Monday, July 31, 2017

Beach Numbers

Mark the happy days of summer with beach numbers. In fact, sing them out!

On the first day of holiday I was blessed to see 1 boy in a sand-filled hole.

double rainbows over Sunset Beach pier
On the second day of holiday, I was blessed to see 2 arching rainbows and a sandy boy in a deep hole.

On the third day of holiday, I was blessed to be one of 3 hardy boaters, 2 arching rainbows and a sandy boy in a deep hole.
3 brave and unsuspecting boaters

                                              On the fourth day of holiday, I was blessed to see 4 castle towers, 3 wiser boaters, 2 arching rainbows and a sandy boy in a deep hole. 

                                   On the fifth day of holiday, I was blessed to see 5 tempting rockers, 4 castle towers, 3 wiser boaters, 2 arching rainbows and a boy in a sand-filled hole.

On the sixth day of vacation I was blessed to see--6 pair sandy sandals, 5 tempting rockers, 4 castle towers, 3 wiser boaters, 2 arching rainbows and a boy in a sand-filled hole.

                        On the 7th day of vacation I was blessed to see 7 glasses waiting, 6 pair sandy sandals, 5 tempting rockers, 4 castle towers, 3 wiser boaters, 2 arching rainbows and a boy in a sand-filled hole.

thanks to Janet Head, group's photographer
 On the 8th day of vacation I was blessed to be one of 8 happy readers,  7 glasses waiting, 6 pair sandy sandals, 5 tempting rockers, 4 castle towers, 3 wiser boaters, 2 arching rainbows and a boy in a sand-filled hole.

blanket flowers 
   On the ninth day of vacation I was blessed to see 9 flowers blooming, 8 happy readers,  7 glasses waiting, 6 pair sandy sandals, 5 tempting rockers, 4 castle towers, 3 wiser boaters, 2 arching rainbows and a boy in a sand-filled hole.

 On the last day of the holiday I was blessed to see ten pipers scuttling, 9  flowers blooming, 8 happy readers,  7 glasses waiting, 6 pair sandy sandals, 5 tempting rockers, 4 castle towers, 3 wiser boaters, 2 arching rainbows and a boy in a sand-filled hole.                              

Enjoy the rest of the summer. Until your next beach trip keep singing. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Busted: the HOA Commandments

That cute bike I mentioned last week got me in trouble with the Home Owner's Association. Their rules are like commandments, except they exceed God's basic ten, and judgement comes more swiftly.

To reach the community garden I must pass through a gate. A long gravel path leads to the raised beds. I rode on the completely empty path leading to the empty garden as one of the garden board members pulled up in her car.  I was 20' away when she yelled. "Pam, if you don't get off that path I'll have to call the Community Response Office. " (Think minor league law enforcement in small white cars without sirens or fire arms.)

It's not as if I were leader of a pack of serious cyclists descending on hoards of helpless old people who had to scatter to safety.

Surely she wasn't serious. But I got off the bike. I  hollered "Go ahead, it'll be their excitement for today."

"I mean it," she threatened. "I'll call them. You have to obey the rules. Do you think you're better than everybody else?"

"I think I'm pretty special." The unconciliatory tone fired her up. 

She must have had CRO (Community Response Office) on speed dial. 

I parked my bike, ignored her, and focused on watering my dehydrated tomatoes. While chatting with another plot holder the chubby community responder walked our direction. He hitched up his belt.  He planted his feet apart and put his fists on his hips. I really expected him to give me some body language, a wink maybe or tiny grin, to indicate how ridiculous this was. But he didn't. I guess he was serious too.

"Did you ride your bike on the path?"

"Yeah, for about 6 feet and I got off when Martha Sue told me to. It's better to use a bike than drive here." My concern for the environment didn't strike him as virtuous. 

"Well," he pulled out his little pad of forms "you can bring the bike into the garden, just don't ride it. What unit do you live in?" 

I told him and he filled out the brief form. To his credit, he was polite, and he was making the nitpicker happy for sure. (Ooh, I wish I'd known her information to give him instead of mine.)

