Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Grace under fire.

Grace under fire.
That is an expression that I mostly remember for it being used on an evaluation of a doctor whom I worked for. The person was asked to give her evaluation of this person who was in a position of authority over her and most of us. My Sfriend was from the south, she treated all the patients so kindly, and had a certain beautiful way of describing situations. She used this Grace etc phrase, but not in a positive way. She said. Dr. X did not exhibit Grace under fire. Holy mackerel! It swept through the department-we were all thrilled because this Doc had driven many of us to tears with her insensitive remarks, her rudeness and her demanding, demeaning attitude day after day. She was a brilliant doctor, came up through the system putting herself through many years of school while raising a child alone, but still she had a low self-opinion I felt. And it was with the action of putting others down that she felt better about herself. Just my take of the situation. Away from the work floor, she was kind, and a good hostess, but sometimes you went to her parties so that you would not feel the lash of her sharp tongue when next you two came in contact with each other.
So, when my Friend made this comment on the review, we were all floored, thrilled but floored. Her name was included with the comment, and she knew it would be, so, brave her for being honest. She was thanked by the doc for her honesty, afterall, everyone loved my SFriend so it would be work suicide if this doc tried to punish this sweet woman for her remark, but I bet there was a lot of kick the dog at her house that night.
I do not know if I display Grace under Fire, I do know that I try hard, but sometimes I turn stern-not hurtful I hope, just very precise about what I mean and what I expect to happen.
At SMom's funeral, SNiece and SNephew both mentioned in their incredible eulogies about SMom that she said "you can catch more with honey than you can with vinegar", and also "Kill them with Kindness". That is why she had so many people attend her services, she exhibited "Grace under fire".

Pass it on for Matka.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My neighborhood

I live in a very rural, farm town, population about 6 thousand. One flashing light. All my life I wanted to live in a small town. I would joke with my SMother that if I ran away from home, it would be to a small town. She reminded me when I moved here 14+ years ago, that I got my wish.
Both SM and my father came from a small town, one in Pennsylvania (DuBois), and one in New York (Salamanca). SM told me that they met when he was working for the railroad and traveled to her town where he ate at a hot dog stand where she was working. So, there must be a small town dna marker, and I have it.

We have some neighbors/friends who live in the family homestead, fields are still worked, most by others, but he does do some of the tilling. This is a picture of their place as we drive towards our place all you can really see is the majestic barn, the house and yard are hiding behind the trees..

His father was a cooper by trade (Barrel maker), and our friend has given demonstrations and talks concerning this near-extinct skill, bringing along many pieces of equipment that his father used. If you ever get to see this type of demonstration or can see a special about coopers on TV, I suggest you watch-it really is fascinating how many steps are involved to get those metal rings around the barrels.
His property is so immaculate, maintained beautifully. His wife, also our friend, is just what you would expect from a small town woman, hardworking, smart, always friendly and welcoming. We are blessed to call them friends.
He keeps a beautiful garden, and shares his hosta cuttings with so many, 99% of our hostas reflect his generosity. He also has a hillside floral garden, that is especially beautiful in the spring. This is a picture of the garden that he tends.
Notice the pattern of the red and white flowers-those are annuals, so he rotates different plants through there yearly.
A bit further down the road (which just had fresh oil and stones applied before the winter comes-how many of you can say that about your streets eh?) is a farm-very modern because besides the goats and sheep-it also raises a big cash- maker for these times: ALPACAS. See them here:

On the other corner from our place is a building that dates back to 1879, it has had many lives, a small mercantile (think Wal-mart type of items-only 130 years ago-everything you would need at that time), a sandwich shop, antique business, post office and now, A pizzeria! SSon loves it there, but because of healthier living he is restricted to eating there no more than once a week, and then with good choices. SBrother-in-law #1 joked that he was going to string a rope and bucket between SSon's bedroom window and the Pizzeria to make things easier for him! Look how little this structure has changed between 1813 and around 2004 (top is the older photo):

On the corner opposite our home is a lot that we own-all woods-so our birdies that come to feed have a haven nearby.

