Saturday, April 30, 2016

Presenting Emily's cinnamon rolls

The last week has been crazy busy. It's the end of the year for Emily and the end of middle school for Laura. Moving on, as they say.

Today was shopping for shoes and for an appropriate dress to wear under a white graduation gown. Tonight Emily's service learning class is hosting a movie night and holding a bake sale.

Emily's contribution is cinnamon rolls, which were accomplished in stages, between shopping. I was weaving all morning, and paid little attention to all the motion. First they made the dough, then went shopping for shoes.

Laura scored a pretty little pair of sandals,  which she modeled briefly between lunch, punching down the dough and leaving to shop for the dress. They swirled back in with Aunt Janice, made the dough into cinnamon buns and disappeared to laugh about shoes and dresses.  

A little later I followed the laughter to the studio, and found the conspirators laughing until the rolls cooled enough to be frosted. Having sampled a heel that would not go to the sale on my trip through the kitchen, I announced time, and went away.

Now supper is being prepared so we can eat and I can take Emily to the school by 5:30, to be picked up at (groan) ten. Suddenly Laura whirled into the room and announced the rolls should be on my blog.

Blurry, let me take another.

And there you have Emily's cinnamon rolls.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The height of spring

Another weekend, more plants at the greenhouse.
Pig gets his nasturtium.
Color to be determined.

Lamb gets a begonia taller than he is,
and some sort of daisy. 
Emily says it is not a gerbera.

Grandma's chives have been in this pot since 1990.
I believe they live on rain water, now.

Sedum are up, and so is a hosta.
The Solomon's Seal are about to bust their buttons,
and the allium right behind will soon be tallest of all.
That's the beginning of the new flower tower,
and one and one half inches of water in the rain gauge
turned into a rain barrel full to the top.

Color is the best part of spring!

 All my dad's colchium put up more and more leaves every spring.
The ground cover is curly thyme, and it has done an amazing job.
The new shipment comes to the nursery this week, and I'll buy as much as I can.

Anemones forever! 

And ever.

And ever.

This is a checkered lily my sister planted years and years ago. 
Although she planted it very near this spot,
we found it out in the lawn two years ago, 
when we were working on the lily of the valley bed.
She bought two. They never multiplied, 
and the other one made a chipmunk happy years ago.

The gold finches are gold.

This woodpecker is nesting in the woods behind the house.
She feeds at all the feeders, and regularly empties the suet feeder of the calcium enhanced suet in there.

If you made it this far, it's the end. 
On the way into the house.
If I can stop hanging over the rail.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sometimes I just like to drive fast

An essay on not losing your edge.

All the years I exhibited at art shows, I drove at least thirty thousand miles a year, in all kinds of conditions. I learned how to drive in everything; only ice kept me off the road. I always drove fast.

Driving is a pretty boring occupation; the sooner it’s over the better. I drove standard transmission cars from the onset of my driver’s license until I drove extended vans; I know how to handle a vehicle, from a sporty little turbo six speed to a high profile van.

Oh, and I rode a motorcycle for years, too. Now, that’s a vehicle to handle. When put to it, I could lay sparks on the road.

That was all a long time ago. Now I drive a car friends call The Red Bullet, but it’s just a sturdy, automatic transmission, compact crossover that sits the road.  If I’m in a thoughtful, meandering mood, I obey the speed limits and enjoy the ride. My dad and my sister would be so proud. Dad taught us that if our passenger’s knees moved, we were a careless driver. My sister still obeys the rule of the knees.

The roads I drive to work wind steeply into the valley. In the olden days, good motorcycle roads. On a morning the blood needs a little pumping, a fine road to handle. Two handed driving, eyes open for wildlife, and those motorists who brake at every hill and curve. They certainly ruin a good road.

The road I take almost every morning is posted forty miles per hour. Many years ago it was fifty, but too many teenagers didn’t know how to drive it that fast, so it’s forty, now. I’ve never exceeded sixty, on a fine day with a tail wind. But the one day I hit the sweet spot going into the last bend, what came up the hill but two village patrol cars. Two!

