Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Saturday Six

1.  Which do you most enjoy receiving from someone you know:  a telephone call, an E-mail, a handwritten letter or a comment in your journal?

Definitely a handwritten letter.  This is a tangible item to receive, open, read and reread if one wishes.

2.  You are invited to a nude beach.  You do not know any of the people who will be there and it is certain you will never see any of them ever again.  No one you know will find out you had gone unless you tell them.  Would you go?

In a heartbeat!  I'd go even if I did know the people who were going to be there who I'd quite likely see again.  I'd probably tell people I went too!

3.  Not counting work uniforms, what color do you wear most often?

I'm fond of many colors, but I wear a lot of green.

4.  What was the last movie you watched that you thought couldn't end soon enough? 

The remake of "The Planet of the Apes".  It was pretty dreadful. 

5.  What is the farthest you've ever called someone long distance?

A call from California to New Jersey and vice versa.

6.  Reader's Choice Question #14 from NZforME.  If you were to get a personalized/vanity license plate, what would it say?

My personalized plate would read N8URST.

Friday, July 30, 2004

A Dream Realized Chapter Six

Our daughter was born in the spring of 1978 and she was the darling of the neighborhood.  She was a very bright, precocious little girl from the get-go.  As she got older she knew perfectly well that the dolled-up babes we saw every day at Cala Foods were actually men.  Selling women's clothing to an ever increasing refrain of "how much off?" was beginning to wear a little thin with my husband and we thought it might be time to move our little family to a more conventional environment.  Yet again, my husband girded his loins and went in search of another job.  Quite unintentionally, he landed in car sales and we moved to half of a duplex rental in a town about 45 minutes north of San Francisco.  My husband sold cars for 15 years.  There were months of beer and beans and months of champagne and steak so to speak.

We had to move on from there a couple of years later because our landlord put our home on the market.  Time to push further north to a cute, funky little rental house located in the country.  This house was in a beautiful valley filled with vineyards and peppered with impossibly rich people.  Our mailing address was that of the charming little town of which we were so enamoured on our 1975 vacation.  We were getting closer.  This was a mere seven years after our discovery of this place.  Amazing!

I touched briefly upon our time spent in this little house in a former entry telling of the fierce battle between our kitty and a skunk.

We lived in this house for about three years until yet again our landlord decided to put the house on the market.  Once more, it was time to move on but this time my mother-in-law offered to help us with a considerable down payment on a house.  This was most kind and generous of her.  I'm quite sure we would never have been able to purchase a house in this area without her help.  We found a house in our price range and went through that fun experience (!) of buying a house.  We experienced a bit of a sticky wicket between the time we had to leave our rented house which had sold and our offer on the house had yet to be finalized.  We were in limbo and had to move somewhere.  We ended up moving into a small apartment in the town of our desire on my daughter's seventh birthday in April of 1985.  We had to put most of our belongings in a storage unit.

After waiting through what seemed to be an interminably long time, at last the deal on the house came though and we moved into our house in May.  Our son was born three years later in 1988 and we've been living here very happily ever since for 19 years; truly a dream realized.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

A Dream Realized Chapter Five

The following morning it was time to take a walk and check out the neighborhood.  As our walk progressed, I noticed there seemed to be men, lots of men, everywhere I looked.  There were women too but they seemed to be in the minority.  Two attractive women and two even more attractive men walked up to a bus stop.  How nice, I thought; two nice married couples leaving for work together.  In due time, the bus drove up.  They turned to each other and kissed.  However, it was a little bit different from what I expected.  The men kissed each other as did the women.  Two hearty, on-the-lips goodbye kisses!  Well!  I had this strong suspicion I was in the presence of some "queers".  That was the very unsympathetic, close-minded term bestowed upon these people back where I came from.  I'd heard about these folks but had never seen them and if I had, I was oblivious to the fact.  And so it was that we were drop-kicked into a completely foreign environment at the height of all its glory.  We lived there for almost four years!

