Friday, April 29, 2011



First, the sunshine, I suppose, because when I pulled back the drapes of Room 231 of the Hampton Inn of Salisbury, Maryland, this morning--Hallelujah! was the word that came to mind. How fantastic to know that as we celebrate the wedding, we will have beautiful weather.

The Royal Wedding had already taken place by the time I unveiled the sunny outdoor scene, of course, as my yard man had only suggested setting the alarm for 3:30 a.m. so as to watch the wedding as it was actually taking place (he followed through by laughing at his own great joke!) Didn't matter. It wasn't that wedding we are celebrating, anyway.

And then the dogs--
they seemed to be ubiquitous at the Hampton Inn. Yesterday, when we walked into the lobby, we couldn't help but notice-- anyone not holding a poodle on the end of a leash was talking about one. Poodles were trotting into the elevator, clearly heading for rooms.

"Are dogs allowed here?" I asked at the hotel desk.

"Ordinarily not," said the clerk. "But we make an exception once a year for the Poodles Only International Dog Show."

I regret, Dear Reader, I didn't get a shot of the most impressive ones-- the royal-looking dogs, groomed to perfection
(award-winners, to be sure).

Trekking onward, we relished the homemade crab cakes and breaded oysters we happened upon at Metompkin, Virginia. They caused my yard man to rave for many miles after.

(I myself was pleased by the name Metompkin and the oyster-shelled parking lot.)

So then.

In this section of the country lonely old houses, aging and decrepit, are more ubiquitous, in fact, than dogs in a hotel lobby at the time of an international dog show.

I stifled the urge to expand this portfolio of pictures beyond the point of reasonableness. (It helped that my yard man was chauffeuring me along at a very good clip, and straining to see the value of photos of shabby dwellings.)

But we did, Dear Reader, whiz past hundreds of opportunities--including derelict places of business--

a mystifying abundance of desolate buildings.

I even spotted one holey church!

Alas, Dear Reader, I shouldn't be showing you Delmarva's* dowdy accessories;
she's truly a Southern Belle!

With miles of beauty!

Right down to her very tip--
which ends, I guess, somewhere on
that long extension she had added back in 1964.**

**That would be the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel***

***Designated One of Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World in 1965.

(I can't simply drop you off in the middle of the
bridge, Reader Dear! I'll take you the rest
of the way another day...)

.a.k.a. DE, MD, VA
(got that all figured out, Dear Reader?
You can always call it the Eastern Shore,
but where's the charm in that?)

Thursday, April 28, 2011



across the Chesapeake Bay and south across the watery Eastern Shore.

The skies happened to be very watery, as well.
Happily for us, my yard man and I caught a brief break in the rain to stroll around St. Michaels, Maryland, and eat freshly-caught seafood.

But we are en route to a destination farther south...


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I FIND IT SO DELIGHTFUL--plants that come back voluntarily each spring.
When I noticed the mint today, already settled in and thriving, I nearly fell on my knees and
embraced it! "Oh, thank you for coming back! I'm so happy to see you again!" (yes, Dear Reader, I actually said it out loud.)

Then I picked a big handful and brewed a cup of Curly Mint Hillmeadow Tea.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


THE STAGE DIRECTOR FOR THIS AREA really outdid himself today,what with the
blossoms, birdsong, and babies (the yard man's foals)--not to mention the beatific weather!


Monday, April 25, 2011


*YOU WANT ANGELIC, Reader Dear?! Pfft, forget the eggs!

She never got to tell him hello--her newest little great-grandchild;
he didn't get to tell her goodbye--his only surviving great-grandparent.
But Minnie and Arthur shared life together on this earth for twenty-five precious days.


Sunday, April 24, 2011




Dear Reader, if you've got a bowl of hard-boiled, crumbled egg yolks and quite a few hard-boiled egg white halves resting in your refrigerator on Easter Sunday morning, it's fabulously easy to re-unite them in this angelic way:

Add one big dollop of mayo, one small dollop of mustard, and enough pickle juice to give the crumbled yolk mixture a great scooping consistency and a devilishly good taste.

Find a tiny spoon of some sort and scoop away!
(Note of caution, Dear Reader: Try not to get carried away with the presentation--there are endless possibilities; the more time one takes to dress them, the hungrier one gets, the more irresistible they become, the fewer actually make it all the way to the Easter dinner table!)

