Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween hijinks

A costumed child has never knocked on our door on Halloween in the 24 years we have lived here. We're just too out of the way, I guess and parents don't think to bring their children here. The teenagers head for downtown and throw biscuit dough at each other and the cars so that the next morning the streets are littered with glops of dough. Toilet paper magically appears in trees and shaving cream on store windows. Mostly it is just simple acts of vandalism -- nothing too destructive. Its fun to turn on the scanner and listen to the radio traffic as the town's vigilant public servants patrol for roaming gangs of biscuit-dough throwers. I think back with fondness on one of the letter carriers at the post office. He had lost an eye in a carpentry accident. On Halloween he would appear on his route, mail bag over his shoulder, with the most gruesome getup. He had an old pair of glasses into which he had hammered a nail so that it went into an old glass eye. And there would be a single trickle of dried blood trailing down across his cheek. Older patrons on his route got quite a shock from concerned lady even tried to get him situated on her porch so she could run inside and call 911. My dad made Halloween a wonderful time for his children. He had a rubber mask that looked very much like a Neanderthal and he would put it on, drape himself with burlap, and go out with us from house to house. Later, when we were all grown up, one brother took him to the corporate Halloween party, where he scared the women and was a big hit. My Grandpa lived a few blocks from our house and one Halloween he invited us over for hot chocolate after we finished trick-or-treating. That was quite a surprise, because Grandma had died and Grandpa didn't "do much" with us kids. Poor man. He mistook salt for the sugar (this was REAL hot chocolate, not a premixed product). It was horrible and we couldn't drink it, but we loved him for it all the more. It was the thought that counted.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Time-sweetened honey

Yesterday afternoon I sent to see a friend I used to work with --she's my age or a little younger. Her husband worked there too until he had to quit because of worsening COPD, and then she had to quit to stay home and take care of him. He died over the weekend -- he was my husband's age. All this sort of thing always happened to "older people," but suddenly it seems the future is the here and now! As I started the car, I heard the exquisite harmony of the Eagles singing live: There are stars in the Southern sky/Southward as you go/There is moonlight and moss in the trees/Down the Seven Bridges Road and suddenly it was May 1981 again and that song was playing constantly on the radio as we trekked out here from Oregon by way of Los Angeles. What a trip that was, caravanning, with R driving the U-Haul, me in the car with a squirrly 4-year-old (although he took turns riding in the various vehicles, thank God), and my parents pulling a pop-up camper trailer. How stunningly beautiful it was coming into Albuquerque at dusk with the hills in the background lit up with the setting sun. And the scary time trying to find fuel for the gas-guzzling U-haul in a little town in Oklahoma that had rolled up the sidewalk at 7 p.m. And what a surprise Oklahoma was -- so green and beautiful and so many trees. And then the first night we were here, pulling in at dusk, exhausted and exhilarated and happy to have finally arrived and then... and then... just before we left to find some food in town and to sleep at the small motel, the fireflies came out. Oh my. Our jaws dropped. It took our breath away. None of us native California folk had ever seen real fireflies (Disney tried at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride). We had no idea. Whew. The motel has been torn down and is now a Sonic. A Korean couple owns the A&W where we ate dinner and serves Chinese food. We told everybody in Oregon we we were moving to the South. We were wrong. This is most definitely the Mid-West. The South is about an hour's drive away.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Happy birthday. . .

Today is my birthday and I am nowold enough for the senior ciitizen discount. A few weeks ago, a woman I knew to speak to died of Alzheimers. She was my age. Her obituary was among the increasing number that I see of women in their 40s and 50s who are now no longer among the living. I am happy to be alive. The first birthday I can remember took place at my Aunt Betty's house (she gave me the nickname Lee Lee) in Pasadena when I was 3 years old. I got a fishing pole that came apart so that it would fit in a metal tubular carrying case. One of the most memorable birthdays was a few years ago when our son arranged for a local pilot to take us for a plane ride. The fall colors such as they are with the mainly oak forests here -- and certainly nothing like what one sees in pictures of New England in the fall -- were at their heighth. The rolling hills were covered in a blanket of gold and orange and brown, with an occasional scarlet blotch of a sugar maple in someone's yard. It was just stunning. It took my breath away. Now that I have figured out what I want to be when I grow up, I have to work on becoming the old woman I want to be. As my primer, I have a marvelous little essay by Leatrice Fountain called "I Like That Old Lady I'm Growing Into" (no URL though). A friend sent me a funny jokey thing at this URL: Heard a Bobby Darin song on the way home from work yesterday on "The Music of Your Life." Such a smooth, cool and breezy style of singing -- what an amazing talent and what a loss.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Shake it out now. . .