I didn't have much spare time to ponder my new surroundings because for many days, every waking moment was spent getting the store ready.  Both my husband and I found ourselves doing a lot of things we'd never done before.  I didn't know I could do it but I became an amateur window dresser for a brief time.  The store was located at 24th and Mission Streets and I was hit with another round of culture shock:  the Mission District.  This neighborhood was made up of Hispanics, Filipinos and Samoans.  By this time I was up to my chin in culture shock and on the verge of drowning.  My husband took to life in the city like a duck to water.  I, however, did not.

When I wasn't down at the store helping to get ready for opening day, I stayed in our apartment.  I knew I was going to have to leave my self-imposed fortress and find a job at some point but I wasn't ready yet.  I had never lived in any city in my whole life and unlike my husband, I was the duck out of water.  As the weeks went by, I felt as if I had retreated to a dark closet, curled up in a fetal position, figuratively speaking, of course.

Eventually I decided to join the world once more and ventured out and gota job.  My husband was doing well with the store and became quite fluent in Spanish as well.  At long last, we went out and about the city and let its magic embrace us.  We went out to dinner at least three times a week and ate and discovered our way around San Francisco.  It was wonderful.  We made friends of varied sexual orientation and learned that gay people are pretty much just like everyone else in almost every other facet of life.  A good lesson to be learned. 

About eight months later, we moved from our tiny apartment to a spacious "flat" just a few blocks away.  Large Victorian homes were divided into four separate living compartments or flats.  We moved into these quaint rooms around Independence Day in 1977.  I didn't know it at the time but I was already pregnant with our first child during this move.  Can you imagine how conspicuous a pregnant woman was in a gay neighborhood?  Think about it.  I was definitely the odd one.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

A Dream Realized Chapter Four

When the decision was made to move clear across the country, the most pressing issue was to get an address to which to move our belongings.  We decided to use a professional moving van with real, live movers (the first and last time I had this luxury in the six moves during my marriage).  It was decided that I would remain home to pack and my husband would fly out to San Francisco to find our new digs.  It was the end of October.  Once again, he stayed with my brother and sister-in-law and she was kind enough to take the time to show him around the city to look at some places to consider.

And so it was that on October 31, 1976 my husband found himself at the corner of Market and Castro Streets at the zenith of the predominantly gay community in San Francisco.  He was there to check out an an apartment for rent.  Apparently there was a great deal more to check out that day; i.e. an outrageous Halloween parade showcasing many of the local residents in all their finery!  He found and paid a deposit on a small apartment on 17th Street right above Castro and flew back home to help finish packing.

Having just driven across the country less than a month ago, I was quite confident we could accomplish this trip without too many mishaps.  We sold one of our cars before we left.  Would you believe we opted to sell our Plymouth Duster (remember those?) and kept an AMC Gremlin?  If we had it to do again, I strongly suspect we would've reversed the vehicles.  We packed ourselves and a huge glass jar full of loose change, carefully wrapped, into the Gremlin.  We were ready and the three of us set out on our journey westward in early November, my husband, the jar and I.  Opportunity had knocked and we opened the door wide to let it come in and carry us into a new adventure.

At each stop for the night, we lugged that huge jar into our motel room and back to the car in the morning.  You'd have thought our life savings were in that jar!  Since we were only 23 and 25 years old, perhaps they were.  We treated that thing like our child.  When we finally arrived at our destination, I discovered that our apartment was on the second floor and, happily, there was an elevator to carry our furniture up to it.  We unpacked the car and brought upour things to our new little nest.  My husband had the glass jar held tightly in his arms.  Somehow it got away from him and dropped, smashing into a million pieces, coins rolling every which way not three feet from the door to our apartment.  The choice expletive that came out of my husband's mouth was loud enough to wake the dead.  Greetings, San Francisco.  We had arrived!  I got a large plastic garbage bag and scooped the mess of glass and coins into it.  For a long time afterward, I would be picking out change for bus fares and the Laundromat gingerly from the shards of glass.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A Dream Realized Chapter Three

After we arrived in California and I had done what I could to help settle my folks into their new home, I made an impulsive trip south to visit my sister who lived in a suburb within that maze known as Los Angeles.  This turned out to be a pivotal, most fortunate step regarding my future.  My sister had a close friend who owned a small chain of clothing stores and was in the process of opening one up in San Francisco.  The friend asked me if I'd be interested in managing this new store. 

