Thursday, May 31, 2018

Just like I'm so prone to do,

Reader Dear, I'm wandering back through history.  (Do not fear, it's a relatively short distance in reverse).  It happens, there were a couple of shows that the Yard Man and I went to see in the past few  months; I failed to say bloggety-blog about them! Without photos, I'd still be on mute even now. But I've got the pics!   In spite of the Yard Man's hisses to "Put that thing away!" I managed to (ever so discreetly) focus my camera on the stage. 
Here is a tiny scintilla of Million Dollar Quartet:
 Elvis Presley … Johnny Cash … Jerry Lee Lewis … Carl Perkins.  The play was based on a true story.  These four musicians were "brought together by an extraordinary twist of fate on a December evening in 1956"  The show was a four-star, five-star event!  If you can figure out what I'm saying there, Dear Reader, I'll give you my blue suede shoes!
Next, I've got a clip or two from a show to which the Yard Man had gotten free tickets.  The venue was a local spot that caters to tourists (who eat supper at the joint first, then eat up the show that follows, featuring actors portraying Amish) This show told the story of an Amish boy who dreamed of becoming a ball player (No spoiler alerts).  Here, Reader Dear, is one thing I'm going to divulge: Since we arrived quite early, the Yard Man and I were privileged to sit in front row seats.  (The seats were individual chairs arranged in rows).  I was so close to the stage that I could have reached right out and pulled on a pant leg or two with ease!   
My confession: while it's true that the play kept me interested, it did not prevent my imagination from frolicking around a bit.  Suppose I were to, um, sort of, um,  tie shoelaces together while actors were standing right there in front of me? (And, um, that sort of thing, Viewer Dear)
These final short bursts of video are not from a formal or actual performance that we attended.  They were just part of a pleasant morning the Yard Man and I spent in the city, pretending to be tourists  (We weren't looking for information or  Amish depictions when we visited the  downtown information center.  It was there we stumbled upon this little bit of "historic" action).  
Lastly,  we enjoyed drinks and a musical jam session atop a tall building in the city.

One little postscript:

Not a show, Reader Dear, except for the fact that this  recording features a few of my small actors, and you may be inclined to watch, hoping for some kind of story line or plot.*

*Well, okay.  After a family meal out, the Yard Man and I, with most of our descendants,  found ourselves wandering through a labyrinth of hallways somewhere in the bowels of the local mall.  But what was this?!  Were all the exit doors locked?! Some of the oldest and youngest among us became alarmed.**

**It was weeks and weeks ago, Dear One.
Rest easy.  We are no longer wandering there! 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sunday morning

of our celebratory weekend in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Yard Man and I decided that we would  attend services at the Moravian church.

First, we stopped by the hotel lobby for breakfast.   That, Reader Dear, is when I had to do a double-take.  Could that really be four men dressed in matching outfits over there at the corner table?!   Turns out that it was, indeed.  It follows, naturally, Dear Reader, that I needed to ask these four men if there was any chance they would be singing a song for me?  (Yes, yes, of course I explained the performance I'd gotten the previous morning). 

 "Sorry," one of these men responded, "you wouldn't want to hear us sing!" They all laughed.
"But," he added helpfully, "we could fly you anywhere you want to go!"

I pondered this.  It may not be undying love, I thought, but it still sounds like a pretty good deal!
I wasn't quite prepared to hop on a plane at the moment, however, (and, you know, there was the Yard Man to consider; I wasn't going anywhere without him!)  We ate breakfast and kept to our original plans.  We headed for the beautiful Moravian church.

What a stroke of luck, Listener Dear!  As if these fine folk are not already very musically inclined, on this particular day we were fortunate to get in on their "Music Sunday" service.

All the music was lovely.
 But the choir was simply heavenly!

Following the service, the Moravians served their traditional Sugar Cakes*
(pretty heavenly, too!).
*(Straight from Wikipedia, Dear Reader) "The Moravian immigrants who founded Salem, North Carolina, in 1766 brought this recipe with them from Central Europe, their ancestral home.  Originally, sugar cake was prepared once a year for the Moravian Church Lovefeast on Easter morning, but its popularity soon led to its appearance at other holidays and festive occasions."

