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!


Friday, August 31, 2018

And Here He Is

My Itty-Bitty Actor,
recorded live:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

from My Favorite Things,
The Sound of Music


And, Viewer Dear, here he is in a rare bath-time performance of El Condor Pasa,
the Simon and Garfunkel song.

I'd rather be a hammer than a nail
Yes I would
If I only could
(If )  I surely would.

That's it!


Monday, August 27, 2018

Musical Catch-up!

I've been getting my usual musical highs for the past several weeks, but neglecting to share with you, Listener Dear. 

These two Sunday evening concert performances that I'll show you were so different from each other in some ways--note how the audiences did not behave in a similar manner, though both groups were quite appreciative (based on applause).  The instrumentalists had similar instruments, however, and all played enthusiastically.

First, I've got: Black Violins.

These musicians were playing at the wide-open park where the Yard Man and I typically spend our Sunday summer evenings.  There was a steady rain falling when the concert was scheduled to begin, and we surmised it had shrunk the crowd.  Even so, there was a sea of umbrellas.

And then, voila, as the violin notes began to rain on us, the raindrops ceased their reign!

I gushed to The Yard Man all the way home.
"Wow, that genre-crossing thing is so creative!"

Next, I've got:  TENET and the Sebastians
This concert was under a roof, required a pricey ticket,  and involved far more staid performers, not to mention prim and proper audience members. Nevertheless, I was gushing all the way home from this concert, as well!  My favorite--Baroque! Authentic instruments!  So glad our good friends nudged us!  (Well, Reader Dear, they told us about the concert; then they said, "We live so close to Mt. Gretna*, just come to our house and we'll go together.")
*It's a half-hour trip for the Yard Man and myself to this small, artsy venue in the woods.**
**A chautauqua.***
***Look it up, Curious One.

Okay. Listener Dear, I've got one more musical rendition that has demanded a showing.
It's a totally different genre.  A totally different style of performance.  A totally different kind of performerThis performance, recently recorded, is in such a class by itself that I've decided  it will have to wait for a blog-post spot of its own.

(i.e. The End)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Forgive Me, Reader Dear


The Yard Man pulled ears off the stalks of corn that he grew.  He husked them and threw them in a box for me.

I cooked the ears and we ate right off the cob as much as we could hold.  The excess, I blanched (a brief scalding) and cut off the cobs, put into bags, and froze.

 Reader Dear, it's like yellow gold in the freezer!  There's roughly enough for a one-bag withdrawal per week until we see another full moon of late summer and another few rows of corn standing rustling and ready in tassels and full ears.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

End Times

A department store that has maintained a spot in the local mall for the mall's entire existence (in excess of forty years) is now closing its doors.

The store is going out of business, selling out to the bare walls.
Fixtures, shelving, display cases and clothing racks are for sale.  In addition, they've got a small throng of fake humans that are ready to be carted away for a price.

To be honest, Dear Reader, it's a little creepy.

It was the other day, when I was in the store perusing the final merchandise, that I came across these fake humans.  I was carrying on a slightly one-sided conversation with them when a real-and-actual woman approached.  She needed some assistance in transporting one of the handicapped females (legless, headless) to the sales counter across the store.  I helped the actual female by transporting the arms of the fake female.

Consequently, the woman who was breathing and smiling vowed to name the breathless, unsmiling  one  after me*.

*(To be entirely honest, I requested it)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Spice of Life

is VARIETY (just to vary the expression [by reversal], Reader Dear).  I had a delightfully multi-cultural day this past Sunday.  It was filled with food  and music other than that which I normally consume and hear.  

The tale is simple:  The Yard Man and I ate with friends at a restaurant serving Burmese and Thai food.   Our host (the restaurant owner) is Burmese and was very friendly and happy to see us.  His wife, he explained, is the chef.  The food was out-of-this-world (or, at the very least, out-of-this-country!)

Win (the owner, phonetic spelling only) very handily packaged up all the leftovers from the generous meals he served us, and encouraged us vigorously to come back another time!  (We just as enthusiastically vowed that we would!)

In the evening, at our usual concert-in-the-park event, The Yard Man and I enjoyed Cuban music!

