Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cooling off

I may be the only one surprised that a twenty by fifty foot garden overrun by twenty five years of crabgrass roots hasn't been sorted in just a couple of weeks.  I like “sorted”, an abbreviation for a sweeping fix, and just not used over here.  Three grandchildren, a grandma and assorted willing hands have reached the last stage, no matter what happens.

The grandchildren are in school all day, we have been delayed by one day of heavy rain, and yesterday it went beastly hot on us, which didn't stop us from capitalizing on all the work the kids did with their father on Memorial Day.  This morning I worked for two hours, before the temperature reached ninety.

I cleared weeds between the old pavers and disposed of the next to last section of turned over weeds.  Tomorrow I’ll clear the turned over weeds behind the lettuce tower plus the last few sections of paver weeds.

Now I am cooling off from being mighty hot.  The mud on the bottom of my sneakers is drying; I've watered Linda’s box of lily of the valley one more time in hope of planting them soon; and all in all it’s looking as if my cheerful crew can come mighty close to the end of this project over the weekend forecasted to be much cooler.

These three children own this project.  They have mentally engineered extending the paver path with the excavated stones.  They want to commence replacing some of the garden art now, but the big boss (me) is holding off.  The girls worry the birds won’t find enough food without the feeder the raccoon raided.  I say let the raccoon be good and gone.  Not to mention, it will be fun to make a sweeping arc of garden art, starting with my original acquisition, a  street lamp from Louisville, Kentuncy.

I’m cooling off from something else.  Senior Pictures.  Hamilton will be a senior next year, and gave me the brochure from the official school photographer yesterday.  Yesterday!  He won’t be in twelfth grade until September.  Moving on, what’s going on here?  These aren’t senior pictures.  They’re more like teen age fantasies.  “I don’t have to get on with being an adult because I’m stuck in the Sesame Street present where I am the most important person in the world.”

I called the company to get more information.  Of course I was able only to leave a message.  No return call yet, four working hours later.  My old cynical self knows the company is comprised of youngsters pandering to, fostering these high school senior's illusions (and their parents).

I went on line and checked their web site to find if they offer head and shoulder shots in grandma approved clothing.  This grandma, by the way, is no prude, and has not banned anything she has yet seen go to school, except one ragged shirt of Hamilton’s’ and that awful, raggedy red hoodie of Emily’s. No, they do not show  examples of what I will send Hamilton wearing.

Then I did an internet search for actual pictures published in year books as the official “senior picture.”  I found this high school in Illinois has pictures on line.  The most recent year available is 2008.  Take a peek.  Just like the pictures in the brochure.

It’s a new world, grandma.  So, I’m cooling off.  I can tell you that’s not how my grandchildren will present themselves in their senior pictures.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

25 years of crabgrass roots

The front garden has turned into a mega project.  We have put in about six hours a day the last two days, with varying numbers of helping hands.  We thought we would finish today, but the old rock garden was down there, under an inch of crabgrass roots. 

My son-in-law and my oldest granddaughter, Rebekah, come to visit tomorrow.  Maybe they will pitch in for a bit, after the parade, before the cook out.  I really think we can lick it in a couple more hours with just two more willing participants.

The plan for yesterday was to clear out the section with day lilies and Aunt Laura’s iris.  Beth and Caroline came for lunch and stayed to help.  Beth was quite pleased; she’d hoped for some more iris and went home with two bags of iris and two bags of lilies for their work.

Today was to be all downhill.  The last section back by the steps and along the sidewalk, behind the lilies.  Emily and I were on it by nine; she was digging and I was sifting.  Jan came home from taking Hamilton to church and found us fighting the dilemma:  the old rock garden, currently engulfed by crabgrass.

We started a lovely garden out there twenty five years ago.  We even imported a couple truck loads of rocks for a rock garden at one end.  We weeded and fussed out there for a few years, but come the day the business took our full time attention, the poor garden went by the way.  Way by the way.  An inch of crabgrass roots over the stones by the way.

The rocks are out.  The kids decided they will go back along the foundation of the house, graded from large to small. Sounds like a fine job for them.  Laura also wondered how long the garden would look nice when we are done.  “As long as there are grandchildren here.”  She smiled.

