Sunday, April 28, 2013

Awaiting Hazel and Tony

Hazel and Tony are coming to visit next week.  They’ll be here nearly a month.  Hazel has visited several times since Bill’s death, but not since she and Tony married.  Not for want of trying.  Tony had some health setbacks shortly after he and Hazel married.  He’s finally cleared to travel.

None of us get any younger, either.  I wonder if Hazel’s hair is as white as Walt’s, my brother to whom she once was married.  It may still be black.  I’m getting excited.

We are out of beds at our house; they will be staying with her youngest, Mark.  Walt lives there, too.  Jan teased him she hoped Hazel could put up with him.  Walt retorted “Can she put up with me?”  We know which way it will be.

The traditional Memorial Day picnic, featuring shish kebob and lots of company will be held early, in honor of their visit.  That was Walt’s idea, resoundingly seconded by Hazel when Jan asked if Tony would enjoy it. 
Tony’s  two requests are to see a baseball game and go bowling. Tom and Mark will handle those details. Hazel will keep Tony busy, I’m sure. Hazel loves to shop.  She holds an international driver’s license and knows how to use it.

They arrive Tuesday afternoon and Hazel has us all lined up to go to her favorite smorgasbord restaurant for supper.  In spite of our recent troubles with air traffic controllers, I doubt Hazel’s plane will be late. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Handy to have--Grandchildren

Twenty five years we’ve lived here.  We were much younger when we moved in. I’m not saying we bounded up the steps from the garage to the front door, but they were much easier to navigate. Two or three weeks ago I rounded up my brother and he showed Hamilton how to build the missing hand rail.

This is how you make the saw’s teeth work effectively.

And, they put up the handrail.  Hamilton stained it a lovely dark brown while I was in Wisconsin.  It shows up in the background from time to time.

Rather like spring house cleaning, spring gardening can spring from nowhere and turn out the house, too.

I bought a lovely hanging basket and two peck baskets of pansies. 

Then I realized I have young muscles available and it past time to attack the overgrown front garden.

Emily and I put in three hours, and made small but noticeable inroads.  I taught her how to use a spade.  My dad would be proud.

Then Jan and Tom came home with a project near to Jan’s heart.  A lettuce tower.  A lettuce growing tower.

Today they got it located, put together and full of soil.  There are lettuce packets on the chest by the door; it won’t be long.

Emily and I planted the pansies.  It was three o’clock; we called it a day.  Before it rains tomorrow I expect we’ll get some more done.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Henry and the dogs

Of course there’s a new dog in Wisconsin. Henry.

Ann explained Henry to me.  An older couple who board their old, fat cocker spaniel at the kennel got a bright little Springer spaniel puppy to liven up the cocker spaniel’s life.  I doubt the old, fat cocker spaniel ever had any use for a non-stop puppy, and as Henry developed into umpteen pounds of non-stop spaniel, always on the move, always doing his job, he turned out to be too much for the old folks who brought him home.

Henry was a fortunate fellow; Ann and Pat agreed to take him.

What a charmer this fellow is.  He and Freyja tumble and thump and wrestle until she cries “Uncle” and heads for a nap on the sofa.  Henry continues on his rounds—round and round and round the sofa, the chairs, the entire house, watching every window for sign of whatever Springer spaniels watch out for.

Food is the testament of Henry’s level of activity.  All the dogs in the house are in the forty pound range and eat about two cups of food daily to supply their caloric needs.  Henry maintains his trim physique with six cups of food a day.

Henry is so young, so bright, so inquisitive.  Sad he cannot be the hunter nature intended him, but he landed on his feet with the next best home.  Training is progressing; he’s magnificent at sit, stay, come, OK.” He waits his turn for his food bowl to go down, or to advance for a treat.

 “Out of the kitchen.  OUT of the kitchen.  OUT OF THE KITCHEN,” is not Henry’s best.  “Like a kid, always testing,” Ann says.   Henry isn’t interested in the kitchen for the usual reasons.  For him it’s more real estate, more territory to cover, more windows to scour the landscape for…….???

Freyja, the husky mix,  is far better behaved than my last visit. She  leaves the kitchen when told, but her toes are at the ready to start the journey over to the linoleum.

Seamus holds the place of kindly old observer.  No one is head of the new house pack yet. 

And poor old Zoe.  Her increasing dementia is sad.  In the house she wanders into corners and waits patiently for them to move aside.  Outside she just keeps going.  Through the burrs, through the creek.  She has to be called constantly, before she’s out of cognitive range.  We did lose her for a bit one day and when we mentioned it to Pat over supper he sighed and asked Ann “When are we going to take off her collar?”  HaHa.   

