Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Weekend of Extremes

It was to rain yesterday and be gone by today. It barely showered yesterday, was cool until noon when it got hot. Today followed suit being pretty darn hot but bright until an hour ago when the rain that was to be gone started pouring. It saved me from watering a deck full of rather sad looking summer flowers.

Yesterday we met our kids at Bennett Springs State Park for a picnic. We had all hoped for something more, but the summer has seemed to evaporate without the fun things taking place. Too many demands on everyone’s time and energy. So we declared yesterday a few hours of togetherness. It was a two and half hour drive after a sleepless night. (That is another story!) Then it was back again. Dog, man, and wife were all in bed by 9:00 pm.

Bennett Springs is a lovely place, and so many, many people were using this last of summer weekends (before next weekend, Labor Day) to absorb some sun rays and catch some trout. We have been here often and on over the years so a few memories are stored in our heads. For so long, I did not know my family had roots here in this Ozark area. This region is on the edge of famous apple orchards and some time ago, I learned a great great grandpa had started an apple farm with the help of Stark Brothers, a famous name in nursery and garden life.

We came home tired but happy. Then we got the call my California aunt had died. Another loss on a sunny day. Early this morning…we heard several acorns hit the roof that sits under the big oak. Nature reminds us that each day we have is one of both beginnings and endings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

One of August's Last Days

Here it is the middle of the last week in August. Hard to realize summer is truly winding down. It has been a weird summer on weather front, on family front. August is usually a horridly hot and dry month around here, and while afternoons are quite warm, the mornings are starting at 59 and 60. How wonderful. Also there has been eight inches of rain so far in this normally parched month. The last year’s rain total was 14 inches while this year’s eighth month marks almost thirty for the year. Makes for a beautiful, lush countryside, but all the rainy days were not delightful.

Despite dropping, breaking, or ruining many things today, it was a decent day due to an ease of schedule. I actually had time to make a meal, clean up the kitchen and all at once. I had a new recipe and even with misreading the directions it came out edible! Normally we try to avoid sugar, gluten, cholesterol, alcohol, calories, and surely something else; today I ignored all the rules and made Bourbon Spiked Pumpkin Bread Pudding. The result was decent enough I can’t wait to follow the directions and see if I can make it better!

I feel some Cranberry Orange tea coming on…sweaters….loafers with cushiony socks….a walk in crunchy leaves….pumpkins on the porch….geese V’ing their way across blue skies. How about you, ready for autumn?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Eating in a Barn

                                             We wait sadly for the storms to move in.

The long awaited peaceful week did not turn out quite the relaxing “sit about” I expected. The first thing was dead phone lines. Everything worked but the three handset phones. ALL lights and connections were working. Three handsets don’t all quit at once! So use your imagination a bit and how my week went with ATT will be clear. I finally got phones to working at 9 pm on Thursday night.

Perfect example of  ATT that will not sync with Word. Stupid and irritating!

I still had some “fun” things on the table, but gradually all but one got marked off. I did spot this guy on a quick trip to post office and brought him home with me. He has spent the rest of the week fighting the rain that also came. Yesterday the rains were torrential in nature, and the thunder was so bad Miss B had to wear her Thundershirt for most of the day.

It cleared in the afternoon which was good since we had reservations for a Roswitha’s Schnitzelbank, a German restaurant that serves meals in a barn that we have wanted to visit for five years. It is finished inside and civilized; you don’t eat in a grain box! Roswitha is a German who learned to cook in Western Germany, Rhineland-Pfalz with her family. The food was very good, and we had Rouladen and Schnitzel followed by a piece of shared German Chocolate cake, not the Duncan Hines variety. On the ride out, we noted some maple trees turning and a flaming bunch of sumac near the highway. It seems too soon to be seeing color changes.

This morning about 4 am we had another round of thunderstorms. The scarecrow got pushed over as did the wheelbarrow and the birdhouses. One of my dark leafed large plants got completely broken. Ah, the joys of weather. I am wondering what autumn will bring and if it will come early. It is heard of to have 8 or more inches of rain in August! But I guess I had better just concentrate on getting through the next week and let autumn come as she will. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Good Sunday

 Another week of worry, tension and such on many fronts. But the mornings were cool, like mountain mornings before the heat returned again by noon to play oppressor in our already exasperating lives. I have to out in early mornings and evenings now dressed in long pants and tall socks due to the “no-seeums”. They never bother DH but in a few minutes make my legs both look and feel like fire.

This weekend my sister was driving out alone with her dog to be permanently located in Indianapolis. We were both very tearful about this and she wasn’t sleeping which worried me about the drive. Bottom line is she was awake at 3 am on Saturday and just got up, packed and pulled out without waiting for Sunday. I did not know until midmorning when she texted she had just passed St. Louis, but I had a feeling.

