Monday, January 06, 2020

Regifted

My friend Judy does not feed birds because she does not have a place to feed them that is convenient for her sit and relax and enjoy watching them. I, on the other hand, do feed birds and most of the day work at a computer that is positioned in front of a window where I can view several feeding stations. I get great enjoyment watching the birds. I put out sunflower seed, corn, "wild bird seed," and hang wire baskets of homemade "suet" (lard, peanut butter, cornmeal, oatmeal).

The usual suspects in the winter include 4 varieties of woodpecker, cardinals, 2 varieties of nuthatch, chickadees, titmouse, goldfinch, 2 varieties of dove, junco, purple and house finches, yellow-rumped warblers, and some that have slipped my mind.

Judy was given a hanging novelty bird thingy in the shape of a squirrel, which she passed on to me when we saw each other the Monday after Christmas. She told me she was "regifting" it because she knew I would get some use out of it.

The occasional squirrels that show up at the feeder chase the birds away until Richard gets around to shooting them (sorry, squirrel lovers, but they are destructive, evil...), and so I am not surprised that it took the birds a while to start pecking the seeds off it. I think the eyes are made of a cracker of some kind.

While we were eating dinner on Saturday, we heard a loud crash into our storm door. I went outside and found a dove that had died almost instantly. I have taped part of an old feed sack over the glass keep that from happening again.

But in the meantime, since I don’t like to waste anything, I plucked the dove and took out the innards. For obvious reasons the recipes I found call for 2 to 4 doves per person. It fit easily in the palm of my hand.
There are some really creative ways to cook dove, but I didn’t do any of them – just coated it in olive oil, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and put it in the oven on a pan next to lasagna I had put together for Sunday dinner.

I got perhaps 3 bites off the breast and a few bits from the back and thigh. One of my uncles hunted doves and his 3 children have written me about how much they enjoyed eating dove over the years that he hunted them. I can understand why. It was very good.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

A Quiet Day

As this first day of 2020 draws to a close, I am remembering very different New Year’s Days when I lived at home.

Dad roused us out of bed and made a special breakfast – usually angel pancakes or waffles. For the angel pancakes, he separated the eggs, beat the whites until they were stiff, and then folded them into the batter. They were very good.

We watched the Rose Parade. I am just remembering one year one of our Aunts came down and wanted to see the floats. So the day after the parade, we drove to Pasadena and saw the floats. They looked beautiful, but dying flowers don’t smell very good and so it wasn't entirely pleasant.

And then the football games began as the day progressed. We almost always watched the Rose Bowl, even if one of the Los Angeles (USC or UCLA) teams wasn’t playing.

But then there were other choices if the teams playing in the Rose Bowl weren’t interesting. Dad would flip channels to the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Gator Bowl, and others I have forgotten.

Football consumed the day. I watched the games right along with my Dad and brothers and sometimes Grandpa. For a while Grandpa had the only color TV, so we would gravitate to his house (which was a short walk from our house).

I loved football. At least I thought I did.

After we moved here, I watched parts of the Rose Parade a couple of years, and I watched the Rose Bowl a couple of times, and then I came to the conclusion that I no longer liked football that much. Richard had no interest in football – or in any other sports for that matter. So watching sports on television fell by the wayside.

So we have spent a very quiet, relaxing day puttering around the house instead of sitting in front of the TV yelling at the coaches and the players and the referees.

I don’t feel tip top. I went to a lovely Christmas Eve service at the sister church, with the auditorium filled with coughing, sneezing toddlers and their parents, and I am now coughing and sneezing myself. But this will pass.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Unexpected visitors

You can catch a lizard with your hands, yet it is in kings' palaces.
Proverbs 30:28
We are rather used to various non-human visitors showing up at the house – visitors with eight legs, four legs, and sometimes with no legs at all, that move by undulating on the ground.

Several weeks ago, on a very unseasonably warm day, fortunately, for reasons that will be made clear in a moment, Richard walked into his office and almost stepped on a lizard on the tile floor that was basking in a patch of sunlight coming in from the window.

We wondered how long it had been in the house? How did it get in? Well, that question is fairly easily answered—even with the door shut, there is a gap in one spot where a lizard could probably come in if it was so inclined.

He was able to catch the lizard in a plastic container and took it outside, and it was warm enough so the lizard would be able to find its way to a safe spot where lizards go to spend the winter. He let it go before I could get a picture of it, so I borrowed one from Wikipedia.


Then, a few mornings ago, I was not paying attention when I put my coffee in the microwave. I entered the time and went to push the start button, and then I was paying quite a bit of attention, because I was...
touching something besides the control panel. 

I commented later to Richard, “Wouldn’t it be funny if there was a slug in the microwave when I turned it on?”

This morning, when I finished heating my coffee in the microwave, I discovered that there was indeed a slug in the microwave and it was cooked. Although I understand snails are quite tasty, I was not tempted to eat the slug. 

And I did not find it very funny.