When The Yard Man walked down to the stage and observed for a while, he was impressed with the action. "It's a completely different experience down there than it is way back here!" he told me, when he'd returned to our lawn chairs.

So, naturally, I determined that I would have a completely different experience myself.  I decided, however, to delay the experience until the sun went down.  I wanted to fling my body around any old way I pleased (under cover of darkness.  [If you, Dear One, are less inhibited than I, you may give yourself a good old pat on your back*! ])

*That's right, an enthusiastically hearty thump, square in the middle
of your back, please.

It was a warm evening, and it was clear the musicians were giving their all to the performance!

Habia variedad en el spoken (sung)
word, as well, Listener Dear.

It was all delightfully picante!


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Flow of Topping

So, yes, Dear Reader, this will be the final one in a series of posts containing "flow" in the title.  (I'm assuming my life will flow on [and possibly the blog posts], but I'm getting downright tired of the word.)

Do you recall how the cake  toppings were trundled out to the car amid the hustle and bustle of leaving the cabin in the Poconos, after a full day of eating, drinking, and spending time with family at the lake and the cabin?  Well, the trip home for The Yard Man, Only Son, Small Actor and myself was uneventful.  We arrived home very late at night and Only Son and Small Actor spent one more night here at the home of The Yard Man and me rather than head to their own home at such an advanced hour.
In the morning, when retrieving his carry-alongs from my car, Only Son discovered that, alas, the Strawberry topping bottle (that one that the little chef used to make his dessert) had toppled over and spread itself insidiously over the back storage area of my car!  "Do you have baking soda?" he asked me.  "I can try to clean it up."

Now, Reader Dear, it so happens that I've got someone I depend on to work miracles on the carpets at my sometimes-not-so-scrupulously-cared-for apartments.  A little light bulb popped on in my head when I looked at that topping flow.  "I think I'm going to need a more advanced procedure," I told my son. 

Now, jump ahead by a few hours, Dear Reader.

A Miracle!
"Jerry will be back about two o'clock," the woman on the phone had told me when I called.  "You can come then, and he can take a look at it."

It was a blistering hot day.  Generally, Jerry does not have drive-in customers (I'm surmising).  

"You can go sit in the office where it's air-conditioned," he told me.  "This shouldn't take me more than about twenty minutes."

Jerry worked for a half-hour in the blistering heat, while I chatted with his friendly step-daughter in the small inside office where a window unit was churning out cold air.

Viewer Dear, just look what he did!

The Miracle Worker!

"I'm going to do some advertising!" I told Jerry*


*In addition to the miracles, he's a really nice guy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Overflow, Flowing On

I'm sharing with you, Reader Dear, the rest of the story of the day in the Poconos. 

I was excited to share the day itself (very briefly) with two dear deer (sorry, I cannot resist the phonetic double; I have no idea how dear the deer).  I do know, Dear Reader, that my sister-in-law (who was driving the van) was a dear when she stopped the van beside the road to let me film this twenty-second wildlife documentary. 

I spotted the fawn (no pun intended*) while we were on the short trip from the cabin to the lake.

As previously mentioned, rain began to fall at the very time my sister-in-law pulled the van into the parking lot at the lake.  (Likewise, previously mentioned) I huddled under an umbrella with other family members, hoping for an early end to the sky water.  Other members were already out in the lake water, and they continued to play.  It was this action that prompted the following small drama:

It was the lifeguard who trotted out to the lake to deliver a message to my Itty-Bitty Actor and his father.  Are you curious, Viewer Dear, as were all of us out-of-earshot kin, clamoring to know the problem?

(No humans who have not been potty-trained are allowed in the lake!  "We're getting too much fecal matter in the water," the lifeguard explained to family members scrunched  under her life-guarding-chair umbrella.)

Itty-Bitty Actor tried not to take it as an insult**

Happily, after several rain showers, the sun shone over the lake for the remainder of the afternoon.  Then ensued  swimming, splashing, boat riding, raft-riding, paddle-boarding, and I got to have some chat time with Jack (it had been quite a while***!)


Back at the cabin, later in the day, Small Actor and Tiny Actor were having a grand time breaking world records in Small Stream Navigation (small stream more aptly termed Large Stream, due to...[all together now]... Overflow!