The first rule of exceeding the speed limit is: don’t give them the satisfaction of braking. As a courtesy, I do lift my foot from the accelerator. As we crossed at the curve I had the sight of two flat light bars blazing, one in my rear view mirror and one in the passenger side mirror.  They were out of sight in a second. I knew the soonest they could turn around would be the Boy Scout camp, and I would be nailed before I passed the golf course and stopped at the stop sign.

It never happened.

I recognized one of the officers, and the next time I saw him he said don’t do That again, and I would know what he meant. I generally don’t. But sometimes I need to be sure I haven’t lost my edge.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

It's spring; we're on it

I introduced my gardeners to "no till" gardening today.
It's been four years since this project started, in officially terrible dirt.
A layer of topsoil was broadcast today. By hand! 
I think of how beautifully Hamilton swung the shovel for the same job.

 A layer of mulch on top.
We put all the pots in place.
We only need the nursery to stock our list of plants.
I did find butterfly weed today, and we planted four.
I need to look into milkweed.

Stand back spring and summer, we are ready.

I promised Pig his nasturtium next week.
I have a succulent I've named Pete Seeger.
Immediately to the left of the watermark a succulent has come up through the sidwalk.

We'll plant more anemone bulbs in the fall. 

Can't have too many anemones.

And here is number three from yesterday.
For the last two years we have no outdoor cat.
The chipmunk population has grown exponentially.
I no longer stalk them.
They stare me down.
One more step and I could have touched this fellow.
Bold as brass.

I turned and went in the house.
If we do wind up on a first name basis, I'll call him Rocky.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Story number two would always have a happy ending, but it got better

 December 2012

You all recall, I know, the township property that interested me so I could be accused of stalking. It was a small family campground named Lazy Acres.

It was a fifties and sixties kind of place; then the laughter and fun moved on to new attractions. Lazy Acres went on the market, sold by the sons of the owners,(in their seventies, I learned) to two families; grandparents and one of their daughters and son-in-law.

March through September 2014

Demolition continued

We found a big house and a little house.
The stuff of stories.
We decided the big house belonged to Mama and Papa,
the little house the Grandma and Grandpa.

I intended to stop back and meet someone, but I never saw anyone.
Yesterday I did.
I drove straight back, introduced myself, and confessed my obsession with the place.

I met the Grandparents, 
who live in this house, since last August.

Weekends, holidays, and come this summer,
thirteen grandchildren have the run of the main level.
How cool is that.

The little house belongs to a daughter and son-in-law, who hope to occupy it this summer.

Now, I must take my watermark off my collection of pictures, and send them to the grandparents.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

“Three with one blow,” the brave little tailor said

I went to work at a reasonable time this morning, and worked straight through to two o’clock. I wanted to get the checks in the mail so all our creditors could pay their creditors, and I wanted to get through constructing the very difficult set of minutes from last night’s two and a half hour trustee meeting.

I wasn’t all drudge, drudge, drudge, though. At eleven thirty the road guys came in and the new road super (Ron, you might as well get used to him) stopped to show his new Sullivan Ln. road sign. Ron is as irrepressible as Timmy, but on totally different subjects. Timmy would make me go look at snapdragons in the slag bin; Ron is like a magpie. He likes to show off bright, shiny things, like new road signs.

By two I had my day wrapped, except mailing the checks and depositing money. Hungry as I was, I am a good fiscal officer and drove the extra ten miles to mail the checks and deposit the money. This took me a different way home, and there was Ron, installing his new Sullivan Ln. sign. “I defy you to miss this,” he said, when I pulled into Sullivan Ln. “This should make the new guy at the end happy.”

