Saturday, February 25, 2017

My Way

I've mentioned before I have a cousin that writes a column for her local paper.  It's always heartwarming and usually about what's going on in her and her family's life. I frequently post a note back to her.

Today she talked about her mom and how busy she always was, and how often times nobody knew where she was, but never worried about her. I got to thinking about that and realized I (for a long time) was much like her.  I would think nothing about hopping the local public transportation and going downtown to window shop, take in a movie or go into my favorite cheap jewelry stores and pick up a few bobbles, bangles and beads. I would encourage my friends to call me and give me 20 minutes to touch up my makeup and I'd be ready to go anywhere, anytime. They frequently did call and we would have some pretty grand adventures; over time we became a group known as the local La La Ladies and we had good times people...very good times.

Now, not so much...I always told my kids, go where you want to go, see what you want to see, do what you want to do and you will never look back on your life and have regrets.  I guess I must have taken my own advice because now I'm happy, content and love being a homebody, my front and back patios suit me just fine, thank you very much.  I've even started to tell folks I could easily become a recluse and I actually have to 'make myself' go places and do things.  And, seriously, I don't think that's a bad thing. I've realized I've gone where I've wanted to go, seen what I wanted to see and done what I have wanted to do. Are there still things on my Bucket List, yes, but do I really need to complete  Things are complicated now, sadly danger looms just about everywhere, travel isn't fun anymore.  Just thinking about going to an airport makes me want to hyperventilate.

So, as my adventuring life draws to a comfortable close I guess I have to say Frank Sinatra had the right idea when he sang....

"Regrets I've had a few
but then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
and saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
each careful step along the byway
and more, much more than this
I did it my way."

I'm happy to say I must have lived my life...."my way".  Thanks, Frank.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Oh, hum.

Talk about the doldrums, man, I've been in one heck of a slump.  I can't blame it on Frankie or even Muse, they've been great.  All I can say is "I'm at a loss for words."  They simply aren't coming, I tried to take some time off and contemplate this whole thing, but that didn't work either.  Then I simply decided "Phooey", and stop writing my blog altogether.  And for a while that worked, for a long while that worked.  

Then this evening as I was scrolling down my bookmarks list I happened to stop on Ramblings of an Old Woman and decide to see what was new.  To my surprise and delight I found some folks must be accidentally finding it and at least dropping by out of (perhaps) curiosity.  And, I also notice the one blog that seems to pique the most interest seems to be the blog I wrote about my favorite children's story called Pinky Marie.  Each time I see that someone has looked it up and perhaps actually read it I am even more puzzled.  It makes me wonder what people must think the blog is about.  Mostly I think they suspect is it an adult only web-site, if you get my drift.

Well, one thing hasn't changed I still go off on tangents. Anyway, I decided I would write a quick note to let all of you who stop by that I am still alive and kicking.  

Here are a few things I can report.  I went on a vacation to California with my daughter and two grand-daughters to visit family, and to do lots of sightseeing.  It was wonderful but exhausting; nine days on the road for a Rambling Old Woman, only proved that somebody pushing (mumble, mumble, mumble) is not an easy thing to do.

My sister passed away in November from perhaps the most rapid bout with cancer imaginable that threw us all into a time of....this can't be this has to be a bad the realization that cancer is perhaps the most insidious thing that can happen to a person. Especially for a woman as healthy my sister had always been.

Then, I got a horrible bug myself, on Christmas day (of all times to become ill)  And was down for the count for one whole week doing nothing but lie on the sofa and wish I'd just die.  But I didn't and it took another two weeks until I began to feel about 90% of my normal self.  I was talking with a friend today that I hadn't seen for a while and she apparently had the same thing and she commented she had not been that ill for at least twenty years.  I had to agree.  It was awful.

Then today, was a wonderful day.  The temperature was in the 50's, the sun was shining brightly (not filtered through clouds), my crocuses are blooming and I had the doors wide open for hours.  Perhaps my doldrums are about to pass.  I wish I could guarantee I will write more often...but Frankie and Muse (although they are delighted I'm typing) are taking bets this is just a fluke and marking the calendar with various dates I MIGHT write again.