After an outdoor (sidewalk tables) lunch at a restaurant with some very tasty food, the Syrian owner and some of the waitstaff posed for a picture and offered congratulations to us (you know, for the forty-five years together).  We offered the owner congrats on the very fine food and the fact that he's served two U.S. presidents.  (If you squint and look closely at the photos on the wall in this photo, Viewer Dear, you may spot these two**)
**What better enticement to eat here than seeing these photos?!  These two ex-presidents are the only two in U.S. history for whom I campaigned door-to-door!

The Yard Man and I made one more visit to the Moravian bookstore, and then we had to bid a fond farewell to Bethlehem and the winning weekend!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Moving along with

the Moravians.   It was discovered (by the Yard Man and myself, as we continued our celebratory weekend) that the Moravians (a religious group) came to this country from Germany and
settled here in Bethlehem, PA, in the seventeen-hundreds.  The town is filled with their beautiful early architecture.  There's a Moravian college, a Moravian bookstore,  a museum filled with Moravian artifacts,  and a fact-filled guide named Gary, who is not a Moravian.


Of course, there is a fact about Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, that is better known than the story of the Moravians.  It is the story of Bethlehem Steel. The sadly-defunct steel working structures punctuate the skyline, and there is a museum detailing the history of this bridge-and-ship-and-all-things-steel-making company.  (It is a long history [I tried to maintain my steely determination to stay and hear all of it.])
More interesting was the afternoon hoopla on the lawn below the elevated walkway (that runs along the side of the abandoned steel plant).  Before the Yard Man and I walked over here from our delightful lunch at the historic Bethlehem hotel, we had spotted many hat-wearing women.  It was slightly mystifying.  But when we got here, aha; Reader Dear, we got the clues we needed.  The Kentucky Derby was coming to Bethlehem, Pennyslvania, via an outdoor large-screen TV!  The crowd was gearing up!  

(Meanwhile, some less-celebrated horses gave a live performance to at least a few interested persons who happened to be watching [Reader Dear, one of these persons asked the other, "Is that a Percheron?"  and the other responded: "It's a mix"])

The Yard Man and I watched the festivities for a while, but eventually we decided we'd enjoy the "most exciting two minutes in sports" from the comfort of our hotel room.  I coaxed the Yard Man into stopping by the off-track betting building (conveniently located near the hotel).  Now,  it's true that my dear old dad was of the strong opinion that this kind of betting is "a tax on stupidity" and I tend to agree.  It's not a wise use of money.  But, Reader Dear, as soon as I saw that horse with the number seven was favored to win, I paid my small  tax.  "Seven has always been my lucky number, you know!" I said to the Yard Man with fervor.  "I know this horse is going to win!"

And don't you know, Dear One, he did!
Which means, of course, I did (nearly enough to buy that Yard Man some ice cream in the hotel lobby)!
And, don't you know, Reader Dear, even without that win, I'd have had a winning day!
Stay tuned, Reader Dear, for Sunday morning with the Moravians.
i.e. back soon.

Friday, May 18, 2018

We took a little celebratory trip over the weekend,

the Yard Man and I (several weeks ago).  It had been four and a half decades since the day we both said, "I do" to the man who asked us if we did (He happened to be my uncle, but he had power vested in him by the state of Virginia [and he had God and witnesses to assist him in his assignation of the roles of "husband" and "wife"]).

Because of various circumstances, we couldn't spend our celebratory weekend too far from home, so we went to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.   En route, we came upon Roadside America.  This, Reader Dear, is a tourist spot straight out of the 1950s!   If you have ever been to this attraction, please know that nothing has changed here since you last visited!  It looks the way it did when you were a child  (I'd be happy to wager a bet):

On our way into the place, we had asked a couple coming out if their visit had been worth the ticket price. 

"Oh, yeah," said the man.   "And make sure you stop at the gift shop for a cheeseburger! They're outta this world!"