 With potent preoccupation all day, I worked over the house. DH pitched in as we have been on the road or the phone so much the house was a wreck. We divided chores and took in on shaping things up. By evening so much was done including dragging out the pumpkins and change the table to autumnal hues. DH asked if it weren’t too soon, and yes, it was by about two weeks. But it felt good to think of a good change, a heading into autumn and escaping this summer’s heat and hassle.

So today is a Sunday as Sunday should be. Quiet. Restful.  Gloriously recharging. Feeling caught up for at least 12 hours or so before a new week begins.

                                                                                                                                Jim Caviezel

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Wood Tales

A few years ago when a friend left town, they got rid of everything as they were going to live on a boat. Her husband gave DH a wooden tool chest his dad had made. He wanted to keep nothing, so DH accepted it. His father had been a carpenter and had built the chest to carry his tools to work sites, and in fact, a couple of saws were still inside. DH used it for a while and then was getting tight on room in his shop. When he asked if I had ideas how to use it, I toted it inside and used the wooden box as a coffee table.

DH was not impressed, but he replaced the missing drawer and I got a pull for it. Others have commented on the piece, but DH can’t see its glamor for a living room. I like the primitive, rough wood and the thoughts of man earning his living from the chest.

We dashed to a garage sale on Friday in horrid heat because we heard wood working tools were for sale. DH found a few small items and I found a chair for $4. I love flowers on chairs outside. One of the chairs rungs was missing, but the chair sat solid. When I got it home, DH said he could fix the missing rung and surely I wasn’t sitting the chair outside as it was solid oak! There are only so many things I can stuff into this house, despite the fact I am hauling out some too.  

DH finished a chest today and we carried it in. It is cherry and was very heavy despite carrying it without the drawers. Just can’t carry things so well anymore. It turned out very well and the dark wood is perfect showcase for the Blue Willow! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chaos on the Animas

                                                                  Wallace Stegner

The weatherman warned that today and tomorrow would be the most miserable days of the summer so far. When I opened the sliding door, the wall of heat wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Skies were overcast and then began to get darker, like impending rain.  The wind came up and like any stirring before a storm, the air was refreshing and cool. However, we missed the rain.

But for a couple of hours, it was comfy to sit outside before the heat returned. The breeze stayed all day. When was the last time an August day felt breezy? Thanks to the steady wind in the trees, I heard the first acorns of the season fall and dance in the gutters. I listened to the ping and thought of autumn sending harbingers of its arrival.

The music and announcements from the Vietnamese loudspeakers two blocks away also drifted on the breeze today.  Every year in August they gather here to pray and celebrate escaping Vietnam safely-as so many others did not. This year marks the 40 year anniversary of their coming to the United States, and 70,000 to 80,000 are expected to attend. This is amazing in a town of about 12,000 to begin with. Most of the citizens prepare for closed streets and choose new paths for a week. They also plan their groceries ahead and try to stay off the streets allowing the crowds to circulate the best they can.

The Stegner quote above seemed especially meaningful this weekend as Colorado fights a silver mine spill that puts many contaminants into the Animas River, turning it a pumpkin orange from lead, iron, and zinc among other things. The Animas is such a beautiful river, and if you have ridden the train out of Durango, then you have followed this gorgeous stream for miles. Now the river is dumping the orange dangers across the border into New Mexico. My friend in Aztec has been keeping me posted and warning others of the coming ugliness. So many people will be affected by water playgrounds and drinking water. If you haven’t looked at the damage, take a look. Stegner would shudder!

I am reading Big Rock Candy Mountain by Stegner right now…and maybe for the rest of the year as it is 563 pages long! His writing is beautiful, almost poetic in nature, and he writes with western settings since his life was lived in Iowa, Wisconsin, Utah, Montana, and Canada. He captures the beauty of the wide open spaces of the West.

I agree with Wallace Stegner that we need greenspace to go look at, to sit in, and to absorb what it can teach us about patterns and peace. In today’s world, places that take us back to nature are more important than ever. You just can’t get the benefits of the outdoors from a beautiful picture on an i-phone.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wearing a Scribbling Suit

  “Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and “fall into a vortex, …writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace…”  Jo of Little Women describing the writing life.

I know all about that “scribbling suit” and the distress caused by not getting to put it on. Life itself is an interruption sometimes. Today the skies started out the day being the light gray of soft wool and have stayed that way. Without the sun, the air has been some cooler and rain is possible now.

