Friday, October 28, 2016


I've seen this little bit of natural dyeing on the sidewalk at the library every year, for many years. I've taken pictures from time to time, but never come up with one as nice. I'm guessing that where the brown is a streak, someone stepped on the wet oak leaf and moved it.

Woollie Bear caterpillars grow black  and orange "fur." The black is on both ends, the orange in the middle. The more orange, the milder the winter.

Not looking good.

I've read this winter is forecast to be bitterly cold and the reason is the continuing shift of the polar vortex. The vortex is a band of air that corrals the arctic cold and keeps it where Santa lives, close to the North Pole. Now the vortex is shifting toward Europe, but still has a long way to go across the Atlantic.

Do your Woollie Bears have orange vests over there?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Change of address

I have lived here since July 4th. That represents four monthly paychecks. Finally this morning I changed my address at work. As the person who closes the year, issues W-2’s, and does all that other tedious stuff that interests no one, except in its absence, I may have noticed it in December.

I did change my address with the post office, and important people like Visa. Then my address began updating itself. Social Security Administration sent me a letter telling me the post office had informed them of my new address, and if I was not the person at the new address on the notification, please let them know.

Junk mail arrived with my new address. My health insurance statement of benefits arrived at my new address as if it had always been.  On the one hand, it seemed seamless. On the other, some digital machine knows too much.

I did change my address with the Board of Elections. The other day I produced my driver’s license as photo ID, and saw my old address. I renewed that license on my birthday this year, and it’s valid until 2020. It expires March 31, 2020, the last day of my current term in office. I like that.

Renewing or replacing a driver’s license costs, I think, thirty five dollars. The license I renewed for thirty five dollars last March will cost me another thirty five dollars to replace with my new address. We must produce picture identification in order to vote in a couple of weeks. I have toyed with leaving my license alone until I must renew it, and producing the Board of Election’s acknowledgment of my change of address.

Then I think of that pesky Republican poll worker who challenged me at the last presidential election. I did face him down with a well used “Listen, young man”, but I don’t want to take a chance. Tomorrow I’ll get the driver’s license updated.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Bird feeder decided, for me

I intended to hang the bird feeder on the pink mandevilla's hook.

I see several neighborhood cats, and until this youngster adopted the front porch, I didn't give them much thought.
Laura says the little girls across the street claim him as their own.
I guess I'll ask their mother if she has plans to have him neutered, and if he really has a home for winter.

After five years with a feral cat, I'd lost track of how friendly house cats can be.
This fellow was in my lap as soon as I sat down.
I removed him, so he moved to the other rail for an "ear show down" with Pig.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

And so the generations roll

The old lady and the kid went shopping at Loews last night,
for some things to improve the laundry room and the shed. 

I watched the young man with distended ear lobes
cut a piece of 2x4xeight feet into 2x4x24 inch sections.

From behind me, Laura demanded "What's the Pink Panther doing here?"

"It's a brand of weatherproofing," I said.

"It's a cartoon," Laura said.

I believe her Pink Panther predates my Pink Panther.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Tiny thing, in a two inch pot.
We put it in one of Jan's little ceramic pots.

Marty Froehlik, an artist friend, made the little dragon fly pot.

The orchid grew and grew, and made more flower spikes every year.
In a while there obviously was no dirt left in the little pot,
so I bought a four inch pot and transplanted the orchid.
We fitted the plastic pot into another of Marty's pots.

The dragonfly pot had a fatal encounter with the cat who must know all.
Mother used to say, it wasn't the fall. It was the sudden stop.
The dragonfly pot became a lot of pieces.

And, the orchid kept on growing, and sending out spikes.
One even grew through the openwork of the pot.

The orchid is growing another new leaf this year.

Now, Marty is not an infamous potter, so I set EBay searching, searching for his pots.
I hoped to replace the dragon fly and find another Marty Froelick pot this size.

In one year I have found two pots.
One is the little purple pot on my windowsill.

And, one is a similar pot, but, smaller than the pot the orchid  occupies.

Today I had to make a last trip to the old house, and the pot on the right was sitting on the old mantle.

No, my sister did not want that pot. She wanted her pot.

So it goes.
The EBay search continues.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Done and undone

310 spring bulbs in today's mail.
We hoped for them last weekend, because of all the rain.
But, the ground is plenty damp, and it will rain a lot by Wednesday,
so in the ground they went.
Before supper and after.
I claim to have planted fifty,
but Laura says "maybe forty."

I decided to have no bird feeders here.
No place to really spread out.
Most of the birds seem to be sparrows.
Not that there aren't fifty kinds of sparrows.

Even when the chickadee sat in the pear tree,
and looked me straight in the eye.
In spite of all the mornings I've opened the door to a chickadee on the railing.
No feeders.

Then yesterday I looked out the back door window,
and there was a junco.
See how they're ganging up.

