Summer Time

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Summer Time

Today is Thursday, June 21st, the 172nd day of 2018, there are 193 days left in the year, officially it is summer and the song Summer Time, and its refrain, living is easy  repeatedly plays in my head.

I am remembering the time in my life when school was almost out and a Fourth of July Parade followed by fireworks signaled the start of endless summer days. Some mornings there were swimming lessons at one of the Levittown pools,  other mornings I would meet my friend, Vicki Love, under our weeping willow tree to play cards, search for a four-leaf clover or read Nancy Drew Mysteries.

It was not necessary to phone, text or email we made plans the night before as the streetlights went on signaling everyone to go home.

Lunch was either peanut butter and jelly, bologna or tuna fish on white mushy bread, then we walked once again to the pool for an afternoon swim. We may have watched cartoons before the Dinah Shore Show followed by dinner woven with family discussion. The girls did the dishes while the boys disposed of the trash.

We now live in Florida where the kids have been out of school and the days hot since the end of May. The sun is too strong, the humidity an albatross around my neck and I spend most of the day inside wearing a sweatshirt because air conditioning and I do not get along. We will head north to New Jersey in a couple of weeks to a cabin rental on Cozy Lake to visit family and friends and fend off mosquitoes.

I have a long list of books to read because I made a commitment to the Great American Read. So far, I read 1984, The Giver, neither of which was cheery, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a story of nonsense I returned because it made no sense, and Invisible Man, feels like homework, I will let you know.

 In between, I am reading books by Alexander McCall Smith, a favorite author of mine known for the PBS series The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

The song, Summer Time is still rumbling around my head causing me to wonder why the living was easy and  I have concluded it was not because I was a kid and times were simpler as much as, kids were not allowed to watch TV and did not read the newspaper.

I have news fatigue, so without naming names, decided to dust off my Nancy Drew collection.

Its summer time and living needs to get easy.

.  .  .  . just saying

Next Door Neighbors

american-gothic-grant-wood-art-institute-of-chicago-244I keep thinking today is Thursday and it is only 6:30 in the morning. I started thinking today was Thursday in the middle of the night, do not know why because yesterday definitely felt like Tuesday which it was, consequently I should have a feeling today is Wednesday but do not. However, what difference does it make if today is Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday? I am retired!

Nevertheless, I am happy today is Wednesday, not Thursday, because that gives me an extra day between Wednesday and Friday which I need since I opened my big mouth and invited the neighbors over because, although everyone appears to be happy standing in driveways with the sun beating down on our heads pretending not to sweat while we chat, I envision something else.

Well actually, what happened is Mr. Wonderful* came back from getting the mail and announced that the Smith’s house was for sale. Surprised, I asked where were they moving to, his response  “No one is moving “Mary died, that’s why all the cars were parked there last week.”

Stunned I expressed how terrible it is we did not know, and asked about her husband and if he will move closer to family, Mr. Wonderful said, “No her husband died six months ago.”

When we moved here, I joined Nextdoor ,  a private social network that will help find your dog or a plumber so I would be in the know but could not remember my password and instead started knocking on doors.

So we are getting together in two days.

There really is not much to do, neighbors said they would bring what they like to drink and a dish to pass but I need to dust and make sure the toilet is flushing properly which it started not doing the day before yesterday. I need to find that password.

In the mean time bits and pieces from a Chinese passage about neighbors and community are creeping into my head, and search online to find this;

Let there be a small country with a few people

Though neighboring communities overlook one another and the crowing of cocks and barking dogs can be heard

Yet the people there may grow old and die without ever visiting one another

Oh, now I remember what difference it makes if today is Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday; Wednesday morning the trash gets picked up.

                               .  .  .  .  Just saying

Painting by Grant Wood

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of 47 years

 

 

 

 

Grant Wood Pitch Fork

Just Another Day

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The Fairchild Oak

Just Another Day

Today is just another day but not really. It is a day not to be anywhere, do anything, or explain why I changed my mind about doing nothing and did something. I was awake at 2am listening to the rain, thunder, and cracks of lightning like special effects from an Alfred Hitchcock film flash outside the bedroom window until 4am, when I got out of bed.

I was not going back to sleep.

Sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on a toasted piece of wheat bread smothered with real butter, I watch the mixture ooze into its crevices’, and ponder whether to brew a cup of coffee to dip its crust in, or walk to the Fairchild Oak, less than a mile from here, but consider how muddy the venture would be, and instead make beef barley soup from left over steak, adding frozen green peas, the petite ones.  

Today is just another day but not really. After watching an interview on CBS Morning News about Tom Hanks collection of short stories, “Uncommon Type” (the title reflects his fondness for and use of old typewriters) I am reading the book and now in love with him.

He laughs at himself, and likes writing because he knows what the prize is inside the box, or so he says.th

The book jacket describes Hank’s first work of fiction as one “that dissects, with great affection, humor, and insight, the human condition and all its foibles.”

I hear Tom’s voice as I pretend he is reading to me and sip beef broth standing up.

Today is just another day but not really, it is the first day of the rest of my life.

.  .  .  .  just saying

Blowing In The Wind

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Blowing In The Wind

Blowing In the Wind

Today, the first day of Spring, labeled a “Four-Easter” by weather channels in the Northeast, is a fine day here in Florida.

The air is crisp and a strong sun relaxes my shoulders as a gentle breeze rustles among the trees, a perfect day for drying sheets . . . . outside.

I remember fondly the  sound of sheets snapping in the wind outside a kitchen window in New Jersey and that fresh air scent once our heads lay to rest in bed that evening as Nirvana. However, although Florida is the Sunshine State, clothes lines are prohibited in many communities, ours included, evidently clean clothing swaying in the breeze is offensive or someone might shoot a pair of socks to the ground, I am not sure which,  it may be both.

Consequently, I have a folding laundry rack purchased at IKEA and although the sheets do not blow in the wind exactly .  .  .  .  they will acquire a nostalgic fragrance and help me avoid thoughts of:  Mark Zuckerberg,  Facebook, the twenty-two hundred-page$1.3T federal spending measure, or whether Trump should or should not have congratulated President Putin. 

I ask Alexa to play “Blowing in the Wind” the Peter, Paul and Mary version, and load my smart washing machine, wishing it was not that smart and let me decide how much water was needed, then hum along.

How many roads must a man walk down, before they call him a man
How many seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand
How many times must the cannonballs fly, before they are forever banned
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

Returning to the bedroom, I see a pillowcase inadvertently dropped on the floor, pick it up and rush back to the laundry room hoping to cancel the start cycle before it “locks” and water flows into the washtub. Otherwise it will become un-lockable, a safety feature designed to protect humans unable to determine the hazard of putting one’s hand into a spinning washtub. Stupid is not included in the on-line owner’s manual simply implied.

I make it in time and consequently will have matching pillowcases to remake the bed then continue humming with Peter, Paul and Mary.

How many years can a mountain exist, before it is washed to the sea
how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free
how many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see
 

However, the refrain, The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind, sticks in my throat.

When it comes time, I fold the sheets careful to match the edges and strategically drape each linen to catch the wind humming:

How many times must a man look up,
before he can see the sky

How many years must one man, have before he can hear people cry
How many deaths will it take till he knows
too many people have died

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

Today, the first day of Spring, labeled a “Four-Easter” by weather channels in the Northeast, is a fine day here in Florida. The air is crisp and a strong sun relaxes my shoulders as a gentle breeze rustles among the trees, a perfect day for drying sheets . . . . I grab a cup of afternoon coffee and sit outside.

 
Read more: Bob Dylan – Blowing In The Wind Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowin%27_in_the_Wind 

 

Red White and Blue

 

adbdbb06-7ba9-4aac-8787-0af095d59a5bThis  photo inspired my poem, I saw a bug colored red, white & blue, and hope you do too!

 

Red White and Blue

Can an itsy bitsy bug be patriotic?
His red, white, and blue symbolic,
A political view
Understand freedom . . . be equal too

Like a school age kindergartener
Raise his hand to hold the flag
Chosen, glad with honor
Knows to say a prayer

Can an itsy bitsy bug be patriotic?
Puff his chest, recite the pledge
Listen to a voice within
Battle for the helpless, or let the bullies win!

Stand side by side with those who care
Silently and stare
Misty eyed while taps is played for those who dare
Think America is beautiful

Can an itsy bitsy bug be patriotic?

