Monday, September 29, 2008

..................I ATE A BROWNIE late last night......woke up to this strip of light...........

Got up sleepy-eyed to see...dawn arriving just for me!

Heard these birds a carryin' on...up and crackin' at the break of dawn

...............And how terrific! I seldom see...the sun rising over the cherry tree......

..............If only I'd learn to mend my ways...and get up earlier most of my days!!!


Saturday, September 27, 2008


IT'S A GRAY, RAINY day here, pleasant in its own way, although I'd always opt for the "golden, sunny" variety if I were choosing. The plus side (this is questionable) of rain is that I'm forced to look at the stacks of paperwork piled right here on the kitchen table.

Before I get down to business, though, I have a little story to tell. (Notice how this tactic could come under the heading: Procrastination; but I prefer to call it: Rainy Day Rules--Do the fun things first.)

This little tale is in honor of my Aunt Eats, who departed this life less than twenty-four hours ago. It's about five children who grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, the youngest five in a family of ten siblings. Since they were born in rather quick succession, and two of them were twins, all of these younguns were not much more than seven years apart in age, and they grew up in a full house. They slept together, ate together and went to school and church together. They shared the never-ending farm chores. And of course, they played together, too. Now, it seems that in that time and place, assigning nicknames for one another was a popular past-time. Their oldest brother, Arthur, had picked up the nickname Slew, because he walked in a slew-footed manner (I'm assuming you understand the term slew-footed, Dear Reader, and if not, you should have known my uncle!) Then, too, they had a cousin whom they called Hap because of his agreeable disposition (I'm only guessing, Reader Dear, that this moniker was short for "Happy," and not derived from "Happenstance." Or perhaps "Haphazard"). One of the five herself had a name that just begged for play: Osie Ola (yes, her actual, given name--Oh-see, Oh-la). She was "Osie-Ola-Pepsi-Cola" to her friends.

So now this is how I got an aunt nicknamed Eats: ( And, ha! it's not what you think. It really had nothing to do with what she ate. No! It was all about Dotes, and her dinner. You see, Dotes--the baby--ate oats and liver and hay!) Here's how the five children would say it--their clever little string of nicknames, "Dotes Eats Oats and Liver and Hay*."

Thus, Dora got the nickname of Dotes. Her next older sister, Edith, became my Aunt Eats. Osie and Oliver (the twins) and Harry*--their nicknames are rather easily figured out, though I never called them Oats, Liver or Hay. Edith alone was the one always known to me by her nickname.

Rest in peace, dear Aunt Eats.

*Sometimes they called him Bones, he was so bony;
but who eats bones?!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

AFTER A DAY that seemed almost a ditto (of yesterday...and...don't run away, I'm not about to dwell on the details again!), I came home to "walk the walk" and it was refreshing! This flock of birds in the field would fly up in a lovely cloud of flapping wings when startled, swoop in a large and graceful figure eight in the sky and return to their feeding. Their choreography was superb! Everywhere around me it was as though nature had looked at the calendar and said "gotta change!'s time to dress for fall!" The corn, in particular, had done a fast donning of its little brown rustly number.It looked so tall and elegant, glistening in the sun and dancing in the breeze. I thought I'd show you its choreography...such an admirable job with limited mobility! (Except that I can't seem to get the little video clip to "upload"...maybe later. I'm sure it will be doing its Dance in the Wind another day). And Jakie's tobacco barn...filled with the freshly-hung pungent leaves, gives out a surprisingly delightful aroma as I walk by. Here's a little whiff...breathe deeply.

And then the batteries ran out on my camera. So here's my truism for may fail you, but nature never will--Autumn will always follow summer and it will always put on a show!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FROM ALL APPEARANCES, this was a peaceful day at Fair View Apartments. The sun was shining on the fields and barn roof across the road (the view). And after Kevin and his riding mowers had left the premises, the lawn looked great and it was pleasantly quiet. But there was a tell-tale sign that all was not right, and it was a big white truck with the wording " Compleat ReNew" (don't ask me why they've misspelled a word in their name..I've yet to ask them). Remember the broken water pipe? The damages were insidious and the restoration dragging out. The insurance adjuster, we'll call him Gerry (since that's his name) called me at 9:00 a.m. to tell me he'd be about 20 minutes late in meeting me at Apartment 59. What a stroke of luck for me! (I'd forgotten the appointment completely). So I grabbed up my paraphenalia, dashed out the door, dashed back in to get the catfood and feed Sassy, dashed out again and drove rather speedily up the road.