Laura is all in favor of bird feeder(s)!
We'll just rake up the hulls for mulch around the pear tree.
Just like we did at the old house.

Well, a trip to the bird feeder store is on the weekend agenda.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A new header

I’ve stopped writing very personal bits here; universal as they may be, one segment or another of my family is offended, and sulks. That’s wearing, and not life advancing, so I’ve stuck for months with cookies and little boys and doorbells.

A bit of good news; the house is sold, to a person I hope to know better. The last few bits are coming together, and St. Joseph has come to live in a place of honor, next to Alberta’s pie bird and Marty’s pot. There by Laura’s latest discovery, parsley growing in a pot.

A fourteen year olds world through a grandmother’s eyes is amusing. This one thinks of grown up things, in an uncomplex manner. She wondered recently if I had been through a tornado and what did I do. I’ve been through two, I explained. But she really was interested in how we would save ourselves now, not then, and I said if we knew it was imminent, we would go into her closet. If we had more time, we probably would tell the new owner of the old house, “We’re coming over; leave the basement door open.”

The raging election has left me as sick to my stomach as wondering if my friend Carol’s home escaped the hurricane. It became very personal to me when sexual molestation came out of the closet. Our daughters and granddaughters deserve the strong new world we have worked for in my lifetime, not a trip back to the dark days.

Bob Dylan’s nomination for a Nobel prize in literature has perfect timing. “Don’t stand in the doorway…” of the future of the children. Guide them, don’t lie to them, tell them how to be safe, set them free. And here’s to Carly Simon, too, who let loose one of her best for the current season. Look up “You’re so vain,” and don’t miss her little tweak to her lyrics.

I watch Laura becoming stronger. I see little signs that make me happy. Her signature is evolving from loopy, self conscious lines of expression to strong, bold, defiant strokes. Her name is spelled ‘Laura’, and the A is a star, effortlessly connected. She has an A in her last name, and it has the same bold treatment. This on a scrap of paper she tore out to give me her friend’s address, where I must pick her up tonight. She and her classmate are working on an extra credit assignment for American Sign Language. Practice, practice, practice.

Good luck to all of us.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Snickerdoodles, delivered

My mother's cookbook, the one I grew up using, was called Settlement House Cookbook, a depression era cookbook. I learned the likes of oatmeal and raisin, peanut butter, and ginger snap cookies. 

My mother-in-law's go to cookbook was Betty Crocker, a post war wedding gift to young brides cookbook. She quickly gifted me a copy, so I could make snickerdoodles for her son. I don't know which daughter has it now.

Laura and I used a recipe from the internet, Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles. It looked every bit the recipe I remembered. To be sure, I compared it to Betty Crocker on the internet, and find the venerable old lady has divided the flour between white and whole wheat, in her later incarnation. Hrumph!

Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles

1/2 c butter
1/2 c margarine
1 1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla extract

2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

2 T white sugar
2 t ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C)
Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 c sugar, the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape the dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
Mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. Roll the balls of dough in the mixture. Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

We had to bake 11 minutes to get brown bottoms on the cookies. I see Laura has changed the recipe to 3 cups of flour. I think hers needed more time because we beat so much air into creaming the butter and sugar. I doubt you can make these wrong.

We had lunch with Emily, at Hiram.
She said she would be the most popular person on her floor, with cookies.
I said there were only a dozen.
She will be popular with her roommate.

I let the girls climb four flights and visit.

I hung around outside and admired the season.

Saturday, October 8, 2016


A dozen to take to Emily, tomorrow.
A dozen for Mr. and Mrs. Across the Street, who have been so nice to us.
A dozen for Laura and me.

Update: the dozen in the red cookie jar are gone.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Just shoot me

There are seven employees in my township, four elected, three staff. So, there are seven of us. You know me as the person of no authority. Among the rest of the mix, hired or elected, one is normal, like me, one is aggressive, two are passive aggressive, one does not get involved, and the last is pleasant and affable, also like me.

We all use our personal cell phones in a minor way for township business, except one of us, who does not answer or return calls. Because communication is an important part of that job, one elected official purchased a phone, put some minutes on it, and told the employee to use it. A week or so ago I saw the phone on a desk, mentioned it, and was informed it was out of minutes.

Knowing that would never be disclosed, except by me, I relayed the information to the person who bought the phone, assuming that person knew how to add minutes.

Ass…you know the rest. Oh, baby, a firestorm, directed at the other passive aggressive by the aggressive one. I ran into p-a at movie night at the library last night. I had to sympathize, actually, but after ten minutes of listening to the complaining, I said I’d figure it out today.

Today I spent an hour on the phone. About thirty were devoted to helping me find the serial and phone numbers of the phone (yes, this p-a had left the building). Ten were spent listening to the seller of said minutes reading me the minutes and expiration dates of every phone plan, instead of cutting to the chase and telling me the maximum number of minutes and months he could sell me. When he got to one year I yelled “Stop, I’ll take it!”

