Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back in the late 1800s, a good education ended at the 6th or the 8th grade. That was all any one needed to function in life. One could read and write and cypher (add and subtract). The only people that needed more education were those that were studying to be bankers, doctors, lawyers.
Florence wanted more. She was my husband's grandmother. Florence lived in the next town over from Yale. Those days, some lectures were opened to the public. One could attend a lecture, get a good education without paying tuition to Yale. I think the reason that Florence wanted a good education has to do with her choice of a husband and their choice of where they built their home.
Albert was a golf club maker, working at a local golf club. They built their home right next to the golf course. They met the attorneys and bankers on the golf course.
So, Florence attended lectures at Yale. She was especially interested in American literature and the lectures she attended were given by a man named Phelps. You can read about him in Wikipedia....if I ever remember his whole name. There is a chair at Yale named after him.
Doctor Phelps lectured on American Literature. Florence bought the books. On her bookshelf is Sam Clemens, Hawthorn, Alcott. She collected poetry and Russian authors, as Russian literature was an interest of Professor Phelps. In the collection is the entire works of Dickens. Florence turned out to be a well read person. She collected good watercolors that she displayed on her walls.
Florence's daughter was Mae. Mae is the mother of my husband, Bob. I never met either woman, but I feel I know them through the possessions they left behind. Mae was a reader, too. The collection of books grows to include James Fennimore Cooper, Bronte, Shakespeare. The collection lightens with O. Henry, William Saroyan, and Reader's Digest condensed books. The Reader's Digest books are printed on cheap paper with a high acid content. They are disintegrating on the shelf, but still readable.
I am adding my own collection of books to this library because I had the good fortune of inheriting these priceless works of literature through my husband. Mine are on gardening, on art, home repair, holistic health, dysfunctional families, child development. Fiction includes Harry Potter series, Steig Larsson's "The Girl Who...." series, detective stories, Sinclair Lewis, science fiction .
All are gone now. Their footprints are left behind: their books, their watercolors, school primers, their gardens, canning and sewing supplies. ...and their wonderful son and grandson who has joined them in heaven. What is left is the rich environment they left me filled with books worth reading and watercolors now displayed on my walls. I've added my own collection of paintings.
To Mae's piano and stack of piano music, I add my own.
I go to the backyard to pull weeds from the lilac bush that Mae planted. The day lilies are from Florence's yard. The rose is my own.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

My father's hobby and passion was amateur radio and all things electronic. He was a member of Radio Pioneers. That was back in the days of crystal sets. He had a ham station before He met his mother. There was also a ham set in the car. He exchanged QSL cards with other operators to prove that he had talked to them. They lived all over the world. I gave those cards to my grandson and the cards, unappreciated, disappeared.

As I stated, his interests broadened to all things electronic. He got a "deal" on a full size motion picture projector and boxes of movies. I don't know where they came from. Dad set up the projector in his ham shack...a room in the basement. A hole was cut out in one wall, making the ham shack a projectionist's booth. Dad called me into that little room and showed me how the film was wound on sprockets. He showed me the film up close. I could see that there were tiny changes in the picture from one frame to the next. Dad explained if you looked at them fast, you got the illusion of moving pictures. He showed me the big wheel in front of the liens, which turned, blocking the light except for when the hole in the wheel was passing by the lens. This blocked the showing of the lines between each frame yet allowing the picture within the frame to be illuminated. It had to be calibrated exactly, or you would see the picture flicker.

One rainy day, my parents called in all the kids in the neighborhood to come to our cellar. Dad had hung a sheet from the ceiling. We spent the day watching old movies. I saw Tom Mix, Kay Keiser and his college of musical knowledge, Felix the Cat, Hector the Dog at the steel pier in New Jersey. I saw Will Rogers roping and dancing while on a horse. I also saw a 7 reel western that consisted on a cowboy riding his horse into the sunset....and the next day, riding back into town. I never got the plot for that one.

Those movies were fascinating. I will never forget them...or the experience shared with my parents and the neighborhood kids one rainy day The movies sat round for a few years. Then my Dad got tired of them. He probably got tired of the projector sitting in the middle of his ham shack. So He sold them.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The fruits of spring and summer are a delight. I love their fragrance, taste, texture. I don't even mind juice running between my fingers. Apparently I am not the only one.

After eating a handful of cherries, I put the pits in the container that holds kitchen waste destined for the mulch pile. Next morning, they were in the towel drawer. "Oh silly me. I must have aimed for the container, but the pits fell into the opened towel drawer." The pits got cleaned out and put into the container. I ate more cherries.

Next morning, the pits were in the towel drawer. This time, I knew I hadn't missed the green container on the sink. Miss Mouse is back. All peels and pits were collected into the contain and carried outside to the mulch pile. The container is now clean.