. . . . just saying

 

Previous post, “Bored On The Fourth of July”

Second Thoughts

 

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Aging & Attitude

Mr. Wonderful* put down the newspaper, returned his glasses to the soft fabric case and sighed.

I asked, “What are you thinking?”

He responded, “Nothing, I’m thinking about nothing” and left the room to pee.

His matter of fact statement got me thinking.

My first thought, Is that possible? My second, would he be considered brain dead? My first and second thoughts were followed by third and fourth thoughts that I would rather not share.

Not that the first thought was better than the second thought, or third, or fourth, but, the first, stimulated more thought.  I could not stop thinking.

When he returned I inquired, “Is it really possible to think about nothing?”

He said, “Anything is possible, ” then turned on the television.

I was impressed. His one and only thought ended in no more thought, However I kept thinking;

  • 1st Thought          Was he always a one-thought thinker or is this a sign of aging?
  • 2nd Thought        If you have only one thought do you assume it is the right thought?
  • 3rd  Thought        Does a first thought carry more weight than following thoughts?
  • 4th  Thought        How does one acquire the confidence to have only one thought?

 

My thoughts turned to President Trump and  wondering whether he is a one-thought thinker. My first thought, he tweets like one. My second, third and fourth thoughts, well I would rather not share.

. . . . just saying

Do You Tweet?

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of forty-six years, Bob.

 

Mr. Mouse and Beach Street

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Daytona is famous for the beach, racing, and Bike Week ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­. Water in shades of blue turquoise continue to roll across the flat beach front  that initially attracted John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford to race cars here and Bike Week is now world famous however, Daytona is simply a nice small town where I discovered and fell in love with Mr. Mouse.

My sister, Mel and her friend, Ellen, came to escape single digit temperatures in the North and had visited Flagler Beach, New Smyrna, and CiCi and Hyatt Browns Art Museum, so I suggested lunch at the Dancing Avocado on Beach Street in Daytona. Having been there before, I knew there was shaded outdoor seating.


Although reports that Homeless plague the area discouraging shopping, I frequently attend a writers group at The City Island Library and have not experienced problems. Beach Street is quite nice and home of the famous Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, as well as my favorite Used Book Store, Abraxas.

Parking is easy to find, and free.

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A recent Daytona Beach News Journal article by Mark Lane reminisces about the area in the 1960s and details his family’s arrival in 1962 as engineers for General Electronics Apollo Support Program. Lane talks about the music scene, segregation (“He didn’t share a classroom with black kids until seventh grade”), and Beach Street as the place to shop.

So we headed to Beach Street and the Dancing Avocado.

As we drove, I explained to Mel and Ellen that although we were driving on Beach Street they would not be looking at the Atlantic Ocean. The view was of the Halifax River.

Mel asks, “So where is River Road?”

I responded, “ The east side of the Halifax is called River Road, lots of big expensive houses and part of The Loop.  My guess is Floridians went to the beach along the river because back then, there was no bridge to the Oceanside.”

“Really?” Mel was amazed.

It was a cool fifty-five degrees so we sat inside at the Dancing Avocado and selected Veggie Burgers and Symphony salads made with carrot curls, sprouts and sunflower seeds.

Afterwards, we perused the shops and I confessed my search for a vintage cookie jar. Something to fill in an empty counter top space, as we entered “Sisters Décor & More.”

13321656_1709493119301735_5649400088070015355_nThe store was stacked with floor to ceiling shelving and cluttered with previously owned items. Ellen spotted an Old Mother Hubbard jar and drew my attention saying, “She’s kind of nice.”

I moved closer for a better view, and responded lackadaisically, “She doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t know what I’m looking, I’ll know when I see it,” and turned around.

In the corner, his nose pointing towards me was Mr. Mouse.

There was no discussion, no debate. He was perfect  I loved his extremely large ears, his small beady eyes and spidery whiskers.

At home, Mr. Wonderful was unimpressed with my new purchase, not even the $19 price tag! He thought his ears too big, I thought them just right, although he believed an open stack of saltines would nestle easily in its long snout.

