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Friday, July 28, 2017


Let me tell you a ghost story.  Well, sort of a ghost story?  I don't really know what to call it.  One of those what-the-hell-I-don't-understand events.

Let me back up.  I had the nosiest neighbor.  She was friendly.  Too damned friendly.  Before you judge me, you have to understand that she sat in her lawn chair, feet from my back door, waiting to pounce on me while blasting country music.  Not the better kinds of CW.  I had to listen to endless twangy repetitions of how the wife left and took the truck and dog but left the kids.  God, I hate country music.

I put up a 12' long privacy fence, just enough to block her direct view of my back door.  She moved her chair 12'.  I added more fence.  She moved her chair back a bit more -- but the "music" originated from the same place.  She just turned up the volume.  I blasted some rock in return.  One time, I was scantily clad while painting the inside of a bedroom window, and she literally shoved half her body through the open window to talk to me.  Do you understand wet paint, bedroom, get out of my house???

It didn't help that she had a large, vicious dog.  She was a hoarder.  She didn't clean.  She wasn't a beauty, and her horribly rotten teeth didn't help.  Sometimes I felt drunk from the wafting beer fumes coming over the property line.  I hate the smell of beer too.

For all of that, sometimes I fell for her friendliness.  Her nosiness was universal, so she told me the dirt on everyone on the street.  She told me all the dirt on herself for that matter, so I doubt she'd care about me talking about her now.  She had a brain tumor removed when she was younger.  Maybe they took out the part that dictates boundaries?  Whatever.  For the most part, we got along well enough.  I just kept adding fence.

One night, the paramedics came and I saw them wheel her out on a gurney.  She sat up and argued with the paramedics before they put her in the ambulance and took her away.  I didn't see her again.  I wondered what happened, but I didn't want to go over to the filthy house to find out.  I might've felt obligated to sit in that house and make nice, and I have bad history of being forced to sit in a different filthy house.  Back then, it was with a certifiably crazy old woman.  I couldn't make myself do the neighborly thing again.

The mailman was often lackadaisical about getting the mail to the right houses, and I got something that looked important for the next-door neighbor's husband.  I handed it over the fence and asked about his wife.  He said she'd died.  I expressed my sympathies, adding, "I didn't think it looked good when they took her away, but since she was arguing with the paramedics I thought maybe she was going to pull through."

He looked at me very oddly and said, "She was already dead when they got here.  I'd been out for the day, and found her dead on the floor when I got home."

To completely change the topic, let me continue my seasonal rant about wildlife.  My dog set off the skunk twice, but thankfully wasn't sprayed.  My pear trees are dripping with fruit, and the damned squirrels are picking them, nibbling a bit, then knocking more pears off the trees to nibble some more.  They do the same thing to the tomatoes.  Why can't they just take one and finish it??  I wish the groundhog would kill the squirrels, then commit suicide.  I made giant balls out of grapevines, and they seem to be working against the deer because they don't like to get their legs tangled up.  I think I'll make more deer balls.  The first of the garden's bounty is starting to come in and I've gotten the canning stuff out again.  Enjoy some summer pics...

Plums, cherry/plum/rhubarb, bread and butter pickles

Squirrel damage

Hoping that I'll get to eat at least some of the pears?


Ripe tomatoes which are kind of a green pink brown.  No idea of the variety.
I kept seeds from a salad I enjoyed a couple of years ago.

Jane, this pic's for you :)

My 17-year-old puppy refused to pose by the deer balls to let me show you their size.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


I've always thought that if I had to serve in the military, I'd choose the Coast Guard.  I could sail around on Lake Erie, pick up drunks who fall out of their boats, and party with Canadians.  I found out they could send you to some other part of the US coastline, and I thought, that's fine.  I could go as far as Chicago or Buffalo.  I abandoned all thoughts of the Coast Guard when I found out they could send you to the Gulf of Mexico or something.  No hablo Espanol, so I doubt I'd enjoy their parties.

There were times when I was a kid that I spent quite a bit of time fantasizing myself to Canada.  As the crow flies, I was only about 5 miles from the lake.  As a fish swims, it's considerably farther down the river, but I could get there eventually.  I sent the Canadians messages in bottles, but the Canadians never called.  I stole the bottles.  The summer people next door had a storage area of such useless junk, and I didn't think they'd miss the bottles.  Maybe the Canadians could sense my theft and their silence is a just karma?

As I pause to consider whether to talk about message bottles or theft, I remember the vividness of a memory that popped into my mind earlier this week.  Jackie, Sis2's friend, stepped on broken glass in the river.  Her foot was sliced very badly, and she did it on the wrong side of the river, downstream of civilization.  My dad picked her up and carried her across the algae-slippery shale riverbed through the rapids, and then all the way home with Jackie weeping blood the entire time.

After they left, I studied the broken glass in the water.  The clear glass blended with the clear water.  Dancing reflections of current camouflaged the shining reflections of the glass.  It was beautiful and dangerous.  I picked it up and threw it into the woods in a place where no one would step on it again.  My parents made a new rule that we had to wear shoes in the river after that, a rule I greatly resented, seldom followed, and probably explains why I lost so many shoes.

Why do I remember this so clearly?  And why did this moment pop into my mind so vividly this week?

I tracked my associated memories for a connection.  Older boys drank beer and threw their bottles across the river, laughing at the shattering sound, never considering a child's sliced foot.  Perhaps their thoughtless, selfish, stupid behavior was stirred in my memory as I see the same kind of behavior in politicians or some people I know?  Maybe I feel guilt at all those messages to Canadians sent in stolen glass bottles?  Maybe there's a danger I can't see through glittering reflections?