A hilarious time was had by all on Friday at the old lady's aerobics class (whoops, Active Older Americans, excuse me) at the Y as I took over and led the group through the routine. The instructor has been sick and we were sick of the Muscle Mile One video and the Richard Simmons video wasn't there. For some reason, the instructor had given me a copy of the routine a long time ago and it was on the clipboad that I keep in the back seat of my car. So I fetched it and suddenly there we were, laughing, stumbling around, and jerking our way through the exercises. I am not the most coordinated person to begin with so being in charge was quite a stretch. Our laugh muscles got a good workout. I love that class even if I am getting fatter and fatter.

Come into my parlor. . .

said the spider to the fly; Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy... The "parlor" is a mess -- actually the whole house is a mess and certainly not pretty. One day when I was about 4 years old I was out in the yard, and as I was looking at a spider's egg case that was attached on the board fence it burst open and hundreds of teeny tiny spiders came racing out. It was amazing. I've loved spiders ever since. So much so that I let them live in my house. R doesn't mind them either, fortunately for them, and in fact he found a cockroach last night and fed it to the spider that has spun a web close to the light by the closet. It has been there all summer, waiting patiently for a fly or moth to come to the light and get snared. He or she seemed very appreciate of the food. I've never seen anything in its web. Other insects that invade the house -- namely those that get into our food are promptly dispatched -- but we leave the spiders alone. Well, R does kill the brown recluses when he finds them (usually at the bottom of a box of papers). What in the world do they eat? I used to think the reason the cockroaches we brought with us from Oregon disappeared was becaue the brown recluses killed them, although the Roach Hotels got quite a few. We've got a cockroach problem now though either because we brought stuff into the house from someone whose house was infested with them or because of the compost heap which is not that far from the back door. One time I happened to be standing at the back door and saw a lizard rush out from nowhere and eat a cockroach. There is a place in the foundation under the back room of our house (whch used to be a screened in porch) where snakes and lizards spend the winter and hot summer days as well. What happened to "Roach Hotels?" That was one insect eradication product that actually worked and did not involve spreading poison. I always liked Kafka's Metamorphosis and have read it many times. I fear were I Gregor Samsa's mother, I would not be so very sympathetic to his plight.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Rings on her fingers...

and bells on her toes and a hole in her nose?! I want to get my nostril pierced. I seriously want to do this. A little twinkly "diamond" stud, something small and discrete. I am just not brave enough. Are older women who do the "counter culture" stuff of the teenagers and the "under-30" crowd laughed at behind their backs? I think so. I would like to think that it doesn't matter what people think -- I already don't behave like other women "my age" -- in many ways I am unconventional, but I don't know about the facial piercing. R is not enthusiastic about the idea (but "its your nose" he says), my parents would be horrified (I think), so I guess I will just try to put it out of my mind.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

An apple a day...

On the last day of the Farmer's Market, F the orchard man showed up, finally, with the Arkansas Black apples he had been promising to bring. No, they aren't black, just a very deep, dark red. So I bought a bag and then caught sight of some Golden Delicious, so I bought some of them too. It is a sad state of affairs that millions of people have never tasted a fresh-off-the-tree apple but instead must rely on store-bought apples that may have been sitting in a storage for weeks or even months. And having said that, as I picked up the sack of Arkansas Black apples. . .
F: You know, you can't eat those apples.
Me: I can't eat them?
F: They have to mellow.
Me: Mellow? (why do I keep repeating what he has said??)
F: Yes, you must put them in the refrigerator for at least a month and half or they won't be any good.
Me: Really? You're not teasing me are you? (F has been known to do that on occasion. Before he retired, he was our regular UPS delivery person.)
F: No, I'm not kidding. We usually put ours in the cooler and don't eat them until February.
Okey dokey. So yesterday I had a Golden Delicious, which truly was delicious -- sweet, crsip, a and jucy, and the bag of fresh-off-the-tree Arkansas Black apples are sitting there in the refrigerator, in storage. Go figure. . .

