Sunday, August 28, 2016

Whew!

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.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Ya wanna' know...

...the best job I ever had?

It's being a grandparent.  Easy-peasy.

Not just because I get to spend fun time with my grandkids and the old joke...'When I'm done I can send them home'.  But because they are each unique, interesting, funny, quick, easy and....well I could probably go on for quite some time.

Let's see how many grandchildren do I have?  Two plus three, plus three, plus seven I think that adds up to fifteen.  What made this relatively easy is we are a blended family and children add up very quickly.  As for great grandchildren (yes, they are arriving) I've some of them, too. So far there are three plus three plus one.  Please don't ask me to tell you how old they are and when their birthdays are...I don't remember ages, and as for birth-dates I rely on facebook and my date calendar to remind me of those.

Shoot I'm lucky to remember all their names.

I've been on field trips, shopping trips, vacations, sleep-overs and eating out excursions.  I've bought school supplies, DVD's, clothes, presents and food, lots, and lots, and lots of foooooood.  I've been to museums, malls and craft supply stores.  There have been picnics, parties and times we've just hung out.

We play games, rent movies and sometimes we're just plain silly.  Of late we play miniature golf on my patio and hide and seek with my Oregon Duck and Beaver.  One granddaughter helps me clean house; and a grandson who helps out with my 'land' and plants. I tell ya' there is no end in sight.

Before I moved to my new place, when the seven grandkids showed up we took turns on where and what we would have for lunch.  The two favorites were a taco place and a pizza place.  Now, with a lot of the young-ins' grown eating out does not cost as much as it used to. Still there are a few burger places close by and there is also pizza that magically shows up at my door from time to time.  Mostly though, now we like the sit down, waiter /waitress places to eat.

I think what I like the most about being a grand parent is that all these kids keep me young, laughing and full of fun.  I love surprising them by saying something colorful or slightly naughty just to keep them on their toes and get that Grandmaaaaa response.  Oh, and they teach me stuff, lots of stuff. I'm learning about their professions, their families, their educations, their plans and dreams for the future. They have principles, know politics, can discuss current events and have concerns about the future not just the United States but the World. They are wonderful, each and every one.

But, and here's the best part, when at the end of the day I get tired...well, heavens to Betsy...look at that...the clock says it's time for a certain somebody, or somebodies to go home.  HERE COMES MOM. I don't have to bathe anybody...well, except for me, get anybody ready for bed...well, except for me or have to think about getting up in the morning and getting somebody ready for school.  I'm telling ya, if you're not a grandparent yet when that time comes, you're gonna' love it.

It's the best job I ever had.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This is July?

Last summer July came in sweltering.  I was still in my old place and had fans going 'around the clock'.  I had wet hand towels on my forehead and stomach every time I sat or lie down; and wore as few pieces of clothing as possible so I would not get arrested when I walked outside.  That's the thing about heat, once you are naked, you're naked. However, in the cold you can bundle up and bundle up until all you can do is roll yourself around the house like one of those big exercise balls.

This July (so far) is just the opposite.  There have been morning clouds and a chill in the air.  I even considered putting on my 'thermals' this morning.  Now, ain't that just redickullous?  I confess I like this July better.  The older I get the less I like the extremes in temperatures and I tend to envy everyone who has winter and summer homes.  If I could have my druthers I would travel to somewhere 'tropical' every six or so months.  I envision seeing myself wintering in places like Hawaii, Australia or perhaps some exotic Pacific Island where I can munch local fruit and eat lots of fish.  Then in the summer I would return to home base and grow my own vegetables, sip Jim Beam on my patio and watch the world go by.

Yep, my muu-muus would really get a work out.  And, speaking of them I wore one to Happy Hour last Friday, unfortunately, I discovered I'm going to have to wear a slip under them because, the fabric 'stuck' to the back of my legs every time I stood up...which was a bit embarrassing.  It sure was comfortable though and that made up for those 'uncomfortable' moments, guess it's true sometimes you have to make adjustments when trying something new.  Shoot, I wear dresses and skirts so infrequently I'm lucky I discovered I still own a slip.  I actually found two, one white and one black. Hmmm, I wonder how old they are?

But, I digress.

