Sunday, September 30, 2012

Market research

Laura came home a couple of weeks ago with a cookie drive form.  Elementary school children go door to door selling cookies to benefit, I think I recall, the Parent Teacher Organization.  I told her selling door to door in our neighborhood is difficult; there are eight or ten houses on our mile long road, and the lanes to some are half a mile or more.  Did she want to do this?  No, she did not.  I found the form that let me make a “voluntary” donation in lieu of Laura selling cookies, and both of us were pleased.

Emily came home this week with a fruit drive form.  The high school band, this time, is selling fruit and cheesecake.  Go figure.  I took the envelope from her and started sorting for the parent in lieu of donation form, the while delivering my Do You Want to do This? spiel.  I looked up midway into a completely crestfallen face. 

“But Grandma, I want to do this.  I’ve never done it.” 
“Where would you go?”
“To the new housing development.  No one in the band lives there!”

Actually, I was impressed.  We arranged to go yesterday afternoon, and I suggested she take her skippy little sister with her.  Two little upturned faces being more engaging than one.

We live on the last road in the township, going south.  Next down the road, until eight years ago, a magnificent camp ground.  Ninety six acres of heavily wooded, family owned camp ground, Tamsin Park, bordered the township edges.  The voracious city down the road has already annexed the township that formerly bordered ours, and then took a chomp of us by annexing the campground.   I studiously avoid mentioning the local politics I am part of, so I will only say that my township square, formed by the Northwest Ordinance in 1789, now has a square bite chomped from the southeast corner.  The part the city could use.

The girls and I set out yesterday to take orders for fruit and cheesecake.  Emily and Laura did all the work; grandma just trailed in the car. The housing development is huge!  Some houses still being built, but I’ll guess over three hundred homes.  And one exit road.  But, then, I’m not the city planner.  It reminded me of the home in Mentor where my daughters grew up.  Except we had quarter acre lots and hundred foot frontage, not the sixty or so these appear to be.  We had a multitude of exit routes, too. One whole area is of this development is condominiums, and the whole affair seems set up for minimal yard work
The weather was perfect.  The girls canvassed upwards of two hundred homes.  They made four sales and took one donation in three hours of walking and knocking.  The elementary school children canvassed last week selling cookies!




Skippy little sister

Lovely houses



Condos on wide angle and still only four fit in the shot

One of two lakes in the old campground

What remains of the woods

The Old Indian Mill

A landmark from my youth, built as the campground store.  The wheel was set going on occasion, but milled nothing while causing wide eyed wonder in children.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The last house in Anna

Laura pushes one cat or another down the sofa each night and opens her homework.  Last night Uncle Tom, passing by, stopped and swiveled her book around.  “Anna, Ohio!  I grew up there.  I grew up right here!”  He pointed to the corner of a picture of an aerial photo of the Honda plant outside Anna.

He did grow up there, the last house in town and right next door to a huge farm.  The farm continued after the children left, right up to the deaths of both parents.  The son wanted to keep on farming, the daughter wanted her inheritance in cold hard cash and voila, the farm became a housing development and a Honda plant.

We visited Anna for a reunion of Tom’s family some thirty years ago.  It was fall and haying time and I wandered next door to help out at the farm.  I climbed on a flat bed of bales of hay.  One fellow handed a bale off to Tom, who handed the bale off to me to put on the conveyor belt up to the hay mow. Two childhood friends on the flat bed and another in the haymow, unloading bales from the conveyor belt and stacking them.

You know what happened.  The two fellows handing off to me speeded up so gradually I didn’t notice until I didn’t have time to wipe the sweat from my face.  I thought they wanted to see if the girl would cry “Uncle,” and of course I wouldn’t.  But they did get what they were waiting for—their friend stuck his head out the window up there to say slow down you fools, but saw he was being paced by a girl!  Oh, the indignity of it.  I let it go a couple more minutes, then did cry “Uncle” so the poor fellow unloading and stacking wouldn’t have heat stroke.

