400 to 500 years old and is thought to be one of the oldest living objects in the country. Others think it could be 1,500 years old but no one knows for sure.

A volunteer told us it was originally part of a plantation and the owners worked vigorously to kept the tree alive. The property now belongs to the City of Charleston, S.C. who oversees the care of the majestic tree, which has survived hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The land was originally part of Abraham Waight’s 1717 land grant. One source says its name comes from the Angel Estate, owned by Justus and Martha Waight Angel. Others say the ghosts of former slaves appear as angels around the tree, according to 

A small gift shop is located on the property and workers lovingly provide information and insight into the history of the oak. I made sure to bring back items that would remind me of the visit I had so anticipated, as well as donating to the preservation of the live oak tree.

Volunteers also man the area around the tree so it is well protected. I did not want to leave, but we had to get on our way. 

Definitely worth a stop if headed south. It doesn’t take long but is one tree that cannot be forgotten.

For more information, visit


Sunday, March 15, 2020

245 Rube Goldberg housekeeping

 Rube Goldberg housekeeping or Trish robotizes everything!

I am a great fan of Rube Goldberg and his fantastic creations. So . . .

My husband was delighted on Christmas Day to discover he had given me a Rumba robot vacuum cleaner. (It happens every year--he is happy for me to purchase my own gift. Ain't guilt great?)

I have been enjoying using it ever since. Tootsie, the hyper Jack Russell, stares at it for a few minutes and then leaves the room! She was my one concern.

The Roomba is not perfect in picking up everything but my floors are cleaner than ever before!


Can you imagine a hovering bot that dusts? It would have to have a very delicate touch. In fact, when I first thought about it, I thought a robo-duster going amuck would make a great insurance commercial!

There is already a robot that washes floors--maybe next Christmas!

But there are many more household tasks I hate. How about a drone bathroom cleaner?
And the toilet paper dispenser would have a sensor that would alert a drone to replace the roll! One might as well operate the plunger too!

Don't you think a drone could be trained to load and unload the dishwasher? And add soap and start it, of course!
And changing lightbulbs. Especially those really high ones!
I could probably come up with quite a few more, but you get the idea. I think I might also need an air traffic controller robot to manage a house full of busy drones.

Perhaps I should just develop a human-sized robot butler who could do all the household chores. And cook too!

Savvy Rube Trish             

Sunday, March 8, 2020

244 Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous Thoughts 

Hello, Readers. First, a thank you to Teri Merrill for being out guest blogger last week. I liked and identified with the Merrill’s family games. I wanted to offer her a word our family uses: ASSORTERATE. This created word means to our family--get it sorted, get it in priority order, and with the right tone of voice, also means “how about doing it now.” Dear husband and I are beginning to assorterate--getting ready to go to our accountant for the annual tax appointment. We have piles and folders. The folders become filled; the piles begin to diminish. Good feeling!

Next, I wonder with all the political news and ads, why, when I went to the polls to vote in Virginia’s Super Tuesday, there were only three (3) voters there in the space that was for two precincts.

I had expected the Republicans to make a big concerted effort to get all their people out to vote for the Democratic candidate they felt was the weakest against Trump. And, as you may remember, last Tuesday was a 64-degree, sunny afternoon before a brief thunderstorm. Where was everyone? Do we not exercise our right (and responsibility) of voting? Do people in my home area feel Trump is a “slam, dunk” and no need to participate? Leaves me wondering. 

Then, I read on AOL’s news of the day that superb New York Yankee Derek Jeter’s first jersey with the Yankees sold at Goldin Auctions for $369,000!

When you read below, I don’t think the game sounds particularly impressive.

“The grey away jersey sold for a whopping $369,000. The jersey includes an autograph and a handwritten note that reads, "Game-used 5-29-95 MLB debut." Jeter wore this very jersey back in 1995 on May 29 against the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome. The Yankees lost that game 8-7 in 12 innings. Jeter, who was 21 at the time, went 0 for 5 with a strikeout and started at shortstop because Tony Fernandez was on the disabled list.” (, 2/25/20)

Sometimes – maybe too often – I feel out of control of what happens in my life. For instance, our bank. If the first of the month falls on a holiday or a Sunday, the pending deposit shows up the next business day, but is still pending until the following day. If I am due my money on the first day of the month, I truly would like it to be there on the FIRST OF THE MONTH. A computer program is running my financial life. 

I called the bank: “Sorry, that’s the way our program is set up.” I had no late charges, but I was miffed at how my money seems not my own. If every deposit were NOT direct deposit, I think I would put the proverbial sock under the mattress. Then there is our pharmacy who can’t seem to understand that I do NOT want automatic refills. Every month they call; every month I talk to a human (after listening to much music and ads) to tell them to take me off of auto-refill. How many times do I need to do this???