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A sad week

Did the sun shine anywhere last week?  It certainly did not shine in Wisconsin, save half an hour Tuesday.  I woke up Sunday and Monday to pouring rain, and listened to loud thunder crash one night. 

Ann hustled me out the door Tuesday to get to Fleet/Farm and get alfalfa cubes “before it starts raining again!”  I hardly believed her.  Billy, together with Nanny, had been foraging for two days because the cubes come in paper sacks and if they get wet they mold.  So, neither Pat nor Ann had ventured to town for more.  I’m only repeating what I’m told.

Billy saw us off.  We didn’t beat the rain.  I stayed in the car.  Ann came back with a cart of half a dozen sacks.  She was not happy.  They are forty pound bags, not fifty, from a new source.  They are packed in shiny, waterproof paper, so the pellets stayed dry.  They cost more.  And, they still filled the car with their odor and we arrived home sneezing and with running eyes.

The temperature never exceeded forty five; except as noted, it never stopped raining.  We had more overnight lightening storms and howling winds.  Ann and I stayed warm, visited and watched the creek rise. 

The only birds in sight were stalwart robins, chickadees and an occasional sparrow.   I made no attempt to set up my tripod to take pictures.  Since I cannot hold the camera steady enough by hand for telephoto, the shots only add to the forlorn feeling.

There is nothing I can say of the tragedies of the week; the homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon and the tragedy of the explosion at West, Texas.  Hooray for the officials, the police and the people of Boston for the swift conclusion.  My heart is broken for all the families who will deal for years with the deed of two young men; losers, their uncle called them.

Then the explosion. Ann and I looked at each other.  Her township is the size of West, Texas.  Mine two thirds as large, and each with EMS services the size of the West, Texas force.  About thirty volunteers.  Like the firemen who ran up the steps of the World Trade Center, that would have been our departments evacuating a nursing home and a neighborhood because an explosion was imminent.  One third of the force killed, doing their job, saving lives.

In a big town or city perhaps the safety forces seem more remote.  If you can, smile and thank one of them for being just like a volunteer member of the West, Texas force.

Friday, April 12, 2013

They get younger every day

I’m leaving for Wisconsin tomorrow morning, nine at the latest.  I hear the sun is shining there, and I know there are Baltimore Orioles and cedar waxwings at Ann’s feeders, where I can sit on the kitchen porch for a week and just take pictures.  I packed the tripod.

Usually I travel on a Friday, but too many obligations today: one doctor appointment, a prescription to pick up, a pile of papers at work that needed done today (not yesterday, not Monday ((government stuff!)), and, ta da, I could retrieve my new summer sneakers from the shoe maker. 

I’ve never met the man who puts lovely lifts in the soles of my right shoes.  I drop them off, the drycleaner in the rest of the store receipts the shoe and I pick it up same day, one week later.

The doctor and work were accomplished without a hitch and off for my two right shoes.  They’re really cool, one pair is Rocket Dogs and the other Converse.  But they weren’t to be had.  They forgot to send them out last Friday; they will be ready Monday. Oh well.

On to get the prescription.  At the register I asked to see the contents of the prescription bag; it was far too flat to hold the two month supply.  An even younger clerk than at the dry cleaner explained, in a high, clear monotone, there were only five pills in stock, the rest would be in Monday’s delivery. My explanation that I would be gone all next week and five pills were inadequate yielded  a blank stare.  “There are seven days in a week,” I explained, and the man at the next register chuckled loudly.

Actually, I’m fairly decent at dealing with “it’s OK because this situation does not inconvenience me.”  I don’t leave until there is a solution.  The pharmacist told the dear young thing to call other local(ish) drug stores in the chain, and on the third call she hit pay dirt.  Unfortunately pretty far south, but I could, and did go there.

I got home just in time for supper, and found today is report card day and we would be treated to ice cream by Aunt Janice because all grades were A’s and B’s.  Way to go. Both Emily and Hamilton woke up and saw the easiest way to their future didn’t involve throwing away their good fortune with both hands. 

Hamilton tucked into studying; he brought home a 3.9.  Emily recently admitted it was far easier to get a decent grade than to improve a bad one.  After ending her last semester with a 3.9 her grades went into free fall, back when she was being stupid.  But she came up here at mid-term with a 3.8.  Good for her.

And little Laura just keeps on.  Her only “bad” grade is gym.  She did not pass the Ohio motor skill requirements, specifically track and pull ups.  Or push ups.  Or something.  “But gramma, I hate doing those.”  I told her she might have to go to summer school for gym.  She thinks she’ll put some effort into it in time for the grade at the end of the year.  She did make first cornet!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Flying pigs

There have been cardinals, blue birds, nuthatches, sparrows, chickadees, doves and more to the new feeder.

The cheeky chickadees show off for the camera, too.

