Monday, August 31, 2015

Around Town Again

This year I’ve tried my best not to think about winter (which is always coming) but when I saw the mums at our Hannaford grocery store I couldn’t stop my hands from reaching for a pot. I chose one with tight buds and a few deep maroon flowers to know what color I had and plopped it into my cart. That one was watered and tended and opened up so nicely that this week I bought another one, burnt orange to go with our pumpkins. Yup, autumn is creeping in. I thought of it kindly and as I wheeled along I got a little surprise. As I approached the glass doors to exit the store I noticed something green on my mum plant – a cicada. She must have worked her way up from the bottom of the pot as I zoomed through canned goods and ice cream. I gave her a little “pop” with my fingers and whispered “Sorry, sweetie, the free ride is over. Your wings will take you to your fate.”

Emmanuel means “God with us” and He sure was as we raised the roof with hymns at Emmanuel Church yesterday morning. It was our annual hymn sing and we only had brief moments to refill our lungs between the old favorites – a some new – as they were belted out by the believers. The hymns were arranged to fit into our customary liturgy. We invoked God to join us at “The Little (Brown)White Church in the Vale”, asked forgiveness with “Blessed Assurance” and declared Jesus our “Beautiful Savior”. Then began the seasons of our lives and the ancient and lovely arose from our throats. “Borning Cry” “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Old Rugged Cross” among them. We went, "Just As I Am", for the wine and bread, not one of us with a plea or excuse. Only knowing that love and mercy waits there. It was enough to make a grown woman cry and a few of the men, too. We closed with "God Be With You ('til we meet again)". Later we had a bountiful breakfast downstairs. I sat near the door leading out to the side  yard and it cracked open on pastor’s beaming face. Looking over the throng, he saw God’s people fresh from feasting on old hymns, reveling in shared values, and expressing a whole lotta love while they munched away. Wonderful.

Yesterday afternoon hubby and I were madly scraping paint from the side of our house. We’ve been at it all summer and are nearing the finish line. Old wooden houses are a charming pain in the arse sometimes. They must be scraped and painted at intervals and our interval is now. Anyway, as we chipped away a car pulled into the driveway. A man got out of the car and walked over. “How old do  you think this house is?”

John told him the doorbell on the front door was dated 1860. Abraham Lincoln was president. He told us he’d like to use his metal detector in our  yard sometime, “Or now?” So we said go ahead and he did. A few hours later he presented  us with a bunch of cool stuff, some of which is in the picture above. His name is Bob and he’ll be back. One day I want to have a cool hobby like Bob's.

That’s it around the town for now. How are things by you?

Note: In the picture - old brass bell, ship charm, shell button, knife handle, part of a child's play shovel and a piece of pottery. Neato Frito, huh? 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Confession

Today I’m going to come at  you with a confession. An indulgence of the ego, perhaps, but vital to my mental health. There’s a particular side of me that I’ve been hiding and in a closet, too, if you can believe it.  And, no, I’m not going to begin with, “My name is Susan . . .” That would be way insensitive to those who do do that and pretty hokey, too. Opening this door is tough and, I hope, an admirable thing to do, plus, I trust you. So here goes.

I . . . whew . . . I . . . hang in here with me. I don’t  know if I can. Wait, wait. Okay here goes again.

I save plastic. Yes! I do. I can’t help it. Let me rush headlong into my explanation before you whip out  your judge, jury, and executioner cap. Please.

When I’m confronted with the cute little plastic cups from the grand kid’s Dora yogurt something seizes me. “This would be perfect for when they paint,” I say. “Or they could put their Skittles and M&M’s in here instead of in their hands.” So, I look quickly around and slide the thing into the dishwasher like nothing’s going on. Then later, by stealth, I add it to the sixteen others in the dish closet. Right there in the special section where the cottage cheese containers and soft cheese tubs reside.

Plastic is a vital part of our lives and economy. It’s a byproduct of oil. What would we do with all that stuff they make plastic from if we didn’t use it? What about the designers of plastic molds outta work and outta luck if there were no yogurt cups, salad bar boxes (often with sections) or rotisserie chicken containers for them to design? Saving their creations honors them. Think about that. The chicken containers especially. Those things are awesome! And so worth saving with their domed lids and sturdy black bottoms. Don’t even get me started on Cool Whip containers. I think recycling is a cruel and unusual punishment for our plastic friends. They melt them down, people.