I knew of the new guy at the end, just starting the zoning process for a landscaping business. For years, Sullivan Lane was Sullivan Road, until the county rerouted Sullivan Road in favor of the freeway, and cut off the old road past the old Sullivan residence.  Eventually the Sullivans left this earthly tent, the property remained unsold and in decay for many years. I drove down to the guard rail a few times, to watch the decay progress. I thought I took some pictures, but I cannot find them.

After lunch I went back to the end of Sullivan Lane. Look what I found.

The last time I was down here, this entire property was brush and weeds and junk up to the outbuildings. I did not know the drive went all the way back.

The outbuilding is newly clad in steel siding. The picket fence is prefabricated, but it is white and wood, by golly. Grass is planted, grown and mowed!

This little outbuilding seems to have the same steel siding, or, perhaps, painted red. It certainly has been given a second chance. I like the poster in the window. I wonder what it is. I wish the new guy at the end every success.

And then, on the way home, I found two more happy things to post about another day. Like the little tailor, I had a good afternoon.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The tangent line

We went out for supper tonight. When we left I announced I have come to dislike chain restaurants as much as I dislike tuna-noodle casserole, and we were going to try out a little restaurant called Nosh.  And, if it were closed, being Monday, we would go to Yours Truly, a local to NE Ohio chain.

I could hear eyes rolling, and agreed Yours Truly is an “old people’s restaurant,” but not as old people as Denny’s, a childhood favorite of Laura’s, or her especial three year old favorite, Bob Ebans. And as it happened, Nosh is closed on Monday and we went to Yours Truly.

We walked in the door and my shoulders twitched to the music. Something Kris Kristofferson. Emily and Laura exchanged meaningful looks. While we waited for our supper, I delighted in telling them the title and artist of each song and some history.

Their eyes rolled a bit, but they are polite young ladies, especially when Grandma is treating. Sometimes they connected. “This is ‘The House of the Rising Sun,’ I said of that song, and they listened politely to a few bars, until they recognized it from a movie. “But it was a lot faster then,” they said. “Just wait, it gets faster,” the old lady said.

And so it went, as we munched on through a good supper. “Oh, wait, what is this song,” one said. “Big wheel keep on rolling,” replied the other. They traded possible titles of a song they both knew they knew, and then looked across the table. “Proud Mary,” announced the old lady on the other side. “Yes, that’s it!” the music lovers announced, and I was amused that our lives actually touch in some places.

We drifted into other topics, and the two of them were deep in discussing a problem that has Laura very concerned. Who will help her with math homework next year, when Emily is gone? “Don’t worry,” advises Emily; “you’ll be just fine. We have computers to talk to each other.”

Laura worries; she must take geometry, algebra, pre-calc at minimum. Supper over, waiting for the bill and the card to make its trip to the front and back, Laura began rearranging things on the table. She pushed two glasses together. “The tangent line,” announced Emily. “What????” from Laura. “You already know a tangent line,” Emily retorted. Both dissolved in laughter, and Laura admitted she did. 

Red faces from laughing hard.

Laura's tangent line.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Up the road

Down the road

Waiting for Grandma

All went according to plan. I parked in one of the two remaining handicap spaces. All the street parking obviously has been occupied since before the snow began, overnight. There is no parking area in the vast area of green (ahem) occupied by the Teachout-Price building, where Emily is waiting for me to catch up. Look how clean the walks are at 8:45 a.m.. Their maintenance crew has my seal of approval.

We didn't learn anything I didn't already know, and that Emily confesses she still can't figure out. When the first award letter came, there was a large award sum, then deductions, including a loan fee. Emily's eyes glazed over. 

I called the admissions officer, and eventually teased out the amount of the guaranteed loan  part of the "award." Loans are not free, which the admissions officer  admitted, but this generation seems to think that "other people's money" is the same as theirs, and a monthly loan payment is the same as buying groceries.

After noshing a lovely snack bar and sitting through the Financial Aid presentation, with me making a note of one grant I had not heard of, we met Emily's admission officer. Lovely woman, who could not lay her hands on her email of the initial award, but worked out with paper and pencil a set of figures $2,000 better than the number I remembered from the award letter.

