Monday, November 23, 2015

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Appliance Nostalgia

We recently replaced our toaster.  It was twenty years old; it still worked fine but the cord would get very hot indicating that the internal strands of wire had broken from years of use. I suppose I could have just replaced the power cord but Dorothy thought it was time for a new, modern stainless steel model. It's pretty fancy with settings for bagels, warm up, and you can even defrost frozen bread before it is toasted. I hope it lasts another twenty years but I don't have much confidence in contemporary appliance quality. And here's why:
     In 1976 we bought an upright freezer from Montgomery Ward (remember them?).  That freezer gave us 34 years of trouble free service and then one day in 2010 it quit. We bought another one. We plugged it in, the light came on, and it began to hum. It never got cold inside. We called the department store and they picked it up and left us with an identical freezer. It works fine but leaks water. There is a copper line under the freezer that gets encrusted with frost that,  during the defrost mode, condenses into a pool of water on the floor. There is a plastic reservoir that is supposed to catch the condensate but it doesn't. Poor design. Instead of insisting on a new freezer we just lay paper towels down to absorb the moisture. If we replaced the freezer we may get another lemon so we'll just make do.
    We bought a new refrigerator, all stainless steel, french doors and bottom freezer. It has more cubic feet that the old one yet holds less food. There is a water and ice dispenser in the door but I cannot get a full glass of ice without a cube or two flying off in random directions and onto the floor. It seems modern appliances are very nice to look at but are lacking in functionality.
     My daughter recently bought a new dish washer. It didn't actually clean the dishes. I checked it out and even called the customer service line. The service rep had me hold my phone to a location on the washer and an electronic signal was uploaded  and used to diagnose the problem. It didn't work. So a technician was dispatched to her house and he replaced a part.  It still remains to be seen whether that will be a permanent fix. 
     We're living in an age where we are driven by rampant consumerism to buy expensive, flashy products that are nothing but junk in disguise. But isn't that true of our politics, religion, and most of our modern culture?

Marley has her braces removed

She will be 16 next month!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cabin in the Woods

Small houses and cabins are popular these days. People are coming to the conclusion that  huge living spaces are not only expensive to buy but to maintain, cool in the summer and heat in the winter; not to mention the taxes.
    My daughter and her husband are building an approximately 400 sq. ft. cabin on our land and they will live there part of the year and sail the Caribbean the rest of the time. Construction began a few weeks ago.

Clearing a space at the edge of the woods.

This ditch will connect the well to the cabin.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Short Summer

It's fall. The leaves are falling and the shadows are growing longer. I look back on the Summer and it seems that it was a short one. I've been neglecting this blog partly because of time spent analyzing the events of the summer of 2015. 
     Because of a spring that was cooler and wetter than normal our garden was a dud. The tomatoes cracked and rotted; the ones that survived lacked that good, tart flavor I  look forward to every summer. The okra was stunted. We did harvest some good green beans and potatoes. We'll try again next year.
    In early June I went to the doctor for my yearly wellness exam and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I immediately went on a carb counting diet, bought a blood sugar tester and started using it religiously. I'm trying to get more exercise. I was able to bring my body mass index down from 35 to 32.5, I keep my blood glucose level within normal range, I've lost 23 pounds and my blood pressure is normal. The doctor is pleased with my progress. I feel better however I do miss those donuts, mashed potatoes, and biscuits.
     At the end of June I had another surgery for a basal cell carcinoma on my nose. This is the second surgery in 4 years. This one was on the opposite side as the other one. The surgery required the removal of more tissue than the last time. I don't know how I let that slip up on me. So, now I have to see my dermatologist 3 times a year instead of just once.
     My 46 year old nephew died. His death is under police investigation. That's all I can say about that right now.
    And last but not least I turned 70 this summer. I don't see that as a negative life event, in fact I'm grateful for the years I've spent on this planet and the people that I've spent them with. But it has me turned toward contemplating the time of my departure. So I've been doing a lot of spiritual/metaphysical/philosophical ruminating to prepare myself for that final and irrevocable loss of consciousness. Please don't think I'm being morbid. I know, like every human being before me, that I only  have so many days allotted to me and that I may have 20+ years to enjoy. I just want to make sure they are fruitful ones.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Seventy Things

At my birthday party the family presented me with a framed poster with the following sentiments:

Seventy Things We Love About You:  

