Monday, March 31, 2014

Two questions and a nuthatch

The final thing Laura and I planted last fall
was anemone bulbs, and lots of them.
My local nursery offered to order them for this fall,
but my gratification cycle tends to be much shorter, 
so I ordered them from Belgium, and had them in two weeks.
The instructions said to soak them for, as I recall, a week or two.
It was pouring rain, the ground was muddy to the core,
So Laura and I went out and planted them. 

Plants like these two have begun to appear.
Are they anemone?

I turned around from the anemone
And saw the elusive nuthatch.

He sees me, too, but I got him twice before he left.

Here's another woodpecker, since it was out there, too.

The anemone was my first question. The second is,
who can tell me about pen pals?
Little Laura, the twelve year old, is a letter writing child,
who has been disappointed in her cousins and others
as reliable correspondents.
We're talking paper and pen and postage stamps, here.
I explained old fashioned pen pals, and she is so excited.
 I should have researched before I offered to help her find a pen pal.
I am not confident in anything I've turned up on the internet.
Can anyone give me some guidance on finding a reliable source of names and addresses of children who would like to correspond by snail mail.
Thank you so much.
PS-she thinks Ireland would be perfect. Her social studies class read a story of an Irish lass and her mother emigrating from Ireland during the mid eighteen hundreds. Perhaps you remember being twelve years old.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Have we bid winter adieu?

Another three inches overnight

Only painted the village picturesque this morning.

This afternoon, melted away.

No pictures, I've been busy.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A little black suit

Hamilton and I ran errands all afternoon. 
Five hours!

The only thing we didn't take care of,
A new saffron seed block for the bird feeders.

We did just fine with the suit.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bird and deer soliloquy

Carol and I went to breakfast this morning, to solve world problems. I feed the birds, she feeds everything (“…but I only put out four cans of corn and that’s all those deer get until tomorrow!”). It has been a tough winter; another forecast two inches fall as I type. Early in the morning Tom has startled deer that have joined the grounds crew under the feeders, and Jan counted a flock of seventeen turkeys passing through.

I've posted this little fellow’s picture before. From the size it is one of the fawns I saw very late in the season, September, October. Actually there are two of them. I see them often on the golf course; it seems to be their haven home. They are not together and not with the herds of deer that use the golf course.

Carol said she has two sad cases at her feeders; one a runt with one useless leg, and a grown deer with a badly injured back leg. They come singly and must be there before the group; otherwise they are blocked out of the feeders. Literally shunted aside. I wonder if that is why the two little ones I see are always alone, as well as separate.

I stopped in the drive this afternoon to admire the bird feeders and especially the ingenuity of the cowbirds. We deterred the big wanton birds from the feeders on either end by filling them with safflower seed. The middle feeder has “the good stuff”, and is adjusted so only the lighter birds can use it.

Jan’s studio window overlooks Station 61, and she told me one day we have defeated the starlings and grackles, but the cowbirds defeated the system, and keep others away by simply being on the ring, closing the feeder holes. They open a hole by one upward flap to lift their weight, get a nosh before their weight descends. I sat in the drive and watched two of them hog that feeder, simply to keep other birds away. I rest my case for not feeding them, too. As if it has done much good.

Ninety minutes later I was home again and went out to “shoot” them. Of course they were done for the day, and I had a female redbellied woodpecker on that feeder instead. This actually is a fun exercise; she demonstrates the system. She’s big; maybe nine inches, almost weighs too much and is too large for comfort. The holes are partially closed and might close entirely if she were upright.

She, however, is miffed because I have not refilled the safflower block at the other end of the line. Well, the hairys, the downeys and probably Mr. Redbelly have worked their way through the safflower block, which will not be replaced until Laura and I get back to the store later this week. To quote Carol, that’s all you get until tomorrow.

This block was finished in ten days. The cardinals like it, too, and I had a little red friend watching me from way up on the oak tree. "Will she refill it? Will she?"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My best bike

I learned to ride aged eight, on a full size Schwinn with balloon tires and coaster brakes. That bike went on down to my sister and is in my daughter’s garage now, waiting restoration. A wonderful bike, but not the first that comes to mind.

My best bike ever was a folding bike, French, as I recall. Bright yellow. I acquired it as a bank promotion back in the seventies. Banks were giving away the shop, or the bank, as the case may be, back then.  Banks were paying all kinds of interest to have your money, and offering all kinds of promotions to get it.  For some banking transaction I scored the little yellow bike.

