Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I think this girl could charm the explosives off a suicide bomber.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Cara's got plans for the week. She was dragging Dylan off to New York City. Although he's lived in Allentown for a year, he's not been yet. And he's moved from his apartment to a house outside town with a garage. "Moved in' means something different to a man than it does a woman, so Cara took lots of things to make his house a home. I contributed a bathroom set. She's going to decorate his bathroom one night while he's at work. She figures that he will be so awestruck at her talent that he will give her his debit card for the rest of the week, so that she can continue her 'extreme home makeover'. Dylan laughed pretty hard when I told him that but I'm fairly sure I was able to make out "Um...no..." She's going to bake cookies, and said when she told him she was going to fix nice meals for him, he squeaked "Wait...you COOK???!!!!"
So Cara is on the other side of the state.
My house is neat.
No pile of unwashed dishes at the side of the sink.
The phone stays where it belongs.
No wet bathroom towels to be collected from the floor.
My house is quiet.
No music blaring.
No exasperated "But, Mooooommmmm!"
No sharp, "Enough, Cara!"
The phone is not ringing off the table.
I need to get used to this,
because this is how it's going to be.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Tim and I bought a house in town about Christmas time.
A two car garage was added at some point. We replaced the garage doors and the roof and fascia boards. Next comes a good power wash, and then replace some boards at the bottom there, and give it a good coat of paint. The rest of the house is sided, and in fine shape. The windows are all themal windows, replacements, except for one in the upstairs. The house is well insulated. But the floors sagged something awful. The last owner had a washing machine in the downstairs bathroom that leaked, apparently for years, into the basement. The floor was rotted away, as were some of the main support beams in the basement. I want to show you these beams.
These are hand hewn. But the most remarkable thing about these is that these are scavenged beams. They came from a barn. These beams are older than the house. Let's do some basic math here. Suppose that these beams are from a barn, say, even 25 years older than the house, this would set them in the same time frame as our Civil War. Now, how old were those trees cut down to make those beams? These are some massive beams, a foot square. The trees were old, maybe 75 years or more. These trees may well have been growing when we were a British colony.
That's a lot of work there. You can see why they were recycled. Getting hold of these beams saved someone a lot of work. They merely made new notches and fit them all back together and built a house on them.
I wonder about the man who sweated all those years ago, making these beams for his barn. Was he the farmer, piecing together a farm, through the labors of his own hands, the sweat of his own brow, making a life for himself and his family, taking pride in his land, and his craftmanship?
Tim has the pegs carefully saved so that we can put these back together.
Look at the square nails. Now stuff like this can send me off on mental tangents for days, daydreaming and pondering. Here's my question for you. Now that I have scavenged these beams from our house, forced my husband to bring them home, what would YOU do with them, were you me?
Here's our latest find. When we jacked the house up, and replaced the beams, a lot of the lathe and plaster cracked. We ripped this out to be replaced, discovering two old chimneys. Tim also found this. This was in the outside wall of the original portion of the house, behind the original plaster and lathe that was hidden by some cheap paneling from the 1950s.
This is hand blown glass. No seams. You can see where the hot glass was twisted to make the neck narrow and shaped. The top was formed by 'folding' the hot glass back down over the neck to provide a good seal when it was corked.
And I'm off and daydreaming again. Do you suppose it's possible that the man doing the lathe and plaster work finished off his drink, and tucked the bottle behind the walls,
daydreaming about who would find that bottle
...and when they would find it...
And finished his good work, daydreaming about what the world would be like then?
That's the story I like.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
This is Rita. Rita is 45. I know this because she told me. And Tim, and Uncle Herman, and Uncle Chuck and Aunt Hazel, and...well...let us say that anyone who did not know that Rita turned 45 was simply just not paying attention.
Or hard of hearing.
One of the two.
