Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The secret life of Grandma

“The secret life” has been a rejoinder between Laura and me for the last six months. Emptying the trash one evening, she spied an empty Panera coffee cup. “What’s this!? When did you go there!? I didn’t know about it!”

“The secret life of grandma,” I replied.

Since then, if she knows, she smugly remarks she knows about the secret life of grandma. But, if she doesn’t know, she sets about finding out. Toward that end, I try to leave a clue about new secrets. 

Today I met a new acquaintance for lunch, and told myself to bring back a napkin or some such thing for a trash clue.

Lynn is not so much a new acquaintance. We’ve sat beside each other for months, waiting for our respective one p.m. counselor appointments. We get on so well for ten minutes every other Wednesday, we decided to go to lunch. And so we did, today.

We discovered in short order, we grew up on North Hill in Akron. My sister and I often remarked how often children who grew up on the hill moved back as adults, as Lynn had done. North Hill is big enough to have three elementary schools, a junior and a senior high, so being from the hill doesn’t equate to being from the neighborhood.

Lynn, though, grew up on the third street behind me. She’s six years younger, and I didn’t remember her, so I asked if she knew my sister, Janice Lytle. “L-y-t-l-e,?”, she asked. “Was Melvin Lytle your brother? I still have the love letter he wrote me in fifth grade!”

The restaurant closes at two, and they sort of boosted us out, so we’ll pick this up another time. And, I forgot to bring home a clue. So, let's not mention this until next time.

Easter, about 1955
My brother Walt, me, mom, Mel,
and Janice, the baby who can't lift Mom's purse.

I've used this picture before, and sub-titled Jan as the one who never was spanked.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

All out there, now

§                   potus doubles down on immigration ban

potus removes top military and intelligence advisors from regular attendance at National Security Council

European leaders reject potus’ refugee ban

potus isn’t a liar; he doesn’t even care about the truth

The ban on immigration makes me sick to my stomach. What else to do? I’ve said I’m technically illiterate, and believe me, I am. I can fire up one little synapse in my brain over a new process, and I follow it with blinders to the end, because I really don’t get it.

But what’s happening to people right this minute, yesterday, today, tomorrow, is wrenching. I roused my daughter and then my granddaughter from breakfast. “How do I make a twitter account? @TheRealDonaldTrump needs to hear from me, right now.”

I have little idea what I’m doing, but @jnoragon has sent two tweets to @TheReal. I cannot throw my body at this wall of ignorance, so I’m left with noise.

What else, friends? Suggestions welcome.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Yin and Yang are working with a desolate landscape

My Yin and Yang knowledge is the usual schoolgirl type. The contrary forces around us now are not complementary. Yang is not bright and positive, but using its force to stop ordinary folks at airports, detain them at will. People on business trips, travelling home from vacation, students.  

Power changes people; not necessarily in a bad way, I'm sure, but when added to a personality already obsessed with the grandiose, the uses of power are  ranging  from petty to autocratic. Today I am sick at heart. The new potus is devoid of empathy, and today’s postcards include one to him, telling him not to become the fool of power.

Back in my real world, I still need to be the change. Youngsters wear that slogan on their shirts, on their backpacks, on their trinkets. It’s the distillation of my philosophy of doing the right thing in my sphere. Today was a good day.

I went back to my birdseed store and bought a bag of mixed safflower, sunflower and peanuts. Laura filled the bird feeder this morning, and we had a tufted titmouse before she was back indoors.

Today was the monthly stock up grocery run. Even more fun because my daughter Beth, and granddaughter Caroline, came to pass the couple of hours Francis is at rock climbing class. I love these people.

Caroline has a new haircut. The last time you saw her, she had a messy bun, like Laura usually wears. Today, a bob. Her story is, the hair was in her face in gym class and she had nothing to secure it. After school, she and her girlfriend cut her hair. They braided it at her neckline and cut it off. "It's like cutting a rope."

But, not the end of the story. Grandma Ruth declared the cut as close to a disgrace to hair as Grandma Ruth is able to sound disapproving. Caroline went to Grandma Ruth's hairdresser, who "loves to clean up bad cuts." "It wasn't that bad," Caroline said.

The three of us went grocery shopping; Beth stayed home to catch up on paperwork. The entire shopping trip went indoors in one trip. Each has two bags of groceries and they split the cat food and litter.

Beth in the kitchen, working. Oh, that arm. She's become a lefty, and wonders how Francis does it. She's just recently conquered the number 8, and confesses her 9's are only upside down 6's.

