Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mower Trouble

I think the guy who wants a romance just may be prone to stalking. Just great . . . I told him I was still mourning Butch and wasn’t interested in a relationship (completely true). But, he fixed my lawnmower and has my phone number. Sigh.
I used to work with over 100 men every day in a blue collar environment. I was 19 when I started there - young, naive and busty. I was there for 17 years. I can handle men.
I’m at a loss on this one. It’s just creepy.
To top it off, the lawnmower is already down again!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mother And Child Reunion

Yesterday, a gorgeous brindle boxer chased a duck across a school lawn. In the midst of the excitement, the duck’s hatchling ran into a busy street and under my truck! I slammed on the brakes and it toddled out from under me on the opposite side. From there, it went into the parking lot of a fruit market.
Of course, I went after it. With assistance from a few customers and workers, I got the duckling and started carrying it back. Mama was looking for it in the last place she had seen it - in the middle of that busy street. I can’t imagine how she avoided the three cars that nearly hit her.
I chased away the boxer and put the baby down about 30 feet away from its mother, who was back in the school yard. When Mama started quacking, that tiny duckling crossed the yard in record time.
Sometimes, what seems little makes you happier than the big stuff does.

Road Trip!

I had my first out-of-town class this weekend! It was at the University of Cincinnati, so I also planned a trip to the zoo and a river cruise. What a beautiful town; it’s full of old architecture, displayed across the hills along the Ohio River. Walking through the zoo made me realize that it would be really tough to push a wheelchair up and down those hills.

(Check out the sloth; he's not using his front legs to hold himself. Talk about crunches!)
Wow, Cincy is huge! I went downtown Friday night to find the famous fountain, but there was a Reds game and it was a madhouse! I got out of the traffic via gritty, urban streets that are fascinating to someone whose hometown had a population of 1,000.

After I registered at the hotel, the car wouldn’t start. It’s a good thing that didn’t happen on one of those gritty streets! It was 95 degrees and my mechanic found it hysterical that I used the a/c for four hours after he told me to “baby the starter.” Hey, I think that pumping gas while the car is running IS babying the starter! What does the air conditioner have to do with it??
This was the biggest class I’ve had and it went really well. Timing is still a challenge for me; we ran over a little, but that’s because people were engaged and sharing experiences. All the student evaluations were great. I really love doing this!
With car trouble and what I thought was a broken ankle, I skipped the river cruise, but I definitely want to go back to Cincy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weather and Family

Southeast Michigan experienced both an earthquake and a tornado yesterday! I don’t remember that happening before.
I only recall two or three times that we’ve felt an earthquake around here. Yesterday’s epicenter was around Ottawa. They’re always mild here, so it’s just fun for us in Michigan to feel tremors.
Tornadoes, on the other hand, wreak a lot of havoc in the Midwest. I generally take a less-than-serious attitude, but last night I was driving on the highway in a torrential downpour looking right at the storm. It was dark, and I was nearly alone on the road. Every overpass had a fire truck or cop checking for funnel clouds.
Sarge, my cousin and the friends with whom I’d just been playing euchre called to check on me. The radio reported that there was a tornado headed right for me. I finally decided to get inside somewhere. I pulled into a Kroger, where workers waved me in, yelling, “Get in here! It’s two miles from us!” How welcoming!
A mix of a dozen customers and workers headed to the half-basement in the back of the store. We waited it out; the lights even went out for a few minutes. There’s a real camaraderie when strangers are in a situation like that. We chatted for about an hour and then were on our way.
When I called Sarge to tell her that I was home, she said that Mom had been crying because she was nervous about me. I guess she choked up, saying, “My Nancy, my Nancy.” God, that just tears me up to think of my mother worrying that much about me! I don’t ever want to cause her any upset.
This morning, she told me that she got mad at me for going to play cards. Now, that’s love!! Ha, ha! This is so typical of nearly every member of my family, who often have trouble pinpointing the actual source of their anger. They get mad if you don’t wave at them, even when you don’t see them! My family is a real hoot.
Mom had called me a couple weeks ago to warn me of a tornado. I didn’t get to the phone in time and the machine got the call. This is what she unwittingly left on my answering machine: “Shit! Why can’t she answer the damn phone?!?” I guess she didn’t see any relevance in that she had called me at 3am.
Yep, they’re a hoot . . .