As he walked away the neighboring gardener looked at me in disbelief. "I can't believe that. It makes me wonder why I live here." Yeah, me too.

It's my opinion that the HOA is trying to recreate paradise by committee. 
Or perhaps they distend their limited control to compensate for the dwindling influence aging can cause. Although the HOA deals with some weighty issues, they deviate when control is about where a bike is ridden or a flower is planted.

I knew I'd run afoul of the HOA eventually. There are other written rules I am breaking.

ajuga I planted in an empty space
#86 Do not plant anything in the manicured, narrow line of shrubs planted in single file in front of your "lanai." Why would they name a small slab of concrete after a Hawaiian veranda? 

And #129 "Do not dead head the flowers." I held my breath when two staff gardeners stopped in front of the rose bush I've been trimming for two months.  A few fading flowers and hips remained on the bush so it wouldn't be obviously pruned. 

The elder gardener said to his trainee, "This is a lovely rose." Yep, I've taken good care of it. It is full of new growth and I'll have the only bush with a second flush of blooms later this summer. 

Runamuck HOAs are common complaints elsewhere too. Online testimonies include one man  who walked his dog in a "covenant" community although he didn't live in it. A control freak accosted him, called the police, and they ended up citing her and towing away her golf cart which wasn't licensed for the roads. Ah, justice. 

Not so for the senior citizen who planted unauthorized purple flowers and was fined $50.00.

Every month people in this complex rack up more than three thousand calls to the CRO (more than one per unit.) They call for emergency medical assistance (which isn't provided.) Garage door violations make up a fair number of calls, as do "suspicious" people. There are noise complaints, odor complaints, and family disturbances. Alleged burglaries must not bear up under investigation because they always number 0 in the final report. This month there were 41 warning tickets, including mine. 

And just to protect myself from the whistleblowers, Pam Glover is only my pen name.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fun or Function

Do you choose wheels for fun or function?


Last summer blood clots hijacked my mobility. If someone had yelled “Fire!” I’d have hobbled as fast as I could, but the flames would have singed my fanny. I reluctantly decided to buy a folding wheelchair and walker gizmo.  I resented it as much as I relied on it. 

Sometimes we need props. We can tolerate them if we know they are short term, but chafe if we suspect they are the new normal. Nothin’ normal about scootin’ around when you used to have two healthy feet.

By fall I graduated from wheels back to my own locomotion.

This year I've traded the walker in for a nifty folding bike with 7 gears and a basket. It's how I  commute to my garden plot.

I'm thrilled I can ride a bike again. I love feeling my hair fan out, even if I look like a dog with its head out the window.   

I count it a blessing as I pass others who have to roll the paths, dependent on devices. Being able to get yourself from A to B is priceless when you haven’t been able to do it. 

May you stay fit, maintain your balance, and be able choose wheels for fun rather than because you're feeble. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wonder 'Maters

My garden plot just produced its second harvest—chard. Everything else was set back by fickle Colorado weather. Today's survey revealed multiple wee green globes that will be tomatoes by Labor Day.

This is a NC friend’s barrel-grown tomato as of June 2nd! It grants container gardening new respect.  

His “recipe” (from the Winston Salem Journal) was 1/4 composted manure, 1/4 composted mushroom compost, and 1/2 potting soil. If I ever get a sunny enough spot, I’m going to try this. 

Look at the size of it!  And it’s only one plant. It was covered with fruit and blossoms. He updated me that he hoped to have some ready this week. He’ll have wonder ‘maters into October. 

He chose their retirement townhome wisely, good exposures to sun, and outside spaces that let him have raised beds and pots. No tellin’ what else he’s eating already. 

David, you’re an inspiration to us who have down sized. Small space does not mean small produce.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

We are the Water Lilies

Twice a week I join a group of women that I think of as water lilies. We share some characteristics. Water lily leaves are large and buoyant, as are we. Both the plants and the women have to be rooted, the lilies into mud. We've all gone through some mud in life which trained us to stay strong in unsettling conditions. 