And now it’s a Honda plant.

I cannot fault the sister who was not seeking an investment or pity the brother who could not obtain financing for his farm.  It is what it is.  That Honda plant was built in 1982, and now in thirty years is in a fifth grade social studies book as an example of transportation in America.

The plant provided decent jobs for the community.  It gave young people a reason to put down roots and stay where they grew up.  Although Tom wound up in the opposite corner of the state, the plant and associated employment in the community kept his younger brothers close to home and to their dad.  Tom’s brother-in-law, a retired federal prison system official, even settled down for a few years and as city manager helped Anna manage its new found prosperity.

Tom’s childhood home, the last house in Anna, was as run down as Tom’s dad a dozen or so years ago.  Dad knew it was time to find more suitable living quarters, and he went to live with his daughter and the city manager of Anna.  Dad knew a young couple in town, just starting out, who often stopped by to talk to the old man and say, “If you ever think of selling this house, we hope you will think of us.”   Dad did, and the lovely old Craftsman home has been restored for another family. 

There is a beautiful picture of the front of that restored house, the couple and their three stair step children tucked away in our house.  If Tom finds it, I’ll change out that Craftsman for this.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Getting ahead

I’ve worked for others, I’ve worked for myself; half my career in the corporate world and half a company run by my sister and myself.  In retrospect, I did it in the right order.  I've been  employed every year from the time I turned seventeen. For years I bounced around corporate office jobs, acquiring that essential set of office skills. 

Then I was divorced and needed to support a family. I opened the classifieds and studied them to find a profession I could master that would provide the income.  Engineering was very tempting, but time was of the essence.  I had no credentials in any field except American Literature, which would not pay three months arrears my husband left on the mortgage.

Accounting it would be.  I bought an entry accounting text, read it, tested out of taking the classes.  I enrolled in a local college to take the other classes I needed for a BS degree in accounting.  And, I began applying for accounting positions.  Forty years later, I can hardly believe the chutzpah.  Most interviews ended on the first meeting, but one small company was willing to take the chance and hired me.  As the controller! We grew together.

Saturday mornings often saw various offices occupied by staff catching up.  My girls were too young to leave home alone at nine and eleven, so I brought them along.  There was one office filing job my staff routinely put off, the dreaded “file of last resort;” the numerical file of all invoices typed.  Wouldn’t you just know, it was the file “the bosses” went straight for when a customer called!  Perfect for two little girls to sit on a floor, sort by number, punch holes and put in a binder.  I paid them a quarter an hour.

This quiet and efficient arrangement went along fine for at least a year.  But one Saturday morning I looked up to find my boss in my door, a little girl on each hand.

“I understand you pay these workers twenty five cents an hour!”

I admitted I did, and hastened to add I paid them myself.

“I want you to pay them a dollar an hour.  Effective immediately.  Out of petty cash.”

I still smile when I think of them slipping off to the Vice-President’s office to ask for a raise.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Humoring Grandma

Friday was the Homecoming Game.  The Blue and White won, the game was over about 9:30.  I parked in the agreed upon pick up area, under a light so Laura could read her book.  The game may end, but the band keeps working.  The band plays both teams off the field, then marches off themselves.  Through the windows we could see them marching through the lit up gymnasium, drummers still drumming.  It was close to eleven before my little flutist came out, band uniform in the garment bag over her shoulder, hat box in the other hand, her little sister asleep in the back seat. 

Band duty is back to Tom this week; Laura can sleep in his truck after the game she has rooted to a conclusion with Uncle Tom and while they wait for Emily to appear with her garment bag and hat box.  I had Laura demonstrate her whistle technique.  We should have taken the demonstration outdoors.  I dare any team not to make a touchdown with that little girl yelling and whistling them on.

If Friday was the Homecoming Game, for sure Saturday would be the Homecoming Dance.  Emily and Aunt Janice found a pretty little dress for the dance and dancing shoes.  But Jan was at Quilting with Machines last week and Gramma’s expertise does not extend to cool dance hair.