It went on vacations and was handy to ride over to the playground to get the kids home for supper. It was critical around the neighborhood, tracking down which house over a four square block area two girls might be.

I remember the girls and me, riding the back roads from Mentor to Willoughby, to buy ice cream cones on a hot summer night. These were quite the olden days; we rode facing the traffic. Another trip was to a little city park in Willoughby, with a tall bluff overlooking Lake Erie. I’ll bet these were ten mile round trips.

Fortunately, nothing ever went wrong with the little yellow bike, or I would have been in big trouble. The wheels kept on rolling, the brakes kept on stopping. The only maintenance issue was air in the tires, resolved by a trip to the air pumps at a gas station.

Except—one pedal began flying off, gratuitously. A sharp left and the left hand pedal would fly off the left hand peg. I’d pick it up, throw it in the basket, and back home snap it back behind the flange thingy that held it in place. I never saw the difference between the right and the left that kept the right in place, but sent the left pedal flying on a banking left turn.

One night I made the sharp turn into Whitney White’s drive. The pedal flew, I coasted over, retrieved it, told the girls it was time to come home. Whitney’s dad jumped up from his lawn chair on the drive. “I can put that back on for you.”

“It’s OK,” I answered. “I can do it.”

“No, let me,” said Whitney’s dad, one stride later.

Whitney’s mom grabbed the back of his shirt. “She said she can do it!” Whitney’s dad sat back down.

I wish I could remember what I did with that bike.

 Borrowed shamelessly from Wickipedia

Friday, March 21, 2014

Yesterday was not the first day of spring because we have not had the last day of winter

I heard equipment in the yard this morning, and looked out.

I went outdoors to take these pictures.

The township was down to about twenty five tons of salt.
I see there will be a salt receiver on my desk on Monday morning
And a salt invoice in my inbox.

See that mound of fill dirt behind the red truck on the right.
Home of the pumpkins last year.
Oh, well.

An amusing evening I couldn't capture:
Laura, working on her fashion designs.
Look at the toe.

When she lifted her head to inspect the work,
The toe came up.
When she settled back into her project,
The toe clenched.
I could not capture the latter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Like tin foil on silver fillings

In my job I use State sourced and provided hardware and software. The taxpayers pay, but the State of Ohio specs.  The computer and printer are by Dell. In order not to void any manufacturer’s warranty we are under instruction to purchase only Dell printer cartridges.

I am so compliant I buy them straight from Dell. I wait until I've been repeatedly warned Toner Low, and have given the unit vigorous shakings until I purchase a replacement. My reason for that, about every three years the great State of Ohio replaces printers and/or computers. I've been caught with my unused cartridge accompanying the printer to the storage shelf in the records room. At a hundred a pop, that’s a very embarrassing use of my taxpayer’s money.

For a few extra bucks I always purchase the use and return cartridge. Put the used cartridge in the box, seal it in a great fight with the packing tape, put on the label and watch for the UPS man to go by.

That was my exact state last Wednesday. The checks I ran were quite dim, the cartridge was done. I made the exchange, and…no return label in the box. I checked the invoice paid in January, in the event it was part of the packing list and stapled to the invoice. I set it aside, to run to the ground another day.

Today I called the customer service number. For some reason I noticed the computer clock said 11:03. In spite of the fact I was calling the customer service number listed on the invoice paid in January, many, hopefully correct, menu selections were required to reach a person who spoke their own version of the King’s English.

My problem was a mystery. They would try…support, accessories, sales, hardware installation... Once, due to “technical difficulties” the line went dead. Yes, during a musical hold a recorded voice announced that due to technical difficulties the call was terminated.  Dial tone.I began again. 

That attempt produced another person whose every third word was intelligible to my ears. I told her that. In light of how angry I was with everyone I spoke with, and they knew it, this probably was the only person I should have thanked. “You still holding, m’am? I thank you, etc.etc.etc.”  as she called and explained the missing label to technicians and sales reps and who knows who else. Eventually she was confident she was correctly transferring me to customer service.

A broad Mississippi accent came on the line. Every other word intelligible. I began the missing label, and was informed I could return nothing, it was more than thirty days since I’d purchased the product. I glanced at the computer. It was fifty minutes since I’d picked up the phone. I swore.

I was informed I could not swear, I must apologize or she could not help me. I responded I was through swearing and Dell could apologize to me. Once more, I want a label to return my “use and return” printer cartridge.

“Oh, we have those on line now.”