Any....way, I hope you all are doing well, and thanks for keeping in touch.  You've all been good and faithful friends, I do think of you often.  Really, I truly do.  

Bye for now.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

I'm reminded.

I have a cousin who writes a column for her hometown newspaper.  I try to remember to read it every week, sometimes I even leave a comment. Her column this week had to do with the weather and summer's heat in particular. As her column was winding down she happened to mention how as kids they would try to put ice cubes down each other's backs.

Boy, did that bring back memories.  Yep, we used to do that too.  In summer after our dinner meal was over, dad would retire to his chair in the corner of the room and bury his nose in his newspaper while the rest of us would sit around the table and play a game we called "hid the salt shaker"-or whatever article a person chose to hide. The object of the game was we would have to guess which article was gone from the table.  Sometimes someone got really tricky and it took a while to actually find what was missing.  We spent hours playing this game; of course not all at one time because we eventually had to clear the table and do the dishes. 

However, during summer mom frequently prepared iced tea for dinner and our “Hide the Salt Shaker” game frequently ended when someone would pretend to take one last sip of their iced tea, slip an ice cube into their hand; nonchalantly rise, walk behind a person and drop the cube down their shirt then...dash...for the nearest exit.  Said victim then chased the perpetrator round and round the house in an attempt to put an ice cube down their shirt. Generally the 'perp' was never caught.  I remember once in my haste to catch my 'perp' I got my ring caught in the screen door handle which bent the ring and bruised my finger very badly.  Such was life.  

It was great how we could find fun things to do that didn't cost any money yet filled us with hours of entertainment.  We played cards and games on the porch and hide and seek in the yard.  At dusk we caught fire-flies in jars and waved sparklers around when it got dark. 

Oh, yes, like my cousin said in her article, we too sweltered in the heat at bedtime and prayed for a breeze or ever better an electrical storm that would drop the temperature a good ten degrees, but that's not really what I remember about summer.  There were afternoon's lying on a blanket in the back yard in a bathing suit slathered in baby oil, sprinkling ourselves with salt water (okay it wasn't the ocean) we could dream couldn't we? There was hanging laundry in the early morning and retrieving it warm, dry and smelling delicious in the late afternoon.  There was the smell of freshly mown grass, and the joy of watching grasshoppers leap out of the way of the mower.  And, last but not least there was the fun of being the perpetrator when it came to slipping an ice cube down a sibling's shirt.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Okay, I confess I'm addicted.  It's those dang adult coloring books.  I have a love/hate relationship with them

On the one hand I love them, they are relaxing, exhilarating, elating, inspiring, beautiful and perhaps the most creative coloring I have ever, ever done.

On the other hand I hate them, they are the most complicated, exasperating, annoying, intrinsic and frustrating coloring I have ever, ever done.

I tried using colored pencils, but found I could not stay within the itty, bitty lines and that told me I would never be able to use crayons either.  So I settled on fine tipped markers.  I love them.  However, when I first started using them I colored while the picture was still in the book, and immediately discovered the markers 'bled' through to the picture beneath.  Lesson learned?  Remove the picture from the book, oh, then I learned the ink also 'bled' onto my TV tray and I can't remove the markings.  Lesson learned?  Place cheap newspaper paper under the picture.

Oh, yeah, I'm getting the hang of this.

Here's something else I learned.  I must never, never color if I am in the least bit drowsy.  I've ruined many a picture by falling asleep, pen in hand, to awaken and find a long, crooked colorful line going across a perfectly beautiful work of art.

I've also learned I cannot color well once it gets dark and I have to turn on lights.  Oh, I do color but found I don't stay in the lines as well as when I work in natural light.  I do get exasperated.  Still, these coloring books present a challenge that (again) I both love and hate.  Frankie wants to know why I continue with this new hobby since she often finds me with my nose barely an inch from the picture.

I've no answer for her.