Who to the rescue but Aunt Beth.  Beth and Bill came down on Saturday to facilitate a little cousin time and to rescue us from a week of restaurants.  Uncle Bill took Francis, Caroline and Laura off for some rock wall climbing; Beth stayed to visit with her old Mutz and participate in dressing up a little girl for a dance. 

What about the hair?  We went looking for some greenery, which is mighty sparse at the rainy end of September.  Beth snipped off a pampas grass frond from in front of the house, but nothing else appeared until we found Queen Ann’s lace and some chicory behind the barn.  They joined the little bouquet and we trouped into the kitchen to see what Beth could do.  “Don’t you remember, Ma, I’m the queen of French braids. I braided Patty’s hair every morning before classes?”

From the fabric scrap drawer.

I have an eye on you!

Greenery from the yard.

One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, please can we go?

First, the hair!

Three young women off to dance until the coach and four returns at ten.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I was impressed

I spent much of yesterday with Laura at the hospital.  Three years ago she had her tonsils and adenoids removed and a tube placed in each ear.  The well child check up I subjected Laura and Emily to this summer got Laura a bad ear tube report and a trip to the ENT.  Under the microscope one tube was slipped right out, but the other—impacted and infected.

Two weeks and a course of antibiotic/steroid later, the tube was still too painful to address.  Laura had to be under anesthetic for the tube to be removed and we were scheduled for yesterday. The topic came up over the past two weeks, and Laura said she was not worried, except she wished she could be put to sleep without the mask.

It seemed totally reasonable to me that an IV anesthetic could be used for a ten year old and I told her we would see about it at the hospital. Emily went off on the school bus yesterday; I ate breakfast and took care of the cats.  Laura slept in, a reasonable solution to nothing to eat or drink.  Then we went to the hospital.  This was not her grandma’s Children’s Hospital.

There were directions or people with directions at every corner.  We rode up a glass elevator and through the glass walls and floor watched a sculpture with hundreds of moving parts .  At our floor a person at the desk checked us in, and we were taken away by a floor aide who turned us over to our nurse.

The duty nurse checked Laura in, and explained another nurse, the anesthetist, the doctor, the operating room nurse and the child advocate would visit. Each would explain his role.  Laura need only change her clothes to hospital pajamas and open her curtain, and it would all begin.  I nudged her and whispered to ask about the mask.

“I don’t like the mask,” Laura said.  “Could I have something else?”  She and the nurse had a discussion about IV’s, and the nurse told her to by all means, talk to the anesthetist.  More people on the list came and went, then the anesthetist.  A nice fellow, with a rather strong presentation.  He was deep into grape, strawberry or raspberry chap stick before Laura gathered courage to interject “Actually, I don’t like the mask,” and explained her IV wish. 

The anesthetist turned his attention to me and said an IV was a possibility but the mask was his first preference.  I told him it was not Laura’s.  He would see if it would work out.  He left.  There were tears in Laura’s eyes, but not on her cheeks.  She’s a resilient little girl.  And, the next person in the room was the child advocate.  Serendipity.

I explained the anesthetist was strongly in favor of the mask; Laura wanted a go at an IV.  Laura and her advocate had quite the chat about the ickiness of the inside of the mask, plus you must breathe at least five times before falling asleep.  Laura was very concerned the anesthetist would use the mask.  “Well,” said the advocate, “I’m going to suit up and go in there with you and tell him you do not want the mask!”

She left and the operating room nurse came to wheel the bed away.  She was a cheery nurse, chattering about the chap stick flavors, when our advocate came around the corner, dressed head to foot in a white suit.  Laura hopped down to give me a hug, hopped back up and went away with her operating room nurse and her advocate. 