I cut open a cantaloupe and put the seeds in the aforementioned green mulch container on the sink. Next morning, miss mouse had carried every one of those seeds to the towel drawer. She ate the inside and left the husks. How much work it must take to carry all those seeds, a cheekful at a time to the towel drawer? Once more, I cleaned out the towel drawer.

She really is a hard worker. I admire the little furry creature, but she can't live in my house. who ever heard of a mouse taking up residence inside in warm weather? Most mice look for shelter in the fall...looking for a warm place to pass the winter.

My best guess is, she came through the door to the back yard. That door is left cracked open so Captain Jack can go outside. I must remember to install a doggie door in that door. Can mice use a doggie door?

I am an admirer or mice. We had them in the nursery school where I taught. They are all miracles in miniature. In spite of that, Miss Mouse has to go. I put mouse bait in the towel drawer. The next morning, it was well chewed. The mulch container remains untouched.


Friday, July 08, 2011

The story isn't original to me. It bears telling anyways.

It was winter in the great forest. Dark and cold. The wind blew and sent chills to anyone foolish to venture out in such bad weather. Sleet fell. A lone wolf walked the forest, cold and hungry. He came to the woodcutter's cottage. A warm light shone through the window. Smoke rose from the chimney, telling of a cozy fire inside.

The wolf cautiously came to the door of the cottage. There, guarding the door, was a dog. The two looked at each other...the wolf, starving and cold....the dog, well fed and fat.

"Poor wolf. You look cold and hungry. Why don't you come inside with me for a while? There is food in my bowl, and water. You can have it. The fire will warm you and you will feel much better", said the dog.

The wolf was tempted. Surely this fellow canine was friendly. The cottage looked solid and inviting. Looking through the door, wolf could see the filled bowls waiting for him. The warmth of the fire and a woolen rug to lay on, beckoned him. Wolf was tempted. He started to enter the cottage, then He stopped. He asked,"Dog, what is that around your neck?"

Dog answered, "It is my collar. Master put it there so He can chain me if He needs to."

Wolf turned and went away.

Moral of the story: Freedom first.

Why did I post this folk tale? Because I had a flashback of a news story I saw on TV. It was of an all inclusive senior living facility ...happens to be in Florida. They promised to take care of our seniors...all inclusive. There were apartments and free meals. Medical attention was available when needed.....even a nursing home for resident's last days. It was on the news, showing an elderly man so weak, He could not raise himself from his bed. He was starving to death. It seems the facility did a very poor job of caring for the residents...but of course, it collected the money ...all that the seniors had. They had no money to leave the facility and no family to call for help.

I remember how my mother was taken care of in an Assisted Living facility. She was outspoken and difficult to control. So they doped her up with Attlivan to shut her up. She sat in a chair in a haze of dope...I watched her muscles atrophy from last of use. I was afraid in her weakened condition, she would fall and break a hip. The pupils of her eyes were contracted into tiny points. She was cold as ice. Her lungs were filled with much for good care...

That facility wasn't doing my mother a favor. They learned she was a full paying guest...not on Medicare. So they wanted her to stay...very profitable to them. Mom deteriorated to a point she was eligible for the next level of care...and more expensive as well. The facility was working to be eligible to open an Alzheimer's wing and Mom was to go in it. Mom did not have Alzheimer's disease. To be in an Azheimer's wing and not have the disease? It sounded like a nightmare. I basically kidnapped her and took her home across state lines without the approval of the court.

My reward for defying the courts was to see her brighten up. She was off all medication. My physician put her on a full range of nutritional supplements. I encouraged her to walk. We did things together. Her defiant behavior disappeared. She relaxed. That last year of my mother's life was a gift to me....memories I will always cherish.

Never ever believe anyone...or any institution... who says they will provide for you.....Never believe in turning your life over to someone else...including the government. Never believe it when they say they will help you. What they mean is, they are planning on helping themselves to your assets. .Believe them at your peril. When you put your life in someone Else's hands, you give up your freedom to act for yourself...a bad bargain in my opinion.


Saturday, July 02, 2011

It is the Fourth Of July weekend. I should be planning something nice, like a family picnic. Oh wait, that was last week. There is no family around. I have no date, no boat and no dock. Poor me. I will be tortured again this fourth. My street runs parallel to Long Island Sound. The small cottages are rented to young people who love a good weekend party. I will listen to motorcycles running up and down the road. I will smell beer and other people's picnics.

I sure hope that Don gets relocated here soon so I can have some family around to share a holiday with.