I love Mr. Mouse’s small beady eyes and spidery whiskers, and the way he sits on the counter oozing personality.  Mr. Wonderful . . . not so much and roams the house saying, “Eek, eek! I see a mouse.”

. . . . just saying

Mr. Wonderful, aka, Bob is my husband of 46 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ridiculousness

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Aging & Attitude

Ridiculous, this is ridiculous; I am telling myself, stressed about baking chocolate chips cookies.

Really! Chocolate chip cookies! Have you eaten a home-baked chocolate chip cookie that was not delicious?

I am on a mission to bake my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies and disappointed with the results.

Granny B’s cookies were more like a brownie, square in size , not chewy or gooey, just the right amount of crunch. As you can tell from the picture; not flat or crispy.

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The struggle for perfection is ridiculous, absolutely positively ridiculous.

My children, who I will be bringing them to, remember the cookies, but not the way I remember them; a special treat that accompanied a special woman wherever she went.

Remember special treats for special days. Some of us even enjoyed weekly special treats.

Ours was eating pizza in front of the television on Friday night. Pizza was tomato paste on English muffins with American cheese criss-crossed on the top. The television show was Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip. We snapped our fingers and mouthed the words to the signature song. Then mesmerized by Kooky combing his hair, and prayed he would lend me his comb.

No really, I am being ridiculous. The cookies I baked are practically almost exactly like hers.

I never watched her bake them, but asked for the recipe once. Her response was she followed the recipe on the back of Toll House package but added one teaspoon more water. In later years I pondered and pondered how an insignificant addition to a cookie recipe could produce nirvana , then recalled Granny B baked with Crisco.

Remember the movie, “The Help,” when Minny says to Celia, “The greatest invention since they put mayonnaise in a jar. You have a squeaky door hinge, Crisco. Bags under your eyes, gum in your hair, Crisco”?

I examined the Crisco can, and sure enough, when substituting Crisco for butter add one teaspoon  water.

Now the recipe is just right. Well not exactly, the taste is delicious. That is not the problem.  

The problem? The cookies are too thick and a tad too light in color.  

I get it, I am being ridiculous.

I have tried a 9 by 13 pan, too thick, and 15 by 10, too thin. One is too small; the other too big. It is possible a 9.5 by 14 pan will be just right. Unless I am being ridiculous.

. . . . just saying

Hack Saw Happiness

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 The Happiness Series

I am standing in the kitchen and Mr. Wonderful, my husband Bob, walks behind me headed for the garage.
“Can you get me the hack saw?” I ask.

“The hack saw?”

“Yes, that small saw with the black handle. Isn’t that what it’s called?”

“Why do you want a hack saw?”

I roll my eyes to heaven.

I have used the electric knife before and know the cord and blade are in the back of the silverware draw. However, it will be quicker if he brings the saw back with him when he is done doing whatever it was he was going to do in the garage.

Now he stands behind me breathing over my shoulder as I explain.

“If you saw this plastic container in half, I’ll be able to get the rest of the lotion out.”
The plastic bottle has been sitting upside down the past three days, and I have been sticking my pinky finger in the opening then applying lotion to my arms and legs.

Speechless at first, Mr. Wonderful says, “Lotion is on sale at Publix, I’ll go buy some.

“It’s not about the money.” It’s more like . . . . children in China have very dry skin, so eat your green beans. And this lotion has sun screen in it!”

“Okay, so you’re making a statement, you don’t want to be wasteful?”

“Sort of. Is recycling a good choice if a million gallons of water are used to clean the container.”

He interrupts, “Johnson’s Baby Magic  is a Bogo (buy one get one free) this week.”

“I feel better using the spatula to remove the dribs and drabs. See it practically fills this jar. It makes me happy.” I look at him and smile.

He smiles back. “Great. So you are on to a new kind of cause.”

“If I wanted a new  cause or to protest something, I’d refuse to show my license to have a mammogram?”

“Why do you need a license to have a mammogram?”

“Well, any picture identification. Some type of mammogram fraud. However, I cannot recognize my breasts now that they almost reach the floor. I do not argue.”

“Claudia, how many people would use a hack saw to get the last drop of lotion out of a bottle?”

I roll my eyes and say to Mr. Wonderful, “A bread knife really doesn’t work.”

. . . . just saying