Sunday, October 17, 2004

That's righteous, brother (not)

I am now working on the topic of righteousness for the SS lesson. Righteousness, at its most basic level, is the fulfillment of expectations in a relationship, whether it be husband and wife, employer and employee, citizen and government, etc. It's not just a religious thing. As an example: the local market does not always have a righteous relationship with its customers. The advertising circular came out with oranges at 3 for 88 cents. So I bought 6 oranges. The clerk punched in the product number for the oranges and it rang up as 5 oranges at 2 for 79 cents and the 6th orange rang up as 98 cents a pound (or something like that). I was charged $1.97 + 55-cents when it should have been $176ish. So I said to the teenager who was at the cash register (she seemed rather brain-dead, I'm sorry to say): "These oranges rang up incorrectly. They are supposed to be 3 for 88 cents". She just stood there and looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. So I grabbed my groceries and went to the office, handed the manager the receipt, and complained that the oranges had run up incorrectly. The manger turned this over to an assistant and I got my refund. R really liked the oranges, so 2 days later I went back to the store and got 6 more. This time the manager was at the cash register. He entered the product number, and guess what? The oranges rang up as 6 oranges at 2 for 79 cents. He immediately realized that this was a mistake so he voided that sale and re-entered it correctly. But the point is, they had not changed the store computer during the two days that had elapsed between my puchases. Customers who bought oranges and did not pay attention were overcharged. I would hope that the store isn't being run by crooks, that this was just an oversight. In any event, it was totally unrighteous. . . and I don't trust them anymore.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

RIP Peter Possom...

When my nieces were little, I wrote some animal stories for them that were based on true things that had happend here. For many years, the rear entry screen door did not close all the way because the door frame was crooked (indeed, our entire house is crooked, but that's another story). The dog and the cat weren't the only creatures who had learned to come in and out at will by sticking their nose in the gap at the bottom and bullying their way in. One fall, a tree frog came in several times and I finally let it stay in the bathroom where it mostly clung to the shower curtain and the redwood paneling in the the shower, and then finally hybernated in a knothole. It got too active the next spring and we let it go. That was Freddy Frog. Peter Possom got trapped in the house one night. It had come in to eat the dog's food, which was right by the back door. It heard me coming to shut the door for the night and hid in the storage area by the back door. Later after the house had quieted down, out he came looking for a way out. He woke us up, and I caught him and let him go. There was also a Sammy Skun, who preciptated a most unpleasant encounter. We found out the hard way (3 sprayings in less than a week) about letting the dog have free access outside during the wee hours of the morning (which is why I went to shut the door for the night). The other day while I was on my way to work, I stopped to make a left onto the state highway into town and there, far off on the right shoulder, was a dead possom. Only it wasn't dead. It raised its head a little and flopped around. I felt sick inside. I turned right instead, parked on the shouler, and went over to it. Its lower face had been crushed, and possibly its front shoulders. It was very much alive but unable to move, and its dying was going to be long and cruel. So I picked it up by the tail and drove it back to the house for R to shoot and went to work. Farmers only have to go through one experience of having a black snake, possom, skunk, coon, or fox in the hen house for them to immediately adopt a kill first, ask questions later policy for these smaller predatory animals. Even worse, there is a cruel streak in some of the people who live here -- anything on the road is fair game and they deliberately run them over -- turtles, snakes, possom, skunk, raccoon, and increasingly, armadillos. This possom was so far off the road that I am almost sure this was deliberate. I felt a little better that it didn't suffer too long. RIP Peter. ..