I know she wishes I'd quit mostly because I'm ignoring her a lot...Zorro doesn't much care for this time consuming hobby either.  I find myself telling him "Just a minute, I have to finish this one section, then we'll go out."  In the meantime he is prancing and dancing about eager to find out who's talking and walking by.  Or, perhaps his water bowl is empty and he paws it into my view to let me know...sadly, again I make him wait.

I suppose eventually I will tire of this new 'time consumer', I generally do...for a while it was word jumble, then cross-word puzzles, then sudoku, and for years I built miniatures for dioramas so I guess this too will pass.

In the meantime, I will continue getting ink stains on my hands, arms and TV trays till I move on to some new time consuming hobby. However, if you haven't tried these adult coloring books I can guarantee you will find them relaxing, exhilarating, elating, inspiring, beautiful, complicated, exasperating, annoying, intrinsic, and frustrating but you will discover you've created the most beautiful works of art you have ever done.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

At the moment....

...I'm a non-person.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to get a new state ID and went on line to see what sort of identification I would need to get the job done.  I should have taken care of this as soon as I moved but didn't. It just didn't seem that important.

So, after learning what was required I put together a file folder including A. A utility bill. B. A bank statement.  C. My voter's registration card. D. My old ID card. E. My social security card.  F. The only copy I've ever had of my birth certificate.  Boy, I thought I was ready for everything.

The DMV guy looks at all my papers and announces to my daughter that he is quite impressed with how prepared I was.  Then....he looked at my wrinkled, folded, torn, old...very old...birth certificate. He excuses himself and walks to a woman sitting in the back of the room and they discuss my certificate. As the two of them are walking back to where I'm standing I whisper to my daughter "Uh-oh, this can't be good."

It wasn't.

They told me my certificate was not good because it did not have 'the state seal', and there was no writing on the back indicating it was good for anything...actually it was good for nothing.  I was told I need to send for a certified certificate from my home state and then come back when I had it in hand.

Always one to obey the law, I sat about to obtain said certificate.

I went to my home state's official website, vital records department and there in the upper right hand corner there was a box that said if I wanted to get my certificate quickly I should 'click here' and before the dust could settle they would see to it I would get my certificate 'post-haste'.  Of course I wanted my certificate as quickly as the moment I'm a non-entity.  So, I filled out the application and sent off my credit card information and sat back to let them do their magic.

Here's the thing!

They informed me they needed my photo ID, and it had to have the same address as the one they were going to send my certificate. What???????  I informed them I had moved and I was trying to get an ID with my new address on it, but could not because I didn't have the required birth certificate.

Next they told me to send other documents to prove I live where I live.  I immediately scanned them into my computer and shipped them off along with a copy of their form saying I am who I am and I have not had someone else filling out this form. they go.

I get an e-mail telling me the documents were not legible.  Please send a photo ID.

For two weeks, I went around and around and around with these folks. I was ready to scream. Finally a light bulb came on and I decide to go on line and check these folks out. Oooooooh brother, do they have a bad, bad, bad reputation.  But, now my dander is up. I e-mail my home state's governor's office and tell them about this company.  Then I write the Vital Records department and tell them the same thing.  Finally I e-mail the company (who is still insisting they want a photo ID, and that the documents I'm sending are not legible) and tell them I don't believe them (because many, many, many other customers have been getting the same messages) and further I had written the governor and the vital records department of my home state telling them all about their 'shady' practices.  And, I just might visit a lawyer and start a class action suit against them.

Next morning I get the same form e-mail from them telling me I need to resend my documents.


Once I regain my composure I reply to their e-mail asking if they are even reading my e-mails, and tell them I am going to send them hard copies of my documents via USPS Certified Mail.  And, I did that immediately.  The people at my substation took care of this in a few minutes and gave me a receipt so I could track my envelop, which I did, every day, several times a day.  When I saw it reached their post office box I was daring them to tell me there was something wrong with the documents.

Lo and behold, the every next morning they tell me my documents had been forward to my home state's vital records department.  Gotta' tell ya', I didn't even e-mail them a 'thank you'.

