Monday, August 29, 2016


So help me, the day after I cash out my house, I am going on vacation. At the risk of jinxing all, we have two interested folks at the moment. Unaware of each other, but each slower than slow. Their realtors have indicated to my realtor there is a lot of interest, but both parties proceed slowly. 

I know there are people like that, but I try not to be involved with them. To quote Charlie Brown, "Aaaarrrrrggggghhhh."

There have been close to fifty people through the house, and on the whole what they are looking at seems not to compute. I cannot believe so many are so far from 'the country.'

"We wondered if there would be yards," said one tourist. "We are looking for a neighborhood," said another. 

In the meantime, Laura hung three shelves to hold the tchotchkies I brought with me. Emily hung the pictures, and sent Laura packing with the little level Laura was anxious to try. When Laura and I started in with the shelves, I bemoaned the lack of a level and Laura came back with the cutest little level. And, it worked.

After the two of us hung the long shelf, level, I had the chutzpah to suggest how to proceed with the two smaller shelves.She completely ignored me, and her level as she flipped the other two shelves, made marks, held out her hand for a drill bit or the screwdriver (she's become proficient with the electric drill, chucks, that kind of stuff), and fitted the shelves to the wall.

Here's a quiz. The shelves are grouped by decades, except one. Give up?

The lace skirted ballerina on the bottom shelf was made in occupied Japan; the four soapstone babies were presented to my father on my birth in 1943. The red vase and the white ballerina stood on opposite sides of the banjo clock in my grandmother's living room, from my earliest memory, and from the twenties, according to my mother.

Up top, the cast iron elephant with one missing ivory tusk was given to my great grandmother, certainly before the turn of the previous couple of centuries, and Paddington came for my mother, but not in time, at the end of the last century. It seems there is a theme there, too.

I do need a vacation.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Flan, you say

Laura is not adventurous about food. When she was small and at her mother's house, her siblings were quite resourceful at concocting meals from food bank donations, but soup and beans don't give pre-teen cooks much latitude. When there was a perceived delicacy to hand, the same siblings described its make-up just short of cockroach legs and mouse tails. It's only in the last year Laura has tried cheesecake and found it worthy.

I ordered flan at a restaurant once, and Laura looked carefully, but declined my offer to share. Since then flan has been bandied about: "Well, you could send us to bed with nothing but flan to eat." "Mind your P's & Q's, young lady, or you'll have nothing but flan and water for supper." That sort of thing.  Emily has had flan, Laura not.

We took inventory of the refrigerator this morning, preparatory to a short grocery run, and found Emily left us an unopened half gallon of 2% milk, and the dregs of a full gallon. Milk has not passed my lips in fifty years, and Laura doesn't drink it, either.

"Well, we could always sacrifice it to the dreaded flan," I observed. We  fired up our computers for recipes. 

Because she had no confidence in the custard part, Laura stuck with finding caramel sauce. I went through recipe after recipe for custard cups, caramel on the bottom, caramel on the top, a fluted spring form pan...I was close to giving it up when I found what I knew my grandmother made: 12 eggs, five cups of milk, sugar and vanilla, in a glass baking dish. Now we needed twelve eggs to go with the milk.

All Laura's attempts at caramel sauce included sweetened, condensed milk. I'm fairly confident our grandmothers didn't have sweetened, condensed milk available, so I turned Google pages until I found the real deal: brown sugar, butter, milk. I made the custard, Laura the caramel. We knew it would be so good, we each ate little tiny suppers, in anticipation.  We weren't wrong.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Up, up, and away...

Emily, packed for college.

The access road between Emily's dorm and the dorm next door.

Not Emily's dorm.

Some poor (grand)parents beginning the long slog to the dorm that is not Emily's.

And a freshman, who also brought a television and a refrigerator.

Our team, who had to climb four flights.

Last load.

I had to drive to the bottom of another hill to park, and wait for a shuttle.
I stopped to take a picture of a field of solar panels by the athletic field.

I was dropped off to climb the hill to Emily's dorm.
I must find out about this. A residence unit, and a dog in charge.