I may now have the cleanest microwave in town and have made a note to self “Close the microwave door before you go to bed!”

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Catching Up

What happens when I get sidetracked is that more than month goes by without writing anything here. And then somehow it is just easier to write a short blurb on my Facebook page. So, here are a few things I wrote but didn’t get around to putting them here:

 

What I should have written on Nov 7:


I am just not adjusting very well to some aspects of being older than a woman “of a certain age” in that I seem less and less able to remember to do things I need to do, and it really hasn’t sunk in that I need to write lists of the things I need to do.

In an e-mail to my cousin yesterday afternoon, who lives on the Big Island and never ever has to deal with this problem, I wrote “It rained almost all day yesterday and overnight and was raining some this morning. Now that front has moved through and the temperature is dropping. I will have to make sure not to forget to go out and open and shut the doors on my car before I go to bed and perhaps they won't be frozen shut in the morning.”

It is now morning. Did I go out last night and open and shut the doors on my car?

No, I did not. I totally forgot.

Are the doors frozen shut this morning? Yes, they are. The button pushes in but the door won’t budge.

Richard is a lot stronger than I am, so perhaps he can yank the driver’s side door open. If not, then I have a backup that spent the night in the garage.

 

What I should have written last Monday:


When we gathered to decorate the sanctuary and the Christmas tree last year, I dropped 3 of the Christmas ornaments and they shattered. This year Richard told me that under no circumstances was I to handle any of the ornaments or come anywhere near the Christmas tree. No, he is not an overbearing control freak of an ogre. After the incredible embarrassment of last year, I had already decided that I was not going to decorate the tree.

So, I busied myself arranging the figures in the Nativity scene--without dropping any--and tried to make myself useful.

In the meantime, Richard, Tom, and Bill decorated the tree, while Barb, Bill’s wife, wired the red balls together in groups of three and orchestrated how the decorations should be placed on the tree. After the rest of us finished working on the garlands and window decorations, we sat in the pews and watched the 3 men and offered opinions about where there were holes that needed to be filled. The four of them did a wonderful job. The tree is beautiful. It was a successful day. I didn’t break anything.

What I should have written yesterday:


I am so very thankful for our friends Phil and Kim, who once again this year opened their home to us for Thanksgiving. They first invited us for Thanksgiving in the fall of 2011, realizing correctly that it was going to be the first Thanksgiving after our son died and would probably tough. We have spent every Thanksgiving since then with them.

It gives us great joy to be included as part of their family. Excellent food, good conversation, and loving kindness.

And I remembered to bring a camera so we could get picture of ourselves. The last time anyone took a picture of us together was in June 2011. I decided it was about time we had a more up-to-date photo.

 I think it turned out very well. I, for a change, do not have a goofy expression on my face.

And as a fitting end to the day as we were driving home, we passed a field with a small flock of maybe 10 or 15 wild turkeys. Phil commented later when I told them that the hens (I didn’t see a tom) were almost certainly thankful they weren’t on the menu.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

And a good time was had by all

I have had several wonderful days with my sister and lovely dinners out with my brothers and their wives, and then on Saturday my younger brother and his wife hosted an early birthday celebration for me…


And yes...
I will be 70 years old next week.

Then early Sunday morning, when there is almost no traffic at all on the Los Angeles freeways, my sister and I leave on an adventure, a short road trip.

It seems like leaving the city behind has lifted a burden on our spirits as well, and we are feeling euphoric as we travel north on the Coastal Highway a couple of hours out of Los Angeles.

I have forgotten how beautiful the central coast of California is.

My sweet sister glances over at me: “Ocean on our left.

 Crosby, Stills & Nash on the speakers



(And we have been singing along with them “Do-do-do-do-do, do, do, do-do-do-do…) . 

“Golden rolling hills on the right.
“Blue sky, 65 degrees. What more could you ask for?”

A restroom?

And yes, here comes a rest stop with its very own El Camino Real bell.


I counted 93 of these bells along the road on the way home.

We visited popular places along the coast. We saw sea otters bobbing in Morro Bay...
 
and  elephant seals sprawled on the beach at San Simeon, near Hearst Castle.

And amazing scarecrows at Cambria.
We went camping near here when I was a kid...

and I remember catching a red snapper off the pier. And for the first time in many years I put my feet in the Pacific.

And then it was time to come home, back to the Ozarks and home.

And then my sister’s husband (who is Italian) leaves one last wonderful memory for us when we walk in the door.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Going Home

“Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.” ― Johnny Depp
Music can indeed have great power to trigger emotions.

In an hour so I will be leaving for the airport to fly away to Los Angeles to see my sister and brothers and their families. I did not see them last year because Richard and I were supposed to have a short vacation but that never happened. So I am overdue for some R&R.

I had no work to do yesterday, so I spent some time bouncing around on YouTube listening to all sorts of music that I enjoyed back in the day, among them this marvelous performance of the Blind Faith classic by Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton.