What to do about dinner? I hate to cook. If there were a room in our house I could live without, it would be the kitchen. A small refrigerator would suffice. Dear husband is a little better than I about this but not much! 

 At about 5:30 p.m. each evening, we look at one another and ask “What do you want for dinner?” The standard replies are either “I don’t know” or “I don’t care.” I am “saladed (is that word?) out.” No, thank you anyway, don’t send me recipes to cook ahead of time and freeze. I do NOT want to go to the grocery store either.

 I would like to invest in a fast-food, drive-through with nutritious inexpensive food. We share pizzas, eat Chinese (two nights each from our orders), and sometimes soup and sandwiches. 

I wish our area has what NYC has: daughter and son-in-law don’t cook at all (in fact, I think our daughter keeps high heels that don’t fit the shoe rack in the oven). They have a big folder on their computer and just tap in what they want for the evening. Half an hour later, there it is – a decent dinner at the door! Hmmmpf! I am jealous. 

Well, it’s 6 p.m. Guess I will head to the kitchen!


Sunday, March 1, 2020

243 The bad & the somewhat good

The bad and the somewhat good

Here we are with a health crisis that was unheard of just a few weeks ago. Coronavirus was not in the headlines at least in this country until recently. Now it is consuming the air waves and stopping us in our tracks.

Every day there are more outbreaks and deaths. What could it possibly have been like on those cruise ships that were quarantined for weeks. I know I would have lost my mind and probably caused a panic. Finally, those poor people have been released and sent home to countries that really didn’t want them. Hopefully, they are recovering if they got the virus or are back to normal lives very soon. 

What can we do as this is progressing throughout the world? They say to take precautions such as washing of hands, but surely, we have all been doing this. Wear a mask to travel or it could be come commonplace. They say some of the masks are really not that helpful to stopping germs. If traveling, be careful on planes or in any public area. Gloves would probably be a good idea. (Masks can be ordered or picked up at local stores – although some have seen sold out.)

I have always been careful when touching railings when going up and down steps. Any spot that others touch can be germy. When I used to work, I would spray the work area with a disinfectant regularly especially light switches, printer buttons, water fountain buttons, and anywhere we all touched. This was years ago when someone would have a cold or seem sick. I am not sure it helped but it made me feel a little safer. Others would joke that they could smell the spray and knew I was on patrol. 

Surely our leaders and those throughout the world will take the necessary steps to make sure this is stopped in its tracks. It is hard to believe that one little shop in China that sells animals for consumption started this world event. The bats that are believed to have been the culprits were shown on the news the other evening. Startling to see how this could have happened.

And it that isn’t alarming enough, we have one political party debating to the point of ad nauseum. How much can we take of this? It is time to stop this constant barrage of barbs and zingers that only hurt the party. Surely, this group will realize it is detrimental to those running for office and disgusting to those of us who will be voting. 

When did we start debating almost every week? Was this decided by someone who loves to torture the average citizen? Disrupting our TV watching and keeping us all upset one way or another didn’t use to be the norm (at least I don’t remember).

This would certainly be a novel way to stem the tide of crime--just play the debates hour after hour and see how fast they would beg for mercy with cries of please, no more debates!! 

I am not blaming one party or the other--several years ago the name calling was heightened as the present administration debated fiercely and frequently.

If the goal is to inform the electorate, it is not accomplishing it. Hopefully, we are smarter than they think and know what is needed and who can achieve it. Please give us a break! At least the field has narrowed, but it needs to be narrowed even more.

The good that came out last week was the conviction of a sex predator who has a long history of assaults. Of course, he said he was not guilty but the jury found otherwise. When will powerful men realize, they cannot continue the history of physical domination over women.

Another good thing that takes place this week is February is finally over! The shortest month always seems to be one of the longest. While we haven’t had a cold winter, it seems to be a long one with constant ups and downs! Spring weather pops up one day or two and then back to the cold. The flowers are popping up on the good days and freezing on the bad. I am sure they are as confused as the rest of us.

My advice to everyone--stay safe, wash hands, don’t touch public surfaces, wear gloves, turn off the debates, read about the candidates, react to any unwanted touches (I have been known to punch or elbow), and try to stay healthy!

If I have offended anyone, I apologize. My words come from frustration and exasperation of times that are beyond control.

Frustrated Fran      

Sunday, February 23, 2020

242 Teri Merrill on family quirks

Family quirks and crazy stories: Do other people do that?

By Teri S. Merrill 

“Madeline…come Madeline,” I called out the other day. I was trying to get the attention of my 8-pound Chihuahua. Was she ignoring me because her name isn’t Madeline? 
I was calling Dixie by my daughter’s name, for what may have been the 100th time since adopting her (the dog, not the daughter). And in that moment I had to wonder: do other people do that? 

