Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanks for the Birthday Wishes!

Wow, it's been overwhelming, really. First, more than 60 folks show up for Tom's birthday party last week and now dozens of folks sending me greetings on fb. Say what you will about fb, I find it to be fun. I love being part of my friends' lives again, keeping up on issues that are important to me, and just plain goofing off.

DH and I had dinner last night at the best restaurant in NW Ohio--Mancy's Blue Water Grill in Maumee. Perfect dinner, once again, beautiful venue, awesome staff, the complete package. If you haven't been there, you've really missed out. All of the Mancy's restaurants are simply the best. And I'll bet it's been more than a year since DH and I sat down together for dinner~~just the two of us. And after all these many (many, many) years, it's still a nice time. (And we went out last night because I had a couple of cavities filled today--not such great planning on my part.)

We had some birding fun this week. A friend posted on Rarebird that the students in one of his classes wanted to go owling. I volunteered the house and GL volunteered his awesome owl-finding skills. We've had weeks and weeks of warm, pleasant nights~~until Tuesday when the class was here. It poured and poured a nasty, cold, pounding rain right out of the north the whole day and night. Now mind you, we really really needed the rain. But it could have waited another couple of hours. And believe it or don't, GL wasn't able to call in one single bird. Some folks thought he got an Eastern Screech, but I didn't hear it. We did hear a huge tree fall in the woods--answering the age old question. I've gotta hand it to the students for putting up with this deal. Several of them were just wearing sneakers--I guess they figured we wouldn't actually go tramping through the woods. Surprise! We birders are a tough breed.

So thanks, Friends, virtual and otherwise, for making my birthday bright.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Birdie Day

This could become addicting--siting on the back deck while the birds buzz my head. It was so warm again today that I spent as much time outside as I could. That included catching up on some reading on the back deck. The birds must really be hungry because they just couldn't stay away. This is a pic from last winter, by the way, but I don't have any with no snow. I was quite surprised at the activity~~almost frenzied. And the birds really could have cared less about me sitting there. In the winter we let the kids sit on the deck with seed in their hats and wait for the chickadees to dine. I've rearranged the feeders in my never ending attempt to keep the squirrels and raccoons out. So far--no coons. They must not be desperate yet. But now the chipmunks have invaded. If they weren't so dang cute.

Later in the afternoon I was doing some computer work on the front porch, and saw the hawk cruise through the woods just across the street. Couldn't id it, but I'm guessing red-tail. It's been hanging around so I'm hoping it stays all winter.

On another note, the Whitehouse Library Holiday Home Tour is one month from today--had to believe with such great weather. And Sunday we set up the trains for the Toledo Zoo Lights Before Christmas. Way before Christmas this year!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sometimes the Birds Beckon

I've had a feeling of ennui today. Partly its the adrenaline let-down from DH's party~~which was tons of fun. So many good friends gathered altogether. The sun has been shining and the weather pleasant. I should be in the basement sewing, but I can't seem to drag myself to a room with so few windows. I tried working on some graphic projects on the computer sitting in the sunshine but I still couldn't concentrate. So I packed it in and headed out.

Our yard is 90% mature trees, with some brushy understory. In the summer, it's so thick we can barely see anything, but its nice and cool. The reflection of light off the leaves turns every room in the house to green. This time of year is among my favorites. I can see the landscape and the trees make interesting and ever changing shadows. Today I was hoping to see birds.

Our birds are awfully dang smart. If I'm in the front yard, I hear something out back and vice versa. Today was no exception. A hawk was calling from the back, maybe over in the neighbors property. I looked and I looked and I looked. Even with few leaves to block my view, it eluded me. I was also looking for the noisy thing that must live in the brush in the neighbor's ditch. It just kept telling me to "DO-it" over and over. But I sure couldn't find it.

All was not lost though. A small buck white tail was crossing the neighbors field when he realized I wasn't a tree. We looked at each other and I took one step forward. Off he went in that beautiful run, run, leap-soar that deer do. He stopped back at the tree line, and must have wandered back onto our property, but I couldn't spot him again. He was a young buck, just 2 tines on both sides with bit of another on one side. I don't think I've ever seen a buck on our property before, just does and fawns. It's not like out west, where the wildlife--elk, bison, wolves, and bears--wander through the yard. Deer are much more skittish, so this was quite a treat.

Just me and the deer and the birds. Ennui gone.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quiltin' Time!

Last night was the first night I ever slept under a quilt I made. Yep. I've made lots of quilts to give away, lots of quilt pictures to hang on walls, to eat from, to use in programs, but never one for me to sleep under. It was nice.

