Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our new best friend

When I was much younger, like at about age 12 or so, I became horse crazy. Well, I had always liked the idea of horses, especially since my uncle, who made brooms, kept me with a steady supply of broomstick horses. I faithfully watched Roy Rogers and Dale Evans on the TV. (I was going to be a cowgirl when I grew up).

Then, when I was 13, we moved to a new house about 2 miles away right next to the Harbor Freeway. There was open land on the other side of the freeway, and we could hear meadowlarks singing in the fields. There were stables, too. We could cross over the freeway on the bridge at 135th Street and we explored the fields and walked to the stables. Actually, I don’t remember if this was a “we” or if this was by myself. I know my brothers went over there too because one of them came home one day with a starving kitten. At any rate, I went to the stables a lot to hang out and watch the horses. Now, of course, all of that is long gone, replaced parking lots and huge warehouses.

I read all of the horse books that were written for young people that were in the library --- The Walter Farley Black Stallion stories (indeed, the Black Stallion movie is up there in the top 10 of my all-time favorites). I read the Marguerite Henry horse stories, and I read the Mary O'Hara horse stories... Flicka, Thunderhead, Green Grass of Wyoming... and I watched the Westerns on television.... and Fury.

I looked at horses, and I read about horses, and once in a great while, I went horseback riding. As I said, I was horse crazy. I imagined that some day I would own my own horse, and it would be a dapple-gray mare...

very much like this one.

I am not horse crazy now. I probably haven’t ridden horse in 25 years or so. But I still do enjoy watching them. And up until about a week ago, I especially enjoyed watching the horses the Horse Trader had accumulated at his farm across the highway.

We began pulling the grass on the other side of the fence and offering it to them...

This grass was not greener, just longer....

I thought maybe they would like some carrot...

But she wasn't interested...

And then the Horse Trader did what Horse Traders do: He traded them and they are all gone...

And I never did get to see the baby this horse was going to have..

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I hear an ominous noise...

It sounds like something sounds when it is breaking. It comes from the kitchen, where Richard is messing about with the dishes, putting them away. He also makes a sound, an unhappy sounding sound.

Richard took over doing the dishes almost a year ago, and he continues to do the dishes because my time is more valuable working than it is doing housework.

In addition to that, I was driving him nuts. When I was in charge, I often only did the dishes once a day, after the evening meal. Which meant the counter was messy most of the time; sometimes spectacularly messy. Embarrassingly messy if someone happened to drop in unexpectedly. Richard can't stand messes.

Even his messes are neat.

Initially, he was doing the dishes at least three times a day because he wanted a clean kitchen. I think this was an overreaction to my rather lax attitude. Gradually though, he has found that doing the dishes isn't a lot of fun, and so sometimes he only does the dishes once a day. Of course, the unwashed dishes are stacked neatly and well organized.

He has also become a master at organizing the rinsed dishes in the dish drainer. He makes some spectacular constructions of the dishes and the soup bowls and the mixing bowls and the myriad of storage containers and their lids and the pots so that he can get them all in without having to dry any of them, and then he puts them away in the morning. Which is what he was doing when the accident happened.

A plastic storage container slipped from its place and tapped - just tapped mind you - one of my favorite bowls. Unfortunately, it tapped the bowl right where there was a fine crack.

And now one of my favorite bowls is no more. My sister gave me this bowl; it was part of a set. I still have the other one, though. I know we are not supposed to cry over spilled milk or broken crockery...

Excuse me for a moment...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I stick my foot in it...

I really did, last night when we had dinner at the Book Lady's house.

But to explain what I did, I first have to explain about another book lady who I used to clean house for, and how I put my foot in it with her but managed to get it out again.

This woman had particular ideas about how she wanted her house cleaned. When I first began working for her, I did not realize this because she was never home; but her shift changed, and then she was always home for at least an hour when I first got there. And she began to watch me with an eagle's eye as I went about cleaning her house and doing the dishes. One day I was in the kitchen doing my thing. I had just finished washing the dishes and had picked up the towel to dry my hands and suddenly I hear this gasp and she comes rushing in

"NO! NO! NO!" she says and snatches away the hand towel I had just picked up.