That, dear reader, has been the common refrain in my family when we do something we think may be singular to us.

Do other people, for example, spend the better part of an hour at dinner trying to figure out the difference between a personality trait and a quirk? And then try to determine who in the family has the most quirks (turns out, I do). Do other people discuss which family member they would eat first on a deserted island? Or which scenario is preferable: facing a leopard on a hiking trail or in a boxing ring? Do other people spend time discussing similarly esoteric topics, with no conclusions but a lot of heated debate and laughter?
Do other people, on long car drives, entertain themselves by creating an ad to sell high-end purses to clients in the Middle East? No one in my family remembers why we started this offbeat line of discussion, but soon we had a company named “Dooney and Burqa.” 

Our target market would be the “Ladies of the Euphrates.” We would offer limited colors: camel, sand and camo. We entertained ourselves with this random idea, and laughed ourselves into fits, all the while wondering, as we sat in post-holiday traffic, if other families were doing the same.

So much about raising children includes storytelling, either real or imagined. Have other couples made up fantastical stories about their pre-parenting era? My husband and I created an impossible tale about our dating years, in which we both worked at a circus, he as the ringleader, and I as an acrobat who rode a magnificent horse—rider and equine both adorned with large, billowy plumes.

No matter that it was completely untrue, my kids loved the story. Naturally, we continued to embellish it over the years, with my athletic feats on the horse becoming more daring as the years passed. The only disappointment my kids had with the story as they grew older was that there would be no horse for a pet.

Does anyone else make up words and refrains to songs that they know are just plain wrong but make more sense than the original? Do other people dance in the kitchen to a mix of songs and artists, from Brad Paisley to Lake Street Dive to Alabama Shakes? 

Do other people play “Parcheesi” or “Clue” or “Jenga” with the laser focus of a gambler on a lucky streak in Las Vegas, because no one in the family wants to lose? Do other people use words like “beckon” and “perchance” and “shan’t” in casual conversation?

I’ve found that whenever my family stops and asks that question, it’s typically because we’re having a particularly happy moment when everyone is joining in the conversation or activity and feels safe to say what they think.

So when we ponder: Do other people do that, I know it’s because we have given each family member enough love, respect and space to be themselves. Every family is stronger when it’s made up of strong individuals.

Do other people do that? I sure hope so.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

241 This & That

This & That*

*Or topics I could not stretch out for an entire blog & I am sure you will be happy I didn't!

On Science Friday (one of my favorite NPR shows) a week ago, I heard about another "hidden figure." Alice Bath, an African-American chemist, discovered a treatment for leprosy in 1914 or 1915. She died soon after and others took credit for her research. It wasn't until the 1970s that she received recognition for her work. 

Just suppose someone put a baggie (that happened to be in the pocket of that someone's jeans) of hot tamale cinnamon candy in the wash. 

Who would guess that the candy pieces would come out of the dryer intact except completely devoid of their bright red color? And no red on any other clothes!


As I continue my research on Judge Parker, I find many obscure individuals whose names show up in documents I am transcribing. I am amazed at how many I can identify using the web. This line about the rental of the slave Webb was in Parker's account book:

Feb 8, 1847 

Snickerville—recs from Moore & Luke $65, hire of Webb for last year

No first names. Were these last names? I searched for the words snickerville, moore and luke in Google and found something!

Google Books has the text of History of the Lower Shenandoah Valley Counties of Frederick, Berkeley, Jefferson and Clarke, 1890 by Norris, available online. From this information, I was able to go to Ancestry and Find A Grave, to fully identify these two men. Remarkable!


I have stopped looking up each disease I may have or treatment I may need when Facebook prompts me to "click to see the symptoms, etc."
I clicked because I was curious about what disease ZTL (or whatever) is. Now I am overwhelmed with human and canine diseases and treatments:
chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Joubert Syndrome, MBC, for example. Or should I try lapiplasty bunion correction? What is robotic pancreas surgery? Is that freckle melanoma? Facebook has a much wider variety of diseases and treatments than television. No more clicking for me!

There you have it--chemistry, history, medicine AND HOT TAMALES!


Sunday, February 9, 2020

240 About Valentines

Time to Talk Valentines

Well, my friends, I guess it is time that all the Christmas decorations are neatly boxed and stored. The Ground Hog has done his thing. The time of love is upon us.

Dear husband and I will be celebrating with only cards this year as our new water heater has eaten up the “discretionary funds.” Hot water is good!! (The plumber was amazed that the old water heater had been working--it’s 30 years old. “Amazing,” he said.) 

But for you who have spouses, significant others, or friends and family you want to reach out to with a sweet note, Valentine’s Day is a very appropriate time to do so. And don’t forget dog treats. I am reminded of this as I have two mini Schnauzers lying across my feet as I type. 

