Saturday, June 28, 2014

Analog – digital – time

“Digital” seemed to sweep the world round in the seventies. LED’s, light emitting diodes.  Some men I worked with could afford an LED watch, and pushed a button on their wrist to see the time. The watches didn't pack enough battery power to be lighted all the time.

My father, the engineer, was enthralled by advances in science, and the digital age did not pass him by that last decade he lived. He and mom woke up to a digital radio alarm.  We disputed the validity of that clock for some time. It was completely mechanical, and thus “analog” in my opinion. The numbers were tiny sheets of paper that flipped from one number to the next, with a little clicking sound that made me nuts. I probably still don’t grasp the concept of finite, discrete, the number changes and is gone.

I've never had a digital clock on a wall. I don’t like digital time. Like every child, I struggled with, then learned to “tell time.”  I taught two daughters to tell time, another feat. It was all hard work and not to be thrown lightly away for flipping numbers.

Most of my clocks do tend to the unusual. I have a forty year old Brookstone clock on a wall at work. It registers temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, as well as time.  Another old clock is a Seth Thomas with external hands. Every grandchild has removed its hands multiple times, or multiples of multiples. About eight years of age most were able to fess up and stop.

Twenty five or so years ago I acquired the clock du jour, with singing birds. Like every clock, it had to come off the wall twice a year for a time change, and occasionally for a battery change. Two batteries in this case, one for the bird’s songs. The shorter I became the harder to lift down the clock, so the bird battery eventually did not get replaced. A while back a new battery, then another new battery did not bring the clock into proper time, and I relied on the digital numbers at the bottom of my computer screen while I thought about a new clock.

I found it, an atomic clock! Well, really a radio controlled clock, set by the master atomic clock in Colorado. There were bells and whistles on the clock I saw in a catalog, so I checked my friend Amazon and bought one for about thirty dollars.

I followed the written instructions, then the YouTube tutorial, but my new clock could not find the radio signal. In that event, the instructions said, put it in a west facing window and wait three to five days for it to locate the signal. The only such window in this house is upstairs, Tom’s TV room. I turned it over, with instructions to give it back when it was displaying Pacific Standard Time, and touch no buttons!

Tom is an inveterate button puncher. Something of interest might happen. If not, he punches harder, or shakes and listens for rattles. I needed my clock back, displaying PST, nothing more. It’s been a couple of weeks, but I remembered it tonight and asked if it was telling time yet. Yes, but three hours behind! In spite of that, he touched no buttons. Rather like the grandkids not taking the hands off the Seth Thomas.

I turned my clock over and slid the switch from PST to MST to CST to EST. It came with a switch preset to DST, to be moved only if the clock would reside in a rare place that does not observe it. On the other side the clock hands already were cycling from five to six to seven to eight. I hope the battery does not give out for a long time, as that is the only reason to take it down.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Beth’s porch

I went to Beth’s for lunch today, and we ate on her porch. I went for lunch a month ago, right after all kids were sprung from school, and we ate in the dining room. Today she put our plates of BLT’s on a tray. (First Ohio tomatoes; free range bacon from the oven; fresh Romaine; organic mayo [eat your heart out if your daughter does not own a restaurant!].)

“I can carry a plate to the table,” I protested. She added drinks and napkins, and we went to the porch. Beth lives in an old, ethnic pocket of Cleveland. Slovenia, Ukraine, some such. She married a Welsh man whose mother is German and a Ukraine dash. They live in a comfortable old home that housed laborers at the turn of another century. My mother approved her purchase, and as I remember, she bought Beth towels for her bathroom, one of the last things I recall happening in Moms life.

The porch had a standard half wall and obligatory support columns. When we went to visit the new homeowner, we’d wind up on her porch. Jan and I were in an antique store once, and spotted a turn of the century recliner. Wood slats, and a rod to hold the reclining back at different angles. We bought it at once and took it to Cleveland for the front porch. Beth found another one with a very similar back at a yard sale, and so there is a pair of comfy old chairs on the front porch.

Beth bought a farmhouse screen door at an auction in Wisconsin, and probably brought it home when she drove that little red truck. In a remodeling the porch went from half walled to screened, with an old Wisconsin farmhouse screen door. So, we ate lunch and chatted. Beth’s two, Francis and Caroline, are in South Carolina this week, with Grandma Ruth, visiting their cousins at Uncle Ben and Aunt Maureen’s house.

All those new names in the mix. Grandma Ruth is an amazing woman; I may get permission to tell you her story, which I've heard but was not part of. Uncle Ben is my son in law’s younger brother, a handsome young surgeon when I first met him, who took assignments at hospitals where pretty women abounded. The Bahamas. Vegas. Oh, the exotic girlfriends he worried his parents about. The he married a lovely nurse named Maureen, and made his mother very happy. His father, too.

Beth was waiting for Bill to come home, hopefully soon, otherwise at six. Sans kids, they intend to camp in the Alleghenies for a night or two. Bill is a bank executive who came home from a company picnic recently, happily waving a piece of paper. How many people work for a major bank, and he had won an extra day of vacation. Or, two half days, if his schedule worked out.