I had hurried out to Lowe’s flower clearance yesterday where things were a nickel and 10 cents a pot. Hardly worth the financial transaction. But I did get some lovely crotons for $1.15 each! These are hardy and if I can keep watered a couple of weeks, they will make lovely autumn colors with some pumpkins. Right now, the existing flowers are quite washed out or dying. The crotons are a fresh spot today.

I actually did get to put on that scribbling suit today for a while. In fact, I put down 1200 words on a rough draft! It felt mighty darn good. Lunch was an hour late, and it was a mere sandwich with some fresh cantaloupe when it finally appeared. DH had mowed and was cooling off when I stepped outside and saw his hungry face.

I said, “Sorry, but the town sheriff is just considering letting a soiled dove buy him a drink! Who knows where that might lead! I need a rest before going on.” I am sure DH was relieved that the story had heated up to the point he could get some lunch himself!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Backward Dreaming

Recently I read about and mentioned on my blog the term “dreaming backwards”. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately, fearing the future and regretting how many years have gone by—and so suddenly too! So many of my family behind me are gone now; I miss them. Some days I find myself thinking of Gran or even saying aloud, “Dad would like….”. Then I remember.

My dad’s side of the family, a mixture of German and Irish, loved stories, tall tales, jokes and laughter and even music too in the old days. Before I can remember, my Grandpa and his dad played fiddle for dances in German, Irish, and Italian communities. Don’t you know that was wild in 1925….1935…even a little in 1945? My great grandpa added to the frolicking as he ran his own still. Dreaming backwards makes me wish I could hear just ONE of those fiddle tunes today.

I was a rather serious kid and teenager because I wanted the world to be better than it was. I believed we humans could change things! However, I also had a lot of fun laughing! I loved to laugh but not at anyone or about nasty topics or any stereotypes. I commented to DH just this last weekend that the thing about being older that I miss the most (besides my bicycle!) is laughter. I don’t seem to laugh anymore. 

So dreaming backwards again, I dug out some pictures of who I was “back then”. I think I must have been a fun kid sometimes at least! Mom had me be pretty prim and proper most of the time, but I think I see some fun on this first grade face. Then again when I found one our wedding pictures where DH looks like a baby, but I can see, not just remember, just how happy I was! 

A few weeks ago, DH and I drove up to my friend’s surprise 70th birthday. Many pictures were taken by lots of people. Today I found a note from her in the mailbox and a couple of snaps her son took. Always it makes me happy to have mail from her, but she has no idea how much the pictures meant to me today. Here it was, real time, and no dreaming backwards….somewhere under the bags and wrinkles, the eyes still told the story---I could still laugh and the ME I once knew was still to be found!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August Begins

Time here has been swallowed by issues and demands and responsibilities. When we are at home it is 97 degrees with heat index of 110! Yesterday was to be cooler index at least, but we had to head out early. Father-in-law (99) had been taken to hospital day before with rectal bleeding and we were waiting for news as we handled other family issues. I got up early and stepped out to deck for cup of tea alone before the day cranked up.  

The first thing I saw was a Charlotte’s Web complete with industrious spider spinning between two poles on the deck. Then while watching I saw a hummingbird flit by and hit a red flower.  They are not here all summer, but our house is on the migration path during September. Hum, this guy was early. Then I remembered it was the last day of July.

So this morning I turned over a new calendar at 5:00 am. Imagine my surprise when I opened the deck door and found it 68 degrees outside!! It actually felt chilly! I could not pass the cool up and grabbed Biscuit’s leash, and believe it or not, a jacket. We took a short walk, then threw out some poor dying flowers, watered the rest, and headed for the farmers’ market. A McD breakfast in the car to share with Miss Biscuit and home again to begin work that had been left unattended as we did other things this week. I saw two more hummingbirds surfing my flower for sweetness. The day gradually warmed backup to feel like summer again.

We have looked for houses for our younger son who will move to SE Kansas in September. Almost bought one until DH found in crawl space that the house was sitting on house jacks due to severe termite damage. Our only other choice was house in a flood plain that requires government flood insurance---added expense of $40,000 on 30 year loan.  I have shed tears with my sister over her having to move to Indianapolis to survive financially, but this week she did find an apartment she will move to in mid-August. The news is inconclusive on the father-in-law, but best scenario might be pretty grim. Last night, home tired and beaten, the washing machine decided to flood the utility room.

So yes, August arrived this morning bringing with it the things August does. Hot days and maybe cooler nights. The sun’s rays are still hot, but now the air will have that hazy look, the one that appears to be hot air giving up and beginning to move out for autumn. Spiders work, hummingbirds migrate, schools open again. Soon we won’t hear the wren songs anymore. It has been a trying summer, not gotten much of the favorite summer fun things done. August always makes a nice bridge into autumn, and we can hope that in the coming season, we will have time to relish and appreciate our fall more than we did our summer.