Well, then, indeed,  the Yard Man had to have one!   And that's how we also got served a long and entertaining history of Roadside America from the one who had cooked the burgers (and sometimes single-handedly cooked the burgers and run the whole place) ever since there was nothing vintage about it.

"Thank you, thank you!" I said as we left.  "You should write a book!" 

The next morning (after our arrival in Bethlehem and our night there)  in the hotel lobby I noticed four men all dressed alike.  Insignias on their shirts were barber poles.  "Aha," I exclaimed.  "You're here for a barber's convention!"

"Not quite," one of them responded.  "But you're close!"   Dear Reader, turns out they were a barbershop quartet, in town for a competition.   I wheedled for a sample, of course.  Don't you know,  Reader Dear,  how I wheedled.   And they laughed, but then proclaimed their undying love for me in song!

"Thank you, thank you!" I said as they left.  "You're sure to win the competition!*"

*I didn't say a word about their unrequited love;
I winked at to the Yard Man
He gave me a winning smile.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I Think I Must Have

eaten too many commas, Reader Dear, in the recent past.  There have been so many long pauses between these blog posts.  But now, here is another:

Before I finish that tale of the next-door auction,  I'm just going to show you a few cheer-producing items I've seen during the past several weeks.  The weather in my neck of the woods has been so exceedingly dreary lately that any bright spot of color makes me happy!

On a rare sunny day I was pleased as punch to see this random car in the mall parking lot, its color a perfect match to the spring-green leaves on the tree above it!

For this photo there is an easy explanation.  Yellow gladdens my heart like no other color!

Here, Listener Dear, I enjoyed a Hawaiian-themed evening, bright with leis and authentic Hawaiian song! 

And this:

Lunch with a friend at a great little Asian place.
Colored my day bright in more ways than one!

More to follow
(trust me on this, Reader Dear).

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Flora and Fauna

This, Reader Dear, is only one spot on the back seat of my car after I've gone to a local nursery and behaved like a kid in a candy shop.

I take such delight in this part of nature.

I've learned to appreciate the part that trots and whinnies and swishes a tail, as well.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Do you recall, Dear Reader,

This blog post in which I was working diligently to divest myself of excess items not needed for daily living and yet stubbornly lodged in my home?  Keep it in mind.

Well, the neighbors down the hill were having an auction of their house and many of their worldly possessions (They are now at a retirement home).  The auctioneer erected several very large tents and other preparations were made for the big event.  Would it be possible, our neighbors had requested,  for them to use the Yard Man's horse meadow for parking during the auction? The Yard Man had generously said yes. Early in the morning on auction day he put his horses in the barn and disconnected the electric fence.  Cars were directed in a round-about route via our driveway, around the barn and into the meadow.

I didn't have to worry about parking, of course.  I could just stroll down through the meadow.

But, Don't go! I counseled myself.

It so happened that we have other neighbors who were providing food for this auction.  It was a fundraiser for the medical bills of their child who had a catastrophic illness.  Obviously, I wanted to support that effort.  Obviously, too, I wanted some of that yummy grilled chicken, ham and bean soup, chicken-corn soup, some of those whoopie pies, apple and shoofly pies.   So now you can see that I simply had to go. (Dear Reader, please say that you can).

I walked down through the meadow to the auction.

But, Don't get a bidding number! I told myself.

All morning I had been listening to this:

Birds twittering and the rhythmic sounds of the auctioneer.  You likely can't hear it, Listener Dear, but I could sometimes make out the words "A dollar, a dollar, a dollar, who'll give me a dollar?"  
 Dear me, suppose I were to forego a bidding number and lose out on a one-dollar bargain for lack of it?!

Doll Babies Awaiting the Auction Block

  I got a number.

But, Don't bid on anything!  I gave myself a strict injunction.

Well, then, Reader best to explain it?  There were tables and tables and tables filled with household goods.  To most of it I could easily say "no".  And there was absolutely and without a doubt not one single item that I needed!

To be continued...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

No sooner did I saturate

the ground with Ted's Y2K water and tell you about it, Reader Dear, than I got a call from one of Ted's nephews.