In the meantime, I went back to my state's website and thought there has got to be a better way to get a certificate, so I scrolled down, down, down the page and there close to the bottom I was informed I could order five different offices throughout the state.  Yeah, Buddy!!!!!! So, I filled out the exact same form the outside vendor had required me to do (without the photo ID) and sent that package out Friday afternoon.  I got a tracking number and already know the package will be delivered first thing this morning.

What an ordeal this has been.  Here's the lesson I have for you.  If you go to your home state and up at the top of the page you see a box that says if you want your certificate quickly order on-line. DON'T DO IT. Keep looking til you see where you can either walk in or order by mail. It's a lot cheaper and certainly a lot quicker.

Anyway, with a little luck in four to six weeks I should receive six copies of certified certificates: one from the 'quick' vendor, and five from the state's vital records department.  When asked by a friend why I ordered so many I replied, "So when I die my kids can prove I actually lived." Oh, and when I return to the DMV to get my new ID you better believe I'm gonna' take all six copies.


It's been one heck of a month.

The complex where I live decided it needed to replace the four overhead decks of my unit because of decay...let's face it...old age.  The demolition and remodeling was supposed to start months ago but unknown delays put the whole project off until August.

The first day a rather burly guy drug a four foot by four foot hunk of particle board and screwed it into the outer side of my screen door's jams and announced it would not be removed until the project was completed.  Okay, I could live with that...I didn't like it much...very inconvenient, but went through two remodeling jobs on my 'used to be' home and was used to what remodeling involved.

The first part of the remodeling was removing the concrete floors of the decks.  That required a lot of jack-hammering, and WAS A VERY NOISY MORNING.

Next came (uh-oh) unexpected water damage under my patio wall siding. Well, nobody expected that! Gross! The wall behind the siding of my patio was black with dry-rot, and could be flaked away with a fingernail.  They removed the plywood, and the insulation, and found the two-by-fours below needed to be removed as well. They actually went down to my next door neighbor's drywall...and almost sawed through it.  That was an amazing day.

Then a few days later they started to remove the rotted wooden, pressure treated, beam on the outer side of the deck above, that hunk of lumber was huge...I don't know the size.  Anyhoo, I'm sitting at my desk working and this thundering piece of rotted wood came crashing down. Fortunately the guy working below had just seconds before walked out of harm's way.  I went to my screen door I can't open and announced "Well that was pretty scary."  The construction workers agreed. Had that lumber hit anyone it would have been ug-ly.

The remodeling moved down the building.  When they finally got back to my end, we were in the midst of a heat wave, temperatures in the high nineties. They spread clear plastic over the ground and all the plants...including my wonderful vegetables.  The plastic cooked them, and the workers stomped them to death.  Poor, poor plants.

Rumors started to spread...when was the work going to be done? Was the work going to be done? How long were we not going to be able use our doors?

Little by little things got done, after the workers left each day I would go out, sneak under the yellow caution tape and water what remained of my plants, hoping by morning any evidence of my indiscretion would have evaporated away.

Then, Friday I came home from a luncheon engagement and found the particle board blocking my screen door was gone and a letter from management was attached to my door knob.  The letter announced that "the completion of deck replacements and some siding repair" was "almost finished." I was a happy camper.

However, and, coming back to rumors.  We began to speculate when the job would actually be finished.  You see, painting still needs to be done with regard to that dang siding that needed repair. Word went around that the contractors that rebuilt the decks, will not be the contractors who will be doing the painting.  Hmmmmmmm!  So, although I now have access to my screen door and patio, I don't think I can actually use the patio until the 'the repair is finished up' or until the painting is done. Hmmmmmmm!

So, here's what I've done. I re-attached Zorro's 50' leash to my new support corner post, so he can lie in the sun, and put one of my patio chairs out there so I can keep watch over him while he snoozes and stays out of trouble.  It's not perfect...but it will do for the time being.

Also, there are a few things I've learned out of all of this, One...plastic will cook and/or burn plants. Two...a fallen cross beam can and/or will kill somebody.  Three...plant your vegetables in movable containers not in the ground.  Four...every remodeling job will have unexpected problems...a person either learns to live with them and/or....well...a person learns to live with them.  I know. I know walkin' through life...stuff happens....and generally speaking it's one grand adventure.