Listening and smelling other people's picnics brings flashbacks of Fourth Of July celebrations past. I am remembering sitting on my father's car as a preschooler, watching the fireworks shot out over Lake Erie. The day was filled with ice cream and watermelon and corn on the cob. I am in my bathing suit....same suit I spend the entire summer in. I am free to swim any time without parental supervision. I know how to swim. The water is shallow. It is a delight to be young , light on my feet, and free to swim out as far as I want to. There is a "stand" at the end of the colony where my parents had a cottage. For a dime, I could buy my favorite treat: a creamcicle

When I was older, my parents and my aunts and uncles had picnics together in my aunt and uncle's back yard. They had a willow tree in the back yard. I watched the caterpillars rain down on their silk threads. Fascinating, but I didn't want to sit under that tree. In the evening, the cousins...had sparklers.

Another Fourth of July. I am older and dating the man I would marry soon. His family had a picnic with steak...and later lots of fireworks. My in laws were always very nice to me. I could never understand mother in law jokes. My mother in law was more of a mother to me than my own mother. I ate at their house often. After I had my own home , I realized how expensive I was to have around at mealtime. My father in law never said a word about the cost. Dad, I don't think you ever got the credit you deserved.

I should do something with this weekend. There is no one I want to spend it with. Perhaps I will go to the movies....or pack up my paints and head out somewhere to make a watercolor painting. What I probably will do is stay home in the backyard and read a book. ..maybe pull some weeds.


Hi Gary from Hartford

I am enjoying our e-friendship and all the similarities We share. We both were away this weekend. I was away from Thursday through Tuesday. You were away at a wedding. You are the wine bringer. People must look forward to seeing you come through the door. I bet over the years, you've developed a fine sense of wine.
I look over the selection of wine at the local package store and usually end up with Little Penguin Pinot Noir. It is very good....but I know there is better wine out there....because I've tasted it. The trouble with knowing what good wine tastes like, is...all the rest taste second class.

While you were at the wedding, I drove to Syracuse New York. It takes 6 hours with a few pit stops to let the dog out...and for me, too. My daughter and her family live there. The youngest one graduated from High School. His father put together a big picnic for the family. They invited everyone including the neighbors and old friends. Don put up a tent over the driveway. He cooked for days. There were too many choices to my opinion. Yet at the end of the picnic, food was mostly gone. There were 3 desserts and I would have opted for name just one example. The ones that had the best time at the picnic were my dog, Captain Jack and Amanda's dog, Sadie. Both dogs were stationed under the picnic table, moching food without shame. Over 45 people indulged them. They were happy dogs

Most graduation ceremonies are pretty awful to sit through, although they are very exciting for the graduates. Donnie's wasn't too bad. The auditorium was air conditioned. The speakers spoke clearly and slow as to overcome the echo from bad acoustics. I was only tortured an hour and a half.

Members of the audience were a hoot to look at. People dressed in all sorts of outfits...from biker wear to dress up clothes. Little kids would not sit still. They kick the back of the seat in from of them. Nobody knows what decorum is.

After the ceremony...nearly deaf from the shouting when a graduate's name was announced....after the ceremony we met Donnie outside. Donnie is a new father. He is much too young for this, in my opinion. We know He will have a hard row to hoe with his daughter and her mother. At least He picked a nice lady with a good head on her shoulders. Both intend to continue their education...but I see it will be hard financially.

People greeted each other, many for the last time. I was disappointed to Learn that others are new parents, too.

On Monday, I met with 3 girlfriends I've known for decades. They are very dear to me. Gary, you said you have some friends you would give a kidney to. They are that dear to you. These ladies are just as special to me as your friends are to you. Ginny and I lived within 5 houses of each other when our children were growing up. We had coffee together in the afternoons. We picked strawberries and made strawberry lemon jam together. I met Helen and Judy at Friends Meeting. (Did I mention I was a Quaker?) We had a reunion in a restaurant and enjoyed lunch together...catching up on each other's news. Lunch went by way too quickly.

Judy had to see someone who was ill and Helen could not come with us, because she has arthritis in her feet. She walks with a cane. Ginny and I went to the Thornden Park Rose Garden which was just past its peak...but still a lovely walk. We walked and talked.

Ginny took me back to Beth's house so I could get my truck...but I could not get in the house to get my keys. Ginny took me back to her place for another walk and talk around her house with her lovely garden. I made a mental note to myself to dig up a lot of flowers I've planted and replace them with shrubs so the landscape has more architecture to it. We had dinner together. Her husband, Frank, loves wood working. He has taken a table apart to reconfigure it. Don't ask me how He is doing it. He is remaking a cherry dining room table. Knowing Frank, it will be lovely.

I've figured out the common denominator connecting my friends: They are all peaceful people, socially aware and intellectuals. They are competent people, able to handle whatever life hands them. Don't I have good taste in friends?

The next day was a travel day back to Milford...laundry and know how it goes. There was a nice surprise waiting for me as I drove in the driveway: My next door neighbor had cut my grass for me. Captain Jack jumped out of the truck and ran to Butch. They are the best of friends. Sometimes, life is good.