It was not over. After being directed to the web site I had to search “return printer cartridge label”, as it was buried several screens down, with no direction to it. As I hung up I looked at the clock one more time. 12:02. Fifty nine minutes of my time never to be recovered.

You’re hearing this here, first. My next printer will be serviced with the most black market cartridge I can find. If it fails I will reinstall the original cartridge and let the great State of Ohio duke it out with Dell. I have three perfectly good, but replaced printers, on the record’s room shelf. One even has a brand new cartridge.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Belly shots

This winter has been so long and mean, 
I said I would go to the ground
For belly shots of new growth.

This is for Jane, who's been under the weather,
As well as under the snow.

We have snow forecast for the weekend,
So these shoots have three days to get tall enough
To look around.

If it does snow this weekend
We won't be cleaning up detritus and seed hulls. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Nothing changes

My daughter sent me a link to a Plain Dealer piece; a grandmother whose still illiterate grandchildren could bellow the lyrics of any Irish song from the back seat. She tried to steer them off the whiskey, onto ships and love songs, threading her way through the minefield of the implications of “bottom of the sea.” To quote Sheridan, the land of happy wars and sad love longs. Or Freud, with whom this grandma ended her piece, one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.

“Sound familiar, Ma?” my daughter asked. I wrote it up a couple of years ago; here it is again.

I unpacked my folk albums when I divorced, and the girls and I did a lot of Saturday morning housework to the beat of an Irish group downstairs on the stereo.  Along came the magic of 8 track tapes and recording equipment, and I was in business; all my albums could be played in the car.  The drive to work was a lot shorter.

My girls liked the music, too, apparently. At least they didn't complain.  There often was a third girl in the car, too, Chrissy, who lived next door and was Beth’s good friend. Here’s an old 110 film snap.  You can see Beth’s black Irish hair, Shelly’s Teutonic blond hair, and almost make out that Chrissy and her brother Mark have beautiful red hair.  I turned heads when I walked through a store with those three girls!   I could hear minds turning and opinions forming.

The girls each were a year apart and their average age was about eight when Chrissy’s mother dropped by one day to tell me I was enabling the girls to form good opinions of reprehensible behavior.  The three of them were enamored of the Clancy Brothers version of William Bloat and could be found and heard singing it in both back yards and out on the street.  “It glorifies murder and suicide,” Mary said.

I told her I’d heard worse versions that included clotted blood and thought it could even be considered an early advertising jingle.  Or, heavy handed chauvinism.  In any event, the girls didn't unlearn the song and Chrissy was still allowed to come over.

In a mean abode
On the Shankell road
Lived a man named William Bloat
And he had a wife
The bane of his life
Who always got his goat
And one day at dawn
With her night dress on
He slit her bloody throat
Now he was glad
He had done what he had
As she lay there stiff and still
Till suddenly all of the angry law
Filled his soul with an awful chill
And to finish the fun
So well begun
He decided himself to kill
Then he took the sheet
From his wife’s cold feet
And he twisted it into a rope
He hanged himself
From the pantry shelf
Was an easy end let’s hope
With his dying breath
And he facing death
He solemnly cursed the pope
But the strangest turn
Of this whole concern
Was only just beginning
He went to hell
But his wife got well
And she’s still alive and sinning
For the razor blade
Was German made
But the rope was Belfast linen

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A visit from an old friend

Gail visited yesterday. She is an old friend, who predates the BFF I've known since the early seventies. Gail and I go back to the college days, the sixties. Tiny apartments, tiny grocery stores, long walks to the Laundromats or home from the bars. Those days.

Gail is a laid back woman who is domiciled nearby on occasion, house sitting. She came with Lily, an extremely laid back Golden Retriever. I have it on good authority the animal is only laid back in Gail’s company. Gail is an animal whisperer.

Gail also is the only person I can contact easily to second my version of cutting off the end of my husband’s nose. The story does circulate occasionally.

Watching Janice put the quilt together
Jim, my husband, was classically passive aggressive. I had to grow older and read a lot of books to figure that out; so that bit of information is after the fact. The fact is, he expected the house to run smoothly, but he ran counter intuitively to the operation.

One Saturday we were having a large party. He did not get out of bed to assist in straightening the house; when he got up he moved straight to the sofa while I continued preparations. Then he decided he wanted his hair cut. OK, I had time to fit that in. But he wandered off, puttering.

Doesn't look difficult
I didn't refuse to continue, I just needed him to sit still soon enough and long enough to do the job. Yes, guests began arriving, gathering in the kitchen to watch the haircut, which had barely begun. “I want to do this later,” I advised. “You’re going to do it now,” he replied.

