Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trinket board with Ojo de Dios

Once I used the little bulletin board for posting important notes.  Now I have a wall sized bulletin board on another wall, and important things on the little one.

Starting at twelve o'clock, a tiny gold lapel pin that says Attitude. They were part of the dress code of a company my daughter worked for.  She gave me one.

One of Beth's first business cards.

A fabric bookmark found by my friend Carol at an antique show.  Probably a give away for a company named Bo-Peep, trademark warranted.

On burlap, something my granddaughter Bekka made in first or second grade.  That is her hand in foil in the middle.  Bekka will be 21 this year.  A friendship bracelet Laura made is hanging on it too, but may be too small to make out.

Next the owl macrame.  Beth made that in a grade school art class.

Larry's whistle.  Larry hired me as the controller of a small company that was swallowed years later by a larger company and when an even larger company swallowed that company the little company was spit out and left to die.  I left before it was spit out.  Larry was not part of the original sale.  He was leaving for health reasons.  He used the whistle at company picnics, and when he left he gave it to me, to be in charge.  He died before he was fifty.  A good man.

Blue mardi gras fish beads.  Someone handed them to me at a show, for good luck.

God's eye.  Ojo de Dios. Wikipedia gives a long account of the Indian spiritual connection of this little object.  It also is a simple  yarn weaving, easy construction for children to understand and do.  Francis made this one; he may have been about five years old.

Santa Claus pencil.  I found the pencil in my Christmas stocking the last year mom was alive.  Jan says it wasn't from her, so I figure it was from mom.

A cartoon Jan once cut out for me.  Two suits with brief cases are passing the door that says Account ant. An ant is working at the desk.  One suit says to another "All this time I thought it was a misprint."  I'm an accountant.  Get it?

That's the story of my God's eye.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How cold was it yesterday?

Beth noted a park event for yesterday in her Cleveland paper: Drop by with your family for fun in the snow! Test your skills at winter challenges such as snowball making and throwing, fort building, sled pulling, and more. Challenge others and yourself in snowshoe games. Dress for the weather. Enjoy hot chocolate by a roaring fire within Ledges Shelter. No snow? No problem! If the weather does not cooperate, we'll have other outdoor games to play. Ledges Shelter, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. 

We arranged to meet at noon, turn the cousins loose, sit by the roaring fire and drink hot chocolate.  Laura was ready to leave before I got out of bed.  I put her off until after breakfast; we arrived around eleven.  There was no snow.

There was a roaring fire in each end of the CCC lodge, built in the thirties.  Two rangers were happy to see us come in.  On inquiry I learned we were the first fun in the snow customers.

I asked if they drew the short straw, and the tall young ranger said actually, they had invented this straw, and they had a good backup plan, too.  A button toss game and making god’s eyes from a bucket of yarn. There was no snow
It was cold. It could have been worse.  The day’s high temperature was thirty at midnight, and went down all day. I had on my standard winter gear, starting with a long sleeved tee shirt that is merino wool sandwiched between knitted tee shirt cotton, a turtle neck, another shirt, my winter coat.  I was cold.  The girls were game to be the practice children for back-up activities.  No snow.

One ranger left his ranger hat on the table.  Much as I covet a ranger hat, I only took a picture.  I looked around later on and saw the hat was the focus of a game.  

A family with four young children came in and most children descended on the yarn box to make god’s eyes.  Eventually the ranger enticed them all out for kickball.

There were no chairs for sitting around a roaring fire in a damn cold lodge, so I wandered around and took pictures.  I’ve mentioned that I like how well the federal government has maintained all these buildings.  I posted a picture of the outside of this lodge on that starkly blue winter day a couple of weeks ago:

Two weeks ago

Roaring fires notwithstanding, the building is only a shelter.  The stones are impressive, but the corners let in the outdoors. It was cold.  