Six years ago, I wrote another post about sending negative thoughts down the river in paper boats.  You can see it here.  Creating that post seems as clear in my mind as Jackie's bleeding foot.  I think everything we've experienced is still in our heads somewhere, and sometimes I wonder why.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Ice Cream"

It was a beautiful summer day -- deep blue sky, tall forest looming overhead, screaming, laughing Girl Scouts running in circles, and the "Shooush!" of rock salt getting thrown off the back end of a pick up truck.  I was standing at the wrong place at the wrong time, and had to help lug the rock salt to the designated area.  Rock salt is heavy.  More things had to be moved.  I didn't understand what any of it was.  I just cooperated while the other girls continued to happily run around in circles.

Wooden buckets were packed with rock salt and ice.  Cream and sugar were poured into a metal cylinder.  Vanilla in one cylinder, chocolate in another.  A metal collar (wo)manhandled across the top of the contraption, and a handle banged onto one side.  "We're going to make ice cream!" the troop leader exclaimed.  Great!  I love ice cream!

Girl were called from play to sit on top of the buckets, and more girls were assigned to turn the handles.  Excellent.  Girl Scouts are great at teamwork.  I turned the handle for a few minutes.  "Is it ready now?"  No, it was not.  It became a relay effort of handle turning; I'm pretty sure we turned the handles for at least 4 hours.  Maybe 5?  Time is different when you're a child.  What I know is that it took forever.

It was the best ice cream of my life.  Specks of vanilla were peppered throughout.  It was so sweet, so creamy, so hard-won, but with a troop of girls, it was quickly gone.

We packed the buckets up again, churned the buckets again, ate strawberry ice cream with super red, super sweet berries plastered throughout.  I don't know what was in the other bucket.  Who would eat another flavor when you can have strawberries?  Forget what I said about the vanilla being the best ice cream I've ever had.  That strawberry ice cream was the best.

Of course, we did it again.  I was starting to suspect that the troop leader's plan was to work us all to exhaustion.  I think she succeeded.  I quit eating ice cream when the choice became pineapple.

Night fell in the forest.  Mosquitoes came out.  We built the essential bonfire and sang campfire songs.  It was a wonderfully perfect day.

By coincidence, I was thinking about ice cream when I went to the grocery store.  I wanted to buy Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia.  Full test -- don't insult ice cream with low fat, or try to pull one over on me with yogurt disguised as ice cream.  $5.79?!!!  You're kidding me, right?!!!  I am not going to pay that much for a tiny tub of ice cream.

But now, the word for the week is "ice cream", and I don't have any.  It just feels so wrong.  I may have to go to the store again.  Well, I know I have to go back.  This was my shopping list:  dog food, soap.  Can you guess which 2 items I neglected to get when I spent $120+ at the store today?  I think my revised shopping list is now dog food, soap, and ice cream.

BTW, I fussed around with this art more than you'd know by looking at it because in the end, I deleted most of what I'd done.  Sometimes that has to happen.  I decided I just felt like having a happy bookmark :)

Saturday, July 8, 2017


I gave my first presidential vote to Jimmy Carter in 1980.  I also nullified my first vote by guilting my boyfriend to the polls where he voted for Reagan.  Bf didn't know much about either candidate, or any of the issues, he just thought Reagan seemed friendlier.  I learned a lot about how some people vote.

I know, I know, lots of people still lionize Reagan.  I fundamentally disagreed with him about environment concerns and the "Trickle Down Theory", but I can accept that people are allowed to disagree with me.  (Though, of course, the world will run better once everyone starts coming around to my point of view!)  We can reasonably criticize any of the US presidents.  They've all had flaws.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who lives in the DC political bubble, a guy who voted for Reagan twice.  He intelligently pointed out a slew of Carter's presidential flaws.  Okay, that's fair.  Carter made political mistakes.  He was also intelligent and far-sighted.  He put solar panels on the White House.  Think about how much farther we'd be along if he could've been better able to win people to addressing climate issues back then.

Years later, when Jimmy Carter was discovered to be quietly working on Habitat for Humanity homes, some started rethinking their opinions of him.  They see he's motivated to help people.  He's thoughtful and intelligent.

I think the political errors Carter made while in office came from a fundamental misunderstanding of the motivations of influential movers and shakers.  He is a decent human being who wants the best for the people in his country.  That doesn't motivate everybody.  I've had a terrible time trying to get my mind around this.  Not the part of Carter's motivations, the part about how there are others, many others, who don't give a damn about their country or about anybody but themselves.

I used to take drives with a pal of mine.  We drove through the parks and past pretty mansions.  We enjoyed each other's company and the beauty around us.  I didn't consider that someone else could take exactly the same drive and bemoan wasted land in the park, feel anger about maintenance taxes, and envy at the pretty houses.  A person like that can be judgmental towards my impractical aesthetics while I can be just as judgmental about their callous disregard for nature and craftsmanship... and never the twain shall meet.

Park levies pass easily in Greater Cleveland.  It isn't that everyone appreciates trees.  It's that some people appreciate trees, and the other people appreciate the fact that Cleveland's parks increase their property values.  Win/win... except some people still look at parks and fantasize about turning those trees into saleable lumber and an apartment complex.

I'm never going to agree with those people.  I'm never going to agree with someone like Paul Ryan who fantasized about getting rid of others' health care while he was still a student.  What's wrong with someone like that?

I wish our current president was more like Jimmy Carter.