"You wanted to hear from me if anything happened to Uncle Ted.  I found him yesterday in the little house where he's been living.  He was unconscious.  At the hospital they told us he'd suffered a massive stroke.  They don't expect him to live."   

Oh, Reader Dear.  It was unexpected!  I had thought, you know, that I would go and visit him in his new location.  I knew he'd be pleased to see me.

"I'm so sorry," I said.  "Do keep me informed.  If he comes back to awareness, I would like to send him something."

Saying goodbye to Ted at move-out

"Oh, that's not at all likely to happen," he told me.   
"But I'll let you know," he said.

Then Ted left this world.


When the nephew's wife called to inform me of his passing, she said that Ted had specified in his funeral plans  he did not want a service of any kind.  I knew, of course, that the grave site was chosen long ago.  The stone with his name had already been marking the spot for years.  Ted's final resting place would be in a small cemetery just four or five miles from where he'd spent so much time earning his "Best Ever" tenant award.

But if there was to be no service or ceremony, then that was that, I supposed.  I was a little disappointed not to pay my last respects.


I found another man to rent Ted's former space (and I didn't try to make it happen, but he's got the same given name!)

"I can come to sign the lease on Thursday, " New Tenant said, "Would 12:15 be okay?"

"Very good," I said.  "Yes." 

That evening I got a call.  It was Ted's nephew.  "The funeral home is going to put  Uncle Ted's body in the ground tomorrow, Thursday.  Two or three of us are going to be there.  There isn't going to be a ceremony, but you are welcome to come.  The undertaker said to be there at 1:00."

" Thank you!" I responded.
"I would really like to be there."

And so it was that I purchased some potted flowers and went straight from giving away Ted's former living space, to viewing Ted's final resting place.

The cold wind and rain made the ten-minute committal to the ground a rather less than pleasant affair.  My umbrella was blown inside out, and it was difficult to have any conversation with Ted's three family members.

As we were all preparing to leave (earth was going to be moved at a later time) I went to my car and got the flowers.

I set the hyacinth and the dahlia beside Ted's stone and said quietly,  
"May you rest in peace, dear Best Ever tenant.  You've got a far better landlord now than I'll ever be--never a rate increase, and a never-ending lease!"

With a tiny lump in my throat I got in my car, turned on my windshield wipers,  and drove away.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Water water

but not a drop that I wanted to drink.

Here, Reader Dear, is a little tale I'm going to tell on Ted.  (You know, the tenant with the "best ever" award whom I just described to you).

When he left his home of twenty years (the apartment that is now empty), his nephews brought a U-haul-type trailer and loaded up all the boxes and bins and bags of his possessions that he had so neatly packed.  They emptied the basement storage unit of most everything.

However, there were cases of water stacked along the walls.

"Shall we take those with us?" one of Ted's nephews offered.  "Or..."  He hesitated.

"Oh, just leave them,"  I said.  I knew their trailer was packed full and they were worn out from all the lifting and toting of Ted's furniture.
So the water sat in the otherwise empty storage unit for months while I dragged my feet on re-renting.  It's difficult to find good renters during the Christmas season.  And then came the snows of winter.  Eventually there came the departure of the renter with "worst ever" award and all that that entailed.  Now I had two apartments to fill.  I got busy and advertised.    

It was time to deal with the water!

It was only then that I pondered why Ted would want to have a total of twenty-five gallon jugs of water plus two cases of smaller water bottles.  Why would he stockpile water?

Dear Viewer, look at the date on this gallon of water and tell me that you recall a time when everyone was going a little crazy, thinking the world as we knew it was about to end!  Computers were all going to crash!  Everything was going to go haywire!  At the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999, there would be worldwide chaos!

It was Y2K!*

Ted had stockpiled water and held it for eighteen years!

It's true, Reader Dear. All the gallons were bottled in 1998 or 1999! 

Dear Reader, I chose a relatively warm and sunny day to deal with those bottles of vintage water.  I figured that water would never really "expire" but I had no wish to drink water that was stored in plastic for nearly two decades.  And I couldn't lift those cartons.