The two chinks of light between the stone and the wood are from outdoors

The window panes are original glass, single pane.  The hinges and fasteners are iron.  I don’t know if they were purchased or if the CCC employed blacksmiths, too.  I’d wager they did, as all the quarried rock in the walls came from Deep Lock Quarry nearby and was cut on site.  I like the age patina on everything.

I was not unhappy until my feet grew cold.  I don’t tolerate that nonsense.  A text to Beth showed her still at home, a not unexpected state of affairs.  We made a backup plan to meet at the house, and the girls and I took our leave about 12:30, with the young family eating their picnic lunch on a blanket in front of the fire, cups of hot chocolate all around.

Three cousins kibitzing the afternoon chess game of two more cousins.  Around a warm kitchen table.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Another Krueger, another bird

The Krueger who survived his encounter with the Bobwhite Quail in 1961 was a bold and enthusiastic young fellow with a culinary habit may have led to his demise a year or two later.  He loved Japanese beetles and patrolled the top of the grape arbor, feasting.  Dad found him under the grape arbor, beyond resuscitation by the vet, and blamed it on the damn beetles.  Who knows.

Fast forward to the summer of 1966.  Beth could walk, I was hugely pregnant with Shelly and my husband brought home a kitten.  Because pets were not allowed we drew all the apartment curtains and lived in semi darkness until we moved the week after Shelly was born.  Krueger was named in honor of the late Krueger, who was named for college friend.  I’ve named many cats after friends.

In spite of living in semi darkness the first five months, Krueger had a happy and expansive personality.  He and Beth were fast friends and playmates.  She drug him around; he invented the game of chase Beth and knock her down.  Round and round the short dividing wall between the kitchen and living room, then Krueger would double back and jump on her chest, knocking her down.  Laughter, squeals from two year old Beth and the game recommenced.

We moved from the apartment to a house to another house in Krueger’s long life, without ruffling a whisker, but most of his years were spent in our Mentor house.  Krueger started the cat trail that led from one corner of the back yard, diagonally to the elm tree then straight into the back garage door that led to the door into the house.  In twenty years there I watched that cat trail, used by all my felines, turn to hard pack with no grass and visible as a depression under the snow.

My neighbor across the street called me one evening to come get my cat’s litter out from under his porch.  “But my cat is a male.”  “Well, he’s the father!” “My cat is neutered.”  “Oh, please get these kittens!”  I don’t recall if I did.

I was gifted a canary once, in a Taj Mahal cage.  Harry Canary led to Carrie Nation, the finch, and her husband and babies, and a parakeet each for my daughters. There was a cat population to deal with too; Krueger, Phoebe Snow and BoomBoom.  The solution was to hang the cages by hooks in the ceiling.  This led to hard packed areas in the carpeting underneath; cats sitting patiently, waiting for a bird to fall.  It never happened.

Somewhere around the age of thirteen or fourteen, Krueger began to decline; his liver rapidly failing.  Dr. Kroh, our wonderful vet, took good care of all my animals.  He put Krueger’s throat back in his body after a failed encounter with a pair of Airedales.  He put a pin in BoomBooms front leg when the shattered bone couldn’t be rejoined.  The last time he saw Krueger Dr. Kroh said take him home, make him comfortable for a few days.

We put Krueger on a warm bed under the kitchen table, food and water under his nose.  We carried him out occasionally to relieve himself, and he watched the family activity from his spot.  At Saturday chore time Shelly spread papers on the table and took down her parakeet to clean his cage.  The first time ever the parakeet jumped straight out to have a look at the big world.  He escaped outstretched hands over and over.  He landed on the floor, strutted right past the helpless cat.  Krueger stretched his neck, went chomp and had his bird.

Krueger died the next day.  But think about it.  All his life waiting and then the bird walked straight into his mouth.

Krueger was borrowed from the internet

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Do you know Windsmoke?

Last Saturday I took one last look at my blog list before turning in early.  All day I had a splitting headache; time to give it up until morning.  At night, though, I enjoy taking a peek at blogs across the world, where it already is tomorrow.