I'll keep you posted what happens next.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In search of the perfect peach

At our last happy hour it seemed no matter what the topic of conversation, the talk always came back to food.  Our favorites of course; which we subdivided into all the courses especially of an evening meal.

As the event wound down the topic of conversation came around to trees, which came around to fruit, which came around to food, and we mentioned which fruit was our personal favorite.  The peach came up a few times.

At this point I happened to mention I once wrote a “How-to” article about finding the perfect peach and said I should probably write about that for my blog sometime.

Today I had a little free time and I looked for and (believe it or not) actually found the article.  I wrote this as part of a course I took with The Institute of Children’s Literature. Hence, my ‘how to’ find the perfect peach.

                          In Search of the Perfect Peach

One’s quest for a perfect peach should start with a walk some afternoon in late August, with four o’clock being the peak time for you search to conclude.  While strolling by a nearby orchard, you will find the trees revealing an abundance of fruit, waiting for harvest.

Under ideal conditions your peach will be warmed by the summer sun.  Don’t hurry!  Spend a little time walking around the trees. Look for a peach that’s full and round, one that’s about 11 to 13 inches in circumference.

In color, it should be a delicate mingle of orange and pink, with a dark, warm, brownish-red bottom and a lighter yellow-orange top where the cheeks are attached to the branch on a squat brownish-black stem.

A ripe peach will not have to be pulled from the tree; it will fall from the branch as you cup your hands under it.  Care must be taken not to squash the fruit as its flesh will be slightly soft to the touch.

Do not wash the fruit!  Chances are the latest summer rain showered your peach with the “just Right” amount of moisture to make it acceptable for eating plucked directly from the tree.

Gently rub the fruit between your hands, just to feel its warmth and to enjoy the softness of the furry blanket nature has provided for it while it grew.

Now, hold the peach to your nose and inhale deeply. Savor the delicate aroma which will be sweet and flower like, yet pleasantly fruity.

Your peach can be eaten skin and all.  Although, there are some who find the skin uninviting due to the fact is covered with a soft, delicate fuzz; others, (myself included) find that too an enjoyable part of a perfect peach.  The skin adds to the uniqueness of the fruit and should be devoured.

A ripe peach will taste sweet, yet tangy.  The meat is soft and easy to chew, with nectar in every bite.  Like good wine, it pleases the palate.  The savory yellow juice will seep through your fingers and begin to run down your hand.  If the peach is plump enough you will have the pleasure of having the luscious syrup run all the way to your elbow.

As you devour your peach you will find as you near the center, the pulp has become a rich, robust red and the flavor turns slightly tart.  At the very center, the pulp is firmly clasped to the stone.  It clings as a result of the stone having deep, natural ridges.

With a little effort, the pulp can be removed from the stone.  The stone, or pit as it is sometimes called, will be on average an inch in length and shaped oblong.  It resembles a miniature football, being a rich, dark brown in color; however, with its unique ridges it also appears brain-like.

After allowing the stone to dry for a few days, the perfect peach will reveal one final, pleasant surprise.  This surprise requires slightly more effort than removing the pulp and you might sustain a few scraped knuckles; but you’ll find the fun outweighs the effort.

There is no greater pleasure than revealing this surprise to a group of children gathered round on a warm, sunny sidewalk.  While holding the stone firmly on its edge and scraping end to end on the concrete the stone will gradually wear away.  Eventually you will hit a chamber in the stone, inside is a semi-hard, off white seed. Pry the seed from the chamber.  Although the seed appears nut-like in texture it is not recommended to be eaten.  It is bitter to the taste, could make you ill, and should be discarded.

For it is the stone itself that contains the surprise; once the seed is removed you will discover you have created a miniature, sturdy, water-tight canoe; which will dance and bob about when placed in a bowl of water.  Children will marvel at your creativity and someday themselves perpetuate this ritual for another group of fascinated children.

Finally your quest is complete; you’ve unraveled the mysteries of and found there is little waste to one of nature’s miracles.  But even more, you’ve had the rare opportunity to discover the perfect peach.