It took me forty-five minutes working non-stop to empty and crush the bottles.  It wasn't such a bad job, really; and, as I performed the task, I thought about Ted and was grateful he never had to break open his stash of life-giving liquid!  Happy for all the rest of us water-drinkers, as well!

*The fear was that all of the computers that everyone depended on would malfunction. People also feared that our luxuries would be destroyed and that we would revert back to living like the olden days without any electricity, heat or running water. They called this the great Y2K scare. The scare consisted of the fear that the entire computer systems were going to fail on New Year's Eve 1999

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Study in Human Behavior

That, Reader Dear, is what the job of landlord affords me.  Looking at the range of tenant actions, reactions, temperaments and life skills can be as fascinating as visiting a zoo!

Not long ago I finished the job of emptying a storage unit filled with abandoned stuff.  Mountains of stuff!   Evicting the tenant was bad enough (a long-drawn-out process and rather heart-breaking, as I felt Bad Boyfriend was to blame. Bad Boyfriend [who did not live there, but spent much of each day and every night "visiting"] brought drugs and teen-aged children who were into stealing cars and such.  So [skipping over many frustrating details]  I eventually got my tenant, Bad Boyfriend and all,  to move on. I emptied her dwelling space and did extensive repairs [broken fridge handle, broken window screen, broken window blinds, broken faucet handle...ugh, I'm not listing it all]). 

A few months prior to that, I had said goodbye to another tenant.  This tenant, Reader Dear, was the kind of which most landlords can only dream!  He was the very first to sign a lease with me*  And, wonder of wonders,  he stayed for twenty years!  Ted would make his rental payments three months in advance, took meticulous care of his apartment (He'd been in the navy when he was a young man in the 1950s).  He  was quiet, and kept me informed of all the goings-on around the place!  The fact is, Reader Dear, I had not one problem with Ted until he began to age and become a bit senile.  Then he morphed into a crotchety old man who complained bitterly about the tenant upstairs!  Dear Reader, I'm not going to go into great detail, and I do not want to tarnish the memory of Ted.  Suffice it to say, Upstairs Tenant was not charmed by Ted's banging on his ceiling with a broom handle and vacuuming late into the night.  Shouting loudly.

Though Ted never married and had no children, I was greatly relieved that he had a few nephews who lived a couple hours' distance away. I called upon them for help. They responded quickly and found a spot in their area to move their uncle.  "It's a nice little place, up against a mountain," they told me.
"We think he'll like it."

Sad as it was to say goodbye to Ted, I knew the time was right.  Although he was still driving his car and living independently, the Upstairs Tenant situation was untenable, and Ted was not happy.

His funeral plans were in order.  He had told me this years ago, and explained that all arrangements had been made and prepaid .  He had given me the name and phone number of a local funeral home.  Now I would not need this information; but, even so, I was saying goodbye to Ted.

"Perhaps I can come and visit you!" I told him. "I'm going to miss you!"

Because he had lived in his apartment for twenty years, I felt I should have new carpet installed.  But it was a tough decision--Ted's carpet was not stained or dirty, only slightly worn.  I had barely any cleaning to do, and no repairs.

What say you, Reader Dear?  "Best Tenant Behavior" award and "Worst Tenant Behavior" award in the space of a few months time!  As fascinating as orangutans and rhinos, no?!


(*Only one other tenant has outlasted Ted and she and
her husband were already renters when I arrived at the
job of landlord so long ago)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Boy and a Dog

They go together like a birthday surprise and birthday glee!
My Small Actor had a birthday not long ago.
He turned into a seven-year-old. 
And you, Reader Dear, are going to turn into a Viewer Dear ( I hope) In full disclosure, I can't do a thing about your age; however, if you actually view the following photos, you're going to be a teeny tiny bit older when you are finished [It's just inevitable.  Sorry!])

 A Story in Pictures:

The Small Actor had met Sugar the Saturday prior to his birthday, when, with his Poppy and his parents, he had visited several Amish homes that had puppies for sale.  Receiving one as his very own, that was the big surprise!
He decided to re-name her Megan.