Once nice Saturday I will plant a chair in the lawn, pose as an ornament and take pictures of more than chickadees. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Soft reset

My phone does more than I know of.  My grandson wonders why gramma needs so much phone; gramma had a flip phone last summer and learned to text less than a year ago.  The crux of the matter was the manner of the death of the flip phone.  It fell into a toilet at a wedding.  It died on the spot.  The marriage ended about a year later. 

Just like marriages, there is no guarantee that phones will withstand circumstance.  The little fellow was drownded and there is no warranty replacement for a phone plucked from the toilet. 

I have owned a mobile phone since the 1990’s, when they fit in a big purse, not in a pocket. My first phone came with the plan.  Over the years I upgraded the phone four or five times, and the upgrades all came thanks to extending the contract two more years. 

I had to pay for this replacement phone! There was no contract extension long enough to throw in a free phone.  Then, too, the price for the smart phone was almost the same as the price of a new flip phone. I took a deep breath, and went straight upgrade.

That was six months ago.  I won’t confess how many months I spent learning the smart phone’s smarts.  Let me just say I now have ten icons on the screen, and I rolled them out one at a time.  I moved Sarah, my navigator, to the dashboard about three months ago.  I like her best of all.

Now I’m OK with change, but I don’t find it wonderful.  So when the green blinking light would tell me I should download some upgrade, I didn’t.  The screen didn’t tell me how it would change my phone, only that change would happen.  That didn’t please me.

One morning I took the phone off the charger and saw an ominous warning.  Uninstalled changes were backed up a country mile because of my neglect and would I kindly do something.  I relented.  I will admit it was still downloading after my shower and after I got dressed, but it was done when I finished breakfast.

Nothing seemed different about my phone, until I fired up Sarah last Saturday for a trip to the near west side of Cleveland.  She took me the three miles to the turnpike without incident, then told me to go east and quit talking.  Hamilton told me her little green arrow was still going west, but she said nothing.

This afternoon I had my first opportunity to take Sarah back to the phone store.  She still had nothing to say for herself.

“How unusual,” said the young man at the counter.  I wonder if he believed me.  He did agree she might have choked on her upgrades.  “Download the navigation app again,” I suggested. 

“We’ll just try a soft reset.” He pressed the off and volume down switches simultaneously. The screen collapsed into its middle and then reappeared.  “Let me know if it works,” he said.

I’m happy to report, Sarah is back.  Soft reset it was.  I wonder if those buttons can be found on people.

The phone that drowned

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A quilt well rescued

I've mentioned rescue quilts from time to time.Quilt tops pieced but never quilted. My sister Jan is extremely fond of rescuing quilts, and quilting them.  She says some one's grandma is smiling in heaven, "Look, Ethel, look  That quilt is finished and can be used on a bed!"

Jan's friend Patty found an embroidered quilt top at a flea market.  It's a very large quilt, two embroidered panels, very well done.  Jan set aside a week to quilt the top.  Patty entered it in a regional show that the three of us went to today.

Some one's grandma is extremely pleased;

A kind lady with a good eye rescued the top,

And took it to an excellent quilter.

The quilt is quite white; the flourescent lights make is appear more yellow.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Storage wars

With fifteen around the table Sunday, some good stories were bound to be told.  Some were. 

After flipping through the characters of several reality shows we found a common thread in Storage Wars.  One of us told the story of a son who realized a year later that the remaining household goods in a storage shed were “just things.”  He told his buddy to cut off the lock, sell it all and keep the proceeds.

And from the other end of the table we got the story of the day.  Another friend is a builder and his wife has the unenviable task of keeping track of and updating the furniture staged in model homes.

They do own a storage unit her husband built and operates, and she uses a unit or two to store the excess.  Of course they had their share of abandoned units, and the occasional auction of the contents.  As Storage Wars, the television series, became more popular Jeane saw a definite uptick in the attendance at an auction and the amount of money they realized.  When she noticed a regular bidder responding with a “Yeep”, she knew the time had come; there was opportunity for a sharp contractor’s wife to turn her inventory, too.

Jeane added a unit of her own to the next several auctions, nicely staged.  She was tempted, but did not put a cardboard box up front labeled Grandma’s China.  The results were as anticipated:  all the unwanted furniture was gone.

As Jeane said, at her last garage sale her son’s lemonade stand made thirty dollars, more than she had taken in.  She didn’t have to tag anything, put it on her driveway for a long hot afternoon, and, last of all, collect back up what didn’t sell.

Tom and his son, Tommy T, last Sunday.  Every notice how little boys walk like their father walks.  They grow up and lean over deck rails the same way, too.

And finallly, visit my sister’s blog, Janice loves to quilt. She just finished a customer’s art quilt destined for a national quilt show.  Stunning, and now I don’t have to tell you about it.