My friend Google and I looked up some fun trivia about this special day for you. Here are our findings that I thought interesting or had forgotten. 
  • Over 36 million boxes of candy will be sold (
  • 54% of all Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day (abcNews)
  • $18.2 billion anticipated spending for 2020 (National Retail Federation;
  • Roses – estimated sales of 1,400,000 (

  • 190 million cards is the sales estimate for an approximate $1 billion – top sellers are for teachers and classmates (romantic love cards second) (
  • “Sexpectations” – according to a Florida Sun-Sentinel survey 90% of all men surveyed said that sex was the preferred gift for Valentines; 39% of the women agreed! [Wonder if there will be a follow-up survey?  😃]
  • Hallmark was not the first to produce Valentines. In 1849, a Massachusetts woman, Esther Howland, became known as the “Mother of the American Valentine.” Each card was a hand-made collage of paper, ribbon, paint, ink, and snippets from pictures in magazines. She grew her cottage industry with the help of friends into a $100,000 industry when she sold to stationery shop. (
  • Hallmark got into the Valentine card business in 1913! BUT the Hallmark cards estimate is an amount they will not disclose. (I tried, I really tried). Here is my response: "Hallmark is a privately held company so we don't release sales data," Kristi Ernsting, public relations spokeswoman for Hallmark. [Hmmpf!] (
  • Let’s talk those little Necco message hearts. Necco sold to Spangler Candy Company in 2018. There were no little hearts from them last year. Here is what is on the Spangler website today . So maybe, maybe not.
  • Brach’s Candy is in the stores.
I believe Google, Hallmark, Necco/Spangler companies and I have spent enough time together. Will look for a card idea for dear husband! 

Signing off as one of the Savvy 
 Broads wishing you a happy 
       February 14th!        

Sunday, February 2, 2020

239 Silent screams & terrifying surprises

Silent screams and terrifying surprises

I am not a skittish person but will let go with an extremely loud shriek if I am surprised--sometimes terrifying those nearby. But lately, it seems as if many things I have read, watched, or observed, have put me over the proverbial edge with silent screams (and sometimes not so silent)!

It is bad enough that we have been bombarded with impeachment news daily so our regular TV time has been interrupted. Of course, this news is important, but it can be frightening and terrifying too on another level, so this adds to my frustration. 

This time of year, we often take in movies to break up the monotony of the long winter days. This is where my dilemma begins. We watched The Irishman which we knew was about organized crime. I won’t go into the specifics, but there are shocking parts that will keep one wondering what in the world!! For those who want to know more about Jimmy Hoffa, this is the film for you.

Moving on to 1917 which we knew was a World War I movie. It was very well-done and took a great deal of work with all the battle scenes. By the end, I was hoping the soldier would hurry up and get to where he needed to go! Again, the horrors of it stay with you for many days.

One of my favorite TV shows, This Is Us, just had to join in my frustrations with a terrifying ending to one of its episodes. We record the shows, so we can watch them when we want. I was catching up with a recent episode when it ends with one of the main characters coming face to face with a dark, scary intruder wielding a knife. His family is upstairs so he luckily diffuses the situation and the home invader runs out. I am surprised I didn’t let go with a full, blown scream. 

 Of course, it was at the end of the show so it was not explained in that episode. Luckily, I had the next one recorded so I could watch. This gave me chills for days. Dealing with the situation continues through the next couple of episodes and continues this scary scenario. Hopefully, it will end soon.

In the midst of all of this, I am reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I could have stopped at any time, but I am stubborn about finishing once I start a book, I have to get through it even if I despise it. This book would have been upsetting reading it at any time, but with the other episodes I have explained above, it was even more disturbing with hangings, executions, etc. I kept hoping things would change and they did gradually. I am reading the next book that is set later when the world established in this book starts to fail. Can’t wait to finish it. 

But now, we should have learned our lesson, but no! We were trying to watch the movies nominated for Academy Awards. Thus, we watched Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood. Innocent enough sounding but not at all! We are taken back to the late 1960s and Sharon Tate shows up in the movie so guess what--Manson and his cult are part of it. I won’t spoil the movie for our readers, but it doesn’t end the way it actually did. There is some pretty scary stuff in the film as well as some pretty violent events.

Continuing on, I had seen Tyler Perry on a talk show, where he had discussed his new movie A Fall from Grace. I just had to see it. It does involve fraud and abuse but ends with a shocking revelation. That is one ending that startled me, and I let out one of my blood-curdling screams. It does resolve with appropriate action, but what a shocker.

I am not recommending staying away from any of these, but be warned. I knew what I was getting into in most cases but it just seems more severe. 

A couple of reprieves from these very real dramas--Little Women, a film adaptation of the novel by Louisa May Alcott, and the sixth season of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. No murders, frauds, or other atrocities, so relax and take them in when you can.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Screaming savvy Frances