Windsmoke posted, a disturbing Goodbye.  His haiku sometimes is sad, sometimes final; people josh him and he is right back with his riddles.  But Saturday was goodbye until we meet again, in the afterlife.

My God, Australia is big; I don’t know many of us there, and those I do live a state or two away.  And we don’t even know his name.  Windsmoke, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  “Hello, 911, please send someone to check on Windsmoke.”

If you know him, please leave a note there or here.  Did he join a monastery, or the universe?

Cups on the Bus

A while back Delores at The Feathered Nest announced a Valentine Day give away.  As I recall, the rules were comment on any blog of hers up to Valentine Day and get your name in the hat for the drawing.

I made a mental note to restrain myself from commenting.  I didn’t even know what she would be shipping away, but I do hardly need more stuff; it’s quite fine with me to see “stuff” head off to people who will be able to use it.

I slipped up back there in contest land; I must have had a thing or two to comment about.  My short term memory is as good as gone these days.  One day on my blog she announced I was a winner, keep my eye out for the prize.

And it came today, too big for our big mail box and delivered to the door by our nice USPS lady.  Jan and I peeled the layers together.  First a ginormous shopping bag, to join the pile in the car that go into the grocery store.  We really do that; bring our own bags.

Then, two cups.  And I’m quoting here, “Don’t leave these on the bus.”  Very good, Delores.  But they came preloaded.  With a beverage?  Lifting the lids we found chocolate mint cookies!

Well, the loot is all divvied up and partially consumed. Thank you, Delores.  We are using what we didn't eat.

The ginormous shopping bag, two cups for the bus, sacreficial cookies

Smells suspiciously Canadian to Toby

Monday, February 18, 2013

A day off school and work

Yesterday’s four inches are melting fast today.  Jan saw three bluebirds in the back yard this morning.  They must be passing through; we don’t have enough meadow about to keep them happy.  No rail fences to sit on, either.  My mental image of bluebirds.  The wrens already are jousting for the wren houses in the oak tree. 

I’ve talked to Emily and Hamilton about the sort of summer jobs they might find.  It’s been so long since I’ve thought about more than Cousin Camp in the summer.  Now half the cousins live here.  Always planning, Grandma suggested they could take the week of spring break in March to hoof it around town and see what might be available.

Then Presidents’ Day dropped right into our laps.  The library, where I envisioned Emily volunteering for the summer, is not open today, but they already love Emily, who has borrowed hundreds of books and music CD’s on her six month old card.  I’m sure they would have her in a heartbeat to re-shelve books.

At supper last night I approached Hamilton about making the rounds today, get a head start, so to speak.  That suited him and then a little miffed Emily said she would like to go, too.  “I can get a work permit, Gramma.”  So, the plan for today.

First stop, the big nursery/garden center they can walk to.  Already the sign announces experienced nursery workers wanted.  Apparently enthusiasm helps, too.  They came out with applications.  We went down into the village and they went into the two restaurants.  “Can you work weekends?”  They came out with applications.  We stopped at the golf course, too, but the dynamic duo couldn’t find anyone about, and we came home.

So far this afternoon I have handed over Emily’s social security number, told her the trade names of job duties she had in the past.  Emily worked after school last year restocking shelves, pricing and bagging at a little store near her old house.  Yes, she was only thirteen, so the name of the store will remain a secret.  Her applications are complete.

Hamilton is off at the movies with Sarah. (I have no idea how he acquired a girlfriend on such short notice; especially one who already had a boyfriend.  They both play trombone? Maybe I’ll ask Emily.)  He won’t be done today, but we’ll get the applications back quickly.

I did stop at the town hall to check messages.  There were none.  What road garage but ours would have a line strung from the leaf machine to dry the garage rags?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blue herons in shades of grey

The herons are back, nesting at the rookery.  We came back from Kathleen’s yesterday, chased by Alberta Clipper number seven or eight, scudding heavy grey clouds across the sky. 

 I told Jan I saw a heron a couple of days ago.  She’s seen one, too, so we came across Yellow Creek Road to get to the rookery. 