On the other hand, an overhead drone would show us to be struggling to maintain position in the water. I'd love to see how we look as we bob up and down at different rates, lean to one size, scull like mad and scissor kick until the water of the pool is rocking with little waves.  I think of the June Taylor dancers on the Jackie Gleason TV show back in the 50's, when the ladies did routines filmed from the birds-eye-view. We're not like them.

Start the clip at about 1:30 to get the effect I want you to see.
If the youtube video isn't showing, here's the link. 

We only remotely resemble synchronized swimmers. We pitch and roll awkwardly. We can't all suspend ourselves in water for more than 20 seconds.  Our kicks are more spastic than controlled. While most of us face right for exercises there are always a couple facing left, and thus collisions. 

The group ranges across three decades, from 50 years old, up. One morning we shorties huddled in the shallow end, I swore the round-faced lady with a sunny smile and short-cropped white hair was my grandmother. This is a class of grannies.  But seeing her, I realized I felt more like a granddaughter. 

It takes a lot of guts to reveal lumpy, roly-poly bodies in front of others. And an equal amount of courage to demonstrate our lack of athleticism. I'm not going to take up running or long distance biking at this age, unlike my husband's cousin who competes in triathalons. She swims regularly in Seattle's frigid waters, sleek as a seal in her wet suit. Back here in the fifties-plus community pool, we hang out of our bathing suits in unbecoming ways. 

Nonetheless, there are moments when we manage to kick our legs with toes pointed, one arm gracefully arched overhead, and we feel like ballerinas. The Fantasia  ballerinas, but ballerinas nonetheless. 

I've enjoyed much about this class: working on balance, the bouyancy that lets me jump higher than I ever could on land, and giggling when I can't stay planted on the floor and drift sideways like seaweed in the current. Yesterday we took our foam "noodles" and bent side to side, pushing the ends under water for a little resistance. From the front of the pool I looked back. It looked like a pastel-colored rainbow had split into individual arcs dancing across the water's surface.

My water lily analogy breaks down here, but there is beauty in that pool. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Traffic Camera

"Oh, look, there's one" my husband said. We were playing hide and seek with the white traffic cameras mounted at some Denver intersections. He was determined to track down the camera that resulted in a $40.00 fine for speeding. The photo "makes me look like a drug user" he complained. 

He's a notoriously slow driver, so I agreed that it was hard to believe he was ten miles over the limit.  Our kids spent their teen years looking over his shoulder and urging him to get up to speed. His last speeding ticket, 20 years ago, happened when he overlooked a school zone. He eventually got over that one, and he'll get over this one too. But he's riled up now.  

The last two round trips through that intersection have been non-stop commentary, including the cost to us. A friend said "I just don't pay the tickets" which Bill can't imagine. And then there's the large line item in the city budget he imagines.  "They must have spent a pretty penny on those things." But he's driving slowly again.

How sneaky it is that Big Brother's presence is on our streets?  "You'll never see one those contraptions in Dobson." (Dobson, NC, our previous hometown )

He's not the least bit technically minded, and can't fathom how the system works. He imagines a big room with tech nerds watching the film in real time. Actually, the letter does have the name of the "photo speed operator"  B. Lopez.  

After 2 hours of constant complaint and indignation I asked if we could put it to rest. He thought he could. But he started in again this morning on the way home along the offending route. I tolerated it better because I was still woozy from anesthesia. 

A week later a second citation came. 

Maybe I'm just not feeling his pain and commiserating sufficiently for him to feel validated. Could be he just doesn't get out enough. 

While I'm tired of his latest rant, he may be tired of mine.  I considered what I hang onto like a terrier who's caught a rodent. Is he rolling his eyes when I yammer on about living in a cave, or gaining weight or terrible traffic.  What if I got fined by the gnashnab patrol? I'd owe a fortune! 

Either way I also need to put a sock in it, zip it up, and quarry for my inner Pollyanna. 