The team at work.

The view from Emily's room. Her room is at the end of the hall, not off the corridor, and a tad larger than the hall rooms.
I walked from that intersection to the dorm, then up four flights of sixteen stairs each. Fortunately, I could rest often when I stood aside for loads of belongings coming up the steps.

Close to done.

The room mate arrives.

And it just kept coming.

While we still could shuffle out,

Hugs, and we left.
Summer officially is done. Tomorrow I will call Ruth and we will go to lunch!

Monday, August 22, 2016

The pink mandevilla has a visitor

I came home from work at noon.

It was raining. I watched him for a minute or so.

Then I thought about my phone.

Through the windshield, through the rain drops,
a hummer!

I left all the bird feeders at the old house, for the new owners,
but seem to have brought a hummingbird feeder with me.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Are we getting close?

This is my house for sale. More than thirty showings, some questions (monthly utilities, that kind of thing), no offers yet. This house is a leap of faith for most lookers, I'm sure. We're surrounded city dwellers on forty foot subdivision lots, city sewer and water, selling a house with a well and a septic system. 

There is feedback from almost every visit, often amusing. My house is more than seventy five years old, built by the original owner.He and his son dug the basement by hand. People were shorter then, on the whole. Like the house I grew up in, tall men like my dad and my brothers had to duck at the end of the basement staircase, to avoid hitting their head on the steps of the staircase above going upstairs. When we bought the house I purchased three brass figurines and hung them on those two steps. The first riser has two ducks. The last has a goose. 

I digress, a bit. One couple loved the house, but they were tall people. I would not like to live in that house and be that tall, so that was reasonable. One man loved it; his wife hated it. You know who won that one.

One couple thought the back yard too dangerous for their boys. Now, that's funny. The back yard does go downhill, and ends in a shallow creek past those trees. My oldest grandchild is twenty odd years old, so that's how long I've had children playing out here. Once Emily jumped the creek, decided she couldn't jump back and cried until the rest sent me out to talk her back. A lot of sled riding happened in that yard.

I took this by accident. Beautiful day, nice yard. That's the garden over there. Actually, I was out on a mission. The realtor called and said someone viewing the house today was concerned about a foundation crack that appeared never to have been addressed.

I could not visualize a crack where she said the client said it was. Back in the 40's, when the house was built, it was the custom to put a skim of concrete over the foundation blocks. An affectation. There are some cracks in the skim, and it's even wearing back to the foundation blocks in places.

Then I went around the corner to the north wall, and saw that crack with fresh eyes. I know it's in the realtor's notes, but it can be a heart stopper. It was the door to the well house for the original well. I considered keeping the well house as a sort of fruit cellar, but in the end it went. The door is bricked in and covered by drywall on the basement side, and concrete on the outside. 

We'll see if someone is brave enough to make an offer on a house in the country, contingent on the results of a crack test.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The first day of the next nine months of my life!

For Laura, school started today. She has not been in school since April. For many weeks she was up and about early, the old routine. But, for six or eight weeks, sometimes she’s up; sometimes I get her up when I do, eight in the morning. Plenty soon for an old lady.

I asked last night about her alarm, and am assured it works and she would set it. I woke up this morning at something after five, at full alert. No light down at her end, so I went on down, knocked and Laura flew straight up. First the glasses, then squint down at the alarm. “It will go off in one minute, Grandma,” she sighed. I left her getting up any way, and went back to bed, knowing she would make the bus at 6:20.

Then, at 7:20 the front door slammed shut. Emily, off to work. I have no idea why one slams the door and one doesn’t. No matter. I looked at my alarm. I never set it. I flipped the alarm button to on, rolled over and slept until it rang. It was the principle.

Went to work, came home, had lunch. No responsibility except getting Emily at 3 from work. Think I’ll go clean the kitchen counters and the sinks. They’re teenage clean, but not grandma clean.

On my way to work.
Cat on the other side of the blind.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Since Wednesday night

Through next Wednesday

I live way up there, by the yellow.

The Cuyahoga River, Thursday morning

Quite a storm we had last Wednesday, while I was at a township meeting.