I bought a kit about a year ago called Three Bears. I'll have to look the designer's name up. Dope that I am, I thought it was sized for a wall hanging. I started the first block last spring on the Gathering of Quilters retreat. I went with the the stars first, because I figured they'd be the hardest, and they were. Then I went with the mountains, and log cabins, and the bears, then the trees. There were lots and lots of trees. Then the fill squares. Some where in the middle of making the forest it dawned on me that I was making lots and lots of stuff. I looked at the front of the pattern page again and what do ya know--right on the front it says BED QUILT. I'll be danged. Basically its for a double bed, and of course we have a king. So then I had to start adding strips to make it long enough and wide enough. So then I had to keep adding more and more strips to make it fit over us when we sleep. Covering the bed is one thing. Covering two largish people who are trying to sleep is entirely another. I spent as much time figuring out how to add strips and what material to use as I did on the whole rest of it. That time also includes the time it took to make several more runs to the fabric shop.

I took the quilt over to Corner Quilts in Wauseon, Ohio for the quilting and binding. They have a gigantic machine for quilting and they also do the binding by hand. That's a ton of work. I dropped off my pine tree quilt for quilting, but I'm bound and determined to do the binding. Wish me luck.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Elder Aunties of My Tribe

Many American Native cultures celebrate and revere the "Elder Aunties of the Tribe." These women are considered to be the Wise Ones, the gentle ones, the strong ones. Maybe it's simply because they just physically outlast men, but I like to think it's because they carry so much within them. Men and boys take care of problems and joys in the here and now. They beat the crap out of each other, and then it's over. They get drunk and rowdy with each other, then go back to work. Women don't operate that way. We ponder. We wonder. We do act out of impulsive anger and joy, but not usually the way the guys do.

My Mom was one of those women--and interestingly, so was my Dad. Both kind souls, who could say nary a bad thing about anyone. They just took care of those bad people in their own devastating ways. You didn't want to be on the receiving end of one of their 'campaigns.' They got the things done that had to be done, and didn't sweat the small stuff.

But I've been thinking the past couple of days, as I do 'wimens' work (arg) about the Elder Aunties in my Tribe. My Mom had 5 sisters, all of who lived in the south. Mom moved north after the war and saw that there was a whole 'nuther world out there and she loved it. A world where black women could be serve in the Army with her, where women could be involved in politics, where churches didn't preach hate and fire and brimstone, but peace and justice. Dad had one sister, who, although I saw her every Sunday, was more of a ghost in my life. She was sort of here and sort of not. Although my relations, not my Elder Aunties.

I knew that my Elder Aunties were out there, but I didn't know it at the time. (Yeah, that's what I meant to say.) So here's a shout out to my Elder Aunties:

My best friend in Perrysburg was Sue B.. Her Mom and Dad were a full 10 years younger than my folks, which amazed me at the time. We all went to Church together. Susie didn't have a sister, just 3 brothers, all really nice guys. She and her Mom were really close. They welcomed me into their circle. How I loved them for that then, and still do now, even though I haven't seen either since Susie's Dad died several years ago. Mrs. B. lives near here somewhere. Just knowing that makes me feel better.

My bestest friend is Ginny. We met at Church camp about 1964. She lived in Van Wert, Ohio then moved to Farmington, Michigan. There were 5 or 6 of us kids who grew up with each other this way--the Cool Studs. We saw each other once a year for five years. We were pen pals. What fun for us. I hope kids today enjoy their e-pals as much as we did. By the time we reached high school we decided that once a year wasn't enough and convinced the camp staff to let us celebrate the New Year at camp, which we did. Then we learned to drive and were able to see each other more often. We went to each other's sports events and plays, proms and homecomings. We visited each other's colleges after that. Most of us kept in touch in a vague sort of way, but Ginny and I remain very close. We married within a year of each other, our kids are close to the same ages, and no matter how long its been since we've seen each other, we pick right up. As I reflect back, I realize that Ginny's Mom is also one of my Elder Aunties. I'd breeze into their house every few months and was one of her kids. Just like that. The lessons she taught Ginny, were lessons that reflected back to me. Thanks, Mom Perry. Love you.

There were others. . . .the wife of my college mentor, Mrs. Kapp. She taught us gracefulness and the true meaning of hospitality, with just a couple of contacts each year. Several women at my Church in Perrysburg--getting things done and doing them with grace and poise and clarity of purpose. When I worked for the Girl Scouts, I was all of 24 years old, trying to lead women 20 years my senior who were already moms. Several of them chewed me out constantly--nothing I ever did was right because "that's not the way we do it." But for every one of the crabs, there were half a dozen women who smiled, gave me that wise nod, and stood by me. Thanks, girls.

I so hope I will be remembered as one of the Elder Aunties. I know its a role I seek, but realize its a title I have to earn. Maybe someday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Post You Could Care Less About

I've been cleaning for the past few days. Okay, for over a week. I haven't done a deep clean for a couple of years, and with all the sunshine we've had this fall, it was clear that some serious elbow grease was in order. The push this time is because we're having a surprise party for DH on Sunday (the surprise is that he turned 70!) We're having 30 or 40 folks for for an open house type deal. And that means: clean the pit.