Does your honey drive you crazy with a repeated tirade? How do you handle it? 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


As a child I remember my thrifty handy dad mending my sisters' worn shoes. He used a curved needle and pliers to sew the uppers back to the soles. We only got new shoes if the old ones were beyond repair. 

In third grade my best friend had a pair of saddle shoes made of red velour. They were luxurious. I begged for a pair of red shoes too. Since I needed new school shoes we went to the local shoe store. The small shop on our main street still measured our feet with the metal sliding scale. He found a pair of hefty brogues, (Dad's prerequisite for shoes was sturdiness, not looks), made of dull cabernet colored leather. I was too afraid to protest. Strictly speaking they were red shoes, just not what I'd begged for.

When I was in high school he was outraged to learn that I had more than three pairs of shoes, even though I'd paid for them out of babysitting money.  From that day on, guilt blunted my enchantment with shoes.

In keeping with said upbringing, I tend to make do with quality but dated clothes and shoes. For a recent wedding I paired a newer dress with beautiful piece of gold-thread embroidered silk from India. Now I needed shoes, but I so seldom wear heels that I couldn't justify spending the time and money necessary to find just the right pair.

But in the back of my closet I had a seldom-worn pair of comfortable heels. As well I had the leather craft paint necessary to turn them a classy matte gold. The paint adhered well to the leather uppers and I was pleased. Proud, in fact. Thrift was vindicated.

look at the heels!
That is, until I put them on just prior to the wedding, and walked around the hotel room. They felt squishy. As I primped at the mirror, and adjusted my jewelry they felt less solid, and more bouncy. Sitting on the end of the bed I took one off and examined the chunky three inch heels which had cracked from the bottom up.

Crestfallen and stymied, I was stuck with an ugly pair of brown flat sandals. I changed out of the heels into the sandals and buckled up my pride. No one was going to look at my feet, no matter how much I imagined they'd whisper "What was she thinking?!"

I left the ruined pair in the trash when we checked out. But what I really should have checked out was every pair of shoes left in my closet. 

Not six months later I again packed a comfortable pair of shoes to take on our trip to Spain. They were favorites--good for walking and they looked sound.  Wear one pair, pack the other. I was so efficient. I had the black "mules" and a pair of old beige grandma-esque walking shoes. 

About day three of the trip, I slipped into the mules and they felt slightly wide and cool.  I put my fingers right through the perfect uppers, no longer attached to the faulty soles. Ironically 8' X 12' Clark's shoe ads   plastered the walls of Barcelona's underground train system. 

Bill urged me to buy another pair of shoes, which I finally did in another city. It was a fun experience as I practiced my Spanish language skills with the female clerk.  I loved the shoes until a foot injury made them just a bit uncomfortable, blast it. 

In retelling my experience a friend said she's had a pair of shoes fall to pieces while she was in India. 

So, play it safe. First, check your old shoes for dry rot at the seams or crumbling composite soles. Wear them, flex them. Second, go ahead and buy a new pair of shoes for your next big trip. And break them in prior to departure, lest they break out somewhere along the way, leaving you soleless.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring in the Rockies

A new draft choice for the Broncos football team arrived in Denver on the last Saturday of the month.  He'd never seen snow, and TV showed 
DeMarcus Walker with a snowball bigger than a pumpkin.

I hope he gets a kick out of spring in the Rockies. I don't. The storm was beautiful, cold, windy, and untimely. Look what damage it did! Peonies full of buds lie splayed on the ground. 

The little rose buds may revive. Twenty four hours later, most of the snow is old news. Of course it's a different story in "the high country."  

My buddies in North Carolina said it was 85 degrees Saturday. Meanwhile, our drain chain was frozen.

Springs, (and falls and winters) in the Great American Desert are three of the reasons I moved to NC in the first place. Not that we didn't have some confusion of seasons there as well, but not so drastic.

I can't consider winter over yet. I've seen snow on Mother's Day, and the last day of school in June.  I'm sticking with pansies in a pot that come in and go out like a restless cat. My raised bed is ready for seeds this weekend. I bought tomato plants and peppers that won't be safe outside for another three weeks. 