At one o’clock Bill parked on the street, in deference to my car in the one car drive, so I hugged everyone goodbye and left with a bag of my favorites, oatmeal raisin cookies. With no further preliminaries (haha), Beth’s porch, from my visit a month ago.

The chair from the antique store

The chair from the yard sale

Francis, toute cute in my mechanism close up

A cat heaven front porch

The other side of the screen door from Wisconsin

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blogger’s bug

As most of us know, the blogs we follow don’t load on our Google/blogger home page, commencing yesterday morning. It’s a bug they’re working on, they say. How long does it take a whole lot of computer programmers to fix a “bug?” 

Don’t make me figure out how to use Feedly or Google Reader or Fark or those things more savvy folks use. Or, folks with savvy relatives to set them up. Perhaps I already use Google Reader and it has the bug. I don’t know. Here’s where to add you name to the frustrated list:

The most recent blogger posting is all that’s on the home page, although the list of blogs I follow is down the side. Scroll down and select one, then scroll back up to read it is stupid. I realize I don’t often scrutinize that list and can’t recall the last time I pruned it down. So many bloggers not with us, gone for one reason or another. I can’t take them off.

How do you manage receiving the blogs you follow? Are you suffering the one blog home page, or do you have a work around? What is it; I’ll sign up in a minute.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Nah nah nah nah nah nah, and other news from the garden

There were raspberries for the 4th of July when I was growing up
and  this year they're right on schedule.

Last year the bushes were newly planted and produced about fifty berries for the birds.
I believe Laura and I had one each.
There will be one or two rounds of shortcake this year,
and a pint or two of jelly next year.

I hung laundry this morning, but not until I scrubbed the deck rail.

Far more manners out here in the yard.

Meanwhile, in the garden, I have lupine,

Stella de Oro lilies,

Flanked by the anemone seed pods.
Laura thinks they look like "those fireworks on a stick."
"Yes, sparklers."

I have no idea what I'm growing here. I do know I planted for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. 
I've only seen humming birds.

My gerbera step daises seem to have hit a happy spot.

And Piggy's impatiens keep looking like the little fairy hats they are. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

An actor comes home

Uncle Tom and I went last night to view the production(s) and bring the little actor back from Acting Out(side) Theatre Camp. Fifty campers were divided into six troupes that produced a scene from a play or movie.  Each troupe had its own "theatre" in the woods, and friends and family of the troupers walked the trails from production to production. 

I counted more than one hundred twenty cars come to see fifty children; it was crowded even when we were divided into two audiences and the toupers performed their scene twice. Often it sprinkled, once we were deluged with a downpour. 

The entire circuit was close on three miles, and my bum ankle quit after two miles and four productions, the last of which included Laura. I was not in optimal picture taking mode, what with the terrain, the rain, the crowd, the jostling. At the half mile mark return from Laura's production, I saw the road to the car and took it, leaving Tom to congratulate the little actress and escort her offstage, as it were.

Without further ado, the troll scene from The Hobbit, Tom, Bert and William arguing the best way to cook dwarves.

Gandalf tricks the trolls into being above ground at sunrise, and little Bilbo is astounded to find them turned to stone.

These young women played the cauldron scene of Macbeth. The were excellent, appearing from three points in the woods, slipping through the crowd, and using the entire area, including the empty circle of benches to discuss what was in their cauldron.

The half mile trek to Peter Pan. It was so far away, Laura said, because the original site had too much poison ivy. I might have preferred that to the walk! I digress. The lost boys:

Laura is Running Deer, on the right. She did a fine job of hating Hook and spitting on the ground in disdain. Later, from behind a tree, she was the tic tic tic of the crocodile. 

I was impressed with the quality of the work, and in my case, the level of learning of Running Deer, who did not know how to project her voice when she left home, or run through woods, jump fallen logs and hit her mark, all without her glasses.

I also saw a scene from the musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but bypassed The Lottery and How Peanut Butter and Jelly Combined, which climaxed in THE BATTLE - The Company, for what is a production without cutting to the chase. 

And back home, watermelon on the deck with Uncle Tom and Euba, through the looking glass back door. Every actor went home with a rose. A first class production.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Want to race

I had to go to the library recently. From the corner of my eye I saw an old man get out of his truck and shift all his joints into position, just as I was doing on getting out of my car. Neither of us crossed the drive with speed or grace, I know, and as we each settled at the end of the walk for the remaining journey to the front door he looked at me and said “Want to race?”

It was so incongruous I began to laugh in place, which threw me slightly off balance and I staggered a little toward my sidewalk mate. He braced, staggered, reached for my shoulder. I grasped his arm.  We shifted, hanging onto bits of each other until equilibrium was achieved.

A man approaching us prepared to give us a wide berth, assuming, I suppose, he was witnessing a very elderly public display of affection. “Young man, untangle us!” my fellow supporter demanded. Order was restored, and we didn't even need to resume the race, as the grandchildren I was there to pick up emerged from the library doors.

Lesson: take the damn cane, even for a short trip.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A surprise find

I borrowed a box of “stuff” from Beth, for a project I am working on.  Inside I found

Clothes pins!

