Monday, May 31, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I hate summer!

Summer has arrived as if someone opened the doors to a blast furnace! It was 95 degrees in St Paul yesterday. The temps are going to be in the 80's for the next seven days.

While some folks love the hot days, I am totally miserable. The humidity is high and the sun is scorching, so I have the windows closed, the drapes all drawn and the fans blowing in every room. It's not even noon and I'm sweating.

We have air conditioners in several rooms, but to conserve energy, we don't turn them on until the heat build-up becomes intolerable. At this rate, it won't be long until we reach that point.

Days like this make me long for the lovely days of winter when you can regulate your bodily comfort by merely adding or subtracting clothing. When it's this hot, however, you can't minimize clothing past naked to cool off, yet you have to go on trying to live your daily life.

So, I will suffer another "beastly hot" summer (as my mother used to say). I will feel "blah" and lethargic and most likely, crabby.

I think I'm pretty crabby today, in fact!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Seven Challenge

On May 10th, BLissed Out Grandma posted a list of seven Historical or Literary characters she'd like to meet and why. I've been thinking about it ever since and could not think of a single character from literature I'd like to meet, but I have my list of seven historical figures:

L. Ron Hubbard--"What were you thinking when you dreamed up the Scientology religion? It was a huge joke that got out of hand, right?

Nostrodamus--"When you were writing your prognostications, were you really seeing future world events or just basing your predictions on the past? Do you think you accomplished anything good with your writings?

Queen Elizabeth I--"Didn't you despise your father for cutting off your mother's head? What was it like to be around him? What was it like to be Bloody Mary's little sister?

Isaac Asimov--"You were such a great thinker, brilliant scientist, prolific writer and jovial personality. Is there some way you could transfer some of that talent to me?"

Jane Goodall--"To me, you are a saint for protecting wildlife and the environment. May you live to be 100!"

Johanna Lee and Martha Just (my two grandmothers)--"You both died when I was young and I never got to know your stories. What was it like to emigrate to America? What did you do to survive in a foreign land when you didn't speak the language? I am in awe of you and I dearly wish I could have known you both."

Now, who are your Seven?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Of old friends and pizza

On Friday, out of the blue, I got a call from some old friends, Ardella and Ralph. Ardella was bridesmaid at my wedding in 1958. She and her husband both grew up on the old gravel country road where my family lived in the 50's. The two of them married in the same church my Ex and I did and we had our kids around the same time.

When we met at an Olive Garden for lunch on Saturday, it was just like old times. We caught up on each others siblings and kids and shared pictures. Then we got to talking about our pizza nights. Ralph started laughing about the disastrous first time we made pizza. Here is the way I tell it in my cookbook:
The first time I made pizza was soon after RW and I started dating in 1957. He was just out of the Navy and raved about this great stuff called pizza he had in Norfolk VA. He wanted me to make some. I finally found directions on the side of a Betty Crocker Hot Roll Mix box. It had a recipe for making pizza crust and pizza sauce and suggested different toppings you could use. One of them was blue cheese. Since RW liked blue cheese salad dressing, I bought a chunk of blue cheese and covered a whole pizza with it! Take my word for it--blue cheese on pizza is baaad!
As Ralph related it, we had gathered to make the pizza with him and Ardella and another couple. I had the pizza crust and sauce going and sliced the pepperoni, but didn't have the right cheese. So Ralph and my Ex went to a store to get cheese. As unsophisticated as we all were, they came back with blue cheese. Ralph laughed about how awful it smelled when it was in the oven. (It was a revelation because all these years, I thought I had bought the blue cheese.)

Once we all caught onto Mozzerella cheese, however, we were off and running with pizza-making. For many years, we and our kids would get together at each other's homes on the weekends for pizza. It was a lot of trouble to make so Ardella and I took turns making the pizza.

Nowadays, there are a dozen places within a one-mile radius where I can get a pizza, but it will never be as much fun as those long-ago pizza nights.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Losing Friends

I just learned yesterday that another blogger friend has died. He called himself  Bevie and blogged under A Voice in the Wind among other names. The most wrenching thing about his untimely death is that he died solely because of poverty. His requests for help from the State of Minnesota and the county resulted in only food stamps. He had no medical coverage of any kind.

Bevie had once been well-employed and he, his wife and son lived in a nice home. As his health began to fail, he could no longer work and they fell behind in house payments. The mortgage lender, in their heartless, hard-nosed rectitude, foreclosed and the family moved out of the house last August. They sold most of their belongings and moved into a small, third floor apartment.

Months later, Bevie and his son took a drive back to the still-vacant house. It was fast falling into disrepair with nobody living there. The pointlessness of it all saddened him greatly.

The family struggled with living on only his wife's income. Getting-by meant that they went to the food shelf when possible and every expense was major. Yet, amongst all this, he was determined that his son should have a saxophone to enrich his life. In spite of his own needs, he insisted that his son would not go without.

Bevie died in his sleep one week ago. His selflessness very likely shortened his life, but maybe that's not such a bad legacy. Rest in peace, Bevie.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another Mother's Day

Every year my kids come over for Mother's Day dinner. I really look forward to feeding them just like when they were young. They always appreciate the meal too.

Each year daughter number 2 brings me a Mandevilla plant. They are always so heathy and bloom beautifully (see above). My son always brings me a hanging plant for the patio, and daughter number 3 gives me money to buy whatever else I need.

Daughter number 1 bought me an electric can opener. With my hands getting stiff and painful off and on, I thought it would be a big help. She told me that she has never had good luck with electric can openers lasting very long or working really well.

What has been your experience with electric can openers?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chirps from the sparrow tree

One of the things that always makes me smile is driving past a "sparrow tree" in the early evening and hearing the loud chirps of all the young birds assembled there. It's almost like they're talking excitedly about their day.

The first time I noticed this was years ago by the old Roseville Theater. There were trees along the side street where flocks of sparrows would gather.  It always reminded me of a friendly neighborhood pub where folks would gather at the end of the day to chat. (I have thought that The Sparrow Tree would be a great name for a pub.)

Anyway, that theater and a few other businesses were torn down a few years ago and the sparrow trees were cut down. (The indiscriminate carnage of trees by construction companies is one of my pet peeves!) I felt really bad at the loss of the roosting trees and the friendly chirping.

I have since discovered that the sparrows moved to the big shrubs along Larpenteur Street by the California Drive apartments near Lexington. If you're looking for a lively "evensong", check it out around suppertime.

I have an affinity for sparrows. Like me, they are descended from immigrants and have unintentionally crowded out the natives. They are lowly, common birds but very resourceful. Sparrows will occupy urban niches where few other birds can live. In fact, for many urban children, the only birds they ever encounter are sparrows and pigeons.

Sparrows are hardy and prolific and now flourish all over the world. In the process, they are slowly evolving according to the climate and food resources available. So, I guess the future of the lowly sparrow is a story in progress whether we like it or not!