It will be finished tomorrow, or early on next week.  (I’ll let you know if my son-in-law is a hero tomorrow.)  We had to offload one wagon of screened dirt today in order to keep on.  Maybe one more wagon load tomorrow, and the wagon already is half full.

And, all day today a sparrow alternated between the ridge of roof and the oak tree, voicing his total displeasure at our presence.   Mama sparrow continued her routine of tending babies; I occasionally saw her at the opening, passing in the grub.  We figured papa bird could just get over it. 

Suddenly Laura said “Look at the tiny bird!” and indeed there were two tiny sparrows in the grass, pecking at seeds.  Our presence did not disturb them in the least. I took some pictures and looked again.  They were gone.

Friday, May 24, 2013

How cold did it get this week?

Cold enough to turn off the air conditioner we had on for one short day!  The system lever is on Off, so the furnace won’t be on soon, sadly.  Excepting one day this week there has been little sign of spring.  Even the flowers are shivering, and the weeds know it’s too cold to work in the garden.

Tom and I went to Laura’s Wednesday Friday Band concert last night.  There are eighty two children playing in this band, and an equal number in the Tuesday Thursday Band.  They are all fifth graders, the first grade level that offers band in the school system.

At the end of their last concert in January, their director explained the group had played the same note to the same timing and tempo throughout.  They did a great job, and if we liked that, just wait until they worked even harder to present their May concert.

The children delivered what he promised.  They began with Old MacDonald had a Band, in several part harmony and finished with the band director’s arrangement of Imagine Dragons, “because we don’t like sharps.”  All the band grinned as Mr. Barrett made the explanation, so apparently there were no sharps in his arrangement. I have no idea.  In between we heard Manitoba March, (because every band concert should have a march), Snap, Crackle and Bop (which we at home know by heart), Carnival of Venice, and some ensemble performances.

I was quite pleased with two things about the concert.  First, the level of discipline reached by so many children in four months.  They were good in January, but much better in May.  I especially liked watching the children go from watchful attentiveness when Mr. Barrett stood next to the podium, to straight backed attention when he mounted the platform.  He raised his arms, they began.  Eyes moved between the music and the director. 

And I was very happy with the temperature in the gym.  Warm.  There were murmurs of discontent all around before the concert commenced.  Mr. Barrett apologized, saying he asked twice for the temperature to be reduced—even before the school day ended.  “So, I guess you see where I fall in the hierarchy.”  But no one fell asleep, the concert was excellent, and I was warm as toast, with my jacket on.

Our trumpeter, eyes on the director.

Our little trumpeter, the concert is over!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ducks, geese, birds and boots

We worked hard at the show; it was good to sit on the porch at night and watch the pond activity.

The ducks

Only one little one, and I can't guess why no more.

The Canada Geese. A pair with goslings came by.

Linda knew the name of this bird.  I don't remember.

A robin.

The boots.  The only picture I took at the show.  Aren't they grand.

Monday, May 20, 2013

About Scotch Eggs

A long weekend at the Broad Ripple Art Fair in Indianapolis.  So long I came close to falling asleep in my supper after we tore down Sunday night. Later Linda yelled in from the porch several times to be sure I didn't drown in the shower. 

It was a good show, even better for being over for another year, and for my more than cursory examination of the menu of the brew pub we went to a second year for Friday lunch. 

It was hot and humid, we were sweaty, dirty and tired.  I guess that’s a rather royal we, as my contribution was not being under foot as Linda directed and her wonderful volunteer cousin Bruce worked.

I was first at the table with clean hands, then Bruce, who quizzed the waitress about the current brews and he and I selected a port.  Linda’s pale ale came with a lemon wedge in the bottom.?

Scotch Eggs in the starters caught my eye.  “Ever tried Scotch Eggs?” I casually asked Bruce.

Turns out Bruce once “lived on them.”  Now, he’s in excess of six feet, athletic, fifty two years old.  Not the picture of a man who regularly downed those cholesterol bullets made legendary by our friend John Grey.  I know what a Scotch Egg is.  I looked them up once.

“What do you mean ‘lived on them’?” 