The girls put away the groceries; I stuffed envelopes for Beth, and it was time for them to go. "See you next time you're the designated rock climber mother.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A riddle

Years and years ago, when I was the controller of a division of a subsidiary of Maytag Corporation, I attended a regional meeting at another division, in Cleveland, Tennessee. I elected to drive, to continue on to a vacation trip. Approaching, crossing and leaving the Holston River, we could scarcely breathe; the stench was gagging and nostril closing.

I asked someone at my destination about the smell. "You know what we call that smell," he asked. "We call it the smell of money." There was a Hammermill paper mill upriver.

Here's another riddle. What doe this picture illustrate? Well, considering the phrase I used all last fall was "Put your money where your mouth is," isn't that appropriate. Today I put my money where my mouth is.

There are one hundred gen-u-ine U.S. postcards, stampeded and everything.Tonight I directed two of them to my senator, Robert Portman, on the issues of the appointment of Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education and his participation in the rapid repeal of ACA with no replacement. I have a dear friend in the arts whose hair is just now returning after her bout with breast cancer. Without ACA, what would she have done! Now she has a pre-existing condition.

I also signed petitions, one asking potus to disclose his tax returns and the other asking him to put his bizillions of assets in a blind trust. The first has enough signatures for response, according to the rules of the web site. The other is getting there. Though we all know rules aren't big in potus' playbook, go for it if you're interested.

So, that was about sixty minutes of my time. It's time to go knit on my sweater and watch "Fixer Upper."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Such a weekend!

I mentally wished everyone Godspeed, then went to bed Friday night. I knew I could not watch for the march on television Saturday morning, just like I could not watch the inauguration. I’d wait to day’s end, and be ecstatic or crushed.

Beth stopped for a couple of hours Saturday morning. She was the weekend mom for Francis’ rock climbing group. Beth is a direct descendant of my grandmother and my mother. Just a month ago she was helping a friend who has a shop in the old, and now trendy, section of Cleveland. She fell down the last four basement steps, careening off the stone walls and landing on the concrete floor. She broke her right shoulder, tore muscle and tendon from the elbow and shattered her radius and ulna.

They waited several days for surgery, to assemble the three surgeons required to repair the damage. I imagine her in three times the pain of my broken shoulder, but Saturday was her rotation to ferry the load of rock climbers, so she did. She sat on my sofa and did her exercises for two hours.

Later, Laura and I went grocery shopping, then to visit K at the old house, with cookies and our Christmas puzzle. Late afternoon my phone buzzed a text from Beth: On Facebook there are posts from all over the world. The march is all over the world! It is so amazing.

We wrapped the puzzle at six, and came home. I looked at Facebook. I spent until bedtime, reading all the posts. I want you to know, I cried. Four million women, children and men all over the world. There is a voice for human rights and equality. We must not lose that voice again.

In my news feed this morning, Politico says potus fumes over the inaugural crowd size. Were they turned back at the gate, I wondered. In the news, seas of pink and placards. Did you see the four in Moscow, with signs, and posting Strolling with you in Moscow. Marches are banned. John Lewis in Georgia, “I know something about marching!”

Back to business this morning. The Washington Post announcing potus has bombed the health care markets. Remember, Don’t Mourn; Organize. 

The weekly newsletter, Actions for Democrats, Independents &Republicans of Conscience is in my mail box, and this week a device after my own heart. A checklist! I thumbed through the links to finding information, and they are good.

I live in an extremely gerrymandered district, giving me three representatives to chose among according to my zip code. I know my representative because it’s my job to know this stuff. But this link goes on to refine the search by zip plus four, and there’s my representative.

There is a search for senator, for phone numbers, email addresses, and mail addresses. There are explanations of strategies that work well. And, this week’s activism list includes a good old fashioned Mr. Smith Goes to Washington tactic. “Get a pile of postcards (or sheets of 110lb cardstock to make your own); get stamps; a book or two of 34-cent stamps for postcards.” Signing you name on an email petition is far less effective than writing a few lines of what you are objecting to. Actions for American of Conscience has many you can research and follow up on.

I’ve printed my worksheet, and will have it filled in before we go back to finish the puzzle over supper tonight. Tomorrow morning, as my grandmother said, “Pull up your corset strings, girls. We have work to do.”

Friday, January 20, 2017

A grey day

All winter I've fed sparrows.
No mind, they need to eat, too.
I've observed more than a little about sparrows.

I watch them from this window. I watch them from my car, where they are more amusing. I can see them sitting on pig, toad and lambie, or foraging around the deck, for spilled seed.

My biggest take away: sparrows are extremely polite.
They line up like grade school children, falling in for lunch.

Over the course of the winter I've also seen a chickadee, a junco, a tufted titmouse. One each. The first two appeared before I put up a feeder.
The titmouse inspected my feeder, and hopped over to the pine wreath, where he carefully extracted and took away a fat pine nut.