The smartest person we know - Kelly - The best pops! - Kelly - You are funny - Kelly - Took me out on Fridays - Jenna - One time he ate a tomato and it squirted out all over his shirt - Jenna - He gives the best advice, both serious and funny - Tara - He's my best friend - Gracen - His New Year's resolution is always that he's not going to eat hot dogs any longer because the one's he's eating now are long enough - Kelly - He gives good books to read - Jenna - Is a bookworm - Hunter - Makes the best pico - Tara - Laughs at us grand kids even though no one else approves of our behavior - Tara - Taught us to love books and reading - Rachel - Took us to museums - Rachel - Letting me walk to school by myself in Kindergarten but following me the whole way, hiding behind trees so I wouldn't know. - Rachel - Time spent teaching me to ride my bike, holding on to the back and secretly letting go when you knew I was ready so that I would have the confidence to ride on my own. - Rachel - Coming home every evening after a hard day at work and a long commute and still find the energy to play with us - Rachel - Reading the funny papers before dinner - Rachel - Buying me a horse and the two of us learning about horses together - Rachel - Having the patience to teach me how to drive a stick shift and not getting mad when I drove the truck through the fence. - Rachel -  Always making us your first priority - Rachel - Being the finest man I have ever known - Rachel - Patiently playing your guitar while waiting for the three girls in your life to get ready to go somewhere - Rachel - Keeping me updated on all the sayings and doings of G - Rachel - Making my slumber parties the best with.your hand writing analysis and horoscopes - Rachel - Takes us on great vacations with lots of special surprises - Kelly - Knows each one of us and likes to give gifts specifically for that person - Kelly - Tells corny jokes that make him laugh - Sami - Always has crumbs on his shirt making a good snack for Jenna - Sami - His love and support for us all is unconditional - Sami - He never  tells us no. Instead he says "Ask Grandma". - Sami - Giving us a loving, happy home - Rachel - Giving all of us stability - Rachel - Giving me so many happy childhood memories - Rachel - Making sure I always felt loved - Rachel - Exposing us to all kinds of music - Rachel - The trip to North Carolina - Rachel - Bringing home the homeless man man from the bus stop to have dinner with our family and showing us how to be kind to others through example - Rachel - Taking us to church to have a foundation to live by. - Rachel - Being a guiding force in my girls lives - Rachel - Letting us ride in the back of the old yellow truck to Westville to get a Whatchamacallit! - Kelly -

Going to town on Sunday mornings for donuts and a comic book - Kelly - Lunch dates after pre-school - Marley, Hunter, and Jenna - He can grow just about anything - Kelly - Letting us shoot guns at the creek - Burk - Driving to California and listening to Footloose! all the way. Threatening to throw black jelly beans at hitchhikers on the same trip - Kelly - Help with homework -Marley - He didn't freak out when I drove his truck into the fence - Marley - Introducing us to old movies like Laurel and Hardy, Old Batman, Frankenstein, and King Kong - Marley, Hunter, and Jenna - Plans the best vacations and puts up with our arguing on the trip - Marley - Letting us sit beside him in the truck and shift the gears - Marley - Using the top of the carved pumpkin to sing "I'd tip my hat to you but I don't have a hat" - Kelly - Decorates the prize winning egg at Easter - Kelly - He taught us to find local restaurants while traveling. No eating at chains - Kelly - Always  being my hero - Rachel - All the times you played the guitar and we sang. I think I was an adult when I learned that someone other than my Dad sang "The Train They Call the City of New Orleans", "Clayton Delaney", and "Bobbie McGee" - Rachel - Being the most sought after team member for Trivial Pursuit - Rachel - My first memory was seeing him drive up the street in his '57 Plymouth - Dorothy - I always knew what time he would be home after work - Dorothy - One time he brought a hobo home to eat supper with us. Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Gave him some clothes and shoes. Bought him a bus ticket and wished him well. - Dorothy - Because the first thing you did when you came home from work was to give Mom a kiss - Rachel - Shows us what a good marriage looks like by loving Mom so well - Kelly - Makes the best chocolate syrup for ice cream - Kelly - Cuz' I just love him - Gracen - He never ceases to amaze me with his talents.  He is an artist, carpenter, electrician, and more than willing to help me with my projects - Mom - His sense of humor - Mom - Loves his family unconditionally - Mom - I love to hear him sing and play guitar - Mom - The way he always has time and patience for the grand kids - Mom.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I turned 70 last week and on Saturday my daughters threw me a party. Friends and family helped me to celebrate my transition into old codgerhood.

My five grand kids and great grand child. LtoR Marley, Hunter,
Jenna, Gracen, Samantha, Tara.

I included all these photos of the same scene to illustrate how 
difficult it is for Gracen to contain herself around a birthday cake.

My sisters Kay and Rita

Dennis, Rick, and I

Kelly, Rachel, and their cousin Amy

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Quote of the Day

There’s the ideal beauty of youth and health, which never really changes, and is always true. There’s the ideal beauty of movie stars and advertising models, the beauty-game ideal, which changes its rules all the time and from place to place, and is never entirely true. And there’s an ideal beauty that is harder to define or understand, because it occurs not just in the body but where the body and the spirit meet and define each other.
Ursual K. Le Guin

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Marley's First Car

It seems like yesterday that the family walked Marley to her first day of school and now she is the proud owner of her first car.,

Gracen's First Day of Pre-K

Today was G's first day of Pre-K school.  As is our custom she had a large entourage.