The Small Actor received a journal for his birthday, too.
His first entry was a story in pictures.
I think it speaks volumes!

Monday, April 9, 2018

We've been having a

fine time, me and The Yard Man, with our German friend, Milan, who is staying with us for a few weeks.

Milan spends a good bit of the day with The Yard Man, but in the evening we all three eat supper together. Then we spend a few hours conversing in English and German (doch mostly English, it's true).  We communicate in lovely multi-lingual laughter, as well.

A few evenings ago Milan stood on a footstool and delivered some lines from Much Ado About Nothing.  He performed the lead role in this Shakespearean play at his high school about a year and a half ago.    (There's a reason, Dear Reader, why "German script for Much Ado" was displayed on my phone for a little while.  Milan was refreshing his memory).

The next night we studied photos that The Yard Man had taken of Milan's home in Germany when Milan was six years old.  After that, we googled the longest word in the English language and the longest word in the German language.  Before we looked up the words
I had said to Milan, "The longest word in the English language is ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM."

"No," said Milan, "That can't be!"

 "Yes, yes! It is!" I insisted.  "It has twenty-eight letters and eleven syllables!"

Then we looked up the longest German word (brace yourself, Reader Dear).  It is:


I confess that I shrieked with laughter!
"It's no wonder," I said to Milan when I caught my breath, "that you didn't think that puny twenty-eight letter English word would be the longest one we had!"  

Well, then, we looked up "Longest Word in English" and what do you know, Dear Reader. I had to eat my words! Turns out, the lengthiest word listed is a forty-five-letter word for "A supposed lung disease. (Humph!  I decided right then and there to make up a word for "To assign a fancy made-up word for a supposed something-or-other in which the word itself is longer than the meaning."  I have yet to coin the word, but the letter count will be in the high nineties.

Of course, after our exhaustive perusal of long German and English words, Milan and I thought to research "Longest Word in the World".  Here, Dear One, is where things get more than a little weird!  If you aren't busy for the next three and a half hours, go ahead and let it roll off your tongue!

"The longest word in English has 189,819 letters and would take you three and a half hours to pronounce correctly. Seriously. It's the chemical name of Titin (or connectin), a giant protein that functions as a molecular spring which is responsible for the passive elasticity of muscle."

Reader Dear, I was no longer laughing.  Nor was Milan.  We came to an International Agreement this was Nothing Short of Ridiculous!

After our study of long words, we regaled each other with tongue twisters in our various tongues.  We did some long laughing.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Reader Dear, the Snowy Days Pile Up

and then the weeks pile up.  And I end up with a whole stash of photos and little vignettes that get stale!
And still it goes on SNOWING!

Here's the latest, all you folks in south-central PA:  Looks like we are having winter weather until the cows come home.  And the cows, well, they set out for warmer parts, and ended up in Barnsville, Alabama (or perhaps it was Georgia; they saw the word "barn" and just kept heading there).  They aren't ever coming back! So you might as well hit your alarm clock each morning prepared for snow or hail or sleet or freezing rain right through until July 31.  In August we are expecting some moderation of the cold.  Temperatures might be in the eighties.  The warm spell (We used to call it "summer") will last for a few weeks before an unexpectedly chilly autumn will arrive.

Aforementioned stale photos:
I met this impersonator at the grocery store

The Itty-Bitty Actor and Small Actor searched for their Easter Buckets* (Okay, you see, by the time the [real] Easter Bunny got to the Target store, it was an Easter wasteland!  They did have an assortment of pretty plastic  buckets for just a buck.)

*My two other short actors were playing in the sand in the south (They did not go to Barnsville, however, and did not spot the cows)


The warmth and sun of Easter Sunday was but an April Fool's Day joke!  The next day we were back to snow.

I don't think the deer saw it as a good or amusing thing, either.

She was in a nearby field that I happened to drive past.  After I took the photo, she laid her head down on the snow.  In the event that she died, (tsk, tsk, I think it's likely) we've now got this shot to memorialize her, Reader Dear. 

 May she rest in peace.
May the snow, as well, soon give it a rest!