I bet that Florida football player will be hankering for some vine ripened tomatoes by the middle of June. Tough luck. 

And welcome to Colorado!

Monday, April 17, 2017

"There are Places I Remember" , Number One

there are places I remember…”  (link to the Beatles' song, "In My Life")

I’m mining my photo banks and travel diaries to celebrate places I remember.  Two years ago we hit the road for Birmingham, Alabama. We were going to celebrate a wedding, but decided to stop off at places we’ve only heard of, not necessarily favorably. 

The first afternoon we visited Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC.  It was on Bill’s bucket list. Who knew? Less than enthusiastic, I tried to find something unique in their high quality sacred art museum which was full of old Masters. But having been to cathedrals in Europe I'd seen enough Virgin Mary paintings and cavorting angels to last a life time. 

Bill was disappointed to discover that the college book store is only online, no browsing text books.

Our glimpse into campus culture was interesting. When my daughter was eight, she played with a friend from a devout Christian family. I asked her what games they had played and she answered “humble girls.”  I’m not sure what she meant then, but BJU had a whole campus full of them! Girls are still required to wear skirts. Some could have stepped out of the set from Little House on the Prairie, others chose modest versions of current styles.

The student dining hall had a wide range of nationalities, and coed groups shared the tables. I did not see many African Americans, but again, I don’t see them at my white church either. 

I much preferred our time downtown at an outdoor cafe sipping locally brewed beer. No BJU students there. 

The next day took us through Atlanta for their reputation for "stop and groan" traffic. 

Once in Birmingham we went downtown to Kelly Ingram Park, the civil rights site where police hosed protestors and brought in the attack dogs. The art in the park recreates the scene with metal scupture.  It’s arranged so you have to sidle between life sized metal snarling dogs, frightening in their realism.

the four girls killed in church bombing across the street

Across the street is the Civil Rights Institute, a compelling collection of media—video, audio, recreated rooms, statues which tell the story of the 1960s in the South. I wish my grandchildren and former students could have accompanied me to experience this well-executed collection of artifacts. 

In total contrast, in the afternoon we visited Antebellum House near downtown. While the landholdings are much smaller than they were, it is a lovely home still. It’s good sized, but not grand. In fact, many architectural details reminded me of our century old home in Denver. The front door is glass with small panels on each side. The entrance runs through the center of the house creating a commodious foyer. Living room to the right, dining and kitchen to the left, just like our house. (sigh)

The rehearsal dinner was held in the Birmingham Botanic Gardens, small but lovely. The tulips and other bulbs were finished blooming due to a warm spring, but the temperatures made for lovely outdoor mingling. I’d love to go back and hit the gardens for the spring flowers.

Of course the wedding was wonderful too. And as the Beatles conclude in their song,"I'll never lose affection for people and things that went before." Here's a late toast to Andrew and Jenna on their second anniversary.

While my wanderlust hasn’t dimmed, my opportunities have slimmed. 

It’s best to recall the affections this trip stimulated. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Glue Grandma

I trudged up two flights of stairs to carry a moving box up to my daughter’s new bedroom. On my way out of the closet I noticed my younger granddaughter swinging her legs as she sat in the sunshine on the small deck. I went out and joined her.

Her beautiful red hair swung around her droopy head and nearly hid her features. The eyes focused on her knees, and her chin nearly touched her chest. Her arms were tightly crossed.

She was willing to talk when I asked her what was wrong. Her other grandma had spoken sharply to her. We talked about that, and she came to sit on my lap. I enjoyed her lanky body leaning against my padded one.  Her head against my cheek, we kept talking until the sting of the incident dulled. 

I’d noticed her moodiness lately, and we’d our own times when she took offense. I was glad for this opportunity to show her I loved her. 

Twelve years of absentee grandparenting haven’t prepared me well for living close at hand. When we’d swoop in for a week’s visit it always included some special group activity, nonstop cookie decorating, crafts, movies out together. We were cherished and novel.