The Color Purple

When the bird droppings turn purple, it’s time to make pies!
The strawberries are in, I picked a bunch of wild raspberries and, despite that I keep trying to cut down the mulberry trees, they’re producing, too. Is there anything better than berry season??

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Little Corner

****************I sit in a cubicle at work. I know that’s supposed to make me feel like a number, but it doesn’t. I kind of like it. It’s fun to tack stuff I like all over the walls.
Mine nook is decorated with some of my favorite pictures, a grave-rubbing that my sister did, a bright piece of embroidery of hot air balloons and some of my favorite quotes:
“It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.” - Winston Churchill
“Humor is just Schadenfreude with a clear conscience.” - Neitzsche
“Truth, however profound, when it is not yours still remains untruth.” - Sri Bhagavan
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” - Thomas Jefferson
“Only birthday plans should be whispered. Otherwise, what can’t be said aloud probably shouldn’t be said.”
“The more precisely you plan, the harder destiny will hit you.” - Anonymous
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” - Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I'm Clueless

**************************************Hmm. I sense the expectation of a romantic friendship brewing. It feels very strange and I don’t think I’m ready for it.
This hasn’t happened since Butch passed away. Don’t get me wrong; there have been come-ons. (For some reason, I expected these to stop after a certain age, weight and loss of eyesight. Apparently, it never ends. Guys just keep plugging along, angling for sex, regardless of THEIR age, weight and eyesight. I’ve heard some spiritualists claim that we get to “be present” at our own funeral, so I’m expecting to view the fondling of my corpse by a couple of old letches . . .)
There have also been a couple of guys who, I think, misunderstood my desire to remain close with Butch’s friends right after he died. Not everybody gets that. And a couple who contacted me WAY too early in the game; I didn’t even consider what they were thinking.
But, there hasn’t been a real expectation. From someone who knows how much losing Butch messed up my head. And is okay with it.
It’s much easier to deal with the ones who would screw an armadillo wearing a bikini . . .

Monday, June 14, 2010

Survivor Stories

Over the weekend, I met a guy who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1995. That makes four people I know who, so far, have survived it.
I know quite a few people who lost their battle with this most deadly of cancers. My life has been touched by lung cancer, so it makes me particularly happy to hear survivor stories. Here’s a little about the four survivors I know.
Gary. A very young cancer victim, Gary had been free of cancer for some time before we talked, so I don’t know many of his treatment details. He battled it for quite a while and had part of a lung removed. He still felt as though his illness wasn’t being treated as aggressively as he wanted by traditional medical professionals. He heard some stories, asked some questions and made some connections. Gary bought a concoction from a lady who sold it out of an alley in Chicago. He followed her directions and has been cancer-free ever since. He attributes it to the back-alley potion.
Pat. This woman is one of the toughest people I know and her cancer story fits her life. She was diagnosed with Stage IV (has metastasized the furthest from the lung), small cell (fastest growing) lung cancer. She took traditional treatment, which is no walk in the park. Because small cell nearly always metastasizes to the brain, Pat’s brain was radiated as a precaution. The treatment worked and Pat, nearly 10 years later, is living normally.
Jean. This lady was a friend of my husband’s from years ago. They lost touch, but I met her at his funeral. Her cancer required her to have a lung removed about 15 years ago. She took chemo and radiation as part of her initial treatment. She has a lot of follow up treatment; fluid build-up has to be regularly removed from around her remaining lung and she is still on a regular chemotherapy regimen. Her oxygen level is very low, which makes it difficult to breathe, greatly reducing her ability to do anything. She told me that her life was miserable. Pointing to Butch in his casket, she said, “He got the easy way out.”
Jim. This is the gentleman I just met. His cancer, apparently, has been in remission since he was diagnosed 15 years ago. He’s never had a treatment. Since diagnosis, he has weathered two divorces and his brother’s suicide; he has also retired. Jim still smokes and still welds. He says he feels fine and quit going to the doctor 5 years ago.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"When Workers Present"

In my state, construction zone speed limits are only in effect if there are workers present.
So, how do I know whether or not they are there until I’ve already sped past them? Does that guy over there with a donut and coffee mean that there are “workers present?”