The park has made a small pull off area near the Bath Road bridge over the river.  Usually it’s packed with cars that have stopped to watch the magnificent birds, but no so many yesterday.  

Grey trees, grey sky and grey birds.  Click to enlarge a picture for a nice view of nest construction.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Quilts, Quilts, and Rescue quilts

Some of the people in my house are retired, but my sister isn’t there, yet.  Still working.  Jan quilts for her Rolodex of customers.  She makes quilts for us.  We all have warm flannel winter quilts and pretty summer quilts for our beds.  She makes quilts to hang in the studio to give customers visuals of how she might quilt their quilts. 

Of course there are more.  The rescue quilts. 

Jan seldom meets an abandoned quilt top she does not love.  In all fairness, the maker probably did not abandon the quilt, but ran out of time to quilt it.  Heirs and assigns, not valuing the work, put it right in the estate sale, or send it straight off to a thrift shop or Goodwill.  So many unfinished quilts tops find their way into Jan’s studio she bought a separate cabinet to hold them.

Rescued tops, waiting...waiting...

Toby helping

As she has time she puts them together with a backing and batting, gets them quilted and bound.  Jan knows so much about old quilt patterns, old quilt fabrics, old quilt piecing styles, that when she’s done she says she can hear some one’s grandma in heaven, smiling and saying “Look, it’s done!  Someone can use that quilt, now.”

Jan has donated many of her rescue quilts to be raffled for charities.  Many of them have gone to TLC, the Transitional Living Center we make quilts for.  Her rule of thumb:  keep them until she has admired them enough, then let them go.  Still, they backed up on her.  There are a couple of tubs of finished rescue quilts in the studio.

On a recent trip to The Crooked River Herb Farm Shop Jan put her head together with Kathleen and they came up with the scheme to simultaneously fill an empty corner of Kathleen’s expanded shop and fund the purchase of more abandoned quilt tops by selling some in the shop.  That’s what Jan and I did today.

Kathleen watching

Jan displaying, customer watching

A quilt label

Display front

Display back

The Quilt Corner

Monday, February 11, 2013

Alberta clipper

Average trajectory of an Alberta Clipper

This is straight from my other friend, Wikipedia, who follows Google as my hero. With apologies to Jane.  I would never call it a Canadian Clipper, or even a Canada Clipper.  Actually, I like Alberta as a name.  My friend Linda’s mother’s name is Alberta, and the clipper lives up to that name.  Our Alberta ran a dairy farm in New York, raised kids, fed the hired hands and took over the family fertilizer business when necessary.  Alberta is ninety five.  She could do it all over again tomorrow, if asked.

As the Alberta clipper heads down to Ohio, it passes over several Great Lakes.  By itself the clipper is not a great snow maker, perhaps a couple of inches.  But over an open great lake, it picks up moisture.  Over two or three great lakes it picks up a great deal of moisture.  Lake Erie is the third great lake the clipper passes over on its way to my house, if that is it's destination.

Now I live on top of a ridge that marks the division between the Lake Erie watershed and the Ohio River watershed.  The Cuyahoga River, two miles down the hill north and west of me, flows into Lake Erie.  I remember learning in geography that it rains along the west coast because storms come off the Pacific Ocean, slam into the Cascade Mountains and drop all the rain on the west side.  Great American Desert on the east side, broad brushing it.

That’s what happens here in northeastern Ohio.  All that moisture hits the watershed ridge and drops as snow.  And, where squalls persist, to quote one weatherman, even more snow.  All accompanied by leaden grey skies and blustery winds.  Akron, Ohio, ten miles south of us, may only get a dusting.  Alberta hit the ridge and dumped the snow up here
Alberta Clippers mean take the kids to the bus in the morning, and maybe even wait there for them at night.  They mean stay home if you don’t need to go out, stay warm, read a book or get out some sewing.  They aren’t all that bad.  And, they may be over for the winter.  We’re half way through the month this week.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Alberta Clipper Five

I took my camera to work today, to take a picture of red dry hydrants for Lisleman. They shone like rubies in Tuesday’s sunshine.  I’m not expecting to get back a day like that any time soon.  They’re just dull looking dry hydrants, with Alberta Clipper Five closing in.