Rita used to live on the family farm with her mother, Mary Jane and her father, Uncle Harold. Harold died a while back, and Mary Jane started failing. She was finally put in a nursing home. What to do with Rita? Her brothers and sisters had a serious discussion and Rita lives with her sister in Missouri, and, last I knew anyways, she has a job counting out 10 lids for 10 cups at a factory, and was enjoying herself there. Probably hugging everybody she meets,
because everyone loves Rita, and Rita loves everyone. She is a smiler, and a hugger, and she doesn't forget a name. Which is embarrassing. I do, you see. I stink at names. Majorly.
Anyways, Rita loves a big party, so she is a great fan of the family reunion. People coming in from Kentucky, and Texas, and Maryland, and gees, I don't know, all over the country, heading back to the farm to bake bread, and break bread and wallow around in family for a while. One year, the reunion happened to fall on Rita's birthday. She joyously assumed that all the folderol was in honor of her and her special day. And so it came to be that we always have a birthday cake and party celebration for Rita at the family reunion.
In the real world, Rita would have a label, one that marks her as 'different'. In this family, you just never hear it. Rita is just...Rita. A unique individual with her own shortcomings and weaknesses, just like any of the rest of us.
And, by golly, when it is Rita's birthday, everyone celebrates.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
This is Uncle Herman's cane. He wants to make sure that you all understand that this is not sassafras, but hickory. So if you are inclined to make your own cane, he guesses you'd want to tie a knot in a hickory sapling. Then you patiently wait three years, and then go out there and cut it down. Varnish it up and put a rubber tip on it, and there you go. You got yourself a dandy walking stick. It is also good for emphasizing a point when you are talking.
Anyways, this is a brick oven that Uncle Herman and Uncle Harold made years upon years upon years ago. Uncle Harold passed on, oh, probably, 8 years ago now. Well, Tim and I got up early, and were on the road at 7 AM, because we had to pick up Uncle Herman at 9, sharp. We were driving him out to Uncle Harold's. Tim and he had the mighty responsibility of getting the brick oven fired up. Well. Uncle Herman had the responsibility, Tim being a mere peon in the operation. The fire is started. Once the oven heats up to 425 or 450 or so, once the bricks are good and hot, you reach in there and drag out all the fire.
Then you begin to fill it with all the different kinds of bread.
While we wait for the bread to bake, people socialize. Here are two of the matriarchs of this mighty gathering. Anna is on the left. She is Herman's wife. Aunt Mary Jane is the widow of Uncle Harold. She's in a nursing home now, but was able to come back home to her farm to spend the day with her family.This is the view behind the bread oven.
Now, while Uncle Herman might well be the undisputed master of the brick oven, everyone knows that Aunt Anna is the undisputed judge of when the bread is done. That's her in the foreground cutting into a 'test' loaf. The hand on her back is pretending to be supportive, but he's actually sticking real close to be the taste tester. The greedy critter just wants the first bite. Don't you think the woman carefully documenting this day should be the taste tester? Excuse me while I put down my camera and go straighten this deluded charactor out.
Finally, Anna gives the official, unchallengeable word. 'The bread is ready to come out of the oven.' The crowds roared.
Tim and Gene get right to work. The crowds press in from all sides. Can you blame them? Imagine a table of fresh hot bread, with butter, and honey butter, herb butter, and honey from Aletha's hives, and jams, not just the Welch's, but Uncle Chuck's homemade strawberry jam, and Ellen's elderberry jam, so many others, homemade.
And we broke bread together.
And, lo, it was good.
Very, very good.
Friday, July 11, 2008
He then dragged himself to his dog pillow and collapsed, where he snores heavily,
too weak from hunger to exert himself physically.
His look says, "This is all YOUR fault!"
That and, "By all that is holy, if I had opposible thumbs, I'd be opening cans, woman!"
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
You know what? This is really starting to irk me. I get tired of hearing of the conditions over at the jail. I'm tired of hearing about the crappy food they're fed. I'm tired of hearing about the TV. The inhumanity of the guards. Do the prisoners have rights? Most certainly.