On the other corner are dear friends who have helped us in many different situations, we have watched their kids grow, and they are a true reflection of their family values-good people all. They just gave us some tomatoes from their garden when the son came to show and discuss rock specimens with SHusband that the son collected in Crete at an archaeological dig this summer. And he brought SH a rock-truly unique and sparkly (see, I don't know the name, only what it looks like) .

Next to our house, we have a church, with a sincerely kind Reverend and his family living there. Too bad it is not our denomination, sometimes when we attend specific services there for funerals, etc, we feel very much at home . That church has been there since 1871, so many lives have been touched by the happenings there. Here is an old picture of that church and parsonage around 1910:
Our home has only been here since 1904-a mere youngster. It was built by the Hasselbeck Cheese Company for it's Cheesemakers. In those days, the Cheese factories needed to be near the milk since there was no refrigeration available. Farmers pulled their horse-drawn wagons up daily, milk cans were weighed, samples taken for testing of milk fat (more milk fat content=more pay) dumped their milk, their milk cans were washed out and returned to them on the other side of the building.

Here is a picture of what that building looked like around 1910:

North of us and over the knoll (nice that I can actually use that word in a sentence), we have very dear friends and their dog Riley. They have a lot of property, ponds galore, but the nicest part is when you drive in the trees are old growth, so a sheltering canopy is formed, you really feel like you are entering into the woods. SFriend has lots of bird feeders, corn for the squirrels, and today they had a piece of watermelon out there that some critter-maybe a deer in the early morning was working on. Very tranquil, and always a warm welcome when we see our friends.

Up and down the area are more friends and neighbors in town, some we know better than others, but we know and we hope they know that neighborly kindness is always available here and there.

Sometimes we see the same walkers, but lately one lady who has walked for many years in all weather is not making her rounds as usual. I did see her walking a new dog near her home-so maybe she has had to adjust her route to accommodate her pooch. I used to walk these roads, not anymore-maybe if I get some hi-tech knee surgery that can resume-providing no one is burning leaves or wood and it it not too hot or too cold-what a picky set of lungs I have eh?

I hope your enjoyed my little tour, You'all come back again now-yah hear?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Columnar Basalt Lust

While driving yesterday, SHusband asked if we could pull into a nursery that we were near. Of course is almost always the answer, after all, if you were no longer driving very much, and made a simple request, shouldn't it be honored? And for a sweet guy like this, anything I can do for him is my honor to do.

So, we pulled up next to a new display of some pieces of rock looking stuff (I am soo technical-you would think some of his geology knowledge would sink in, but apparently that is not my ability-to me I call rocks blue or green-it works for me).

They were very dense dark grey rock in the form of hexagonal columns, surface was variegated in color due to weathering. The columns were fused together and jaggedly broken at the tops. Very exciting, and SH got out of the car to touch them!

He was so excited because he said they were Columnar Basalt rock which comes from the inside of a dormant or extinct volcano, it is crystallized magma. They are not indigenous to this area-we have never had a volcano-snow yes, volcano no.

And they can be found in many places, out west at the Devils Tower in North East Wyoming is a very famous location. The movie "E.T." was filmed partly at this location SH tells me. Can you see how this would be the inside of a volcano?

The Devils Post Pile formation is another location, and is in California. SH just showed me some pictures from one of the reference books he has. That is what is nice, every day is a learning experience for me with SH.

He already has a very small (2-3 lb)sample from Oregon. Imagine the postage he paid for this dense little morsel!

A similar location of this rock is Little Falls, Passaic County New Jersey. Also, Giants Causeway along the Northern Coast of Northern Ireland. This is a very famous area where you can actually walk across the tops of the columns. A trip to Wiki using Giants Causeway as your search, will give you the technical stuff, and a neat little legend about the way it got formed and named.
Here it is:

See the people standing in the upper-right of the picture?