"This towel," she says, "is only for drying the dishes. Never dry your hands on this towel. You always use this towel" and here she pointed to another towel "to dry your hands."

Today I understand that there is a logical reason for doing things this way, but at the time, I thought she was being ridiculous.

She had lots and lots of books. Shelves of books. All of her books were new from the book club or the bookstore; never a book from the used bookstore or the library. She trusted me enough to let me borrow her books. And of course I was very, very careful about not messing them up. On one such occasion, I borrowed this book.

As soon as I got it home, I took the dust jacket off and put it in safe place so it wouldn't get wrinkled, or ripped, or dirty.

I read the book. When I got ready to go back to her house 2 weeks later, I couldn't find the dust jacket. It had vanished. I was stricken with panic. I got that horrible feeling in my gut that one gets in these circumstances. She was going to hit the roof if the book came back without the dust jacket, and I was already somewhat afraid of her.

So I didn't take it back right away. Two more weeks went by, and she asked about the book. I said I had misplaced the dust jacket and as soon as I found it I would bring it home. She got a look on her face. She was not happy.

I knew I couldn't stall any longer, I would have 2 weeks, and then it would hit the fan. But, during the next 2 weeks, we went to the used-book store and there on the shelf, with a dust jacket in pristine condition, was the same exact book club edition of the book I had borrowed.

And then I got that euphoric sort of feeling that one gets in these circumstances when you realize you have been saved. Saved from disaster.

So, I did a sneaky thing. I bought the book and put that dust jacket on the book I had borrowed and took it back. She was happy. I felt like I had dodged mortar shell.

So, where was I? Oh yeah. Last night we went to dinner at the Book Lady's house and after the meal I offered to do the dishes. She has an amazing window of the kitchen sink.

I don't know why I brought this up, but I started telling her about the other book lady not using library books or used books and then I said one thing too much.... I started to tell about her rule of using a different towel to dry ones hands than the towel that is used to dry the dishes, and I took a breath and she interrupted me, bless her heart, she interrupted me before I got get myself in any deeper...

"I do that," she says.

I don't know how to explain just how embarrassed I was. But "very" is as good as any, I guess.
And she explained there is a certain logic to using two towels. The towel to dry the dishes stays dryer if you don't use it to dry your hands. Simple enough.

I am pleased to report that I did use the right towel to dry the baking dish that would not fit in the dish drainer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fuzzy-brained and addelpated

It’s been one of those weeks. Some ferocious thunderstorms moved through this area last Friday; so ferocious, in fact, that an EF3 tornado wiped out a few homes in the small community 10 miles down the road.

I feel so sorry for those people that I hesitate to complain that we had no power for 10 hours, or that I ended up eating my Mother’s Day meal at a restaurant that was not my first choice. My first choice was closed because the power was knocked out.

Then last night -- well, I guess this morning if one wants to be technical about -- at about 12:30 a.m., after we had been asleep for maybe 2 hours, another ferocious storm moved through the area and the tornado sirens went off. Twice. We used to ignore the tornado sirens, but we don’t any more. So there we were, stumbling around half asleep trying to get our clothes on and organize the laptop with the appropriate thumb-drive backup of all the work I did in case the power went out.

Then NOAA lifted the tornado warning -- yep, we have one of those battery-powered NOAA radios -- but the storm was still raging. And, of course, the power did go out. So we crawled back into bed (I left street clothes on, just in case).

But in the meantime, have you ever tried to fall back to sleep in the midst of a major thunderstorm? It’s not fear of the storm; it’s the noise and the lightening. With eyes shut it is like being in strobe light show

Fortunately, this time the power was restored rather quickly, by 3:30 a.m. So once again I was up staggering around the house turning off all the lights that had been left on when the power went out.

So I did not have to camp out at the library with the laptop....