This morning when I first awoke the sky was blue and sunny; I decided to do my morning devotions and Bible study on the patio.  As I sat, the sun disappeared and clouds rolled in, lots and lots of clouds.  The temperature dropped. Dang it!  It got so chilly I had to go back into the house.  What the heck is going on?  Stupid weather. Or, maybe it's me.  I keep expecting summer to be summer, winter to be winter and all the other parts of the year to be what they are also supposed to be.  Instead it seems each year gets more and more peculiar.  I suspect it all has something to do with Global Warming.  There, I actually said those dreaded words.  And, yes I do believe in Global Warming. Have you recently checked the rate at which the ice is melting at both poles?  Poor polar bears, poor, poor polar bears....and penguins, too.  If I get discombobulated with the weather fluctuations, imagine how the animals must feel.  Geeze.

Now, here's the thing.  When I first sat down to write it was my intention to be flowery and poetic about July, but it appears my fingers have run a-muck and have gone in the whole other direction. And, that is how it goes when an Old Woman Rambles. Let me try again.

July is gentle breezes, butterfly wings, bbq dinners, long twilight evenings July is........
......
......
I've not a clue.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Class Reunions

I have a cousin who writes a weekly column for her local paper.  This week she wrote about a friend who came back into town with her husband to attend his class reunion.  She, (the out of town-er) and my cousin got of group of their classmates together and went to lunch. While chatting they decided since their classmates were...were... 'passing-on' perhaps they should have an unscheduled reunion of their own. I guess whether they will or not was left up in the air.

My cousin mentioned in her article that their high school was no longer in existence so really "all they have left" is indeed their memories, (and hopefully their yearbooks, although today I think they are called annuals).

Anyhoooo, that got me to thinking that my old high school is also no longer a school.  I've forgotten what occupies the space today; I think it is some kind of office complex.  Here's what I do know. When the remodeling took place somebody from one of the graduating classes managed to get their hands on one of the teacher's classroom door and drug it home.  From what I understand she hung on to it until the year of her class reunion and then (of all things) she took the door along. Everyone was told to put their name on a slip of paper, there would be a door prize. As the evening progressed there was quite a bit of conversation about the door and the teacher to whom the door belonged and at the end of the evening there was a random drawing for the door prize and the prize was (of course)..the door. The winner became known as the  'keeper of the door' until the next reunion.

The number on the door is 210, and it's heavy oak.  It belonged to teacher Miss Sue Green, she was invited to the reunion to attend the 'keeper or the door' presentation.  According to the newspaper article, "Green expressed surprise to learn that the door from her class room was preserved."  The article goes on to say..."We told her that it was because all her students liked her so much and respected the things she did for us."  Apparently Miss Green "... gazed at us, and gave us a look that we'd seen many times. That look said...'oh, sure you did'."

However. Miss Green was indeed a teacher over and above other teachers.  She spoke softly but with great authority and she had the respect of each and every student.  She would stand outside her 150 pound oak door between every change of class, and never shut it until every student was no longer in the hall and where he/she was supposed to be when a new class began.  There was never misbehavior with Miss Green looking on.  My sister was the first in my family to have her as a teacher, I followed the next year, the first thing she asked was if I was Nancy's sister.  Uh-oh I thought, I've got some mighty big shoes to fill. Eventually the rest of my siblings attended one of her World Cultures Classes as well.  She taught for almost 50 years, had I not left my hometown my children probably would have attended her class as well.

Funny how life is, after I graduated I sent her a card and note every Christmas, and she responded in kind every year until I learned from a classmate she had passed away.  I'm sure she had a lot of students who did the same.  As the newspaper article ends, David Lester who had 'won the door' stated he was honored to keep the door because it represented more than just a door prize.  "It's amazing that it takes a person so long to appreciate what a teacher like Miss Green has done for her students.  I just wish we could have realized that fact when we were going to school."

If I had won that door, I'm not sure I would have given it up...I just hope the class that has the door is continuing the tradition and does so for as long as possible; but eventually I hope it is returned to the new high school with the door prize story attached and it is preserved for generations to come.  I think it would be a great honor for the school to be the final 'keeper of the door'.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Father's Day

Yesterday my Facebook age was loaded with all kinds of well wishes for all kinds of fathers, new ones, middle-aged ones and grandfather ones. They were all lovely and heart felt, I felt good for all those dads.

Later in the day one of my sisters called with an observation about our dad.  And, she asked a very profound question...what would I write about dad on Facebook? That got us to talking about dad and what we could remember about him.  Honestly, at first it didn't seem like much.

However, after we got talking turns out he was a great man, husband, father and provider.  He never lifted so much at a finger to us, never raised his voice or even come close to yelling at us and was ever present.  We recalled how he would sit after dinner in the dining-nook nose buried in the evening paper, Saturday Evening Post or the Reader's Digest.  He never joined in our 'after dinner chats' but we knew, HE KNEW exactly what we were talking about.

