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

Coloring

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 possible...at 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.

Zip...off 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.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

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 certificates...by mail...at 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.


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.