By 10:00 we'd met at #59 and surveyed the damages, we'd gone over the procedure for compensation, we'd chatted at length about his other career as a private investigator (I'd tell you some of his tales, but they were too creepy), and I was ready to move on to the next workman waiting for my attention....he's going to be working on another renovation, another apartment, another building...and it involves broken things, as well, but mostly just worn-out things. So, as Gerry was leaving, Jack was there to discuss paint colors and the fine details of deck repair and window replacement.

When Jack had gone on his way, I (somewhat spontaneously) stopped in at Rod's place..."Rod Miller, Signs." Why I thought I should spring for a new sign right now, I'm not sure. But, as it turned out, Rod's wife Janet said that she'd come by and have a look at the sign before coming up with a price and design for a new one. Okay. So far, so good. But...hmmm...that bed under the sign was really far too weedy. Did I want Janet to see it that way? There's a great little hardware store just up the road, so I bought myself a 99cent pair of red gardening gloves.

I dirtied those gloves, and I cleaned that bed! And then Susan, my tenant in #56 showed up, just back from a vacation at the beach, and we mutually admired the current weather for a while.

It's afternoon by now, and I finally return home after my hasty departure this morning. I come in the door, and......the phone rings. It's Compleat ReNew. "Can you meet us at #59?"

And so it goes, and so it goes. They remove most of their equipment from Maria's apartment ...most of the big fans and dehumidifiers. But there's still a little patch of damp carpet. They leave one dehumidifier. All of the stuff from her bedroom remains in stacks and piles in her living room (it's a small apartment) and, moreover, the whole place has such a nasty odor. None of us can figure out why.

By late afternoon I've left the apartments and the complete Compleat crew and the distinctly disagreeable #59 and I'm trying to pretend that Maria, who has been away all day, will continue to work everything out nicely with her insurance company (her renter's insurance will cover nights in a hotel as long as the apartment continues to be uninhabitable).

So I'm in the grocery store when Maria first calls.


As it turns out, the various interpretations of uninhabitable are not in alignment.There are many calls...while I'm still at the grocery store...while I'm sitting in the parking lot...while I'm driving home. (Dave at Compleat suggests that it is pet urine stains in the carpet that have produced the vile odor in the apartment. Maria's young son lives elsewhere, but stays with her occasionally and brings his puppy along. I'm not a private investigator, but I do know how to put two and two together).

I get a final call from Maria as she is on her way to a motel. She is pacified....for now.

I arrive home with my groceries and it is 5:05 p.m. I am pacified with this thought: today was not a typical day at Fair View.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


TODAY WAS FRABJOUS. Just frabjous, I tell you! Are you guessing I grabbed this f-word out of thin air, Dear Reader? (fabulous, sunny, thin air)? I did no such thing! Frabjous is something to chortle about, as Alice could have told you (when she was ten feet tall)  This is Alice of Wonderland, Reader Dear,  and Alice of the Looking Glass. It was the Jabberwocky who would have taught the word to Alice, and it was Lewis Carroll who put the words in the Jabberwocky's mouth.

It was my mother, however,  who taught them to me:
                   " 'O frabjous day! Collooh! Callay!' he chortled in his joy"

Thus it was that I grew up chortling about frabjous days, and I'm sure I'll be doing so as long as summer continues to cycle round to autumn year after year and I'm still here to exclaim about the days too beautiful for mere words found in a dictionary.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


OH, THE JOYS OF landlording... I could write a book about my experiences caring for the living spaces of the many, many people who have resided at Fair View Apartments over the past eleven and a half years. Fair View Apartments (named by the previous owner) consists of 17 apartment units, nearly all of them one-bedroom ones, and the average tenant stays about two to three years (actually, I never calculated this, it's totally a number pulled out of my head based on the fact that Dick and Jane have been there in apartment #16 for the whole eleven plus years, and apartment #14 has seen Ted as the tenant for ten of those same years, while countless others have come and gone.)