*Stop by tomorrow,
Dear Reader!

Saturday, April 23, 2011



(It's very helpful, Dear Reader, if one has got a yard man with a flock of chickens. He can keep one's refrigerator stocked with fresh brown eggs.) If recently laid, tap each egg on the narrow end--to produce a fine crack--before immersing in a pan of water.

Bring water to a gentle boil for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the burner and let sit for 5 minutes.

Cool and peel.

Cut in half and empty yolks into a bowl.

Crumble the yolks using a large fork.

Separately refrigerate empty egg whites and crumbled yolks until Easter Sunday morning, as there are very few easy ways to protect Easter eggs and keep them angelically good if they've already got the devil in them!


Thursday, April 21, 2011


SYMPATHY FLOWERS FROM my yard man's cousins--
"We will miss our dear Aunt Minnie..."


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011



For the elderly body--dust to dust,
ashes to ashes;

what a comfort to have new little bodies stepping into the line.
My dear mother-in-law left fourteen
grandchildren and
ten great-grandchildren to
follow after.


Sunday, April 17, 2011


THERE'S BEEN AN AWFUL LOT of togetherness, what with the upcoming funeral.
By Friday evening all of my mother-in-law's descendants (with one little exception) had arrived in the area, flying and driving through storms that threatened tornadoes. We were happy to welcome each new arrival!

And when everyone was here, we ate the birthday cake...
stored in the freezer
since that day when
the sentiment expressed
atop would have been one
hundred percent true for
my mother-in-law.



Thursday, April 14, 2011


ONE NEVER KNOWS, DEAR READER, what a day will bring. One can never know for certain.
Sometimes the arrival of a loved one, a miracle of new life. And sometimes...

The Yard Man and I were expecting the Little Actor to come to our house for a few hours today. And it was a lovely day for us to be outside; after days of rain, we finally had sun! But as soon as the little guy arrived, I said to my yard man, "We must go and see your mother! We don't know how much time we have."

"Well," said The Yard Man," This little grandson of mine needs to go and visit the chickens and the horses, see the two baby foals in the barn. Then we can go."

"Please don't take long," I implored. "We really should go now."

Dear Reader, this mother-in-law of mine had been suffering pain since the not-so-happy birthday, since the eighty-ninth party that was quietly postponed. She was getting lots of medication to make her comfortable, but she didn't appear to be coming back to a place where we could sing happy birthday and she could eat cake. In fact, it seemed she might never eat much of anything else again. Hospice was called in. Everyone could see that she didn't have much longer to call this earth home. Various of her children were spending long periods of time at her side. But I myself had not seen this dear woman since the day of her birthday.

So The Yard Man put the Little Actor in the car, and the three of us took a forty-five minute trip through the bright morning countryside to the nursing home. Riding in the back seat beside the Little Actor, I was treated to a commentary of the signs of life he spotted along the way--several times we saw moo, moo; once we saw neigh. Stopped at a red light, we even saw a little bird hopping about in a bush.

And then we arrived at the nursing home. The Yard Man hoisted his mother's great-grandson out of his car seat and carried him in to her room to see her, where she lay in her bed beneath a bright pink blanket. As we entered, the five family members who were there, conversing, turned to greet us. "I saw you coming," said one of the yard man's sisters. "Mom opened her eyes when I told her you were here!"

Ah, but Dear Reader. Mom's eyes were no longer focused. And her breathing was ragged. When I put my hand on her cheek it was feverishly warm. The Little Actor gazed at his great-grandmother, her still form and unseeing eyes, her rasping breath. He was quiet, watching intently as the yard man and I spoke to her.

Who's to know--perhaps he had an understanding of what was to come, and when. It was hardly more than five minutes after our arrival that someone standing near my mother-in-law's bed said, "Oh, I think this might be it...I believe she's stopped breathing." Everyone gathered around and waited quietly. But she gasped for more life, and she was still with us.

Only for a few moments longer. Twice more there was no respiration. Only once more her breathing resumed.
Again, we waited quietly, not knowing for sure.
A nurse was called, and faintly...
oh, so faintly, her heart was
still dancing.
So, again, we watched and waited.
Gave our dear loved one another

She did not breathe again.