At the end of that post, Jenny commented that hydrants in her town are painted to coordinate with local landmarks.  That is a magnificent idea and I think Nick and the kids at the art academy might see these as the Loch Ness monster.  Or anything.

Because dry hydrants would make a rather dry post I thought I’d just go down to the corner and take another picture to show you another story, when I heard the heron—and looked up and found him. One more wing flap and he was over the cedars.

This poor golf course is the winter home of deer, Canadian geese and mallard ducks.  It’s a beautiful golf course, thickly fertilized all winter.  I thought about cleaning it all up every spring and asked a friend who managed a golf course in New York.  She went wild.  Don’t even talk to her about it.  And, the goose crap is toxic.

So, there are shoulder to shoulder deer and geese on the golf course all winter.  Come spring, only the geese are left.  Several years ago I realized the geese nested around the lake.  Then the little yellow fluff balls would appear, running about like cartoon ducks.  And the hawks swooped down and took them away.  One morning the hill would be yellow with goslings and at day’s end I could watch the last gosling whisked away. 

I stopped taking that road into the valley once I saw the geese nesting; breakfasting hawks were not a pretty sight, even if they are endangered red tail hawks.  I was even more angry with the stupid geese who couldn’t be bothered to go across the street and use the marsh for a nursery.  You don’t even want to know how they watched their broods lifted off without raising a wing, then sauntered around the lake as if nothing happened.

Then two years ago the golf course left the low corner at the road unmowed, and a little marsh sprang up on this side.  I watched for geese nesting on the lawn, and there were none.  I resumed using Truxell to get to work and back, keeping my eye on the lake and the corner.  And sometime in June those half grown geese began emerging from their private marsh.  It didn’t improve my opinion of their parents’ IQ’s, but at least they knew what to do with this marsh when they found it.  Here it is, waiting for spring to turn into the goose nursery.

And then I telephotoed up the hill, past the marsh, onto the golf course.  Yes, that is goose, duck and deer shit littering the ground under the cedars.

And, Alberta Clipper number Five is swirling around outside.  While we will get only two to four inches this time, I’m thinking about New England and New York taking the two to four feet pounding.

Lest we forget Tuesday.  Golf course with deer track.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A rare sort of winter day

Yesterday, between Alberta clippers number four and five, the sky was clear, the sun brilliant.  I took my camera for a ride.

Every morning I go down into the valley to go to work.  My favorite route is Kendall Road.  Its name changes to Truxell half way down; all our roads have first names and the Truxell farm was on this road.  Charles Truxell was a trustee in the sixties. Hayward Kendall donated a huge tract of land to the state to be used in perpetuity for park purposes, and named in honor of his mother, Virginia Kendall.  It was a state park when I grew up, and now is part of the national park that ate Boston.

The road in the summer is canopied over by the tree leaves.  My summer pictures of driving through a tunnel of deciduous trees have not been spectacular.  But the reason for the canopy is so evident in the winter months I got successful pictures of their bones.

I pulled in and out of parking lots the entire length of the road.  Beside Kendall Lake, there are trailheads for The Ledges and for The Octagon rock trails.  Every parking lot is lined with quarried rock; there were two major quarries in the area up to the twentieth century.  One quarry now is The Quarry, a summer swimming hole for kids, and the other is Deep Lock Quarry, maintained by the Metropolitan Park Service.

When I left home with the camera my intent was to take pictures of shadows The blazing blue sky wound up preempting shadows, but here is an interesting tree.