A few weeks ago while scrabbling around in my plastic lid bin (YES – a special place for those, too) I realized I may have a problem. I got a quick flashback of the year we had to clean out my father-in-law’s kitchen after he died. I pulled down an old Chock Full-O – Nuts coffee can from a top shelf, opened it, and discovered a small hoard of plastic coffee scoops. Lots of colors, green, yellow, blue. Something in me stirred. A stirring I ignored for a while but, looking back, I think that was my “gateway” experience. Pop was onto something and I think about him often.

So now that I’ve confessed (thanks for listening) and thinking a bit more rationally, I may seek help. It’s getting harder and  harder to find places to stash my plastic. In addition, my husband is an enabler. He hoards cardboard and bubble wrap. We don’t judge each other. But we sure would like to know about a good counselor, self help book, or weekly support group meeting. Anybody?

Image:  Free Digital Photos

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lucy, Hyacinth, and Me

If any of you have been reading me for a while, you know about my Hair. Naturally curly, takes forever to get dry after I wash it, needs lots of “product”, and on and on. You also know I use soup can sized rollers, orange and purple, that , while in use, makes me look like an orange and purple crested alien. Like from the planet Zork. Anyway, yesterday I was all crested out and sitting under the dryer when it occurred to me that I needed to go out and collect tomatoes before it got too hot.

So, I got out from under the dryer and grabbed a big bowl. My granddaughter, Anna, was watching television and I called to her that I’d be in the garden – still fully crested. I found lots of tomatoes and as I was plucking away, a Fedex truck pulled into the driveway. Uh, oh.

“Crud!” I said to myself. “I hope he doesn’t need a signature.” Our garden is up the hill a ways and he couldn’t see me, but I sure didn’t want to go sign anything in my alien state. So – I skittered over to the asparagus patch, grown up into tall ferns, and scrunched down.

Peeking through the ferns, I watched him walk slowly over the gravel walk and approach the back door, which was open.

“Crud! “ I said to myself from behind the kindly asparagus patch. “If he knocks on the door, I’ll have to go down.” I didn’t want Anna to answer the door or worse, answer the door and point to Grandma skulking around in the asparagus. With my Coke bottle bottom glasses and no makeup, too! (a very trendy look on Zork, though).

“Dang!” I said to myself. “I suppose I could just yell ‘Go ahead and leave it. Pretend I signed’!” He’d look up the hill and I’d wave gently then duck back down.

I crouched. He peered through the screen door. Then he looked at the small box in his hand and set it on the patio beside the door.


As he strolled back down the gravel walk I maneuvered in the asparagus to make sure he couldn’t see me even if he bothered to look up the hill. Lucy Ricardo and Hyacinth Bucket would have felt my pain.

Boy, some days its just not safe to go outside in your alien get up. You just never know when someone dressed in a perfectly normal fashion will come around trying to give you something.

In the box? My new Trac Phone. Hubby’s bringing me  into the 21st century (right, Karen?)

Photo: My hiding place

Monday, August 17, 2015

Classic Stuff

Only read this if you have grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or a squirrely neighbor kid who peeks up from his Spiderman hiding place in the bushes as you pass by on your way to the mailbox. If you are in close proximity to any of these – think babysitting – you will be in a precarious position. That of instructor. It can be a tough gig. For instance.

“No, you’ve had enough sugar today. No more Capri Sun.”

“But Grandma, I only had one. Sierra had two not me.”

And of course I can’t really remember how many each one has had so I pause. And that’s just long enough for her to assail me with a hand on her hip and a grin. Like she’ll forgive me, go watch Paw Patrol (if  you don’t know, don’t ask) and leave me in peace until the next  commercial. It’s a teachable moment – in that she’s just taught me what a wimp I am as I hand over the Strawberry Kiwi pouch.

But then there are the times when I really nail it. Like I deserve a Masters in Child Communications or something. It goes like this.