I cut hair with a razor in those days. Perhaps something pulled; he jerked, I lost tension on the hair, snatched my hand back and almost missed the end of his nose. I felt it hit, though, and there was a good deal of blood and screaming. He lost a sliver of skin, right on the end of his nose.

The guests were friends from graduate school, one a resident in surgery. He took over, put Jim to bed, prescribed ice and aspirin. The party went on, with Jim occasionally roaring his displeasure from upstairs. The scab on the end of his nose lasted several weeks. It didn't bother me at all.  As Gail said to Jim then and will tell you now, “She said she didn't want to cut your hair.”

Oh, hello
Between schlepping kids I listened in on Gail’s visit, knitting a sock. I've been remiss with socks this winter and have some catching up to do. And the last news, the arsenic and rice team did not move on. Emily hopes to get through high school without being required to participate again; Angela is thinking about arsenic in juice for next year. Well done, ladies.

And another person come to pet me.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Seven thirty alarm

Two years on with grandchildren and I find life not too much changed except I bought a second alarm clock.  These children came from a home where survival skills were required, so they still get themselves up, fed and out the door in the morning. They don’t need the grownups around.

I used to do other things in summers and afternoons, now I ferry children. I used to do nothing at night, except make a ten mile round trip twice a month on county roads to attend Board of Trustee meetings. Now I have bright new eyes that see lane lines, and I make night runs ferrying children. All I needed was a second alarm.

Changing the alarm setting on a digital clock is the pits. Changing the hour setting is bad, but clicking through the numbers of the minutes makes me frantic. Sometimes I don’t release the trigger soon enough and have the whole job to do over again. When the once this week or month or year event has come and gone, the alarm time needs reset.

I bought a second alarm clock to set at seven thirty for Sunday mornings. I have enough time to eat my breakfast before we leave to take Hamilton to church at eight fifteen. I seldom leave home without breakfast, but seven thirty even worked to eat and leave ten minutes sooner, with Emily too, to drop her at the farm after I dropped Hamilton at church.

The children respect grandma’s seven thirty alarm. If there is a weekend event they plan carefully to schedule it around that alarm, or the regular, eight o’clock alarm. They are good, respectful children. I love them for that.

Emily and Angela, the Arsenic in Rice team, were sent on to regionals, as you may recall. They are tomorrow, at the University of Akron. I had to tinker with the seven thirty alarm in February, to get the team to the STEM judging at Kent State before sunrise. I wondered and waited to hear about the Northeastern Ohio event.

Emily is quite pumped for this event, and I’m sure Angela is, too.  Emily hopes they will make super judging and be sent on to the state event. Recalling the many weaknesses of their original presentation I inquired into the nature of her hopes and was assured the two of them have made substantial changes to their original presentation. I wonder if they got more test strips from the lab, as the judges seemed to have been impressed by seeing the strips indicate arsenic in water.

And what time must we leave, I asked? They have to be at the university at seven. However, Grandma need not mess with the seven thirty alarm; Angela’s father will pick up Emily on the way.

A windy Friday afternoon.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The pain of it all

Two sessions a week with Carly are kicking my butt!

Three fifteen step staircases to the loft studio, five minutes on the treadmill and then she puts me through the paces. Tuesdays and Thursdays I come home so tired I almost forget to go back out for Hamilton after school.

We’re proud of me; her hard work is paying off. She’s quietly removed everything I could touch for balance these last couple of months; all I have now is a stupid wooden dowel to hold with both hands. Like Fred Astaire, sans foot work. I’m thinking how to take a picture of the studio.

Yesterday was another day of snow and wind, today was cold with blazing sunshine. Today was so lovely I took my camera to the studio, intending to take some pictures on the way home. As usual, my arms had no intention of raising my camera to eye level.

Somewhere between crunches and presses an icicle crashed from the roof to I don’t know where. I stopped for a picture with my phone.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A small barn adventure

This post is for Sharon, who asked about Bicentennial barns in Ohio.  Leading up to Ohio's 2003 bicentennial celebration a commission undertook to have a unifying logo painted on one barn in each of Ohio's 88 counties. The barns were selected to be near highly traveled interstate highways.

I needed a plan for photographing the Summit County barn; the logo is on the back, facing the expressway. The highway is destined to be an interstate in a few years, but for now is merely a sixty-five mile per hour freeway with standard state route berms. Hmmm.