When his bicycle buddies and he stopped for a cold one on the way home, he’d have the brew of the day with a Scotch Egg chaser.

“Why did you quit them?”

Tucking into a Scotch Egg pizza one night, it came to him he actually led a healthy life, except the Scotch Eggs. I was laughing too hard to see through tears.  Scotch Egg pizza………..a pizza entirely covered by circles of the little darlin’s.  And him with a wife and son at home.

I had to have an order to see the attraction. Bruce and Linda split an order, him for old time’s sake.  Scotch Eggs are good little devils; I almost neglected the picture. 

But, if I were down to my last three eggs, John, I’d make a cheesecake.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Camera Cleaning

Hamilton is taking several Advanced Placement classes, which means he can also receive college credit for them.  Bring them on. At upwards of $400 a credit hour in Ohio's public universities he can't save himself too much money.

The AP exams are imminent and he's been back to school in the evening for some extra study.  I picked Hamilton up Monday evening from a history review and he had a tee shirt his teacher had distributed.  "He's kinda goofy, Grandma.  We all like him."

The front of the shirt had a handsome young man's photo and said he was running for president in 2012.  The back of the shirt had answers.  One of them could be right if you were stuck on a question.  I laughed all the way home.

Here is the orchid Caroline gave me for my birthday a year ago March,  because I admired her ice cube a week orchid.  It's blooms lasted longer than I can recall, and then around my birthday this year a new spike began growing.  Look at all the buds.

I'm off to Broad Ripple and will bring a camera of pictures and a full show report.  Have a good weekend.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Freeze warning

Over the weekend we had a cookout featuring shish kebob, our traditional Memorial Day fare.  We held it in honor of Hazel and Tony, who will be leaving this week. I think we counted seventeen in the house, including my friend Linda, who’s generally up for a picnic.  The operative phrase is in the house. In spite of the new picnic table on the deck it was not warm enough for anyone to go outside.  Even the children worked up minimum enthusiasm for throwing a football in the late afternoon sunshine.

Linda produced her new phone to get some advice.  Rather like hiring on at a job and everyone else is an “old employee,” even if they started the day before.  Not even a year ago I was a flip phoner, just like her.  But I’ve had a smart phone for six or seven months, have six apps that I use regularly out on the home screen, and am the very local expert.  If a grandchild showed me how, I’m pretty good.

Linda has a new phone too, with a slide out keyboard.  She bought it for a reason I don’t recall plus it fits in her pocket holster.  She only makes and receives calls on it; no plan upgrade.  No extra charge because it was the phone that fit the holster.

Later this week I’m going to Indianapolis with her, her roadie for the Broad Ripple Art Fair.  A couple of years ago a severe storm with high winds tore right through the grounds and did severe damage to many artists’ work.  There was no warning except one volunteer who ran through the show shouting “Take cover.”

This year the Indianapolis Museum of Art has offered to send weather tweets to any artist who signs up to receive them.  In case you wonder where this story is headed, we’re on the way.  Linda wanted to know how to tweet.  There was a general consensus her phone could tweet, but nothing was tweet ready, including her plan. Then there is the whole learning curve business.  We seventy year olds take a little longer.

I said for her near future I would download Storm Shield, the weather app endorsed by the major local television station, to my phone.  I did that yesterday, read the directions, entered the local settings, put the phone back in my pocket.  I have to say I was a little disappointed to see I have to tell the app where I am.  Google maps and navigator always know where I am!  And, they were free. But, Thursday I will tell the app I’m in Indianapolis and we’re all set for the weekend.

My phone has several discreet tones to notify me.  A ring for calls, other notes for incoming texts, missed calls, appointments, that stuff.  Early this afternoon there was a new tone from my pocket and before I could retrieve the phone, a man’s voice:  “There is a freeze warning for this zone.  There is a freeze warning for this zone.”

So, I sent Hamilton to bring in the hanging flower basket tonight.  He brought it in Sunday night, too, before the app went into effect.  Local weather included a freeze warning.

Friday, May 10, 2013

One thing and another

When I was a young our house was cleaned every stinking Saturday.  I remember every Saturday of my childhood and know I scrubbed the upstairs floors and cleaned the bathroom every stinking Saturday.