I stood in the middle of my drive and looked three hundred and sixty degrees around.
Just like my old road, a few hundred feet south, there are ample woods to support more than sparrows.

Toward spring I'll upgrade from hardware store seed, and see if I can attract my old friends. I certainly won't mind supporting some cardinal and wren families. And finch. And chickadees and titmouse. The juncos leave, but the swallows come.

It's Friday, gym day. It rained all day, that thick mist.

My neighbor went by and used my camera.
Notice that good exhale on the release.

It was another day today, that many of us ignored.
I heard part of the inaugural address, by accident, and then listened to for half an hour.

I read, a couple of days ago, and verified, that the First Ladies' Museum in Canton, Ohio, is putting together their Melania exhibit. To "round out" the display they are including nude photos of her, taken so many years ago.

And I need to say, to kick off this presidency, "For Shame!" 
She is not the president.  She's a person. I expect better behavior from the several million of us who did not elect her.

Monday, January 16, 2017

I-Day minus three and counting

Last November I quoted Joe Hill, “Don’t mourn! Organize!” Two days after the election, I began looking for places to use my voice and my money. I thought about a motorized chair, for things like the protest the day after the inauguration. Financial realism meant sponsoring a young woman to go in my place. 

I planned this with another septuagenarian, and though we did not earmark the donation, we hope it sends an LGBT woman of color. Or an immigrant, like Joe Hill and most of the rest of us. As of last week, 200 buses have applied for permits for the inauguration, and 1,200 for the nasty women’s march. I’m pleased to have sent one of those voices.

In the beginning I decided my best way forward was calling and registering my protest to every bit of stupidity the incoming administration proposes. But as nice as unlimited minutes and texts are, I was unfocused, even confounded by all the protest choices. I heard Janis Joplin in my head. “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV. Dialing for Dollars is looking for me….”

I came across a site that was doing so much of the research: Actions for Democrats, Independents,& Republicans of Conscience. 

It has kept me organized and productive the last several weeks by providing the names and numbers I needed. Click on the bold name and you’ll be on the site. This week’s list might seem a little tame, but you can go back the last six weeks and find more background coverage.

For more analysis of the future, take a look. For a way to be heard, take a look. And by the way, nasty men can make just as much noise. If you’re joining the march on Saturday, I hope to hear you all the way to Ohio. To all my friends who are going,Thank You.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wooden magic

Yesterday's rain saturated everything, including my deck.
This morning I found frost pictures.

I took them all horizontally, and meant to show them horizontally.
But the same image on end is even better.

Potbellied sea horse.

An hibiscus.

A dancer.


A butterfly dance. Either way.

What do you see.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

An Areal Flood Event

An Areal Flood Warning is normally issued for flooding that develops more gradually, usually from prolonged and persistent moderate to heavy rainfall. This results in a gradual ponding or buildup of water in low-lying, flood prone areas, as well as small creeks and streams.

Today is day three of rain.

On the way to work this morning. This tree is my header.

I rolled down the window.

The Scout Camp drive.

The river.

The golf course.

Coming home, three hours later.
The header tree at the top of the overflowing pond.

The Scout camp drive.

Water over the ditch and into the road.

Another view. Eerie to see the edge line under water, which is up the hill.

On my way in this morning, county workers were trenching the ditch to send the water downhill.

But, the water is ahead in the race.
See all the green shoots?
I have hundreds of bulbs up in my garden.
Told them they were all a bunch of dummies.
Plummeting from 60 degrees today, to 20 tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Closer to spring

We had the six a.m. call today; school is cancelled. Not surprising; freezing rain forecast and freezing rain the obvious meteorological phenomena when I actually got up at 8. In the Secret Life of Grandma, which Laura puzzles over occasionally, “Eight am is when you get up and school starts.” But, not today.

It was thirty one degrees here, all day, until an hour ago, when it rocketed to forty. That is a diversion, so we won’t believe we will wake up again tomorrow to thirty one and freezing rain, and probably another snow day for school.

I eventually went to work, a treacherous jaunt behind and in front of folks who have no idea how to drive in winter. Hint: do not try to idle through slush and snow. Without power to the wheels, you car is nothing but a two ton sled, that cannot be controlled. Grrrrr…

To continue, it was awful getting into the door at work, and that after the road guys unloaded ten pounds of calcium whatever on the bricks that should not be called a sidewalk. They glazed over again as soon as more rain filled all the nooks and crannies.

Once behind my desk, I finished up the monumental country dance that is closing one year and opening another in government accounting. There is a trustee meeting tomorrow, the annual organizational meeting, as well as forty or fifty odd checks to sign (we call them warrants), so best to be as organized today as possible.