I was, to say the least, flabbergasted at this suggestion having no background or experience whatsoever in retail sales or women's clothing (other than wearing the stuff).  Could it be that this close friend of my sister's was merely offering this chance in order to help pave the way for us to settle in California?  I think so.  I was completely taken off guard by this suggestion but had enough presence of mind to say that while I couldn't possibly do this, perhaps I knew someone who could.  She asked who that might be (with a twinkle in her eye that I was oblivious to at the time).  I replied that maybe my husband would be interested.  I was instructed then and there to call him and ask if he'd consider this job. 

The phone call was placed and the question was posed.  Without a moment's hesitation my husband said yes, he'd take it.  No fool he--this was our ticket to California and he knew it.  One doesn't just arrive in California and say, here I am...give me a job.  Apparently it didn't unnerve him that he didn't know the difference between a skirt and a dress, or so he said.  However, I knew better and he was willing to "wing it".  I flew back home and we immediately set the wheels in motion of leaving our current jobs, packing and relocating.  This was in October of 1976.

This was an ideal time for us to start anew.  We had no children yet so we were footloose and fancy-free.  One of the most difficult things was leaving our jobs.  I worked for two wonderful men in the advertising department of a huge chemical company.  Of all my secretarial jobs, this was the one I enjoyed the most and it was a real wrench to give my notice.  My husband had been working for a plastic molding company and unbeknownst to him, the day he went in to inform his supervisor of his plans was the day he was going to be offered a foreman position.  Talk about timing

Monday, July 26, 2004

A Dream Realized Chapter Two

My father retired in 1976 and my parents decided to move to California to live out their years of retirement in a house purchased by my brother to whom they paid a modest rent.  Even though this move entailed a cross-country journey, my folks opted to move themselves by way of a U-Haul Adventure.  My brother flew east and it was decided that he and I would help with the driving and move to The West.  This plan gave us three drivers to switch around between the huge moving truck and car with a smaller U-Haul trailer in tow.  I had never driven across the country before so I was pretty enthusiastic about the idea.  My mother's role, having never learned (nor wanted) to drive, was constant passenger and moral support provider.

The day of departure arrived, all their belongings packed up and ready to go.  My mother had two Irish Setters at the time who were going along as well.  This made for some interesting times across the country.  We stopped each evening mostly at Holiday Inns because at that time, they allowed pets traveling with you in the room.  Before we were barely into this journey, the highlight of the day was once we got the dogs and ourselves squared away in the motel room, out would come my parent's little portable bar and we all celebrated getting this far along with a cocktail.  I just loved that portable bar.  It was a nifty little thing.  I wonder what happened to it.  My poor brother, who developed a most untimely attack of brutal hemorrhoids, took himself off to the bathroom to stretch out in a nice warm bathtub in search of some relief each evening.  Poor dear.  I don't think U-Hauls are known for their excellent shock absorbers.  It felt like the truck we were driving had none at all.  A rough ride to say the least!

A Dream Realized--We're Living It! Chapter One

When I got married in 1974, my new husband took us on a fantastic honeymoon to Jamaica.  The following year, we made a trip to California to visit my brother and sister.  Hmm...this was becoming a great trend, an incredible vacation every year.  Alas, this did not continue.

Our vacation to California proved to be a catalyst in our future.  We fell in love with California, northern California particularly.  While visiting my brother who lives just north of San Francisco, we took a day trip further north up the freeway to the wine country.  Up to this point in our young lives, the only wine we had consumed was Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill, jug wine such as Tyrolia (great at the drive-in!) and when we were trying to be very sophisticated, a white German wine like Zeller Schwarze Katz or something of that ilk.  Clearly, our palates were in need of some serious education.

Since this was around 29 years ago, I have no recollection of any wineries we visited or wine we tasted.  I do remember passing by a charming little town and thinking oh, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to buy a little house here and live in the wine country.  Across from me in the driver's seat, my husband was having similar thoughts.  Unbelievably, this seemingly impossible dream evolved into reality for us with a few stops along the way.

Friday, July 23, 2004

My Fifteen

I've already experienced my 15 minutes of fame, albeit on a very local level and it was a long time ago.  Back in my youth, I was quite the songbird.  I've always loved to sing and was in a structured singing group of some sort from 4th grade through my senior year of high school.