The shine has worn off of us. I'm no longer the glitter grandma, but the one who holds things together, stepping in for childcare, going to school events, patching over hurt feelings--the glue grandma. (I borrowed the glitter and glue idea from a well-written memoir: Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan.) 

Now only the four year old runs exhuberantly to hug our knees when we come in the door. The older kids give us a nod, or nonchalant, “Hi, grandma.” We don’t always get a squeeze on the way out. And if the cousins are all together, they may not even talk to us. 

The one on one times are what we really enjoy.

We’ve invited each of the kids over for an overnight. Since we’ve sewed together over the past few years, I offered to start a new project with each. Em shopped for a cozy fabric to make an infinity scarf. We whipped it up in an afternoon. 

Addie’d outgrown her bathrobe and wanted a replacement. We narrowed the fabric types and out of about 15 color choices, she chose white terry cloth. Of course this was more than a one time project. I saved tasks that she could comfortably do and she learned to hem a sleeve and make a pocket. While she was here we took a chilly night walk and admired the moon. 


Sam admired Addie’s robe and asked to make one for himself. Sam preferred the cozy fleece fabrics, and after careful shopping and combining colors he chose a striking accent for the shawl color and pocket.  He finished it just before a trip to Arizona and proudly, but impractically planned on taking it with him. His suitcase would have been just big enough for the robe and swim trunks! 

Keeler wasn’t interested in sewing, so we planned a game night. It’s fun that he can play knowledge and word based games like Last Word. We change the rules to fit the kids’ strengths. It was a warm enough afternoon to have the first official “Happy Hour” on the patio like we used to do on their visits to North Carolina. We stopped by a specialty store so he could choose a new soda—a blood orange soda from Italy. We have special cups the kids use for happy hour and they enjoy sipping from “adult” stemware (plastic.)

The transition from visiting grandparents to local grandparents is creating deeper relationships with the kids, even if those relationships are a bit sticky. 


Thursday, March 16, 2017

IKEA: Shelve My Books without Shelving our Dreams

"So what went wrong?" I asked the woman in front of me in the line at IKEA. She was pushing a shiny white box with stainless feet and a couple of hinges. It looked sturdy, stylish but unfinished. 

"I'm building my own kitchen, one cabinet at a time. But this one has a broken piece, and I discovered it's out of stock. I can't get a replacement part, or another cabinet to match." 

Her kitchen will look like a seven year old with a gaping hole where a tooth should be. I did the mental math:  hundreds of screws attached to dozens of laminated boards multiplied by weeks of work equals a crisis.  "What are you going to do?"

"I don't know yet." I bet a woman bold enough to tackle such a DIY project has the ingenuity to solve the problem. 

I was glad I was only there to make an exchange. 

IKEA has taken "big box store" to a new level, three stories and enough walking to get your recommended 10,000  daily steps. Even if you don't want anything from there, it's worth seeing the phenomenon. I think Trump would call it "tremendous." 

Their rooms of coordinated furniture appeal to the pragmatist, the interior decorator on a budget, and the dreamers. The 615 square foot model house  tempts engaged couples to put the whole shebang on their registry. (If you didn't use the link, go back and see. This is IKEA genius.)

415,000 square feet of attractive displays teased me into thinking maybe I could make furniture hold together with pegs, those weird connectors (CAM lock nuts) and allen wrenches.  

But I know better. For example, my last DIY file cabinet looks pretty good, but a new gap has appeared between the right side and the drawers. Trying to move it, we lifted it by the top it came most of the way off. So why would I even consider more cheap book shelves and a TV console to replace the ones I didn’t move?

    1. My sons-in-law volunteered to put the kits together. They've had more experience, and they look good so far. (Still waiting on the exchange. I hope I don't turn out like the kitchen lady.) 

2.  If I buy IKEA we'll be able to afford a trip much more enjoyable than the Glover 2016-2017 escorted hospital tour of North Carolina and Colorado.

Thanks, IKEA. I can shelve our books without shelving our dreams.