Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Quick "I can do it by myself" snack for grandchildren.

Here's a quick snack that will satisfy your munchies, or give your grandchildren an opportunity to "cook." 

Turn a vanilla wafer upside down. Spread nutella, peanut butter, or cream cheese on the wafer. Add a banana slice. 60 calories! (If you only eat one.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Guys in Old Trucks

When I was four I got a toy for Christmas that let me manipulate a miniature  metal car around tiny roads painted onto cardboard. The  4" steering wheel was attached to a magnet under the road map.  If the red roadster was over the unseen magnet, and I moved the wheel very carefully, I could jerk the car more or less near the printed lanes.

It was very unsatisfying.

Nowadays, I love to drive the curves and hills near our home. My daughter says she can't believe how fast I go, but she's used to city gridlock.

We live in the country, and I know I will occasionally get stuck behind tractors and field sprayers. I don't chafe, I don't grumble, it's part of our lifestyle.

But I have NOT come to grips with guys in old trucks.

These guys have grown up with those dull colored, somewhat dented trucks. Truck and driver have witnessed each other's triumphs and defeats. They know each others moods.

Do the drivers wonder what happened to their lean young selves who jumped into the shiny cabs, and hit the road like broncs out of the gate?

I do!

Now they drive their trucks just like their tractors--inching along.  Doing 30 in a 45 mph zone even tho' they've driven this road thousands of times. If I know which direction to lean into the next curve, surely they do. What happened to their muscle memory?

photo from 
Many of them are the same guys with new sedans in their garages, covered, so they'll last forever. On Sundays they fold the tarps, load in the wife, and head out for church or lunch driving like sightseers.

I grind my teeth behind the driver in a new Hummer, applying just enough force to the gas pedal to run a sewing machine. Why not just drive a tank? Or the lawn mower? They'll all three get home at the same time.

There's no justice. I drive an unsporty Toyota Echo. But I make sure it breaks the speed limit every once in awhile, so the car and I can pretend its a Porsche. 

photo from en.wikipedia.org

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sprigs: Hugging your Trees

Whether you live in the country or in the city, trees require maintenance. The bigger the tree, the more likely you'll need professional help. I always hire an *arborist instead of the whack-happy guys who massacre trees by topping them.  

Last week's clean-up from a large fallen tree fall morphed into mission creep.  Since he was already here with his very cool cherry picker, it made sense for the arborist to groom trees that could damage the house. He glided up 20-30' off the ground. I secretly wished I could get in there and play with it. I also thought about climbing into the cab of his giant truck to pretend I was driving it.

Digression: I have a bad track record driving untraditional transports. Airline employees make driving the jet way up to the planes look easy. However, each aircraft type needs a different path to the front door. I never could get it right. (I needed jetway driver's ed, but there was no time in the arrival and departure schedule for it.)

One time I backed up and approached the plane so many times my supervisor finally radioed the flight attendants to deplane out the back, and walk the customers up the steps into the terminal. I had an entire plane load of the unhappy  public, and crew, and it was entirely my fault. I surrendered my jetway license without a fight.

Redirect:  Finally the tree guy cut down a couple of nuisances along the drive. 

Once the trimmings fed into the shredder it added up to two large mulch piles. They're a tangible, fragrant rebate, saving us from having to buy a load.  

Some I'll use as-is to refresh the already-mulched paths in the large garden. I'll dose the rest with aluminum nitrate and rake it around to speed the decomposition so it's ready for next year. 

Hopefully the volunteers from the Baptist firewood ministry can carry off all of the trunk chunks as planned and the limbs the shredder couldn't chew. 

Otherwise, we'll be roasting hot dogs, marshmallows, and maybe a pig over what's left. If we do, you're invited over for a picnic! 

* We used Rob Worley out of Virginia, 336-416-4444

Friday, March 20, 2015

You Know It's Spring When ...

No matter what the calendar (or thermometer) says, you know it's really spring when...

you can count two days within a week over 65 degrees

the daffodils dance across the yard like Rockettes

the nepeta smells so good you want to role in it like you're a cat

the weeds are large enough to pull

it's warm enough to roll the car windows down in the evening and hear the frogs singing

the nandina berries fade as the forsythia blooms

the hellebores finally lift their heads out from under the protection of cold-killed leaves

And to celebrate further, enjoy this lesser known (to me) spring poem by 
E.E. Cummings, from the Academy of American Poets website.

Spring is like a perhaps hand

E. E. Cummings1894 - 1962

Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things,while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps 
fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there)and
without breaking anything.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Haiku to Hope

Sun's antiphony
rising through winter's tomb
hope wears lemon caps.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Permission to Fail

On the whole I found Birdman dreary and full of pitiful humans who wrested what they wanted from one another.  

However, I could relate to the story within the story. All of the characters  were insecure in their abilities to portray their roles, yet still took the risk. 
To a smaller degree, I feel it every time I play my violin in public. 

This is not false humility.

On Sunday I  missed a couple of entrances. My pitch was off, producing cringe-worthy notes. Had there been any present, all of the dogs would have been driven from the room. My bow skittered over the strings like oil in a hot pan--exactly the right technique for percussive modern compositions without melody. But I was playing hymns.

Preoccupied with their own parts, my fellow musicians didn't notice. Usually I'm the only one who recognizes the errors, and anybody else is too kind to comment.  I'm relieved I don't use a microphone. Anyone sitting beyond the second row probably thinks I just produce notes beyond their range of hearing.  

 I am grateful to be playing off-off-Broadway, so to speak. Our church's worship leader, the instrumentalists and singers welcome my artistic pittance. They give me the freedom to try. A bigger church, with more talent to choose from, might not.

Despite my disappointment in myself I continue to put myself on the line because when it's right--it's wonderful. It gives me pleasure, the congregation enjoys it, and God may too. After all, Psalms tells us it's okay to make a joyful noise. 

Where and when do you stick your neck out, and find that blessed permission to fail? 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Airport Art

Nonstop flights are the best, but the cheapest flights involve a connection. I've learned to appreciate those stopovers so long as there aren't any delays because they provide:

1) a chance to stretch my legs
2) some good shopping, particularly Seattle, Baltimore, and Cleveland
3) ART!

Here's an underground tunnel in Detroit with a beautiful light show to delight the traveler as she walks from one terminal to another. I like to just stand still and imagine it's the northern lights. 

Art is really the only thing O'Hare has going for it. Check out the link and see more moving color in The Sky's the Limit, by Michael Hayden.

Flying through Nashville, Bill found his favorite type of art--craft beer. But 
 I was intrigued by this display made out of cheap plastic party cups! There's color, shape, and movement as the eye follows the candy-colored snakes. The not-so-retired teacher in me thought it would be a fun project to do with kids.

Airport exhibits humanize the halls, warm the long walkways, and lift the spirit. 

Sometimes they amuse, like this example from Reagan Airport. The "lady" on the hubcap was priced at $400.00  Really?  

Pink Rollers by Thalia Doukas

I don't know where you're going next, but snap some photos of public art in an airport or train station. (I don't know about bus terminals, maybe that's where "Pink Rollers" belongs.) Send them to me and I'll post them in a follow-up blog.