My high school was noted for our choir whose members usually ran anywhere from 140 to 150.  We were very good and had a demanding choir director who expected nothing less than perfect from us.  At my school you had to take certain steps to enter choir.  Not just anyone was allowed to take this most privileged of all classes.  Freshman were not permitted to try out for choir.  This honor was reserved for sophomores and up and you had to audition.  I was bursting at the chance and couldn't wait for my turn!  Within our choir were two sub-groups; the Girls' Ensemble comprised of 12 girls and the Mixed Ensemble which was a compilation of 20 voices.  When my turn finally came to audition for choir, I not only made it in but also achieved a place in the Girls' Ensemble becoming the first sophomore to do so.  During my junior and senior years I was in choir, Girls' and Mixed Ensemble.

In the early weeks of my first year of choir, I discovered that one senior was chosen to sing a solo at the annual spring concert.  We gave two concerts a year; for Christmas and in the spring.  I was in absolute awe of the young lady who was selected to receive this honor during my first year as a choir member.  I resolved then and there that I would be the one to sing a solo effort at my senior spring concert.  I think this was the first serious goal I ever set out to achieve for myself. 

Fast forward to springtime, senior year and I was the one picked to sing.  What joy!  What rapture!  Initially I wanted to sing Elton John's hit "Your Song" (remember now, this was 1971) but my choir director wasn't too keen on that idea and suggested I choose more of a classical, recognizable piece.  I acquiesced to his wise judgment and when this most special night arrived, I stepped out from the choir to the center of the stage and sang Cole Porter's "Night and Day" with all the soul and passion that a seventeen year-old young lady who was already very much in love could muster.  We wore prom-type, floor-length gowns at our spring concert so there I was in a beautiful flowing powder-blue dress feeling all the world like Somebody Special singing my song of passionate, burning love to my adoring public.  Actually I sang right to my beau in the third row.  I believe I was given an elegant wave and kiss on the hand from my choir director and was presented with a bouquet of roses at the end of my number.  Now I felt like Miss America.  

That night was one of the most supreme evenings of my life and has remained so ever since.   

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"15 Minutes!"

Just about everyone enjoys some sort of recognition.  The sweetest sound to most peoples' ears is the sound of their own name.  We love to see our name in print and if there's a picture of us above our name, better yet.  We feel a great sense of satisfaction.  I think this represents confirmation of self.  We most definitely exist if our picture and name are there for all the world to see and these may very well remain intact long after we're gone from this Earth.

And then there's that 15 minute of fame about which we've heard since Andy Warhol introduced the observation and phrase back in 1968.  The world of journaling has provided many people with this much sought after slice of fame.  The people whose journals get selected as Editor's Pick enjoy not only 15 minutes of fame but almost a full week as well while their journal is showcased on the AOL screen.  Quite an honor indeed!  Now we're gearing up for the first, TA DA! anniversary of AOL Journal Awards.  It's the Academy Awards for the journalists.  Oh, the suspense!  Who will win the golden keyboard?  There are certainly enough categories and opportunites for just about everyone to fit in somewhere if, in fact, they got nominated by their peers.  If there were a category included that called for "making the least use of graphics, clip-art and photos, at least one of my journals would be a shoe-in!

Good luck to all of you whose journals are up for consideration.  To the rest of you I say, keep on writing and enjoying your journals.  We know our worth.  They are all unique and reflect a great deal of time, interest and thought.  These things are worthy of note and I, for one, enjoy the peek they allow me into so many different lives, ideas and experiences. 


Monday, July 19, 2004

The Saturday Six at Patrick's Place

I've been wanting to play The Saturday Six  for some time now.  It's 3:45am and I can't sleep.  What better time than now.

1.  Open local telephone directory and turn to the "X" listings in the residential section:  give the first surname and the last surname that appears on the "X" listing.

Too easy, there were only three!  The first was Xiong and the last was Xu.

2.  Of the seven deadly sins:  pride, envy, gluttony, anger, greed, sloth and lust, which are you most recently guilty of?