Of course I grew up and eventually appreciated the value of organization over chaos.  My daughters and I cleaned every Saturday morning.  We could be done by noon and free to enjoy anything else planned for the day. 

We may have finished so quickly because the girls’ rooms were bypassed, except for vacuuming.  One time, while we were on vacation, our house was robbed.  The girls’ piggy banks were smashed on their bedroom floors.  The police remarked on the ransacking of their rooms. Except for piggy bank shards on the floor, that’s how they left them.

Cleaning this house has never come to the top of any list.  No excuses, but as if Mom, Jan and I were cleaned out.  We had Mark in the beginning, and he is a neat freak, so we could rely on him to sweep any particle up from any floor, and find an inconspicuous place for things he didn’t like to see. But he went off into the world to become a citizen and left us to dust bunnies of several cats and dogs.

We engaged cleaning people.  Some good, some not.  My friend Carol told me one is always looking for the next cleaning person.  She does know; she has twice the house and so many collections her cleaning ladies spend a day. We had cleaning ladies, too, right up to the time we decided we needed kids
I call them Child Help, Grandma’s Sole Proprietorship. They do a fine job.  Their rooms are never included in the schedule and the grown-ups take care of their rooms, so the job can’t be that onerous. Some weeks we give it a lick and a promise and some weeks we do a real job.

But, one thing and another, we have done nothing except keep the kitchen clean for several weeks.  And tomorrow is the big family Memorial Day picnic, before Hazel and Tony go home.  As soon as my proprietary cleaners come home from school we will tuck in and get it done.  We could be done before supper. 

There may be pictures of grandchildren scrubbing floors on hands and knees.  Nothing makes my seventy year old knees feel better.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Treasurer for Life

Jan, Mom and I turned in our old homes and moved here twenty five years ago for the sole reason that Jan and I wanted to move our weaving business to the next level and needed a studio. 

We moved to the Township of Boston, a big square in Northeastern Ohio, exactly the size Northwest Ordinance of 1786 decreed, with a couple of chunks now gone due to the succession of Boston Heights a hundred years ago, and some annexation by the greedy city to the south.  The Village of Peninsula runs along part of the ragged edges of the Township.

The charming little village is locked into its canal days appearance by an historic designation obtained by some previous visionary in the village. The old houses have unchanged facades, failing septic systems and cisterns serviced weekly by the water truck.  It is so quaint it attracts tourists.  Peninsula is as art centric as they come. 

The man who locked up most of the village as an historic district had a vision without a plan, leaving behind a village that tourists love to visit, but tend to spend little money in.  It is hard to be comfortable lingering in shops when the nearest public restroom is in the next city.

Way back in the nineties, shortly after we moved here, a young whippersnapper with a vision to promote his hometown moved back and opened a gallery.  Then another.  He took over another.  A group of merchants coalesced around him.   We called ourselves the Peninsula Merchants Co-Op.  Another member and I opened the Co-Op’s first checking account, and I settled into being Treasurer for Life.

With our young visionary leading, the Co-Op promoted the town, organized events, took advantage of events already in place such as the national Boston Mills Art Festival, held in the township.  We started the village web site.  Funding came from grants written by young Turks with local businesses to promote. 

Jan’s and my business is up the hill from Peninsula and around the corner, off in the township. I resisted the urging of friends in town to move shop to the village.  Our overhead was too darn comfortable and our art show business model wasn’t compatible with moving our work to a place in town.  But I liked my associates, and was learning a lot.  Treasurer for Life was OK, until they got the first five thousand dollar grant and were working on another.  The checking account had my social security number on it!

Thus, I am responsible for the existence of the Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce.  I got the federal ID number, filled out the reams of paperwork, chased down other officers for life to get signatures and filed in time to open a Chamber checking account with its own ID for the money on hand and the grants zooming down the pipeline.

Ten years into Treasurer for Life our own business had grown to twelve employees, our own accountant was retiring and a new business came to town.  A young public accountant set up business in her kitchen.

She dropped in to visit us and see what weavers do.  I engaged her on the spot and also asked her to be Treasurer for Life of the Chamber. She agreed.  As I recall, she showed up at the next meeting with the records and said “Hi, I’m your new Treasurer for Life.”  She’s been at it for the last thirteen years.