G's teacher gives her the grand tour.

The rules are explained. I thought to myself  "Good luck on that one."

The best part is that G and her best friend Farrah are in the same class.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Little Girl's Perspective of Grandma

I was visiting with my sister this evening and she said she liked my piece about Grandma.  She told me she had written something similar years ago. I read hers and really liked it so I asked her permission to post a copy here.  Enjoy:

Grandmothers are very special people. No one else can combine the love of a mother, the knowledge of years of experience, the closeness of a friend and at the same time crack the whip and get wanted results like a grandmother.
The responsibilities of a grandmother are many, The head of several generations, all going in different directions.  The chief cook of those memorable holiday fares.  Reinforcing parents' rules with one hand and with the other slipping their grandchildren a cookie.
My grandmother fits this description completely.  We were fortunate enough to live close to her as we were growing up.  We always knew Grandma loved us.  She told us often.  Not being confined to the role of mother, Grandma could let down and be a friend.
Saturdays were made even more special when we were allowed to spend the night with Grandma.  We sat up late, Grandma right there with us, just as involved in the late show as we were. There were walks in the hills on more than one occasion. Grandma was there, walking stick in hand, leading the way, opening our eyes to things we would have missed altogether if she wasn't with us.
I remember the dresses she made me during the time when my figure wasn't quite what it should have been. They were camouflage for my imperfections.  Now I can look at the quilt she made and discover pieces of those dresses and the memory of quilting day when we all gathered on Grandma's patio, stationed around the quilting frames. Grandma, Mother and the Aunts would stitch and cut the threads.  We kids followed along tying the knots.
My first bra was quite a big deal.  Grandma saw to that.  After living through her reaction I managed to see my first day back to school with little or no inhibitions about the possibility of someone noticing.
The knowledge one uneducated person can accumulate is astounding.  I shouldn't say uneducated, Grandma was self-taught. She read constantly and shared her knowledge with us all.  I guess that's where I and many of us got our addiction to books.  When Grandma read a book the rest of the world did not exist. What else was there for us to do but grab a book and join her.
Learning from Grandma wasn't too bad an experience. Even if her constant motto was "If you're going to learn to do it, you may as well learn to do it right."  And we did.  She was the one who showed me the technique I still use when ironing.

Little Girl - part two

I helped on laundry day, pushing the clothes through the wringer, into the rinse tub and into the bluing tub went the whites.  I believe my first cooking experience was at Grandma's. The egg I fried was far from perfect. The hardened yolk, framed with a crispy, browned edged egg white, just stared at me from the plate.  But, I got to cook it myself. That's what counted.
Grandma always kept chickens and ducks.  We learned to feed them and to keep their water pans filled with fresh water.  We always knew when one of her hens had hatched some eggs or when Grandma had been to the feed store for a new batch of chicks.  A box would be sitting in the living room by her chair, rigged with a light bulb for heat.  There the little ones would stay until they were old enough to care for themselves outside. That is another practice I adopted from Grandma.  Caring for the fuzzy yellow chicks indoors until they were ready to go outside.
Grandma has always been a lover of beautiful things.   She always kept her yard edged with flower beds.  Bricks, standing on end leaning on each other would outline those flower beds.We spent many a summer afternoon straightening bricks and helping weed between the multi-colored beauties.  I was always fondest of the Fuchsias that hung in the wooden pots around the patio.  And the Martha Washington Geraniums that grew along the fence.
My favorite memories and those in which I would gladly live over again, if possible, are the eves of holidays, especially Thanksgiving.  Although Grandma's house was small, that's where the family gathered at holiday time.  Some of us kids would spend the night before Thanksgiving with Grandma.  We would sit up very late just to watch Grandma put the turkey into the oven.  Always a large bird, overstuffed with cornbread stuffing.  After careful preparation into the oven it went and into the feather bed we would go.  Waking up to that aroma of baking turkey, climbing up  out of the feather mattress is something to remember.The family would soon start drifting in, filling the little house to the corners.  It didn't phase Grandma.  She followed through the day, a whip in one hand and a cookie in the other.
I regret that my girls couldn't have spent more time with this remarkable person before we moved away.  I'm sure most of their shyness would be  melted away layer by layer without them realizing it.  They would have been exposed to much more than they are at home.  Going to Grandma's is a little like entering the world of Auntie Mame without the frills.
At seventy seven and with failing eyesight she still charms every kid in the neighborhood.  The little one come to Grandma Ada's for cookies and coffee. The older ones come to get a booster shot of confidence. I'm hoping when my turn comes I can put aside the role of mother and step in to the role of friend, fun-maker and teacher.  The role of a very special person like my grandmother.