Envy, definitely.  During my bike ride yesterday, I was getting more and more envious of each motorcycle, car and finally, a limosine, that passed me effortlessly going uphill.

3.  What is the last dish you cooked completely from scratch?  ("Hamburger Helper" doesn't count!)

Yech!  Never use the nasty stuff.  Last dish I made was a meat sauce to go over vermicelli.  Have to admit that I didn't make the pasta from scratch, however.  Lol.

4.  List the states in which you've actually set foot.  (If you drove through a state but never got out of the car, don't count it.  If you've flown over a state without landing in it, don't count it.)

I'm probably leaving a couple out but to the best of my recollection, here goes:  NJ, NY, VT, ME, PA, OH, IL, FL, WY, AZ, NV, CA.

5.  You must give up TWO of the following "modern" conveniences.  Which two would you most be likely to toss out for good?

A) Dishwasher, B) Remote Control (for all devices), C) Compact Disc Player, D) DVD Player, E) Internet, F) Washer/Dryer, G) Microwave, H) Cellular Telephone, I) Your Online Journal

Piece of cake!  B) Remote Controls (they're too damn complicated and H) Cellular Telephone (don't even have one so I know I could live without one).

6.  Reader's Choice Question #12 from  What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to your significant other?

Sigh.  Leaving cabinet doors, drawers and the door to the dishwasher (all in the kitchen) open after using them.  And after 30 years of matrimony, that isn't half bad.  I shudder to think what he'd write about me!

Well now, wasn't that fun?  I thought so.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Old Friends

They come and they go, these old people of mine.  Some move on to other "homes" or facilities.  Some fall and injure themselves to the extent that under our licensing, we can no longer provide proper care.  These folks generally end up in a SNF, skilled nursing facility, aka a nursing home (a label which had been gradually phased out over the years in our society due to poor connotation, I think).  Placement in one of these establishments is a guarantee that life will be very different; even fewer choices will be available and less time for help and care will be allotted.  This is the fault of the current system, not the facilities in question.

Such a move is occurring right now and it involves a resident who has been nearest and dearest to my heart for many years.  I appear stoic on the outside.  I am greiving on the inside.  The lady in this instance is someone I've cared for these past six or so years.  She has had the dubious distinction for many years of being our oldest resident at almost 102.  This is someone I've helped out of bed, showered twice a week, gotten washed up and dressed and escorted to the dining room, walking alongside her walker, for breakfast and lunch for all these years. 

I have been watching the gradual decline of my friend over the years, fully expecting (and half hoping) that one morning I'd go into her room to awaken her only to discover she'd slipped away peacefully in her sleep.  This is my hope for all these folks and for me and mine as well.

My friend, my "old-mate", had failing vision and hearing and was often confused.  Like so many, she was living in another time of her college days, working days, life with her Naval-career husband during WWII and she could be amazingly clear about the details of those days.  She graduated from Berkely College and had a career as a lab technician.  You could tell she'd been a bright, intelligent, vigorous woman with an eye for a good time.  She loved parties and dancing and would talk about those good times with such a twinkle in her beautiful blue eyes.  Oh, how I wish I could've known her in her younger days.

I suppose it was inevitable that one day I'd come to work and be told, "Lorena fell and was taken to the E.R.".  A bad fall (is there a good one?) is very often the kiss of death for these frail old ones.  That day came for Lorena about a week ago.  The good news was that she hadn't broken a hip (a miracle).  The bad news was that she tore a ligament in her shoulder and plummeted into a very rapid state of further deline.  What can one expect of or hope for a soon to be 102 year old, after all?

Lorena and I shared the same birthday which served as a very special bond between us.  Sharing a birthday with someone you meet is to know instantly there's something special about them.  In all the years I took care of her, she never knew (or would remember) my name.  However, she knew my voice, my touch and that I lived in the same town where she grew up.  She would always be asking me if I knew so and so, people who were long since dead and how would I possibly know them having lived in this place for only 23 years or so.  I would stifle many a laugh for her sake.  She'd always inquire about "the river" which had been known to flood occasionally.  I would always reassure her that all was calm and safe riverwise.

