Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Stamped Out!

At the local post office, where I pick up the rent checks from my reliable and responsible tenants, and where I ship out my minor works of art,  a new postmaster was installed.

I was sorry to see the old postmaster go.  Over the decades, we had become friends.   I knew I would miss our chats.  Then, too, he long ago learned to know the  tenant of mine who always brings his rent checks into the post office in person.  My tenant arrives with an unaddressed envelope; he hands it across the counter and asks that it be put in my box.

The postmaster knew, too, that I am always interested in the latest designs arriving from the United States Postal Service.  He knew my affinity for always using stamps rather than postal strips, no matter the number of stamps needed.  He often informed me of new stamps he thought I would appreciate.  And it was he who, a few years ago, told me that stamps could be affixed to any spot on the top of a box.

"You mean I can put them down here?!" I responded with incredulity, pointing to the lower edge of the package.  "And here?!!" gesturing to the left side of the address label.

When he assured me that, indeed, I could make any kind of design I wished, could place the stamps wherever I pleased, I was pleased as punch, Reader Dear!

Thus, for years I've been bringing my birthday, Christmas, and valentine packages to the postmaster, having him weigh them and tell me the postage needed, then returning later with the stamp-covered parcels to mail out.

The new postmaster is a postmistress, if one wishes to call her such.  Sharon is friendly and accommodating, and she always totes up the stamps in a pleasant manner.   She doesn't openly admire my artwork as the old postmaster did, but neither has she ever disallowed it.

Now, this:
Last week I had a birthday box to decorate and send to a sister of mine in southern Virginia.  I took it to the post office.  Sharon weighed it for me and gave me the total stamp value required.  

I had already wrapped the box in a city map. It was such a pretty shade of green.  I chose stamps in shades of orange and green.

It was close to closing time when I brought the parcel back to the post office to send it out.  Sharon was no longer at the window; another woman was there.  I've seen her in the post office occasionally, filling in for Sharon.  Or supervising, perhaps.  

She looked at my package and frowned.  

"Sharon weighed it for me earlier," I explained.  "I've got seven-seventy-nine on there."  

 I had jotted a list of  the stamps, Reader Dear (I know that whoever she is, she's your employee, too, if you live in the USA and pay taxes).  I like to treat my employees well, and I started to show her the list:  Five standard 50-cent forever stamps. One stamp worth $1.15  (the lovely green succulent).  Two 37s and a 39.

"Oh, no, no,"  she cut me short.  "We can't have this!" She waved her hand at my carefully-placed stamps.  "These all need to be in the upper right-hand corner!  They are required to be right here!" she reiterated, and placed her hands emphatically around the upper right quadrant of the box top.  Reader Dear, I was being scolded for my artwork, much like a small child who has crayoned a masterpiece on the bedroom wall!

"But., but...the previous postmaster told me they could be anywhere on the top," I said indignantly.  "I've been doing this for years!" 

Undaunted, she insisted that it was the rule.   There was just no way I could be allowed to scatter stamps helter-skelter all over the top of an outgoing USPS parcel!  

Only a little less vehemently, I insisted that I'd been given instructions to the contrary.

Then the woman told me, "They are likely to throw this package out as suspicious."

"Are you serious?!" I asked, truly curious.

"Yes," she responded.  "All these stamps!  It could have been mailed by a terrorist."

Dear Reader,  I think I may have giggled a little nervously.     

"Four love stamps, and...and popsicles, for heaven's sake.  A terrorist?!"  I exclaimed.   
 (I got serious quickly, however.  I did not wish to be handcuffed).

"Well, and this shouldn't be wrapped in printed paper, either," she grumbled.   She did, however, start adding up my stamps.  She disregarded my written list.
Ultimately, Reader Dear, she grudgingly mailed out the package as designed.
In the process, she may have stamped her foot just hard enough to stamp out my practice of stamping all my parcels.*

* I stamped out of that place, pondering what's to be done with my colossal collection of vintage postage stamps.  Going forward, Dear One, keep your eyes open for the plain brown wrapper and the postal strip!

Monday, September 24, 2018


The other week I was part of a major project involving ten bushels of apples.
I helped to get them thoroughly sauced!

A very generous soul (a friend of mine) donated the apples from his orchard of apple trees. He gave them to the church (of which his mother is a member) to be made into applesauce, and given to another local church that serves free community meals to the hungry.   I'm also a member of this church, so I decided to join in on this endeavor of turning the apples into applesauce.

We were told that the project would likely start as early as seven-thirty in the morning (aargh!).  I'll confess to you, Reader Dear, that I had to rush just to get there by nine-thirty. Though I contemplated stopping for a box of doughnuts en route to the church (thinking perhaps a dozen doughnuts would do) I decided I shouldn't add to my degree of lateness.