Friday, October 15, 2004

The seasons, they go 'round and 'round

October seems to be a hard month for N -- he's gotten fired twice early in October -- and hired twice as well so as each October comes 'round again, I am reminded that the truth of his reality is in such stark contrast to what my expectations were of what I thought things were going to be like as he grew into adulthood. Hope springs eternal, and I constantly have to wrestle it back into submission. Now I look for the blessings in small victories and rejoice in the occasional biggie. Learning to be thankful in all circumstances is difficult. I still occasionally have these bouts of longing for things to be... just... normal. Like a crab seeking a safe place in which to hide, my mind tends to scuttle away from reality. At least I can take small comfort that he probably really isn't mentally ill, but he could be a poster child for Asperger's syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder: "Severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, development of restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities" says the website. We get so angry at him, and deep down I have a feeling he can't help that he has no grasp of socially appropriate behavior and that there might be consequences to what he does. I thank God that he was able to get a new job within a week. Farther along, we'll know all about it/farther along we'll understand why. I don't want to wait until "farther along." I want to know why NOW! WHY? WHY? WHY? Why did God put us -- and HIM -- in htis situation??? What lessons are we supposed to be learning from this?? He probably never get married or have a family. There will be no grandchild to bounce on my knee and sing trot trot to Boston to get a loaf of bread, trot trot home again, and old trot's dead! Feeling a little sorry for myself? Yeah, I guess so. I guess I'm just having a little combination temper tantrum and pity party. I want to go outside and howl at the moon. I guess I should just snap out of it and be supremely thankful to God that he won't be needing to move back home -- at least not yet. In the meantime, however, we are hedging our bets. R has resumed working on the new office to get it finished so that his old office can be turned into a living space and bedroom area for N, if necessary.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

It's always somethin'

Last night while we were eating dinner together (at the table!!!) R says, "Do you hear that?" Well no, I didn't hear whatever it was he was hearing. "What is it that I am supposed to be hearing?" says me "Dripping water," says he. So I listened closely, and sure enough, there it was plink... plink... plink... coming from behind the refrigerator. We had a problem once before with the drain tube thingy getting plugged and pouring water through the refrigerator itself and out the front (where there is now a rotten spot in the hardwood floor), but this time it was plugged and dripping out the back. He pulled the fridge out from the wall and got the tube thingy dismantled and cleaned out and put back together, and I mopped up the water. But then there was still water on the floor. Seems there was a corroded place on the copper tubing leading to the ice maker that was squirting water. So the ice maker is shut off and I have called in the repair guy to get that fixed. I'm not sure if the tubing would be leaking if we hadn't disturbed it by pulling the fridge out and if I hadn't brushed up against it with the mop trying to get the water cleaned up. Oh well. At least we caught the leaking water problem before it rotted through the floor. The fixer-upper guy is very popular. He won't be able to get here for two weeks. Guess it's back to old-fashioned ice cube trays for us. . .

On a drizzly rainy type day that reminds me so much of Oregon I heard from a woman I was good friends with when we lived there some 24 years ago. Things are going well for them. Her daughters are married with children either here or "on the way." Normal. Happy. Well adjusted. I'm happy for them and a little sad and somewhat envious for us that we will likley never have normal. But that's a topic for another time

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Who's protecting who (or whom)

Yesterday when I was jousting with dust rhinos at work -- and flashing back on a creepy Outer Limits (weren't they ALL creepy though?) about a dust bunny (that really isn't) that gets sucked up into a vacuum cleaner and turns into something monstrous -- I heard an ad for local politician on the radio. He's running for the state legislature and is very anxious to kick out the Democratic incumbent. His qualifications? He is a family man, he is a deacon in his church, and he is an NRA member with an "A" standing. Whoa! How is that supposesd to qualify him for state office? Aaah. He will make sure that the legislature doesn't do anything to infringe on the rights of good citizens of this state to protect themselves by owning guns. Ironically, the good citizens of the state voted down a concealed gun law several years back but the Republican-controlled legislature passed one anyway. Nevermind that most burglaries here take place when the homeowner is gone and all the guns in the house for protection are stolen. But it is the "religion-gun ownership" issue that really puzzles me. Someone who is deeply enough committed that they have become a deacon in their church surely has read the passage about "we wrestle not with flesh and blood" and how about "don't fear him who can kill the body. . ." and a few other choice things our Lord had to say about loving enemies, and turning the other cheek, and. . .

I made some "bars" yesterday from some prunes that Sylvia gave me months before she died. They're good but I managed not to "eat the whole thing" and I'll take 'em into work this morning and surprise the daylights out of everybody.