He was a great provider, even though his salary for the time was substantial, we were barely keeping up with 'the middle class'.  We had no credit cards...everything was paid by cash.  We kids would occasionally walk our house payment out to the private party that held our 'loan'.  We never even had so much as a checking account.  We didn't have a car until (if memory serves) I was in high school.  It was a big maroon Buick if I recall.

I'm not even sure dad took all the vacations that were allotted him, and he never....I mean never...took a sick day....EVER.  Although, I do remember we did drive all the way out to Indiana to visit his sister, my Aunt Cora one year.  Mostly he worked, and continued to build onto our house.  Did I mention he built it from the ground up?

However, as most dads were from my generation, they were mostly figure heads, we weren't pals, we didn't hang out, and we didn't talk.  He didn't teach us to ride a bicycle or throw a ball.  But he built us one heck of a swing and allowed us to take a stick and put our initials in the concrete holding the posts in place.  He planted a garden every year so we had fresh vegetable all summer, and the rows of corn were great to hide in when we spent hours playing hide and seek til dusk.

My sister and I got quite melancholy talking about dad, and we both wish he had been more hands-on with us...although we both know that was not his fault.  Times have changed for the better of course, dads today change diapers, do laundry, wash dishes, coach sports teams, bring home pizza for dinner and much, much more.  I applaud and praise them.

However, now that I'm thinking about it, dad was really a fantastic guy.  He never cheated on my mom, never swore, seldom drank and worked hard...right up to the time he got Carcinoma of the Lungs.  Even to the end, he hung in.  My older sister and I were living in California at the time, and we made the journey cross country to be with family.  I remember when we finally arrived my sister and I went to the hospital to see him.  It was bad, he was in an oxygen tent and very weak, but he knew and recognized us.  We didn't stay long; he was in no condition for visitors.

We went to mom's and had dinner and were making plans to go back to the hospital when the phone rang.  It was the hospital saying dad had passed.  See what a good dad he was...he hung on until he knew we were all together...I think that's the best proof my dad was the greatest.

Happy belated Father's day.  Herbert Paul  1905-1962.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Writing exercise-unlikeable character

I went to visit Melissa yesterday; I took a present for the baby.  It had been a while since I'd seen her what with her having the baby and all. Oh, I had sooo much to tell her. But she pushed me out of the house before I had a chance to give the gift to her.

God, she angry.

She said I was egocentric.  Can you believe that?  She said without a doubt I'm the most self-centered person she had ever met.  Is it my fault I've always got sooo much going on in my life?  I thought she'd be thrilled when I told her about my new fitness and weight-loss program and mentioned she could afford to take off a few pounds herself since she had the baby.  We could share my membership and could get into shape together.

That's when she hit the ceiling, and started to cry.

I told her not to feel bad, most women have a weight problem after having a baby and that her weight gain was tiny, weenie compared to some women; she could get her figure back in 'no time'.  Now, wouldn't you think she'd been happy when I told her that?

She just kept sobbing, so I changed the subject and said I was thinking about moving downtown and had been looking into the recently constructed high rise called "The Elite on Front Street".  It would be perfect and within walking distance of my fantastic new job.  I was explaining the floor lay out, and telling about the security measures the complex had and how reasonable the rent was...when, POW, she hit me...actually slugged me right in the stomach.  She knocked the wind right out of me.

I asked her why she did that.

All she said was she didn't want to be friends anymore, that I was an
egotistical (insert expletives); which surprised me because Melissa never swears.  As she continued to push me toward the door I asked what the heck was wrong with her.

She just shook her head and said I would never understand.  Melissa said it was never about what I said, but rather what I didn't say.  Then she went on and on about how a real friend would have seen right away how upset she was, and would have asked what was wrong...but that the minute I walked in I started blabbering about me, me, me and never thinking to ask how she was, or what was new in her life or that she might have something important to say.

I laughed and told her that was because she never did have anything important to say, but there was ALWAYS something new going on in my life, and, frankly she was just an old 'stick in the mud' wife and mother.

Melissa turned ashen and looked as though she was going to slug me again, so I backed all the way to the door.  That's when she asked me to leave...she actually opened the door and pushed me out; mumbling something under her breath then loudly, slammed the door shut. I couldn't believe it she left me standing there on the porch with the baby present still in my hand.

I found out this morning through a mutual friend that Melissa's baby had died a week ago Tuesday.

Seriously, I can't believe she didn't tell me when I took the baby present over to her yesterday.