I pulled off, but had little confidence in my agility exiting the driver's door and getting around the car. So, I went over the console. Got back in the same way. This strategy will never be used again. The pictures were worth it, however. Look what I found.

Over to the left, another low building with another folk art carving. The woman dwarfs the building, making it appear a doll house, and her a doll.

So, over the console and back up top to see the barn from the road. That is the freeway I used for the pictures above.


The barn from the other side. It's an old bank barn. Judging from the first pictures, the foundation is in good repair; the failing blocks apparently replace by masonry blocks.

This more modern barn is also on the property. The smaller outbuilding announces a machine company. I believe there is no activity; I haven't seen cars here in forever.

I remembered seeing the bicentennial logo on another barn nearby, and went around to take a picture. There were two horses looking at me over the fence, but moved along as I stopped to adjust a minor annoyance with the camera.

 I looked the internet over, and cannot see this round logo was ever official. Probably a fun addition when the barn was painted last.

I did notice greenish grass where the paddock manure is seeping under the fence. I believe we have only one more storm before spring. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

While we wait for the snow to melt...

This weather is less acceptable, daily.
This is not a black and white photo, according to the yellow parking space lines!
Today is Saturday, it's pouring down snow at three in the afternoon.

And another winter storm forecast for Wednesday.
I have solved a longstanding problem of mine.
What to do with the box of tissues in my car.

My glove box.

Inside my glove box. The usual, the manual, my registration and insurance card.
What is that container on top, you ask?
The refrigerator! Not kidding!
Seventy one years old and technology is coming at me from all over my new car.
A phone in the radio, a refrigerator in the glove box.
Be still my heart.

Ignore the sorry condition of the box; it has been kicked all over this car.
Then it came to me, as we drove along.
"Emily, see if the tissues fit in the refrigerator."
They do.

Friday, March 7, 2014

While waiting for the snow to melt…

Today was in the forties, but we have beau coup snow left. Like waiting for paint to dry, especially as it will rain, then snow tomorrow.

Emily and Hamilton performed in their winter concerts last night. No pictures were taken; nothing has changed except Emily’s hair is shorter, and Hamilton and I had our bi-monthly haircuts last weekend. Emily is still first chair, second row, White Band flute; Hamilton is still second chair, Blue Band trombone.

Emily believes she will challenge for last chair, first row flute. She prefers playing those notes and “is better than last chair first row,” who she would challenge. I love these self imposed competitions. I asked if she ever practiced first row, just for fun. Not only that, she accidentally played a line for first row at practice. “What happened?” “Mrs. Foulkes just stared at me!” “Hmm, accident or marker?” “Could be,” said Miss Em.

I went to keep Laura company while she took extra credit notes on the high school bands. An evening of symphonic band is not high on my list. But, the White Band brought me to tears with their closing number, The Light Eternal, written in honor of the 605 men, of 904 aboard, who lost their lives when the SS Dorchester troop transport sank in February, 1943. Four of the men lost were army chaplains, representing four different faiths. I looked over at Laura when the tension peaked and the siren called General Quarters. She was focused and intent. Later, “It frightened me!” Well done, White Band.

Then the Blue Band, good, then the Percussion Ensemble and Shock Factor. Even I could admit it needed students spotted around the audience to help the ensemble shout Shock!

Finally, the Wind Symphony. I wasn't following along the program in my pocket, and was surprised when Mrs. O’Connor announced Variations on a Korean Folk Song, additionally announcing it was one of the requirements of state band contest rankings. The Wind Symphony will participate in one such tomorrow.

For those of you not old hippies, we learned Arirang from Pete Seeger. So, from my expertise, I can tell you the Wind Symphony should get a solid A+ for their version of the song at their competition tomorrow. They took us there, they took us around, then brought us back with their version.

Here is Arirang by Pete. Don’t be put off by the mild criticism of Pete’s back story to the song on the YouTube site. Some day they will grow old and realize that is the nature of a folk song; the melody lives forever and serves other purposes from time to time.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Winter barns

It will be warm enough over the weekend to melt the snow, and there is one more snow day listed in the forecast for the month, March 12th. I am so done with winter. Here are barns with snow on the ground..

I've done no research on this sort of barn. I'm going to guess it housed carriages and horses.

A bank barn that could use some attention. This picture is from last winter.

A dairy barn that may be a bank barn. This barn is maintained by the National Park Service.
The drive is chained off, so I cannot get a good look.
The overhang on the right is intended for animals to shelter from inclement weather.

And since I have declared winter almost over, here's a farm wagon and a little bit of snow.

The end (of winter!)