The specimens they had at the nursery were anywhere from 3 to 6 feet tall, multiple columns and verrry heavy-the lightest was around 500 lbs, and the one SH is standing next to was almost 800 lbs. And the Cost??? A little over a dollar a pound!! They had them displayed vertically, and they have a landscape business that will deliver, dig a hole and "plant" this in your lawn-no watering needed.

So listen, I would not mind if one showed up on our lawn to go with the others that have been delivered over the years. There could be worse things on your lawn!

And here is a nice picture taken about 10 or so years ago of SMom on one of our lawn rocks. Hi Matka!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Just hello

Hello world.
One step, one breath, one blue sky.
Looking for a feather, a sign of hello from heaven.

Friday, August 20, 2010


SMom has been in the hospital a few times since May. We were told then, that a big stroke is coming. Everything was being done to prevent it. Nothing worked...........................................

On August 8th, 5am, I was called by her nurse at the hospital, large stroke, no response..............................................

Myself, SSister#1, SBrother#1, SBrother#2 were with her until the end six hours later.............................................

The rest has no words, pain can not be understood unless you have lost your Mother.............................................................

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hot

Because we are having an extended period of high temps, high humidity-it is very uncomfortable if you are trying to breathe, and here's the kicker, have some lung issues. I qualify for both-yes I want to breathe, and drat, lungs not so cooperative right now.

This reminds me of the weather that we had when we visited Venice as part of our one and only ever trip abroad. Our being myself and SSister#1). It was OPPRESSIVE-as in weight on your chest that would not allow you to inflate those balloons called lungs.

The header page for this month is the view from our room in the hotel in Venice. It was a former convent and we were lucky enough to get a ground floor room. Lovely lush plantings outside our door as you can see. We had our breakfast outside, and it was unbelievably tranquil. Stone walls, etc.
This is the front door of the convent-can you remember in all the old movies that show someone "Entering" a convent-that there was heavy wooden door that they needed to knock on to gain entry? Well that door has been replaced by a glass entreway-but look, the beautiful carving above the door was kept. Can you see that there is a crown above the "M"? Isn't it awesome?

This is a Fig tree planted facing the entrance to the Hotel-it hung from the neighbors yard-a beautiful home. Can you see the purple fig at the top of the photo? I had never eaten a fresh fig before Italy, and I love them now. Have not found any that tasted as good as that first one I tried, but isn't that usually the case?

The funny part of our lodgings was, though, we could see the apartments that abutted the convent-and most homes in Italy had porches, balconies, patios or verandas. All that those residents were doing could be seen from the convent, and visa-versa. Much entertainment I would think was had by all. There would be no way to prevent the viewing-the apartments were very tall, and the walls were no match. In Italy, when the family comes home-usually late in the day, the neighborhood comes alive-music is played, loud conversations can be heard by all and the cooking begins-those smells are wonderful-unless of course you are trying to go to sleep because you are living the tourist life and need to be in the lobby, ready to roll at like 8am or earlier if you are leaving for another city.
One day, I noticed that laundry that was hung to dry on one balcony (and it took many days to dry due to the level of moisture in the air-not only because Venice is a waterworld, but because the weather at that time was more humid than usual as we were told, and most homes do not have clothes dryers) was slowly diminishing, which means that there was no need to take clothes down, fold, put away. One merely grabbed the driest thing on the clothesline. Ah, the simplicity of that method.
Can you seen the undikies in the lower left of this picture? They are visible above the roof of the stone wall in the courtyard. We have a silly family name for underpants-but I don't think I am spelling it correctly-mudonies (pronounced moo-don-eees)-it might be a cracked version of an Italian word.

So listen, I hope you are staying cool if you need to be, or enjoying the heat if you are able. Either way, we are lucky to be alive today.