My mother-in-law gave me that Revereware pot when I was married, in 1964
Another side bar: for five years I attended the meetings of one township board to take minutes. I have no membership on the board, or authority (of course), but I do like two of the board members well enough to see the minutes are properly taken. I was notified of a meeting tonight, and I simply said to the nice board member, “You’re on your own. Herself (who is the Secretary of the Board), who despises my snotty attitude, can take her own minutes.” I’ll pay for that tomorrow, and don’t give a rat’s patoot.

After I came home and ate a very late lunch, I asked the kid who wonders about the Secret Life of Grandma if she would like to go to Jan’s new studio and deliver the armload of quilt tops we have finished. And, so we did. Jan sent me a picture of a couple. Remember the tree? It’s ready to have its binding whipped down.

There was a bonanza surprise. Right next door to the studio is the deli where I buy pierogis (in the Secret Life of Grandma). Laura got to pick. We have a six pack each of mashed potato and cheddar, and chicken parmigiana (judgment reserved) in the freezer.

I'm just called for dinner. And it’s one day closer to spring.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bright, bright, sunshiny Friday

It was two degrees, or so, overnight, and I didn't sleep well.
The cold hurts all my muscles and makes my bones groan.

I try not to go to work on Friday, and, year end close notwithstanding, I didn't go today.

First I went to the gym, and Kris marshaled me through her routine.
No doubt I'd been off for two weeks.

Then I went to the optometrist to pick up my new glasses.

That is the technician, making all right.

This is me, attempting my first selfie.
Good for all of you who get it done.
Far harder than it seems.

A deer foraging under the golf course trees. 
It was in a group of five or six, which probably is decent protection against a coyote attack. 

Lunch time. Home again, home again.
The wreath continues to look lovely.

Snow on pig. Snow on toad. Snow on lambie.
Snow on the bird feeder.
Snow on a full can of bird seeds. Sparrows are little piglets, too.
The pear tree has hundreds of buds set.
All is well with the world.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Just shoot me now

I once read a tidbit about President Obama, back when he was the Senator from Illinois, recounted by a page. The Senator was in a long, dry, boring committee session, and the page sat behind, equally as bored. The Senator wrote a note, folded it and passed it to the page, who unfolded it eagerly. Perhaps some information to find to add to the proceedings. A file to go for. Something. The paper read, “Just shoot me now.”

This morning my troublesome trustee loomed small in my doorway, to tell me again of her dissatisfaction. This rant began, “I’m tired of your snotty attitude toward me,” and thirteen years of perceived sins were fired at close range, few for the first time. There is no response to this, of course. I looked her steadily in the eye, and closed the door when she left.

Just shoot me now.

I’m in for three more years, two months and twenty eight days. Unless she decides not to run for another term in November. In that case, I’m still in for three more years, two months and twenty eight days, but without being lashed to the mast and verbally lacerated to the bone for several months of the year.

The really good news: we’re over winter’s hump, on the downhill slide to the end of March. I looked up the forecast and it’s beautiful:

Last Winters Snowfall
Biggest Winter Snowfall Ever!
117.9″ (2003-04)
Normal Snowfall
This Winter (2016-2017)
75.2″ (+7.0″)
Moving on into spring, it will be warm, and sunshinny bright, then six or nine months light and bright. The  trustee’s dissatisfaction with the world will again be halved, and I will be down to two years and six months. And if she doesn’t run again? I won’t push my luck that far. My observation of the cycle of her personality is certainly not scientific. But thirteen years of it have taught me to keep my head below the bow from Christmas until April Fool’s Day.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Marking time

School recommences Wednesday.
We've watched a lot of movies.
Laura's explanation of sci-fi and horror movies finally sank in.
"They're not real, Gramma!"
Among others, I've now watched The Mummy and 2012.
Tonight we're queuing up Harvey and The African Queen. 

Laura spend a day shadowing at Elements Gallery, the porcelain studio in town.
She came home with a spoon rest and an invitation to come back.

I got the wonderful little man there. He's an egg separator.
We had egg separating issues when we baked cookies.

I once made 500 single bed quilt tops for my sister to quilt for shelters.
Emily moved out, and we made a sewing room
I asked Jan if she needed more tops.
Yes, she was down to the last three old tops to quilt.

I now have a layout artist, and a supervisor.

We've made quite a few. I'm not keeping track this time.

Laura irons them, too, which I am unable to do.
Jan used to iron them.

 And, I played cards with the Methodists today.
I keep my back to the refreshment table.

Those thumbprint cookies were really tempting, though.

And Wednesday I must get serious about closing 2016 and tidying up for the auditors. I did continue my unbroken streak of distributing W-2's and 1099's before the end of 2016.
That's thirteen years in a row.
Which means, three years and three months to go.