But what I want to tell you is that there are many moments that would definitely not be described as anything approaching joyful (just in case you had any misconceptions.) And such a moment occurred today when I was all set to go out into the perfectly pleasant sunny afternoon and join other volunteers with the Obama campaign to do some door-to-door canvassing. I was anticipating this experience, looking forward to the one-on-one interaction with the political undecideds I might meet. As it turned out...

I got a frantic call and spent the afternoon interacting with a fire chief (called to the apartment by the distraught tenant who heard water running and discovered it was a broken water pipe under her bathroom vanity); the township water official who was splashing around in the water and searching the apartment for the water shut-off valve when I arrived; a guy from the company that specializes in emergency clean-up, who tramped around over the soggy carpets and looked under and around and up and down and assessed the situation; the plumber...oh, thank God for plumbers; and the man and woman who arrived (hours later) with a truck full of big shop-vac-like equipment and heavy-duty fans. Lastly but surely not least, I spent time with the female half of the couple who call the place home.

She, Maria, had dashed off to an appointment when I arrived and I had gotten the task of unloading the items from the bathroom vanity while the plumber and the "restoration supervisor" stood by watching and waiting. Keep in mind that everything was dripping water--the very soggy roll of t.p., the box of soap bars, the tampons and large assortment of bottles and jars of this and that, three (count them) toilet bowl brushes, (though the toilet looked as though not a one had been in use for quite some time). I certainly wouldn't have chosen to clean out my own bathroom cupboard on a day like today, and then to find myself squatting on someone else's dirty, water-covered bathroom floor...well, you've already gotten the idea that I wasn't having fun, haven't you?

If you don't care for details you can just skip those previous paragraphs and read here that a broken water pipe ruined my afternoon plans. I wanted to stick a "for sale" sign in the lawn of the property and sit and wait for someone to drive by and take the whole place off my hands, yard-sale style.

Friday, September 19, 2008

THANK YOU, LOUIE! (That would be Louis Antoine de Bougainville to you, Dear Reader). What an exceptionally lovely flowering plant you've given me! For years now it has graced the edge of my kitchen sink, and lent me many pleasant moments. I think of you, Louie, with fondness whenever it blooms!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


INTERESTING THAT I used that photo of the pier on the previous posting. I told you that I would be spending the night in the bedroom I slept in as a child, but as it turned out, all of my sleeping hours were spent right there on the pier.

My childhood home sits empty, devoid of much of the furniture that populated it previous to the death of my parents. The systems are failing...including an air conditioner that can't seem to produce cool air. I had forgotten how hot and sticky a late-summer day in the Tidewater area can be. Fortunately for us--my siblings, siblings-in-law, and husband--the air-conditioned church where Aunt Emily's funeral service was held gave us a respite from the heat. Back at the house, we all searched out the coolest sleeping arrangements to be had.

Outdoors there was a pleasant breeze blowing and a gorgeous full moon, and my sister-in-law, Gail, agreed to walk to the pier with me, as everyone else had retired for the night. There were moon shadows on the grass as we made our way down the hill to the river and, once there, we were so charmed by the moonlight on the water and the sound of the waves lapping at the pier (the tide was high), that we had a sudden inspiration to sleep there. It involved a round trip back to the house for sleeping bags, and to leave a hastily scribbled note of our whereabouts.

I can't say that it was a comfortable night of sleep. But we sacrificed comfort for beauty and came out way ahead! The lights of the bridge were like a string of sparkling diamonds in the distance. Orion, the swashbuckler, kept watch overhead. The gentle slap-slap of the waves and the cries of the night birds were an unrivaled symphony. All night the breeze gave us coolness in the bargain. Without question, however, the piece de resistance was that big full moon, luminous and bright, lighting every dancing ripple on the water. (I realize this all sounds a bit overwrought, but please bear with me, there's more!)

Although we talked for several hours (true slumber-party style), we did drift off to sleep at some point, and the moon continued its trek through the sky. I tossed and turned and pulled on an extra cover, sleeping restlessly, and, I'm convinced, unconsciously aware of the beauty surrounding me. And then, at some hour of the very early nighttime morning, I lifted my head from the pillow and gasped.  I truly did suck in my breath in astonishment!  There across the river, to the west and full in my face--full in my face, I tell you!-- hung the moon in all its glory, enormous and just out of reach.  Skimming the tree line, it threw its light in a wide, shimmering path across the mile of water. 