I miss her.  I'm a bit off balance and my work day is most definitely out of sync.  Yet, I will not go visit her in her new place.  I could not bear it and would prefer to remember her as I last saw her.  I don't want to remember a resident near death or dead if I can help it.  In addition to constantly catering to these seniors' needs, I need to recognize and tend to my own so that I can continue to return to work for yet another day


Monday, July 12, 2004

Stolen Memories

It seems that at least once in our lives, everyone becomes a victim in some way.  Certainly, some experiences are far worse than others.  Many are fatal.  Therefore, in retrospect, I suppose I got off easy when my turn came.

Almost one year ago on July 14th, it was a quiet, peaceful Monday--my day off from work.  In the early afternoon I left my house to go to the store to pick up a few things for dinner.  My son left the house shortly after I did to go to a friend's house.  I hadn't been gone for even an hour and when I returned, I knew something was wrong.  The front door was wide open and I felt an immediate sinking feeling in my gut.

Without thinking, I foolishly went inside and took a quick look around; my initial fear was confirmed.  Someone had broken into my house in the short time I was gone.  What made matters worse was that obviously someone had been watching the house and made his move quickly as soon as my son and I left.  This gave me an extremely uncomfortable feeling.

Some drawers were opened in the living room, their contents scattered about but at least there weren't any signs of needless, just for the hell of it vandalism.  I saw where the intruder got in through a narrow window in the kitchen from which the screen had been pulled.  And yes, I had left the window open about an inch or so without even thinking about it.  I remember feeling this brief, begrudging moment of thanks that the jerk at least had the grace to step over the computer on the desk under the window and not topple it to the floor in the process!  When I went into our little bathroom off our bedroom, the very sad reality of this burglary hit me.  All my jewelry was gone.  Two little jewelry boxes were upside down on the floor where they had been dumped unceremoniously.  Four empty plastic ice-cube trays were strewn about the floor as well.  

What, you ask, were ice-cube trays doing in my bathroom?  These were where I had kept my awesome earrings; a pair had been stored in each little compartment.  How clever, how convenient and alas, how accessible.  I was devastated, soon to be accompanied with feelings of complete shock and disbelief. 

Over a period of several decades, I had accumulated an extensive collection of very unique and beautiful earrings.  They had become my trademark.  Through the years my mother had given me earrings for Christmas and birthday gifts.  I had some very special ones that had belonged to her, ones that I very carefully selected from her jewelry box after she died.  My husband presented me with lovely, unusual earrings over the years as well.  They had all been taken from me. 

Necklaces and rings were, of course, gone too.  I had an exquisite necklace that my mother-in-law gave to me made from three diamonds from my husband's grandmothers' rings.  It was a one-of-a-kind piece.  Now it's gone forever.  Gone, too, the opal necklace from my husband on our wedding day, his high school ring which I had kept from the first day we started going steady back in November, l969, another beautiful necklace that he gave to me on our first Valentine's Day and so much more. 

I know, I know.  They were only "things" and I should be glad no harm came to anyone.  I was and I still am.  I do not set my store on material things whatsoever but these were treasures very dear to my heart and I have so few very nice things.  Upon further inspection, we discovered that our two portable CD players, my son's Gameboy and a fairly decent 35mm camera had been lifted as well.  Still, I felt like I was the hardest hit and even now, a whole year later, if I allow myself to think of the special trinkets I no longer have, I dissolve into tears.

These are things that can never be replaced.  There is no price you can attach to sentiment.  The police were called, a report was filed and eventually my insurance company sent me a settlement check which we ultimately used to pay off the balance of our car payment and purchase a much needed, no frills lawnmower.  Thus, the proverbial silver lining to my dark cloud of theft was acknowledged and served.  They were hardly recompense for my loss but items that needed to be paid for nonetheless.

The final insult to injury in this unfortunate incident was when I received my new house insurance bill for the 2004-05 coverage reflecting an increase "due to the claim for theft reported in 2003.  Now, really!  You just can't win!! 