Last week I posted about Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, The Swing. Since several of this man’s poems were recited to me by my own mother, I feel love bound to pass them on. Every Tuesday in the summer I have charge of our two youngest granddaughters. It’s been our habit after lunch to retire to the big bed in my half office / half bedroom for story time. Two Tuesdays ago they were introduced to a classic.

“Okay, I have something really fun to read to  you today,” I said as I held “A Child’s Garden of Verses” behind my back. “Take off your shoes and get on the bed. You have to close your eyes.”

Oh, boy, what’s this?  Melodi’s eyes questioned me. She’s a savvy seven-year-old and not much gets by her these days. But she complied and her little sister plopped her head onto the pillow and squeezed her eyes shut, giggling in anticipation.

“Now,” I said. “Think of all the times you’ve been on the swing outside. Your dad pulls you way, way back and you go up in the air and down again. Keep your eyes  closed and tell me what you’re thinking as I read.”

Then, in my best Grandma reading voice, I gave them The Swing. To my delight they both were still while I read (thank  you Mr. Stevenson for not being too long winded here). When I stopped there was a brief pause and then they opened their eyes and began to babble. Sierra even popped up into my face to let me know her thoughts. I wish I could have recorded them.

This was my humble way of introducing something wonderful and classic to them. Passing on their great grandmother’s love and mine without them even realizing it. It was a moment to cherish, I’ll tell you that.

We didn’t stop there. I read four other selections, Leaving the Farm, The Hayloft, The Wind, and The Dumb Soldier (which I explained only meant that the lead soldier could neither hear nor speak). And then we were done. You can only go classic for a little while and then they want . . . another Capri Sun.

This week? Hamlet by William Shakespeare. For that kid in the bushes. Stop laughing.

Photo: The book I bought for a buck at a tag sale many years ago.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Trivia Time

Remember when the game Trivial Pursuit came out? Yeah, wannabe geniuses all over the globe bought it to prove their knowledge of all things irrelevant to well . . . anything. But it was so much fun that, for a while there,  Walmart had to hire extra security for crowd control in the game aisle. So in the spirit of those times I’ve whipped up a little trivia quiz for  you. I know, I’ve done this before, but you’re excited about it, aren’t you? Here goes.

1.    What’s the name of the editor at The Daily Planet where Superman  - um – Clark Kent works?
2.    By what other name has Broadway been known?
3.    How many eyes are there on a one dollar bill?
4.    What is the world’s best selling fragrance for men? (Smells pretty good,too).
5.    What popular candy name is derived from the German word for peppermint?
6.    Which has more bones, a cat or a human?
7.    What seven-year-old was the youngest host ever of Saturday Night Live?
8.    In 1912 it became the 48th state admitted to the US. Can you name it?
9.    This figure skater was the Only American to come home with a gold medal from the 1968 Winter Olympics. Name?
10. What is the only number that has its letters in alphabetical order?

Answers (You didn’t peek, did  you?)

1.    Perry White (who hated it when Jimmy called him “chief”)
2.    The Great White Way
3.    Four – go find a dollar and look
4.    Armani
5.    Pez (PfEfferminZ)
6.    A cat has 230 bones – amazing!Cats win.
7.    Drew Barrymore
8.    Arizona
9.    Peggy Fleming – you go girl!
10. Forty

So – how’d you do? Did the genius in you rise up? Well, if not, remember how irrelevant this stuff (usually) is. Ready for a brain teaser now?

I can sizzle like bacon and am made with an egg
I have plenty of backbone, but lack a good leg
I peel layers like onions, but still remain whole
I can be long like a flagpole, yet fit in a hole.
What am I?  

Have a great weekend!

Image: Free Digital  Photos

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Recipe Worth Repeating

I haven’t shared a recipe in a while. This one I make whenever I don’t want to think too much and I just kind of made it up one evening. It was years ago, but it’s yummy and lends itself to variations. I call it Chicken Hash. Here’s what you need and this is for two servings so adjust for your needs.