Another ten were devoted to confirming every bit of credit card data (J for jug, O for overhead, A for apple, N for never, N for never, E for every; N for never and so on and so on). I smiled and remembered that as little as I earn, he earns less, and probably works twelve hours a day for it. We had the best luck when I said “Listen, it’s J-O-A-N-N-E. Is that what you have? You’re one N short. Let’s do it again.” Peninsula was a real struggle. Apparently his software did not return a city in exchange for a zip code.

So, I returned the one year out phone to the desk of p-a, with a note, as p-a remained out of the building. I used my cell to call the cell of the other p-a, thus leaving no email trail, and impart the knowledge the phone was good for a year. I gathered my stuff and literally was shutting the exterior door behind me when a friendly voice said, “Hey, you. Have a great weekend.” It was the road super, who is pleasant and affable, like me.

And that’s why I take my camera to work and take my time going home.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Easily amused

Last week’s unrelenting cold and rain has retreated, in the face of the weather that makes autumn. Heavy fog in the valley yesterday morning smelled simply wonderful. The sun burnt it all away, and the afternoons this week have been sharp, crisp. I’ve made excuses to be outdoors.

This evening after supper, sitting in the living room, knitting, a gang of young boys tore up and down between my trailer and Mr. Next Door, yelling like wild young boys. It reminded me of my childhood, and children running and yelling in the evenings, between homes on forty foot lots.

The evening news was still on, dusk closing in fast, and there was a knock at the door. I opened it, and startled several youngsters. “Can Laura come out?” queried the biggest boy. “I’ll ask,” I replied, swallowing my amusement over the sweat streaked face and muddy sneakers on my porch, and Miss Teen America in the next room.

I went to ask and heard she must be in the shower, so I told my Norman Rockwell worthy young fellow, “No, not now.” In my absence, the rest of the gang had collapsed on my porch, three on the bench, one on the steps, one still in the drive. “Who can I say called?” I asked, and I thought I heard “Jay” among the syllables.

“A young man named, I think, Jay,” called for you, I told Laura a few minutes later. “J-J?” “I really don’t know.” “Like, twelve years old!?” “That’s close.”

“We’ll just see about that!” Wet hair snapped behind her, out the door and down the steps, five feet one of indignation.

An inch of knitting later, she was back, on the sofa, in charge of the TV controls. “Well, he won’t do that again!” “Do what?” “Ding, dong, ditch!” “What?” “Ding, dong ditch. Ring the bell and run.”

“But, he asked for you.”

“That’s because you scared ding, dong ditch right out of him when you answered the door.”

Saturday, October 1, 2016

When is a 10 o’clock appointment not a 10 o’clock appointment?

September is well gone! Here are some tidbits.

For the last year our overzealous family doctor has Laura followed for thyroid nodules. The endocrinologist, of course, will never spring her until the day there is no annual follow up appointment made. I don’t care one way or another. The annual appointment was last Wednesday, at 10 a.m. At 10:45 I went to the front desk to cancel and never reschedule. The doctor had yet to put in an appearance. I passed her in the hall, and I told her the lateness was not excusable.

She informed me the schedulers had put Laura in a diabetic appointment, not an endocrine appointment. She could not explain the difference, only that 45 minutes was the time she needed to spend with the previous diabetic child. She could not explain why a 10 o’clock appointment was not a 10 o’clock appointment. I have all the orders for next year, but have yet to make the appointment.

Laura came through the door the other day, stopped dead in front of the thermostat and took a picture. I walked over to look. The indoor temperature was 69. (I’m not waiting late enough today for that!) “It’s an inside joke, Grandma. You wouldn’t get it.” I told her I think I was fourteen, too, when a girlfriend explained 69 to me.

I have a cedar chest that was my grandmother’s. It’s at least one hundred years old. Back in the early seventies I could not look at the black, crackled finish any longer, had it stripped and refinished its natural cherry color. Let’s move past that to the story. It’s been in my bedrooms since the sixties, doing its blanket holding job.

When we hung the little black shelves in my room, the chest was the handiest step stool, and Laura hopped up, and slid straight back, as the chest lost one of its carved front feet. Today I said we would repair it. My plan was wood glue and a couple of very long screws. But, on examination, it will be a professional job. The foot had wood blocks inserted in part of its construction; one of two screws no longer could be seated.

I explained the problem and my Plan B to our local hardware store fellow. He agreed the wood was too dry to be repaired by an amateur, and since I considered the chest on life support, he’d sell me what I needed, extreme glue and a wood clamp that would open at least 14”.

The real kicker is, my brother had a wall of wood clamps, every length. But, the old house is almost empty, under contract but still closing. So, I had to buy a wood clamp to add to the tool box repertoire I expect some grandchild will find of use.