I was actually sort of energized to do it because the basement has really come together. Except for some more electrical work and the drop ceiling, we're pretty much done. Even with the ugly pipes and filthy joists, the basement has taken on a really cozy feel. The crafty corner rocks, DD's train layout is great, and the Man Cave is still a work in progress, but that mess can be contained. DH's workshop is so crappy I cringe going in there but hey, not my problem. And the most luxurious place in the whole house? The basement attic. A few years ago, DH went crazy and bought 8 or 9 matching, heavy duty grey metal shelving units. We put them together and lined them up on "my" side of the back of the basement. I can get all my crap on the shelves, including all the camping gear, all the linens and cooking stuff for the apartment, all the old books, and all the Christmas stuff down there. And here's the cool part: I can find all of that stuff. Wow. Luxury indeed.

Having such a huge 15 year undertaking so close to finished, and certainly usable like it is, gives me that urge to clean the crap from the upstairs. Then I realized there isn't much crap anymore, so a good deep clean would really make this wonderful. Now mind you, I HATE TO CLEAN. AND I HATE TO CLEAN UP AFTER OTHER PEOPLE. Oh, my, sorry about yelling. After nearly 30 years of being married to a slob, a fact of which I was fully cognizant when I married him, and worse--20 years of children who can't tie shoes, much less make a bed, has been frustrating. I've tried the passive-aggressive approach which is do no cleaning, but they don't care. They really, really don't care. That makes it my problem. I have laid down several new laws this fall. Both boys are now "doing" their own laundry. Not there yet, not even close really, but in a year or so they should have it down. DH sorta does his laundry.

So look out Martha, here's Ranger Anna's tips for cleaning:

1. Okay, I'm stealing this one from Martha: Make your bed. Everyday. Having a nice, neat bed in which to climb after a long day really is grand.

2. No dirty dishes in the sink at bedtime. A couple of years ago a friend of mine and I decided we both needed to do this. So we checked up on each other and now it's just habit. BTW, psychologists say that if you do or don't do something for 30 days, it will become part of your routine. True that.

3. Don't use outside spray-with-the-hose window cleaner. DH tried it 2 years ago and the windows seem to be pitted now. Damn.

4. Clean the damn windows twice a year. Easier to get a little dirt off than a lot.

5. Our whole house vaaccuumm system really sucks. For deep cleaning it's awesome. For quick messes it's just a drag. The 30 foot hose is cumbersome and requires wrangling, but boy does it clean. And since the motor is in the basement, it's nice and quiet upstairs. We have a crappy vaccuumm for the usual messes. We also use that out west.

6. My newest favoritest cleaning thing: A Libman quick mop. Works as advertised which is really nice. I also use a Libman mop for the big jobs. I almost never promote a brand name because I figure they should pay me for advertising, but this is an exception.

7. Keep paper towels, window cleaner, handiwipes, bowl cleaner, scrubbers, etc. in each bath. Lots of folks have a basket they lug from room to room. Nope, uh huh not me. Keep that stuff right under the sink in each room. So easy to do a quick clean anytime with out having to find the stuff and getting distracted along the way.

8. Don't carry junk mail into the house. Go to mailbox. Get mail. Walk back to house through garage. Stop in front of garbage can. Sort mail. Pitch crap out. Seriously, this cuts our junk in the house by about 3/4.

9. If you buy something new for the house, be prepared to get rid of something old. Houses do have carrying capacities. I've reached mine and now really have to weigh the 'cost' of having something else. I've done this with my clothes for about 7 years now. Really, really helps to focus on stuff that really is right. (Trying desperately hard to teach DD my incredibly materialist one about this concept. He just wants it all.)

10. I don't really have a tenth thing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Good news--no more horrible political ads. Bad news--the results.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lovely Time of the Year

It's a luxury, to be able to enjoy this time of year. The sun comes up late and sets early and stays low in the sky. The leaves are off the tress, save for the mighty oaks, exposing the forest's secret hiding places. For most folks, that's a bummer. For me, it means the sun shines in every room of the house, exposing not only all the otherwise unlit and unseen spiderwebs, but it also paints the rooms in lovely ways.
In the morning, the sun shines though the front windows, painting moving shadow pictures with the pines. In midday, the family room's south window, usually deep in shade, is tossing light everywhere. In the long twilight, the sun stretches all the way across the family room into the kitchen and in the dining room to the foyer. I opened a kitchen cabinet, the one holding the everyday glass ware, and for a few fleeting minutes, the sun bounced around in and out of my glasses, shining as if lit from inside.
When the sun sets, the view from all three bedrooms is amazing--the woods seem to be glowing from within as the sun goes down. On bonus days, the full moon then rises, giving the bare branches light and glory, so intense that I have to go outside to see if it's real. And it is.

A sunset in autumn in Ohio is one of the greatest sights on earth. These are the days to savor.