She was gone from us. Gone over. Gone beyond.
Gone to worlds unknown. She had gathered up her spirit and departed.

We hovered around her, touched her and spoke to her, as the warmth of a connection lingered on. "Say bye-bye," we instructed the Little Actor.

"Ba-bye," he said, and he waved his endearing farewell.
He seemed to understand that her spirit had flown.

For the next two hours he played happily by her bed as his elders waited for the undertaker to come and carry the body of his great-grandmother away.

Yes, sometimes a day brings the miraculous arrival of a loved one. And, then sometimes, it brings departure.

At the end of a very long life, with three generations of one's descendants represented around the deathbed, this has a touch of the miraculous, as well.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


VODKA FOR ANTS. IT WAS my quickly invented scheme to rid the house of throngs of pesky invaders. And I promised you, Reader Dear, that I'd let you know how that whole experiment turned out. (Out being the operative word here--as in: crawled out, stumbled out, scurried out, meandered way or another, packed their bags and left my house! Or...[clearing my throat] drunk and died in the process!)

Well, I watched the little critters intently after providing that lake of vodka for them. At first they seemed to be clambering after the drink (I noticed a little side group; wondered if they might be setting up emergency AA headquarters, handing out pamphlets on alcohol poisoning). Soon it looked like some were weaving...except, hmm...I believe that's their typical way of walking. It was hard to determine if any were falling-down drunk...(body-build, number of legs, you know).
To tell you the truth, I couldn't tell if this experiment in pest control was being the least bit effective!

Regretfully (you don't know how much I drag my feet on telling you this, Reader Dear), I rummaged around in my all-purpose closet and finally found the equivalent of machine guns in the form of a spray can. I wiped out the whole horde of ants in less time than it takes to say, "Honey, I'm not into this vanilla-flavored vodka! Stay if you want, but I'm outta here!"

And that's the end of that.
(Repugnant Instance of Pest control)


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


FORTUNATELY FOR ME and my yard man, the unwanted visitors I was telling you about earlier have stopped their insidious inundation. Perhaps word got around about the boosted chances of ending up in Stinkbug heaven if they moved into our house.

(Which reminds me of a joke my dad used to tell: A preacher was evangelizing to a group of bums on the street corner--goin' on about heaven and hell. When he was about to wrap up his gospel appeal, he put the question to them, "How many of y'all wanna go to heaven?"
All of them reckoned as how they did wanna go there, except for one man.

Incredulous, the preacher asked him,"You really mean it, you don't wanna go to HEAVEN when you die?!"

"Oh!....," the man exclaimed. "When I DIE?! ......I thought you was gettin' a group together right now!")

At any rate, we've got fewer stinkbugs in the house. But (speaking of moving in and moving out), I went to meet yet another prospective tenant who's hoping to move into the apartment where you-ought-to-know-who, Reader Dear, just moved out. Lo and behold, I arrived back home to discover distant cousins of the stinkbugs had arrived en masse in my absence!

Unlike the stinkbugs, it looks like these cousins all use the very same travel agent--they flock in via the same identical route and head for the very same spot!

Truthfully, I had a clue the trash container was going to be a popular destination for them this spring when I noticed a few migrating there a couple days ago (okay, okay, its true...every year the trash can is like Fort Lauderdale at spring break!) I was not happy, and put little snacks of cayenne pepper along their route, hoping they'd reconsider and opt for some spot with better dining.

And it appeared to have worked! I thought they'd nixed their plans and chosen some other place to hang out. But, no. Here they are again in droves!

Hmm. What to do, what to do? Dear Reader, I've suddenly hit upon an experimental solution: Why not make their experience a bit too overwhelming?! Get them drunk! Goofy drunk, falling- down drunk! Get them so soused that they...well know...(do I have to say it, Dear Reader? don't make me say it; I'm starting to feel sorry for them already)...they die.

I've already grabbed up my bottle of genuine Russian vodka and poured a big puddle right in their main thoroughfare. Ohh, this'll be a treat for them--it's 'vanilla,' a gift from a sister-in-law of mine, who stuffed the original bottle with genuine vanilla beans.*

To enhance their ushering-out, as it were, I have Enya on the CD player. Now I'm keeping a keen eye on these unwanted visitors. I should find out soon if they're losing their little spirits due to the spirits.