One line in the song is particularly poignant, “I’m wasted, and I can’t find my way back home…” 

In 1969 when the song was released, I had experienced a couple of years of students at the college I attended falling into the black hole of drug use. Mostly they were just smoking too much marijuana but some were dabbling with LSD and “magic mushrooms” and the like. I watched a couple of very bright students turn their minds to mush and drop out.

But then there are some memories that are much closer to home. Sad memories of what happened to our only first cousin on my Mom’s branch of the tree. My mom had one brother, Ellis, who was quite a bit older then she was – between them were three other children born in the family that died in infancy. Ellis in turn had one son, Ralph. Ellis’ wife died when Ralph was very young, and I am fairly sure he and the boy moved back home for a while.

Ralph was 13 years older than I was, so he would have been 16 or 17 in this picture.

Later he had a good job at the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department, a wife, and two children.

And then he started drinking and couldn’t stop. He lost everything: job, home, wife, kids.

By then Uncle Ellis had moved to a town in central California, and Ralph went to live with him. But he fell afoul of some men there who were threatening to kill him, so Uncle Ellis sent him to us.

He lived with us, briefly, in 1969.  Mom and Dad tried to help him, but they did not understand alcoholism and did not have the resources or the knowledge of how to help him.

Ralph vanished out of our lives, and it was only later many years later that we learned he had died in 1971, at 34, homeless, on the streets of Los Angeles.

What a terrible, sad, waste of a life.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

An Interesting Couple of Weeks

Take me for a ride in your car, car.
Take me for a ride in your car, car.
Take me for a ride, take me for a ride,
Take me for a ride in your car, car.

Peter, Paul and Mary
Sometime toward the end of August, a heavy rain storm moved through the area. Richard had driven the truck down the driveway, which was a river at that point, so he could cut up some trees that had fallen over the driveway. When he drove back, he set the emergency brake and then didn't drive the car again for a week or so. When he got in to start it up it was frozen and would not budge. He was procrastinating about calling a tow truck to get it to the mechanic. We were now down to 2 vehicles.

On Sept 10 I left the house to attend the women’s Bible study at church. I got as far as the end of the frontage road, turned left on the highway, and my car had a catastrophic breakdown. The passenger-side controller arm on the rear axle broke, and the car would not move. Fortunately I was able to get off on the shoulder. The tow truck came and took the car to Randy, the mechanic.

So now we were down to 1 car. The next day as I left the house to go to the clinic for a punch biopsy on my nose, I grabbed the phone, and Richard said, “Who are you going to call if you break down? I can’t rescue you.” Good point. I jotted a few names down just in case.

I was concerned that I had a skin cancer. In mid-August, Richard had a large crater carved out of his nose during a Mohs procedure at the dermatologist’s office to remove a skin cancer, which a plastic surgeon had to cover the next day with a skin flap. I had visions of something similar happening to me.

It took a while for Randy to track down the part from a junk yard. He also discovered that the master cylinder was not working properly and the brakes were working on only 2 wheels. So he replaced the master cylinder too.

On Friday I got a call that the pathology report said it was not skin cancer. Yay!!

One of the men from church insisted on coming to the house last Monday to help Richard with the truck. They spent several hours working on getting the truck freed up and succeeded by spraying everything with penetrating oil.

My car was fixed and we picked it up. A couple of days later Richard took the truck to the mechanic to have the brake pads and drums and emergency brake fixed. Randy told Richard about a 2004 Saturn in pristine condition (it had mostly spent its life being towed behind an RV) he was selling for one of his customers (who was now 90 years old and not allowed to drive).

We bought it. So now we are have 4 vehicles that run, and 3 junk cars. We obviously need to get rid of the junk cars, but Richard doesn’t know how to go about it. This would be one of those "head-shaking" hilarious situations if it were happening to someone else. 

On Sunday I visit a man in the nursing home. He is either in his recliner, where he also sleeps, or he is in his motorized wheelchair. He was in the wheelchair Sunday, so I moved all of the pillows off his recliner and sat down. A little while later, I put my hand down, and the pad I was sitting on felt  damp. So I said, "This feels wet." And he said, "Yes. I peed my pants this morning because they took too long to come when I rang the bell." Because of the motorized wheelchair, he no longer is able to stand or walk so has to be hoisted and moved on a "lift and stand".

I'm thinking: What? I have been sitting on a pee-soaked pad and you didn't say anything?! I wet some paper towels and wiped down my behind and the back of my legs, then got some more paper towels and dried that off, and then I went and got an aide to bring a dry pad for his chair.

Tried very hard not to work myself up into a fury about it. Why didn't he say something??!! I noticed the end of a roll of paper towels on the top of his dispenser, so I grabbed that and when I got to the car put that all over the seat just in case my rear was still damp.

Oh yeah. One last thing. I baked a batch of biscotti for my brother-in-law’s birthday, and instead of turning the oven down to 300 for the second baking, I turned it up to 400. Fortunately, I smelled it in time. I was able to salvage enough to send him, and Richard happily ate the rest of the slightly burned biscotti.