I will never forget it, Reader Dear!

p.s. Maybe it's best that I was unable to post my one cell-phone-camera shot of the moon on the river, so pathetically does it do justice to the scene. You can likely do better in conjuring it up yourself. Or, hmm....What are you doing next full moon, Dear Reader?

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'LL BE TRAVELING back to southern Virginia this weekend, so you won't hear from me again until Monday...or Tuesday....or whenever I actually get around to it. I'll be sleeping Saturday night in my old room, in my childhood home beside the Warwick River. One year and ten days ago I was there to lay my mother to rest, and two years and ten days ago I was there to bid my father a final farewell. This time I'll be at the funeral service of my great-aunt Emily. She was my mother's aunt and also her very dear friend.

It will be a time of many remembrances, a very real reminder of the passage of time.

In this photo of the pier (taken circa 1993) are my three children and my mother. There is a slight ache in my heart as I look at it. However, time moves ever forward....never back. That is the way of the dimension we call time....a mysterious dimension, as who can even fathom existence without it?

I've read enough about quantum physics and string theory, however, to truly ponder the possibility of time travel. I don't think I'd want to be around for its discovery... But hey, wouldn't we all eventually find out if it were to happen? The future would come back to us! Hmm, the thought is starting to give me the tiniest bit of a creepy feeling. Yes, I'm sure I prefer to live in sequential time, even though it means parting with those I love.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


I HAVE A ROUTE. IT'S MY WALKING route, and if I were a well-disciplined person, I would be following it every day. As it is, I'm out there walking The Walk about every other day, on average. That's in agreeable weather. And that's in agreeable seasons. And that's also when I force myself to take the time. Otherwise, its anybody's guess whether I can muster up the effort to put on my walking shoes and hike up the road. When I say "up the road" it's quite literal, as I live on a fairly steep hill. In fact, it's so steep that I never choose to walk down the hill because down is longer and "what goes down must come up." Up is more arduous on the down section of the hill. Okay, did I make myself as clear as mud? I thought so.

Anyhow, my route starts out uphill...for the first five minutes. It's wooded to my left; I can't see the western sky, where the sun is fast sinking to the horizon. But when I reach the crest of the hill (slightly winded)

the road makes a big curve to the left and my reward for the climb lies ahead...the panorama of the sky and a long, gently undulating stretch that takes me straight ahead to the Amish farm

where Jakie and Rachel and their four youngest children live. The road splits the farm--the house and main barn on the right and the garden on the left. I'd have some photos of both to show, were it not for the fact that Rachel was out picking lima beans in her garden this evening. "We're getting a bumper crop of them this year," she told me. "And they're bringing so much money at market, they're almost too valuable for us to eat!"

I say goodbye to Rachel. Up ahead is the Amish schoolhouse, such a short walk for Rachel's kids!

I'm still on The Walk, and the sun is now dropping below the horizon. I know from experience the daytime show in the sky is beginning its grand finale.
Before long it's earnestly dark, and I turn to retrace my steps.

Ha! It looks for all the world like the Amish have rigged up electric lights for their school!
I'd happily extend The Walk if darkness weren't stumbling all over and falling around me--I'd turn left at the school.

But I can't stop the light from fading. I head for the bend in the road, and just before I go around it, I say a final goodbye to the sun and snap this picture for you, Dear Reader. Thanks for tagging along!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I'VE NEVER BEEN much of an animal-lover, but ever since my Dark-haired Daughter left for college four years ago, I've been the sole caretaker of her cat, and I've become quite fond of her (I'm talking about the cat here. I've always been quite fond of my daughter, always). It's that Sassy's so old, and she so appreciates me. She lives outside, sleeps under the front porch, but spends her days as Queen of the Kitchen Porch. That's where she eats from the ceramic dishes I bought for her (she is a dignified cat, Reader Dear. I felt she deserved better than plastic.)

Every morning without fail she is intently watching the window in the kitchen door, longing to see me. Now, the time of day when I remember she is out there waiting for food can vary by many hours. Usually it is in the morning. Often it is when I'm on my way out the door on some other business and I must set down my load of accessories (er, you know, purse, keys, lots of etc) and go for the cat food.   I can't bear to leave her hungry.

The amazing thing is that she is always looking up at me when I glance out the kitchen window, no matter the time of day. Until she is fed, I am the most important person in the world to her. Who can resist such adoration?!  After she is fed, she still loves and appreciates me.
 She's just too dignified to show it.