Safety forces and officials left, to get the roads closed.

Four and a half inches of rain in Peninsula that night.

Significant rain every night since. Heat of the day thunderstorms.

Because it's damn hot.

We had two and a quarter inches in last night's little storm.

We haven't watered the baskets for the last three days.

Here's the white mandevilla, opening on my way to work.

And more open when I came home.

And on the way to the grocery store this morning,
before the rain begins.

Monday, August 8, 2016


I’m probably not too old for this job, but, damn, I am old. What haven’t I figured out, children?

We have Emily, tapping her toe and counting down three weeks to escaping to Hiram. Living on “the wrong side of the tracks,” far from Hudson, has benefits. These girls met the bus at 6:15 every morning and got off at four every afternoon. Their lives were homework, supper, bed. Emily’s social life was band, and her eventual boyfriend was a band member.

There were school dances, and the occasional movie, but even more, complaints they never did ‘boyfriend, girlfriend things.’ This, as we all know, got little sympathy from me.  Emily’s boyfriend worked, as did Emily. I found it ideal, and saw no reason to facilitate more “dates” than I did.

This final summer of freedom, however, is exactly that: more freedom than they knew. Emily has been allowed in Scott’s car since last September. Dates are fine; there is no personal running around. They both work at the same place, but I will not let him bring her home, except from a Friday night date, which must end by ten.

Last week Emily and I were coordinating calendars. “You do know Scott is taking me to a concert Tuesday night?” No, I didn’t, but no matter.

“Where is it?”


Blossom Music Center is a huge outdoor music stage, less than ten miles away. Two roads south of here. Nice facility. I’ve seen Peter, Paul and Mary there, and Paul Simon, and the Cleveland Orchestra. She and Scott and his sister and her boyfriend, and probably a bunch more are seeing Blink 182.   (?)

“And we were thinking, since it will be so late, and so far, we’ll just go to Scott’s sister’s apartment and spend the night.”

“Thought I’d miss that, did you?”

“It was worth a try.”

“No, Scott can drop you on his way home, say midnight, latest.”

There is nothing new under the sun.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sales tax holiday

This is me, sitting on the relatively comfy seats in the shoe department,
waiting for the shoppers to return.
No, we're not buying shoes. It's just the only comfortable place to wait.

They have what they need to start school.
Noticing the obvious lack of socks and underpants, I did ask.
No, they have plenty.

Kinda funny, no? A good foundation and then some flashy colors, to face the world.

Off to pay the piper.

Two hundred dollars fit into one bag.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Every morning for the past week this cat has landed from his three foot high spring directly on the middle of my body, unceremoniously stalked across my body, braced his hind feet against my back for leverage and thumped at the bedroom shade until he is behind it, on the windowsill. It's seven thirty am, mind you. I don't know, except the men begin work on the new lots behind us about eight am, and perhaps Toby is the time master.

Today the band will be photographed, prior to practice. They are to take their uniforms to change into. Walking past Laura's bathroom door, she was struggling into the shirt. This uniform is so complex I'm surprised these kids don't march in the under uniform some day, in protest. Yes, Hudson has matching underwear. Blue shorts and white shirt.

Being the grandmother, I had to say "You're supposed to change at school."
"I know. I just want to see what it looks like."

Monday, August 1, 2016

A good start

A couple of weeks ago, while Emily was away a few days,
Laura and I got a decent start on the front yard.

But, Emily really wanted a tree out there, too.
Our favorite nursery has a "Charlie Brown" section, where we found a little Japanese red maple.
We picked up their last two pots of my plant that solves all, wooly thyme.

And last weekend put them in the ground.
Emily dug an almighty hole for the tree,
and Laura put in the wooly thyme.

I think we are done until spring, when we see how all our transplants from the old garden fared.

Well, I have ordered a hundred anemones, a hundred paper narcissus bulbs, and
a dozen or so allium (now, those are expensive buggers!) to plant in the fall.

Our new little tree is behind the bench, which I think probably will rust to nothing before we must move it out of the tree's way.