I went back to the waiting room and read several chapters, until I was called to the recovery room.  There she was, eyes lids trying to flutter awake, but failing. There was a covering on an IV needle on the back of her hand! I sat down to read some more, and the advocate came in.  She leaned over the bed very near Laura’s ear and said “How did you like the IV?”  The eye lids fluttered a bit more, but no sound.  I tapped the advocate’s shoulder and pointed.  Laura’s thumb was straight up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I hope you’re reading this, Jan

I was putting the wrap on last night when the sound of Toby attacking the coat tree to have Tom’s hat for his own came from the living room.  Turning on lights as I went, instead I found Ryon’s great behind sticking out of the waving stand of walking sticks crashing and clattering over his head.

“Get out of there!”  He backed out immediately, pursuing a very small mouse that moved along the wall’s edge like a wind-up toy, no visible legs.  I cursed quietly, not to wake up sleeping girls, and headed for the kitchen for a towel to drop over the little fellow.  Taking mental cat inventory, Purrl was out all evening, so I didn’t have him to blame.  There would be only two cats and me after this mouse.

The nimble left this grandma long ago; I could not move furniture or myself fast enough, or elbow two cats out of the way soon enough to capture a very young mouse that already knew rule one of houses:  hug the wall.  Twenty minutes in I wished for Purrl, who knows exactly how to dispatch a varmint. These two house softies were all wound up with a magnificent toy.

In the end I left the mouse to his own devices and went to bed.  It was midnight.  At six I woke up and saw Emily in the hall.  Behaving the good grandmother I asked if she wanted me to drive her to the corner and wait for the school bus.  “I’m OK, Grandma.  It’s not raining.” God love that little girl; I went back sleep.

I got up at seven and found Laura eating breakfast.  She put down her spoon and told me her adventure.  Toby had a mouse on her bed at midnight!  She grabbed the mouse tail to get it away and Toby bit her and grabbed the mouse again.  She hit Toby on the head with her book, but he ran away with the mouse.  She shut her door and went back to bed.  But Ryon scratched the door until she let him in.  He didn’t want petted so she let him out and shut the door and went back to bed.

There was no sign of a wound on Laura’s finger, but Grandma sent her to wash her hands really well, again, and went to the door to let Purrl in.  When I turned around, I read Emily’s note on the blackboard.

Then Laura and I drove to the corner in the pouring rain to wait for the school bus.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Remembering Angus and the UPS man

Jan is away at Quilting with Machines this week, Tom went home to southwestern Ohio for his brother’s wedding, and took Euba with him; the girls and I are home alone.  Laura and Emily have a list of things to remember posted on the cupboard door.  Bring in the mail.  Lock the doors.  Emily eyed the list with suspicion last night.  No cooking.  Grandma has that covered; a nice family restaurant down the road.  They will be so pleased.

The UPS man brought a delivery today, and took a biscuit from his pocket for Euba.  She took it away without even saying Thank You.  He looked sadly at her and said he missed those other two.


It’s been a year since Angus left to join Fiona.  They always heard the UPS truck pull in.  Two little faces were in the window as he came up the sidewalk, up the ramp, and rang the doorbell.  As if he needed to do that.  The barking and the jumping for joy alerted the house. 

Two biscuits were in his shirt pocket.  One went first to Fiona, who went straight to her place and kept her biscuit between her feet until long after Angus finished his.  She tormented Angus exquisitely.    Angus’ biscuit was next.  The UPS man broke it in half and gave Angus one at a time cautioning “Chew it up, now.”  Of course Angus swallowed them whole.

When no one was home the package and two biscuits were left on the little table on the porch. Two Cairns met the rude persons who had not been there for the delivery and herded them to the front door, clamoring for the biscuits on the front porch.


One day the UPS man pulled out one biscuit and looked around.  “Where’s the little one?”  Jan explained Fiona had run the last great run of her bad heart the previous Saturday, and laid down and died. 

The poor fellow said “Oh.”  Blankly he handed Angus the biscuit in his hand.  Angus dispatched it in one swallow.  The UPS man turned and went back down the ramp, slowly patting the other biscuit in his pocket.  Jan watched him go, with no words to say.  Angus went down the ramp with him, bouncing on his Tigger springs.  You have another biscuit.  I could eat two!  The UPS man was still patting his pocket when he got back to his truck.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Soup that Dad made

When I was ten years old, sixty odd years ago,  the world was more calm than now.  We went to school, came home, went out to play.  Mom was always there when we went in the house; dads did not come home until supper time.