Foraging for Dessert

Like so many others in this region which I'm blessed to call home, I have my very own sprawl of wild blackberry bushes.  They are, in turn, beautiful, annoying, persistant, fruitful and free.  They require no care, no special fertilizer or watering regimen.  They grow, blossom, thrive and bring forth their luscious fruit all on their own.  Now, this is my kind of plant!  Where human beings thrive under my TLC and sometimes find a new lease on life, any plant left to my mercy will surely sicken and die.  I do not have the much coveted "green thumb".  I can keep a cactus going; that's about it.  But I digress.

I don't eat dessert very often, hardly ever.  During the summer months, however, when the blackberry bushes are heavily laden with fruit, I love to go out and pluck my dessert directly from the bush and eat it then and there.  This is fun to do while I'm watering the front and back lawns.  (And I use the term "lawns" loosely.  If it's green, I'll water it!)

Nobody else in my family pays much attention to the blackberries on the side of the house.  My son has long since outgrown the thrill of finding a snack on his own to eat in the great outdoors.  These days his reaction consists mostly of cursing under his breath if his arms or bare legs get caught by the thorn-filled vines as he pushes the lawnmower from the back of the house to the front.  The other day I introduced my four-year old granddaughter to the blackberry bushes, offered her a couple of berries and she was suitably impressed.  They taste so wonderful with the warmth of the sun still on them.  Of course she wanted to pick her own but the problem with that is even if the berries look completely black and ready to pick, they're only ready if they come off with the merest tug.  If you have to pull, they're not ready and you just end up with a purple-stained hand very quickly.

For some reason the blackberry crop is extremely abundant this year and early in arriving.  Every growing thing around here has come up early.  I think this must be due to the week of very hot temperatures we experienced way back in March.  No frost ever came after that week of heat either.  I'm no master gardener but this makes sense to me.

As I work my way along the length of the blackberry bushes, stuffing my face all the while, I sometimes think to myself, "I should make a pie or a tart or something with all these berries" but I never seem to turn these thoughts into reality.  You see, if I did this, the blackberry bushes would turn into work and cease to be fun.  Perhaps one of these days I'll stop being so selfish and surprise my dear husband with some sort of blackberry creation

Friday, July 9, 2004

Homework Time

Weekend Assignment #14:  Snacks, in Haiku Form

Gotta love this one; it's a no-brainer.


This one represents my favorite snack food:

          Tortilla chips are/Without a doubt the greatest/Eaten with salsa.

This is one for a favorite snack that causes most people (certainly my kids) to fall over each other in their haste for the nearest exit:

          Smoked oysters taste great/When you eat them with crackers/Pity they stink so!

And so ends my creativity for now at 5:30 in the morning before I go to work.  Lol!






Tuesday, July 6, 2004

A Happy Fourth

I hope everyone had a good holiday.  This year's celebration was very restful and laid back for us.  Usually we are the ones to host some kind of family gathering but this year was blissfully different.  My daughter and son-in-law had us and several friends plus assorted-aged kids over for a barbequed turkey dinner on Saturday evening.  The food and company were great and we had a marvelous time.

Sunday morning arrived and with it, the Glorious Fourth!  My husband and I spent the entire day doing not a whole lot of anything.  He made the two of us a wonderful dinner of shrimp and swordfish chunks on skewers, marinated in his homemade teriyaki sauce and grilled to perfection.  Our son who does not eat shrimp (!) had to work in the evening so I made a coule of hamburgers for him to eat when he got home.  After dinner as it began to get dark, my sister and her family and my daughter and her family came over to watch the fireworks.

Every year, our town puts on a pretty decent fireworks display.  We all troop over to the high school athletic filed to stake out our territory and settle back to watch the show.  This year, however, we were unable to do this because the entire field is in the process of being replaced.  The fireworks were set off from the field but no one was allowed on the field to watch the show.  I live fairly close to the high school so we just set up chairs in the backyard and hoped the fireworks would be high enough to be seen through our neighbor's trees.  Indeed they were and we enjoyed the brilliant display in more comfort than ever before with a glass of wine in hand.  Lovely!

My husband had Monday off as a paid holiday so we drifted leisurely through the day once again not doing a whole lot.  It was so nice to just kick back and do what we wanted when we wanted.  It was so nice to be relieved of the effort and responsibility of providing the family feast and entertainment this time around.  I send out a very sincere and public thank you to my very dear daughter and dear son-in-law for taking the reins this time around.