I asked if that was the Ohio College Opportunity Grant. Well, yes it was. She just hadn't included it in the first letter."Now we're down to fifteen thousand short," I explained to Miss Glazed Eyes. Pay attention; you will be doing this every year hereafter, too.

To her credit, on the way home, Emily said she really did get it. Avoid loans. Apply for every scholarship and grant she could find, and if she got too much money, all the better. We've put a lot of hard work into this so far, and have come a long way from the initial fifty grand. 

Isn't that a shame. Fifty thousand dollars a year. I sent her mother to college for ten thousand a year.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Another weekend of weather

April showers bring May flowers. April snow storms exceed the norms. 

It seems last weekend’s three inches, which melted over the course of the day, will be replaced this weekend by five inches, forecast to fall and accumulate Saturday.

Who cares, you ask. The chauffeur for tomorrow’s trip to Hiram College, for a financial aid forum cares, that’s who. I know the roads will be cleared at 8 am, when we leave, but accumulating and slushy. I really dislike that sloshing through slush.

Then, Hiram College is built on top of a hill. Literally, all on street parking faces uphill or downhill. Add to that, there is very little parking anywhere at the college, built on a huge Connecticut Western Reserve green, unspoiled by parking lots. The building we must report to is smack on top of a hill. 

Prior reconnaissance reveals exactly three on street handicap parking spaces adjacent to this building.

The plan is to arrive before the staff, for all practical purposes, and lay claim to a parking space. Theoretically all the parents attending are young and healthy and can leg it from wherever they park (in the surely very wet snow that will be falling. Tee-hee).

The narcissus after two snow storms. A little bedraggled. 

The jonquils are slightly more defeated, 

and the anemone stay closed all day, to come out and play when the sun shines. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Another decade may have passed…

Liver and onions are a meal no one confesses to. It simply is not politically correct.

When I was a child, organ meat fed many a working class family. Liverwurst in a length of intestine…yum, yum. Sometimes Mom said it was braunschweiger, but made no difference to the kids who could say neither, and called it spread meat.

Liver was a special treat in our house. Family story had it that my dad came home from work, inhaled deeply, and said “steak” on the exhale. Mom had to say it was liver, which he could not bring himself to eat. The difference in the palates of the granddaughter of a German grocer and the grandson of a Presbyterian Irish schoolteacher. Ever after we ate liver when Dad was out of town on a business trip.

We ate Mom’s liver because it was pretty good, and the onions and mashed potatoes were great. Then my brother, the Old Cornmudgeon came back from England with his trophy wife. Oh, our Hazel. She made Yorkshire pudding so wonderful that my uncle, a WWII veteran who shipped out of England, got up and waltzed her around the kitchen.

Hazel’s liver became a family gathering. Hazel taught us you only turn liver once, and voila, no more tough liver on any plate in our family. But the sixties rolled into the seventies and eighties, and suddenly all the best food was no good for us. I’m sure liverwurst remains available at good delis, but don’t expect to find it at the current incarnation of the local A&P.

And so, liver went out of our lives. Until the year Hazel called from England. We could say no, she said, but it would be a great favor if we would allow her to bunk at our house while she showed off her America to her husband, Bill. The question went round the house, to a unanimous YES. So, Hazel and Bill came to visit. Often, as it turned out.

Of course, not many days went by before someone said, Remember those liver and onion dinners! And, of course, Hazel made liver and onions and I believe Walt even came up from Southern Ohio to meet Hazel’s husband and eat liver and onions. I’m thinking that was in the early nineties.

Now, it’s liver and onions when Hazel comes over. Or, a friend visits from Texas and leaves a fifty pound sack of Vandalia onions in our living room. Mighty fine eating.

Supper tonight. Eat your hearts out.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Narcissus must know, and bloom anyway

Yesterday afternoon, on the way back from the library,
I stopped to enjoy the narcissus bed.

And from my bedroom window this morning,

I find snow appropriated the chairs.