Saturday, September 6, 2008


AFTER WEEKS OF NO rain, we got it in cats and dogs today! Hurricane Hanna arrived to rescue us from brown crunchy grass and withered plants, gasping for moisture. The green things were dancing wildly in their glee, as you can see....and I was (not dancing) but happy as well, even though it was not the kind of weather that is conducive to hauling cardboard and newspapers to the recycling center.

Nor was it pleasant to load up cars and a U-Haul in steady rain--it's what my son and his wife, his father-in-law and various helpers were doing this morning, in preparation for an out-of-state move.

Most of my help was conveniently accomplished indoors. But when they headed off toward their destination, they left boxloads of "another man's treasures" in my car. Indeed, lots of boxloads and bagfuls. In a rush to dispose of it, I drove directly to the thrift shop. Of course, that's when Hanna really let loose! If someone opens a faucet over your head, it's a little hard to function.

Thus, I slogged two boxes out of the car, fought the wind with my umbrella, gave up, and drove home soaked to the skin. Then I stepped outside my kitchen door and took this little clip of nature. If you look closely you can see the sheets of rain descending.

And then Mr. ROY G. BIV showed up with an "oops-forgive-me" to all those folks who had planned a big barbeque, a yard sale or (gasp) an outdoor wedding. Look at him there, calmly gracing the sky just an hour or two after I took the video!


Friday, September 5, 2008

MORE PEPPER PORTRAITS. Remember that post back in July, when I doubted my ability to twiddle my thumbs and forego harvesting the lovely green peppers nearly breaking down the branches of my pepper plant? Well, here you have it reward for waiting! Peppers can store up solar power like nobody's business, generously delivering it to you via whopping portions of Vitamin C and beta carotene. Not to mention their eye appeal! The vegetable bin in my refrigerator is like a jewelry box when I've got a couple of these adding pizazz to the jumble of zucchinis and squash. They certainly do accessorize a salad of any sort.

These three, the first of my harvest, were so stunning that I had to use resolve to cut into them. There went the work of art I'd made by tucking a flashy little patty-pan* between them. And there went my bounty. There are plenty more that are blushing furiously, but still adolescent. Considering the fact that when they've been drizzled with olive oil, lightly sprinkled with salt, and roasted, I could quite easily chow down one or two of these big mamas at one sitting, three seems a skimpy number.

*Patty-Pan. I love that name. The silly part of my brain must follow it with Daddy-Dan.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

DO YOU RECOGNIZE this skyline? Hint: It's along the "Magnificent Mile." Hint #2: It's where I spent the Labor Day weekend. Okay, so that's not much of a hint if you weren't clued in to my plans. I'll just say I was in Chicago. For the first time ever. Since I spent a good bit of time rhapsodizing about the weather and the architecture and the cleanliness and the beauty, it's a good bet that I enjoyed the city. Sorry I wasn't more diligent obtaining photos of the lake, the fountains, the overflowing planters filled with flowers along all the sidewalks, the street performers and more of the incredible architecture.

On the other hand, you are spared a shot of the mold growing on the bathroom ceiling of our hotel room (Red Roof Inn on Ontario Street...I suggest you don't fall for its cheap rates, even though it is just a half-block from that magnificent Michigan Ave. I had to bum a glass of ice water from the neighboring sidewalk restaurant when the vending machine ate my money and gave me no plastic bottle of H20. Red Roof suggested I walk a half block to the 7-11 Store for 11:30pm). Tut. Tut. I shouldn't be griping. I loved the jambalaya and rice and beans at Heaven on Seven, the Cajun restaurant on the seventh floor of some building on the famous mile. The art museum was nearly as fine as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the green areas of the city were quite beguiling...such a worthy place to spend hours on a no-labor holiday.

The tour of the city from the top of the double-decker bus was a very touristy thing to do. And so appropriate, since that's exactly what we were (my husband and I)! Being my usual curious self, I hung on every word from the guide, who seemed to know all there was to know about the buildings, the history and the trivia.

Add in just one visit to friends in Elmhurst (a suburb), who included in their number little Simon Miguel. He calmly looked at me with all the wisdom of his eight days of life, and I knew that he was the most miraculous sight we'd see in our entire visit to Chicago!