(Why of course, Reader Dear, of course! You can count on me to keep you posted...)


Sunday, April 10, 2011


HERE THEY ARE--TWO LITTLE TOTS whom I spotted yesterday.
I will tell you every single thing I know for certain about them.
They spent time in the very same thrift shop in which I
was browsing yesterday afternoon. (I dropped off some donated items;
then I told myself--that's only half the equation--one must shop at
these charitable organizations as well, in order for them to survive. I was doing my duty.)

These little boys left the store just ahead of me.
When their father (oops, there's no guarantee, but for sure the adults accompanying them looked to be their parents) gave permission, I snapped this photo.

"Can you smile for her?" the adult male inquired of them.

And they did.

Oh, and yes, one more thing I know for certain--
these two little Spidermen made a downright adorable duo!


Saturday, April 9, 2011


IF YOU WILL RECALL, DEAR READER, when last I was babbling away about current bumblings, a fuming tenant of mine was shaking her finger at me. I put down my car window and said sweetly, "I just thought maybe you forgot to give me the rent money before you left!"

With that, she whirled around, stomped back to the U-haul. She and her boyfriend climbed aboard, and the three of us continued on our way. A few minutes later we all arrived. At a storage facility! Hmm...this was not the scenario I had built in my head--the one in which we'd be pulling up to another apartment of some sort, preferably one with an outside entrance, a nice-sized door number prominently displayed.

I hung around though, for a little while, before driving away--foiled!

The downstairs tenant kept me posted, so I knew that my less-than-ideal tenant returned to her upstairs apartment for more gathering of possessions. But thanks to me and my rather less-than-surreptitious tracking procedure, when she ultimately left, it was in the dead of night!

And then, on yesterday's rainy morning, when I surmised this tenant had delivered her final provocation, I really hadn't studied things from every angle.
For instance, there was the angle of a disgruntled tenant to be considered; then, too, the angle at which screen in a sliding door will fall away after it's been slit with a knife! I think, Reader Dear, I shall throw out my detective's badge.

(Judging by the mounds of stuff in this vacated apartment, there's quite a bit more I'll be tossing, as well!)

Friday, April 8, 2011


AS IT TURNS OUT, my less-than-ideal tenant tossed me a final aggravation by forcing me to climb out of bed on this very rainy morning and meet up with the constable, even though I was all but certain there wasn't any need for this rendezvous because she'd be gone. I was so sure of her absence at this gathering that I called and invited the locksmith to join us in her stead.

It was too late to call off the constable, anyway, and I wasn't absolutely, without-a-doubt, one-hundred percent sure she'd be all-done-and-out-of-there; but here's how I got the strong notion that she wasn't going to meet me at the door this morning with a wad of cash:

Yesterday afternoon the downstairs tenant gave me a call. "Just to let you know," he said, "there's a U-haul backed up to my upstairs neighbors' door. It sure looks like they're finally leaving!"
He sounded ecstatic.

Then he added. "Oh, and it also looks like they're holding up the guys that are trying to re-surface the parking lot."

"I'll be right over!" were my words.

And, Dear Reader, things were just as he'd conveyed them. When I got there, my less-than- ideal tenant and her boyfriend who does not live there but visits all day and spends every night were loading up a U-haul.

And sure enough, the guys who were waiting to put a top coat on that section of the parking lot were twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the U-haul to move on out.

First thing I did--I talked to my less-than-ideal tenant, after she came onto her porch with an armload of furnishings. "I'm very sorry," I said, and she studiously ignored me. "This is not the way things should have gone."

"Where do you think we should put the TV?" She asked her boyfriend, just as though I were the box spring and mattress already loaded in the U-haul. Or perhaps one of the tires on the truck. Maybe just not there at all.

On her next trip out, I suggested the possibility she'd like to make a contribution toward all that past-due rent. There was no response. Our one-sided conversation seemed to be going the way of the dinosaur.

I strolled over to talk to the idle parking-lot pavers, and these two young men seemed perfectly amenable to chatting--the part-Italian one with the German mother-in-law to whom he'd just as soon not live next-door, and the one with the Amish great-grandfather. Oh, there were lots of interesting orts of information I gleaned; we had plenty of time for our discussion of this and that.