Hometown Memories

I went to my hometown and took pictures of whatever was interesting. Here’s a cat in a (very high) second story window. I can’t imagine how he gets out there, let alone back in the house!

This is the walkway that leads from the elementary school to the playground. Just looking at this brings back loads of memories - the rush of adrenaline as we ran south, the thump-thump-thump from letting my fingers bang against the fence, being winded from running, the shrill blare of the whistle telling us that recess was over, the smell of sweaty, dusty kids, and the dejected sorrow as we trudged back to the north.
Our playground had very little equipment. There were some swings, a “twirling bar,” two see-saws, and a set of “monkey bars.” We also had some left-over construction equipment. There were three or four huge concrete tubes about four feet in diameter and six feet high; laid on their side, they formed our “tunnels” and gave a semblance of privacy. Long, thick telephone poles were laid along the interior of the fence so we could play on “the logs.” Sometimes we played with marbles and winter, of course, had the additional offerings that come with snow. I don’t remember any organized games at all. Mostly, we just chased each other, for no reason whatsoever.
Where does that energy go?

I used to play on this railway bridge without a thought. Today, I’d be shaking like a newborn colt, but we used to run across it with ease. The tracks have been abandoned for years, so the trestle has fallen into disrepair; most of the ties are missing, but it still stands.

Here’s another victim of the downfall of railroad transport – the town elevator. Rumor has it that this hulking town icon is slated for demolition soon, like many others across North America. A few communities have turned their grain elevators into museums. They certainly symbolize a historical slice of time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hydroponic Gardens

There’s a very active senior citizens center a block away from my rental property, where I used to live. It’s a beautiful old building, which hosts block watch parties, neighborhood festivals and the polls during elections.
Members of the Eleanor Kale Senior Center plant these hydroponic gardens every year. Apparently, plants are grown in nutrients, without soil. They must do well, since the project gets bigger each year.
This particular neighborhood has a city pool, which hasn’t opened for the last two summers due to economic troubles. It’s nice to see this kind of neighborhood projects where they’re really needed!

Moving Forward?

I noticed Toyota’s slogan for the first time yesterday. Does anyone else see the irony for a company with unintended acceleration problems???


********There is an 80-foot cottonwood tree in my yard. It shades the south side of the house, which never gets really hot inside, even in the summer. The leaves shimmer in the sun and flutter wildly in the wind, so it’s nice to lay under it and stare at the sky through its leaves.
Cottonwoods draw woodpeckers, which are fun to watch. They have pecked countless holes into the porch, which is made from untreated lumber. I can’t believe how loud they are!
The land surrounding my acre hasn’t been farmed since the 70’s, so it’s now full of young cottonwood trees, all from the single one next to my house. I can’t believe how much they’ve grown since I first met Butch. He and his mother used to garden a lot, but the trees are now so tall that there’s really no sun for a garden!
The cottonwood is flying now and the yard is full of it, and the droppings when the cotton is done. It’s hard to believe that it goes away, but this mess will disappear soon enough.
The tree, to me, is a symbol of the home, her memories and the people who lived here. I might name the place Cottonwood Acre. Someday, I'm going to get one of these pretty cottonwood leaves dipped in gold.

Perennial Exchange

*******Sarge organized a perennial exchange in our tiny hometown. It went over very well. There was even a drop-in guest from MSU’s agricultural extension, who brought some plants to show support!