I know the box has been in storage on the top floor of her restaurant for at least two years. Under utilized, as it were. Out of sight, out of mind, and definitely out of use.

Falling straight down hill, as it does, my yard does not lend itself to a clothes line. The front yard would work, but that’s a little tacky, I think. Until I had clothes pins, though, an umbrella clothes lines never crossed my mind. 

To be sure they would not be offended, I ran the idea by the other grownups in the house. “What do you think of an umbrella clothes line in the corner of the deck?" They seem amused.

It took Amazon two tries to get it cross country. The first one was “delivered” to its point of origin in California. One snippy email later, the second one was shipped two day air, or something.  

Tom set about installing it without putting seven inches of concrete pipe into the ground, which took two days of fussing.

Tomorrow I’ll make a clothes pin bag and we’re good to go. I promise no pictures of laundry on the line.

Master of the octopus!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

After the storm(s)

We're having a week of hot and humid with strong storms possible every afternoon. We had a big one late afternoon yesterday, and remain on schedule for one this evening, tomorrow, the next day....  The old heat and humidity of the day being sucked up into a dandy evening storm. It seems our little camper will have more drama than that on stage.

Last year's plants overwintered beautifully, and look fine. Of course I've been taking pictures. Since I cannot remember more than a few of the names I've been told, I haven't put them up. Like this one, gorgeous deep blue flowers on a long stalk.

I did score a new hanging basket, for a pittance. I'm thinking it was left over from last year, hanging way high in the greenhouse. Now it's closing in on the end of this year's season and it was still way high in the greenhouse. Took a ladder to get it down.

I love everything about it except the stupid white basket. But, that's what makes me think it may have started life as one of last year's cute little baskets.

Then the rains came yesterday. The fuscia and friends came through unscathed. So did the gardenias (I think that's right).

But the tall and  handsome blue fellow took a direct hit, along with some of its friends.

Recovering today, however.

I remembered, this plant's name is lupine, and the butterflies and bumble bees soon will be around. If we still have any. I put it in for good measure to show I'm not totally hopeless.

And, Piggy's new little pot of impatiens had a thorough face wash, too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

One swallow does not a summer make . . .

Emily has a guitar, but cannot play. Today I took her to her first lesson, she remains interested, and she’s in for at least the summer.

Kevin, the instructor, demonstrating

Except the transportation is by grandma, not bicycle, I’m looking forward to a summer of charming monotony, punctuated by happy recitations of what happened. Like my childhood. Blue sky, big clouds, a little sewing, lots of books, some special events, like camp.

We seem to have outgrown what Peninsula has to offer. Had you bet me we’d be turning to Hudson I would have seen you and raised the ante. But, Hudson is some of summer. It is, as they say, charming, excepting the congestion and lack of parking.

A postcard of Hudson

Emily’s guitar lesson is on Main Street, across from the clock tower. While she was strumming I walked farther down Main Street to find the art studio Laura will go to for a week in July for “Fashion Drawing.” The studio is on the second floor of a hundred year old building, “behind the yellow door.”

Both girls will help at the library two days a week. This one is easy; I drop them on my way to work and they walk back to my office when their duties are done (and they've refilled their book bags!).

I offered Laura one more camp, from a series of day camps offered at a local private school. I looked through the catalog first and thought she might take a camp about solving mysteries by following clues, or perhaps photography, or cooking, or even Chinese.  Laura handed the catalog back in less than fifteen minutes. “Archery,” she announced.

Archery it is. I mentioned to Ann I had no idea why; I simply do not see Laura as an athletic little girl. “Katniss,” Ann replied. “What?” “Hunger Games. Every little girl who saw it probably wants to be an archer.”

Emily is helping Linda at several shows in June, July and August. Band camp for both of them, then back to school. Several swallows, but not too many. And, wait until you see the yellow door and the fine old staircase. I’ll make the trip one more time, and then Laura is on her own. I’ll be waiting in my reserved parking place.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Countdown to 6/15 at 3:15 pm

We picked out Laura's summer activities way earlier this year, as information and brochures of interest crossed my desk.

I found this week's program in a centerfold in a doctor's office. For perhaps the fifth time in my life I desecrated a magazine and brought home the pullout. Drama camp, put on by a local theater company, using a facility in the National Park. Laura has hemmed and hawed and eventually been too shy to join drama club at school. She jumped at this.

She's been packed for more than a week. Emily says she's never been away to a camp before, and for openers she selected a week with total strangers. I've now experienced palpable anticipation. This quiet little thing with the business like manner told me this week, on our way to the post office for ten more international stamps, she is very excited, and there probably will be a letter from her pen pal on return; best to be prepared for that, too.

We all knew she was fit to bust a seam. The camp is possibly fifteen minutes from here; check-in at 3:30. I said we'd leave at 3:15, and surely be the first family there. At 3:04 she was under my shoulder, so how could I not bring the car up.

Had she needed more I'm sure she would shoulder it, too.

Not the first to arrive.

Lice check line.

Chow hall.

Dormitory.  Oh, yes. See you Friday.