But finally the U-haul was loaded, and suddenly it was pulling out of the parking lot. I'd been told that it would not be returning. Hmm...perhaps I would not be seeing my less-than-ideal tenant ever again, likewise. Thinking fast I said, "Ooops. Gotta go!" ending our chat, and dashed for my car.

I had no wish for a 'Gone-left-no-forwarding-address' farewell, so I steered my car out of the parking lot and fell into line right behind the U-haul.

Playing gumshoe for oneself, if one has no experience, can be a tricky ordeal, I discovered--What'll I do if the light turns yellow and they just squeek through? What if cars get between us and I can't catch up?

And then it got more than a little unnerving. After six or eight miles, the U-haul pulled off the road and into an empty parking lot. Hmm....I knew I had to make a quick decision; but, what kind of private investigator would drop the case now, Reader Dear? I pulled in behind.

Both of them exited the truck, the boyfriend quirking his eyebrows and scowling, the irate tenant marching toward my car, wagging her finger at me and voicing a strong opinion. I didn't get out of my car, but I opened my window.
"Unh-uh! You can't do that!" she directed me loudly. "No, sir! You are NOT allowed! You can't follow me!" She stated it several other ways, in addition, but basically that's all there was to it--I was not allowed!

(Dear me. You know how I hate to keep you in suspense, Reader Dear,
but perhaps I should ask my irate tenant if I'm allowed to
tell you more....


Thursday, April 7, 2011


TOMORROW'S THE DAY. The constable's going to have to figure out how to get into the parking lot; I'm having a spring coating applied. Maybe he'll have to park on the grass, but there's no doubt he'll show up for this, our second rendezvous with my less-than-ideal tenant. The question is--will she be there, this tenant who prefers to pay rent only as a last resort? It's anybody's surmise, really, so help yourself, Dear Reader, venture a guess.

I'll keep you posted.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011


EIGHTY-NINE YEARS AGO TODAY the mother of my Yard Man was a squalling newborn infant. She was the firstborn for my yard man's grandparents, so I'm sure her birth was an exciting and happy event, though she herself was not aware it was her birth day, of course.

Now eighty-eight times since then she's had loved ones wishing her happiness on the anniversary of that day. Eighty-eight times she has had at least some small celebration of her life. Subtracting a time or two when she was in her babyhood, let's say eighty-seven times she's recognized the fact that this is a special day of days.

But alas, Dear Reader, as her life continues its steady march down the far side of the hill, strange forces have emerged from the wayside brambles. They have sneaked up and cruelly robbed her! This evening, when her four local children and their spouses showed up at the nursing home with an armload of birthday-enhancing goodies, she was no more aware of the special day than she was on that day she took her first breath.

Only partially was this due to the fact that severe back pain had produced an increase in her medications. She would have been pleased to see us, and likely she'd have known that she knew her daughters and her son, even if she couldn't say their names. Minnie would have known these were folks who loved her, and ones whom she loved (I'm sure of this), but as for knowing her age...or the fact that today was her birthday--that was part of the theft of which I spoke, Reader Dear.

The birthday celebration (such a scaled-down version from last year) was not meant to be. This morning, on the very day the balloons went up beside her door and little decorations on the door frame, she fell out of her wheelchair again (she fell last week, too). When the eight of us arrived at her room, she was out. She was actually there--right there in her bed, but she was heavily sedated and medicated for pain. No one said, "Happy birthday, Mom!" or "Look who's here! We're your family and we all came to see you because it's your birthday!"
No, instead we stood around her bed and sadly exclaimed, hardly knowing what to do. One son
-in-law left the room. "Oh, man," he said, "it's so hard to see her like this!" Finally we came to the sorrowful conclusion that there'd be no salvaging of this celebration--the best we could do was plan to try again on another day. So we left behind the cards and the flowers, and we said goodbye (to each other).

On the long drive home through the pleasant countryside, as I watched the birthday shadows lengthen and the birthday sun go down, I wished that annual celebrations of one's life would always improve with the passing of time, in the way of a very fine sunset.

And that everything stolen would always be returned for at least the one day--yes, Dear Reader, the not-always-so-HAPPY BIRTHDAY.