They have the right to be fed, no doubt about it. When I was raising kids, I had a 'mom-ism'. This was 'As your mother, I have a responsibility to provide you with three nutritious meals a day. Sorry you don't like the meal, but I have satisfied the requirements of my job.' I think the same rule applies here. We have an obligation to make sure that there is adequate food, that it is safe to eat, and it is nutritious. Period. Nothing more. Nothing less. If it is not 'mom's good home cooking', well, that is probably because Mom most likely is not working there.
We owe prisoners clean facilities. As previously noted, Mom most likely is not working there. As the letter writer noted, there are a lot of people with long, empty hours. Let them clean.
Prisoners have the right to be treated humanely. That's a given. But if the guards are matter-of-fact and abrupt with them, if they are not standing there listening to a long list of complaints, well, that's because the guards are there to do a job. These guards are not, as previously noted, their mamas.
The bottom line is this. People are in jail because they stepped afoul of the law. I realize, from personal experience, that the law is not infallible and that justice is not always blind, but the plain fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people in jails, in prisons, are there because they have done wrong. When a child does wrong, if a child has good parents, he will be punished for doing wrong. He will not enjoy the punishment. He shouldn't. The whole reason for the punishment is to discourage the child from repeating his misdeed. I don't think that it is simplistic at all to apply the same principles to jails and prisons. The incarcerated are there to learn a lesson. They probably will not like it. When it is done and over, when they have paid their debt to society, they should walk out of there vowing "Man, I don't want to do that again." Hopefully, they will go on to live lives that insure that they won't be incarcerated again.
The letter closed with the question, "Is this guy (the warden, I guess) a Nazi?" I've got a few questions for the prisoners. 'Are you being worked to the point of exhaustion, beaten when you finally drop and are unable to move? Are you watching your fellow inmates sicken and die around you, starving to death before your very eyes? Do you see people marched off, never to be seen again?' No? Okay. The guy is most likely not a Nazi.
Final note to all prisoners: In these days of rising gas prices, inflation, and unemployment, you've got a roof over your head, food to eat (whether you like it or not), health care, and crappy TV to watch. There are a good many people in this world who don't have access to even those basics. They've broken no laws. You've got 12 hours a day to be thinking about how you can make a difference in this world. So get thinking on it.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
We picked strawberries today. Great big huge ones, unbelievably sweet. I came home and made a batch of biscuits, and we ate strawberry shortcake for supper. The berries were so sweet that I did not even add sugar. Just fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits topped with a hearty helping of strawberries still warm from the sun, topped with whipped cream. It was not our dessert, folks, it was our supper.
Then we went to the fireworks.
I can't think of any way to improve on this day. It was just about perfect, even though I did not get anywhere near my book.
Friday, July 4, 2008
There were horses.
We're a neat town. No horse crap on the streets of Warren. The sign says that this runs on methane. A vehicle that runs on horse poop?!! Mikey, Susan, here ya go. You'd have all the fuel you need for the foreseeable future.
Search and Rescue dogs marched. This one tickled me. Who says a working girl can't look good too?
There were baton twirlers, and tumblers, and dance troupes.
Buffalo Soldiers. I guess now that the Civil War is over, they've gotten into precision marching, big time.
We did not often go to the parade as kids, but this calliope was a part of every parade I ever saw. Actually a part of every parade since 1927.
Dixie Doodlers played Dixieland Jazz.
All manner of clowns.
Cute kidlets watching the parade.
Cute kids in the parade, being pulled in wagons by their parents marching with their businesses.
Marching. This little feller was too tired to hold his flag even a second longer.
Firetrucks from all over, from Cherry Grove, Scandia, Tidioute, Clarendon, Sheffield, North Warren, Pleasant Township, Grand Valley, Youngsville, Sugar Grove, all of them blaring their sirens, and throwing candy at kids who were standing at the sides of the street screaming to hear the sirens.
Oh, and not all of them were red.
My favorite? Probably the synchronized Lawn Chair Drill Team.