One day early in September I came home from fifth grade, ahead of my brother Walt in the third grade and Mel in kindergarten.  I always beat them home; they had too many rocks and sticks to handle, gutters to investigate.

My dad was home!  Not Mom.  Dad!  He said he was waiting for Grandma to come from Cleveland and sent me out to wait for my brothers.  Our Grandma worked too, in the baby department of the Higbee Department Store on Public Square in Cleveland. 

Grandma had not arrived when three kids gave over playing and trouped back into the house behaving like hungry children.  Our dad came into the kitchen and announced he would make supper for us.  This was such a novelty we stayed to watch.

Dad found a tall pot and filled it pretty full with water, put it on the stove, put on the lid, lighted the fire and waited for the pot to boil.  He took a package of ground beef from the refrigerator, broke it into chunks and put it in the pot.

He looked in the refrigerator for some vegetables to cut up into the pot.  All he found was a stalk of celery, so he cut most of that up and put it in.  While the meat and celery simmered he opened and closed cupboard doors until he found a package of macaroni.  He put that in, and stirred the pot occasionally.  Then he told us to set the table for soup, and we did.

That big pot of soup, with milk and bread, was the best soup we ever ate.  Then our grandma came and dad left.  Grandma cleaned the kitchen, then put us to bed.  The next morning we got up for school and Grandma told us we had a baby sister.

One night some time later one of the three of us who could talk asked for soup like Dad made for supper.  We had to explain the ingredients. “That’s just depression soup!” Mom sniffed.  We out clamored her, and there was Daddy Soup for supper.  Of Mom’s meals, Daddy Soup and Swiss steak with mashed potatoes were the meals we requested.

Daddy Soup persists, unchanged, past the Grandpa Soup generation.  It was Grandpa Soup, for years and still is; easier to say than Great-Grandpa Soup.  It has been experimented with, but returns to the original—ground beef, celery and pasta.  We had a big pot of Grandpa Soup on Jan’s birthday this week and told Laura and Emily why it is called Grandpa Soup.

Some of the Grandpa Soup generation, fall 1976. Michelle, Roy, John, Shelly, Beth and Dad.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lost time

I’m looking behind the cushions and out in the garden.  In the meantime, Linda took this in the rain last Thursday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Looking for ecosystems

Laura’s fifth grade class expects the living stuff to put in their terrarium/aquarium this week, to have an ecosystem.  Little Miss Can’t Wait to Learn wanted to see some other ecosystems they discussed, so we suggested she go out and turn over rocks and logs and watch the grubs and worms say “What the heck is going on up there?”

That was fun for one morning, and by lunch she needed to expand her horizon.  She absolutely needed to, Aunt Janice.  Laura, Emily, Aunt Jan and Grandma got in the car after lunch and went to a favorite park, Cascade MetroPark.  Probably named for the many cascades in the Cuyahoga River, which flows through the park and curves up to Lake Erie.

Laura, checking the horizon for ecosystems.  We saw two men in kayaks, coming up the river.  At a bend downstream one pulled in at the bank and the other attempted to kayak up a rapid.  The river was very strong and he was spun, dunked and sent back many times.  We realized the fellow against the bank was his spotter, for rescue if required.  We watched his attempts and I ventured the cascade in the middle of the river probably could be navigated, if he wasn’t too tired by now.  Emily explained to me the men weren’t interested in going farther unless the man attempting the rapid achieved his personal best and crested it.  She was correct; eventually they turned and went back downstream.  I need to get with this newthink.