Chicken Hash

1boneless chicken breast
1medium potato cut in chunks
1 small onion rough chopped
1 carrot, peeled, and sliced on the diagonal to look pretty
¾ cup chicken broth (I micro the water and plop in a chicken bouillon cube)
Olive oil, butter, and flour

In your pan heat the butter and oil, about two tablespoons each. Sauté vegetables. While they’re getting tender cut chicken into one inch (or so) pieces and dredge in seasoned flour (salt and pepper, but you knew that). Remove veggies to a bowl and add chicken to pan. Go ahead and add more oil or butter if you need to. While the chicken is browning get your stock ready. When chicken is browned add veggies back in. Let them cook together for a bit then add chicken broth. Cook for about 10 minutes longer. Done!


Fry a couple slices of bacon, set aside, and use the bacon fat to fry in. I know, I know.
But bacon is so flavorful and really, it doesn’t add much in the way of calories.

Add other veggies. Leftover corn, green beans, peas, celery, broccoli – whatever.

Stir in some chopped garlic or add seasoned salt to your flour.

A green salad and crusty bread make this a pretty good meal and quick, too. Let me know if you try it.

Image: freedigitalphotos

Friday, August 7, 2015

Up in a Swing


Today I thought I’d send you into the weekend with one of my favorite poems from “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”

The Swing
By Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside –

Till I look down on the garden green,
Till I look down on the roof so brown –
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

All six of our grandchildren have gone up in the air so blue on the plastic swing hanging from our giant maple tree out back. When it was new it was shiny yellow and red with a t-shaped bar that snapped in place to keep them from flying out. They all loved to be pushed high enough to kick the leaves on one branch that dangles in front of them. And they would, when very little, sometimes fall asleep as they went back and forth, back and forth.

Ah, the pleasant summer days of childhood. We think they’ll never end when we’re six or seven or eight. But soon enough we look back with longing and can only go there again in brief flashes. Like in Mr. Stevenson’s poem.

Have a great weekend!


Monday, August 3, 2015

A Birthday on Kinderhook Lake

Last evening I sipped wine on the dock and watched four of our grandchildren playing in the water. Ducking, diving and spinning in tubes. Loving summer and each other’s company. Our oldest son had asked me earlier what birthday I had first spent at the lake. It didn’t take long for me to answer, “I was twenty.” And forty seven years have passed since then. It stuns me.

You see, I’ve always taken this beautiful place where I live for granted. The house on Kinderhook Lake was first owned by my in-laws, then briefly by us and now by our oldest son and his wife. They rent it to our youngest. I know, it’s complicated. Anyway, as I watched the kids bouncing and bobbing in the water I wondered if we know how blessed we are.

We have this lake.

Lakes have their own personalities. They have shape and temperament and shorelines. They answer with whitecaps to the gusty winds. On sunny summer mornings swallows dip over the surface in hopes of snatching a water bug. A heron swoops in and lands on the floating dock looking regal and thrilling our daughter-in-law who, with camera in hand, snaps his picture.

Autumn comes and, on still days, the reds, oranges and brilliant yellows of the trees on shore are mirrored resplendently. It takes your breath away and, for a bit, puts to rest thoughts of whatever brutal weather may be ahead. Geese overhead in V formation complete the picture and you feel like you’re in one yourself.

Come winter, if the air is calm and hovers below zero for a number of days, the water freezes into a shimmering sheet, smooth as glass. That’s when there's a scramble for the ice skates in hopes of beating the snow mobiles and ice boats in our haste to glide over the surface of this wonder. And when it finally snows, covering everything, you’d swear there was no lake there at all just a glistening white field.  

None too soon the death grip eases and gurgles from the shoreline reach our ears. Buds pop out on the trees, crocus peep from the ground and the golden days of summer wiggle their fingers at us again. As a boy my husband would “accidentally” fall into the water on his first visit up from the city. “Hey, Ma, I fell in!” And that’s what happened to our youngest granddaughter,Sierra, yesterday just before we arrived. She had her swimmies on and didn’t expect to go all the way under. She came up spluttering and Mom was there in a flash. No harm done and it made a great story as I blew out my candles.

This is our life in August. And this morning I wonder again if we all realize how blessed we are.

We have this lake.

Melodi jumping in!