This is one of many creeks through the glacial ravines that empty into the lake.  There is another little water course behind my house that travels to the lake.  About twenty years ago, with township zoning only slightly more lax than it currently is, the landowner up the hill behind us decided to clear cut his woods.  Nothing I said to the township or the EPA resulted in a stop work order.  At the next big rain storm the stark naked hill of course descended by the tons into our little creek.  Smothered our apple orchard, too.  When an EPA fellow finally appeared he shook his head and said “Lady, you have a helluva mess here.”  Jan and I went toe to toe with the Amish chainsawers and saved trees on our property.  That’s a good story for some time.

Eventually the hill washed entirely downstream to the lake and silted it in.  It had to be drained and dredged a couple of years ago.  It didn’t have to happen.  Here’s the lake from the parking lot, and a deer trail.

Many of the shelters at the trail heads were WPA projects that became state or local parks, and now part of the National Park.  I love the stonework and am happy it’s being maintained. Steps to a trail and an interesting tree.

At the end of the road I turned at the golf course and came back.  The tree is at the end of one of the lakes on the golf course, and the lakes have what the fire district calls dry hydrants.  Along the road there are two pipes that terminate in the lake and can be attached to the tanker by a hose at the working end.  If there is a fire in the district, godforbid, the tankers take on loads of water at the lake and go fight the fire.  For years the hydrants were black.  One day one of my favorite fireman, Nick, put down a receipt for paint and brushes on my desk, and went out and painted them red.  They still look spiffy.

I made my U turn to come home, and was obliged to take this picture:

Almost all year long our narrow township roads are clogged by spandex warriors.  We clean up their stinking sports drink bottles.  Often we can’t get out of our own roads to go grocery shopping.  And we even have to tell them how to behave.  Another story.  I guess I’ll be in business for awhile.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

With 26 leaden soldiers I can conquer the world

When I was a kid I said endlessly, and surely annoyingly, “I read in a book,…” and would add my morsel to the conversation.  I don’t recall the point at which I put it all together and derived my own opinions.

I still read endlessly.  On line magazines, newspapers and blogs have saved me from subscribing to more newspapers than I could conveniently recycle. 

Our childhood library contained books with stories of famous people and events, or historical turning points.  They arrived monthly.  I have no idea how my parents subscribed to them.  They were bound with green dimpled covers around inexpensive paper.  In retrospect, American people, events, history. 

I read about Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, The Santa Fe Trail.  Flatboats on the Monongahela, Alleghany and Ohio Rivers.  Paso por aquí on a rock face in the southwest. I found even more books in the library.

For a long period I devoured histories of the settlement of the Western Reserve and the Ohio Valley, and the spread into prairies of Indiana and Illinois.  In a book that must have been about the movement of newspapers into the west, I read that line, “With 26 leaden soldiers I can conquer the world.”  It was put into the mouth of a newspaper editor, who ascribed it to someone whose name I could not remember.

I recall in the history the printing equipment crossed the Kankakee River.  How strange I can recall that, but not the person who owns the line.  My friend Google tells me it must be Benjamin Franklin: “Give me 26 lead soldiers and I can conquer the world.”  I was struck when I read it, and even now, the verb is “can,” not “will.”  Sorry, the auxiliary verb.  No arrogance, but ability.  I’ve read a lot by and about Franklin, and that was his style.

The news last night had a piece on sleep being essential for moving short term memory from the front of our brains to the hard drive, long term memory at the back.  Now that is a new problem for me, and I need to read more about it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Valentine box

I took my camera when I went to smile over the giggles from the basement.

Concentration.  Or not.

I remember Valentine boxes. On Valentine’s Day they sat on our desks.  We lined up around the outer wall, then, led by Miss Milani, we went up one aisle and down another, dropping our cards in boxes.

I almost remember decorating them.

Janice admired the box, too, and said we needed to get cards.  “Oh, no,” Aunt Janice, “I’m making my own!”  I’m sure Laura will draw a cat on every one.

Emily’s friends say he's cute, in a nerdy way.

If you want whiskers, grow your own.

Goodbye from here, where we are housebound and watching today's three and a half inches of snow fall.