We went on down the path; Jan wanted to show me the steps that go up to a meadow and then back to the parking area.  She and Mom and Poppy2 walked this trail for several years.  The steps were a WPA project in the thirties.  Jan thinks they were built to provide access from a proposed housing development in the valley to factories on the north side of Akron.  People walked part or all of the way to work then.  The housing development was never built, fortunately.  We have a park instead.

The girls were going up before we arrived.  That’s her ecosystem notebook under Laura’s arm.  My mother climbed these steps on a regular basis, when she was only a couple years younger than I.  Jan shouted to the girls to go up the next set of steps and come back through the meadow to the car.  We would go back the way we came. Grandma said, “Humpfh,” and started up.

My cane and I are pretty good at getting around, especially with a hand rail involved.  Then I got to the first landing and looked back down and then at the steps to the meadow.  No handrail.  Sort of like no parachute.  Jan and I went back down, the girls went around.

Back in the meadow we visited the Signal Oak, an almost two hundred year old burr oak. The tree clearly marks the portage trail between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers. These Native American's signal trees are so old; this one has guy wire supports in the branches.

Laura picked up some burr oak acorns, which are as large as they look.  The cap covers her fingers.

When we were on the next to the last road to home I pointed out a deer crossing the road.  She stayed and stared at us as long as we stared at her.

When we got home I presented Laura with my find; a fossil I pocketed on our walk.  A leaf from an ecosystem long, long ago.  I told her she had to put Grandma in her report footnotes.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Must be Math Facts

Bye, Gramma

Each one of them has a real desk with a real chair and a lamp to see by.  We even have a kitchen table.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A job I had in 1969

Although my Social Security record showed employment every year of my life from age seventeen, some months of my working life I was unemployed.  Good reasons like pregnancies and babies; other reasons like layoffs, or telling them “take your job and ……”.   

Turning the help wanted pags one day during a period of unemployment I found a temporary job whose description seemed innocuous.  Delivering soap samples.  Several times a week I drove to the warehouse district of Cleveland and loaded cases of 144 one pound boxes of Tide detergent into my Dodge Charger.  What ignominy for such a great car.  Boxes of plastic bags and accompanying literature went in the front seat. 

At home I unloaded the cases, unloaded the boxes, put each in a plastic bag, along with the coupons and flyers, and stacked them densely in the Charger.  Then I took my trusty red and yellow Commercial Survey map book, turned to the neighborhood assigned for the next day and figured out my route.

In the morning I would arrive at my neighborhood, and park my car ten houses down the street.   I loaded up with soap samples.  The bags had holes for hanging over a doorknob, and I could get maybe fifteen or twenty on my fingers.  I started at the house by my car, worked my way up to the cross street, crossed and went down. Back at the car, I loaded up and repeated the process.  Then I moved the car where it had to be and started again.

Whatever company was in charge of this advertising campaign kept us honest.  There were “checkers” who drove the neighborhoods, looking for yellow boxes on front doors.  My neighborhoods passed every time.  I was offered a promotion to supervisor; I turned it down flat.

There are neighborhoods in Commercial Survey Company maps that do not exist except in city planners’ dreams.  Not to be caught flatfooted when the development might actually be built, the Commercial Survey Company and city planners, in cahoots, put them right in those books with no disclaimer.  This neighborhood soap deliverer was mighty unhappy to be deceived so.

Dogs often accompanied me as I delivered soap through neighborhoods.  I could not understand the attraction until a lovely lab adopted me for a morning.  He often nudged me turning up a sidewalk, but I didn’t understand him until he would physically block me.   Then I realized we were on his newspaper route, and that house was not a customer.

At the end of the job my clothes no longer fit; I probably was twenty pounds lighter.  An engineer at a subsequent job I took laughed at the tale of the job I had for a summer, and calculated I had walked I don’t remember how many hundreds of miles, carrying an average of ten pounds.  I wish I could recall how much we were paid per box.  That would be really amusing.

Wacky Pages
I was looking for a Tide box from 1969 and found the 1974 Wacky Packages Series.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Table talk with Purrl

Get down
Get down
Go away
I can't feed you from the table when someone is looking