And I feel somewhat hung over for lack of sleep. Think maybe I just might take a nap.

See ya...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Read to me, Mommie....

There were lots of things I loved to do as a little kid that I almost remember - was one, and being read to was another. I remember many trips to the library with my mother, coming home with arm fulls of books, and being read too.

And one of the books I still remember her reading to me is A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Lewis Stevenson.

Of course it was not this particular book. I got this one from the library a few days ago while I was camped out there, thinking about what to write about my mother, and working on the laptop because a severe thunderstorm took out the power.

Thumbing through this book is like turning the clock back.... back.... back.... the memories....

At the Seaside....

When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore...

I am told that among the first words I spoke were "Ocean water, go beachy."

Where Go the Boats?

Dark brown the river,
Golden is the sand
It flows along forever
With trees on either hand...

I remember making walnut shell boats and floating them in the gutters on rainy days...

The Swing

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!

My uncle, who is holding me in this picture taken with my mom, had made an amazing swing from ropes.

I remember swinging in that... up, up up.... And seeing that fence behind them reminds me of the time I was climbing on the fence and I got a huge splinter -- a skewer -- in my leg. My mom was so calm and cool and collected as she pulled the spike out of my leg and doctored me. I wonder if I would have been so calm had my son come in with something like that.

The Land of Counterpane...

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow hill
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane...
I was seldom sick, as the child described in the poem, but I remember making hills and valleys of my blankets on summer afternoons when my mother insisted that I take a nap, but I was stubborn and refused to fall asleep...

My Shadow

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me;
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see...
Who has not had fun playing with their shadow?

It almost broke my heart when I turned to the back of the book and saw that the last time this book was taken out was in 2004!!! Why are not the mothers reading these lovely, lovely poems to their little children?

Happy Mother's Day to you dear mother.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Walking on water

We decided to take a walk on the yellow-roped path to the pond....

to see how full it was after recent rains,

and then we wandered off the path and found our way to the run-off from the wet weather spring that has been flowing briskly from the woods behind the house now for several weeks. And in one of the pools that has formed, there were these fellows, water striders....

walking on water.

I've always liked messing about with water and especially watching the bugs and other creatures that make ponds and streams their homes. The wet weather spring is not permanent, so I wonder where this fellow will go when the water stops? In the meantime, I am glad he is on patrol for mosquito larvae.

These amazing insects were created in such a way that they can literally walk on the water by taking advantage of the surface tension. Naturally, that reminded me of the great science fiction short story Surface Tension by James Blish. I have probably read thousands of science fiction short stories in my lifetime, but that is one that stuck in my mind. Many consider it to be one of the best SF short stories ever written. I agree... The basic plot is that humans leave earth and land on this planet where they will not be able to survive, but before they die, they create a microscopic humoid life forms to live under the water. The story is about these creatures constructing an "air ship" to leave the water, and the trouble they have breaking through the surface tension to get out... Go to your library. Find it. Read...

Friday, May 01, 2009

I don’t do that anymore

Yesterday the Book Lady and I went to lunch at the pizza place. Just as we finished placing our orders at the counter and had moved on to getting our water (I refuse to pay $1.50 for a glass of soda), a woman I know to speak too came up to me and asked if I still cleaned houses. Her cleaning lady has injured her knee and can’t work for 8 weeks or more.

I first met this woman at a water aerobics class maybe 5 summers ago. I know quite a bit about her even though I don’t remember her name. They were going to move here from Chicago as soon as her husband retired from his job, and they had bought a place out in the country and were spending the summer fixing it up. Eventually, they did retire and move here permanently, and about 2 years ago she opened antique store.

At any rate, at the time I met her I think I still was cleaning houses.

I barely clean my own house these days, and I don’t clean houses any more to earn money.

In times gone by, I never--ever--said “no” if there was an opportunity to earn money.

This time was different. I have a new career.

I said, “No, I’m sorry, but I don’t do that any more.”

It was such a liberating feeling to say no.