By now, it was time for supper.
A veritable feast!

My Itty-Bitty Actor was very fond of the corn-on-the-cob. He ate all the corn he could hold (while someone else held the cob) .

And, the grand finale:  Dessert!
Sure enough, true to his word, my Small Actor set to work and played the part of a chef!

Banana Cake a la Strawberry Topping
Chocolate Chip Cake a la Caramel Topping


That dessert put the topping on the evening.
It was getting late.
Only Son, Yard Man and I quickly trundled lawn chairs and leftover dessert ingredients out to the car.  It was time for us to bid the others (who were spending  the night) adieu and head for home. 


*I take it back.
The pun was intentional.

**My interpretation of what I think he tried to tell me.

***I think I heard Jack exclaim
"It's been about a lifetime since we chatted!"

Monday, August 6, 2018


Was it not I who was rhapsodizing about the rain only a week ago?!
Reader Dear, as we all know, April showers may lead to May flowers.
I'm here to add:  August showers can lead to some august overflow!

The Yard Man and I, with Only Son and my Small Actor in tow (they were riding in the car with us, no trucks or cables involved) set out on a (most-recent) Saturday morning to drive to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania (a relatively small town in the Poconos).  We were headed for a cabin in the mountains where some of The Yard Man's extended family were enjoying time together.  But before we headed up the country, The Yard Man headed the car downhill.

We gasped.


A small group of neighbors was gathered at the edge of an impromptu river running widely across the road! Where normally we see an open meadow and the road descending in a slow curve that takes us to our covered bridge, we now saw only swift-flowing water.  (Much more water than we normally see when the creek floods!) 

"You should have been here earlier!" the neighbors exclaimed.  "The people staying in that little house by the creek had to be rescued with pontoon boats!  Their car is completely under water!" 

We had to ooh and aah a while, of course.  But then we headed north.  
Listener Dear, I'll let my Small Actor give his explanation.  (He pleaded for the chance to do so, to be sole cameraman and narrator.)

"You're really going to make dessert for all of us?!" I asked him, the news being news to me.
"Yes!" he responded.  "Yes, I'm going to make dessert for twenty-five people!  But it's a surprise.  I can't tell you what it will be."
It was a pleasant hour-and-a-half trip, the weather sunny, the fields lush with corn, the small streams swollen.  About a half-hour along, The Yard Man suddenly braked the car.  "Did you see that?!" he exclaimed excitedly.  "You've got to see that!  I'm going to go back and show you!"

"What was it?!" Only Son and I asked.  Whatever it was, we must not have spotted it.  The Yard Man seemed pretty pumped.

"It was a geyser!" he said.    "A little geyser is coming right up out of the pavement! I have NEVER seen anything like it's right in the middle of the road!" 
He had turned the car around and we drove slowly past the spot where the water was gushing up into the air.  The geyser was only a few inches high, but it was impressive for its location, and the fact that none of us had ever seen this phenomenon before.  We had to gush about it for a while, as we reversed our direction once again, drove slowly over the geyser a second time, and then continued on our way.

Our next exciting event was arriving at the cabin, where we found two different species of family members relaxing (calm down, Dear Reader, I'm just talking about the hominoids and the canines, all of them part of the family).

Later there was a long-drawn-out lunch, as family members trickled in from various locations.

 After a while, some of us set out for the winery.*  It is a little distance to travel (I believe about a half-hour. There's so much talking going on; the time passes swiftly) but worth the trip.  There's the wine-tasting and the wine more-than-tasting. There's the viewing of lovely fields full of sun-drenched grapevines!

*It's grown to be legendary, this winery.  Some members of the family have been visiting more frequently than others; now, they (we) never leave the Poconos without a trip to the winery!                                         

After the winery, we spent time at the lake (there's a nearby lake).  The sun was shining brightly right up until the carload that I was a part of pulled into the parking lot at the lake.
That was the cue, I believe, for the afternoon rain to begin.*
*I sang no praises. 

There was time spent huddled together under a big umbrella (those of us opposed to standing openly in pouring rain), and discussing, intermittently,  whether to give up and go back to the cabin.  But, ultimately, the sun emerged victorious!

More to come...