When I pulled into the church parking lot, I was amazed at the number of cars!  (A dozen doughnuts would most definitely not have sufficed!)  On my way into the building, I passed Steve, setting up a gas burner to handle one more pot full of apples.  Happily, the large cooking pot I had brought along was needed, and it was my pot that was set atop that burner.

Meanwhile, the kitchen of the church and all the rooms surrounding it were a beehive of activity! I joined right in with the cutting up of the apples.  Also happening was the washing of apples, the cooking of apples (involved much stirring of pots), the processing of apples by various methods (cranking, grinding) and the filling of jars and buckets.

 It was a thoroughly enjoyable endeavor, thoroughly saucing those apples!  There were many varieties, and I sampled one or two.  The one pictured here, I believe, is Molly's Darling.  (Viewer Dear, I could be quite wrong.  It may be Molly's Honey, or perhaps Molly's Sweetness or Molly's Sugarplum.  It may not be Molly's apple at all; few folks at this saucing were able to introduce me to the apples in a proper manner.)

The main group of saucers spent six hours working at this project.  The outcome:
One hundred and seventy quarts!

Each person volunteering was offered a quart of applesauce to carry home.

Plus, I carried away two large tubs of the leavings.

"Looking at it from an equine perspective," I suggested, "this rubbish will be a marvelous treat!"

The Yard Man's horses are not accustomed to getting dessert with their meals; they were a bit tentative at first, he reported, but then they expressed their pleasure by eating enthusiastically. They got one tray the first evening and another the next evening.  By the third evening, they were getting accustomed to having dessert with every meal.  The questioning looks on their faces nearly broke his heart, the Yard Man reported.*

*I'm veering into fiction**

**And, no, I am not sauced, Reader Dear,
just horsing around with this tale of apples, sauced!



Sunday, September 9, 2018

Here Piggy, Piggy

My friend of pig roast fame issued me and the Yard Man an invitatation once again to attend his marvelous porcine event.   Gerry's 37th Annual Pig Roast.

When the bell rang, signifying that that piggy was at the ready,  Gerry's friends flocked to the tables.  Beyond the piggy-filled roaster were all the side dishes carried in by us guests.

There was a steady rain falling as the food lines formed,
and most other years Gerry's pig roasts happened to fall on sunny days (which made eating the plates of food a whole lot easier [because the picnic tables were dry]). However,  I'm sure everyone else, like me, read the slogan on that cake and laughed, then dropped the first word and the last.

Thanks, Gerry!  Pig Roast Great!


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Considering the Fact

that it was Labor Day we were celebrating, you might have been surprised, Reader Dear, at all the playing that went on in the yard of the Yard Man and me.  There was a minimum of labor.

The ferociously hot day made the slip-and-slide a terrific hit with the small actors.

And then, too, there was the toss-the-bean-bag-into-the-hole game that the Yard Man had newly procured and set up in the yard.

Of course, what's a holiday without food?!  We did some eating.

Happily, the eating included a birthday cake, which the small actors helped to decorate and deliver (a bit precariously) to the picnic table, to set before that Yard Man.

Here's where the photos end, Viewer Dear,
due to the malfunctioning of various pieces
of my technological equipment.

Also, due to the malfunctioning of the person
handling the equipment at the time (evidenced by the following,
which that unnamed  person has decided must now be shown. As an example, you must understand, Viewer Dear.  And to enhance the following Public Service Announcement:
All photographers using a phone in camera mode, be aware of the SLO-MO setting* and the ease with which it can be utilized without intent!

**All speaking is translated into long, slow, unintelligible growls;  the warping of the sounds of happy singing is a travesty! (SIGH)

However, out of Labor Day we made a glorious Play Day!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

You May Not Give a Fig,

Dear Reader, but my fortune has recently taken an unexpected upturn in the form of figs--fabulous, fresh figs!!  They were plucked from the fig bushes this very morning by the person gifting me with them, and delivered from Virginia to my Pennsylvania door this very afternoon.

It was Elder Brother of Mine who stopped by late this afternoon, en route from delivering a niece of mine to college.  I knew that he was coming, and I knew that he would be spending the night.  The figs, however, were a grand surprise!

Elder Brother grows these figs, and he brought six varieties.  Most, he said, were at their peak of ripeness.

I swooned!

Reader Dear, I fell upon those figs like a greedy child with candy, and I ate them with a passion.

I do like fresh* figs!

*If you've never eaten one, this should be on your bucket list: Find a fig straight off the bush.  Handle it gently, feeling its lovely tumescent body.  Bite into it.  Admire its beautiful interior.  Savor the succulent sweetness.  Consume it.**
**You'll dance with glee!