Some post scripts:  my friend, the young whippersnapper, eventually filed for bankruptcy, a not unexpected turn for a visionary in a town with no facilities.  He is now an international designer.

Mr. Bob, our accountant of many years, was in his eighties when he retired.  Every single year, because of the amount of cash he knew I could have on leaving a show, he asked me if I carried a gun.  Every year I said “No, Bob.  I carry a phone.”

My accountant for life outgrew her kitchen and now has an office in the township hall, down the hall from mine.  Her cat is so pleased.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Starting with pancake breakfast

We did not set out to do so much in a day, it just happened.  We did plan on pancakes at the fire station this morning, and when that plan shifted from noon to nine in the morning the rest of the day just got longer.

After pancakes we (royal we) mulched the garden.  Then Jan and Hazel and Laura and I went shopping for a new picnic table for the back deck.  That had been slated for tomorrow and happened today.  Tomorrow Tom and Tony will surely assemble the new outfit.  At least one of them won’t rest until he knows what we bought.

Without further ado:

Some of the equipment the fire district put on display.  They move it all outdoors for pancake breakfast morning so the equipment garage becomes the dining hall.  On the right, the pumper.  Its cab, at least.  I forgot my camera and put Emily in charge of taking pictures with my phone.  On the left, the squad.  Personally, I would call it an ambulance.  It is the very one I rode in to the hospital when I had a stroke three years ago.

For the first time I remember a medi-vac helicopter came for the public to inspect.  Geoff told me they have been on the field the last three years; I guess I've just been missing it.  I was not about to walk on the very lumpy field to take a picture of Hamilton, Laura and Emily together so they passed the phone among themselves. Someone forgot to tell Hamilton the color scheme du jour.

Tony, Tom and my nephew Mark up close and personal inspecting the chopper.  Tom left, Tony right in the right hand picture.  Hazel calls them "the stomachs."  

Passed Geoff in the parking lot and got a hug.  I worked for the fire district for four years, through the construction of the new station garage.  My favorite:  construction accounting for a government entity.  Not.  

The first day I went into the station house, a building already on the site, construction was all around.  2x4's on the floor, marked up drawings on long tables, a to do list on a chalk board.  Item one on the list:  Fire Geoff. They're a pretty loose lot when they don't have to be serious and apparently firing Geoff seemed like a good idea that day.

At work back at the house.  Mark took pity on them after a dozen bags of mulch and unloaded the bags from the tractor.  My knees should be as young as Laura's knees! I am keeping an eye on the lettuce tower in the lower left picture and will soon have a report.


My little corner vignette. I moved in one of my lavendar plants, added the pansy pot and pulled all the weeds from around the blarney stone and the indian.  Mulch compliments of my grandkids.

Finally.  Look at this young man's dirty feet.  A black and white with dirty feet.  I finally realized when we are outdoors he lays at the storm door with his front paws pushed as far as possible underneath.  Feeling the breeze?  He does not try to leave when we open the door, although we have to push him aside or try to step around.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two worms

My garden crew is doing a nice job of clearing the overgrown grass and getting down to bare earth so I can plant some things Nina gifted me from her garden.  I only know which ones are pinks.  Nina knows everything about plants, so I’ll be fine.

Our years of neglect has resulted in quite the tangled root mass below the surface.  Fibrous runners and tap roots.  This from the two oldest who amuse themselves with biology lessons on clover and dandelions while loosening their roots.

Laura’s job is to go along the edges and excavate the plants the excellent pronged twisty thing can’t dislodge.  Leading to this exchange:

Laura: Ooh, a worm.  I don’t want to hurt him.

Grandma:  He’ll be fine Laura.  If you cut one in half there simply will be two worms.

Hamilton:  It depends on where you cut it, Grandma.

Grandma:  There will be two worms, Hamilton.

Emily:  It depends on what kind of worm it is.

Grandma:  There will be two worms, Emily.

Laura:  So it won’t hurt if I accidently cut the worm?  There will just be two.

Grandma:  That’s right, Laura.  Two worms.