Saturday, July 12, 2008


We haven't had a Saturday with nothing to do and nowhere to go in at least a month, so we're enjoying this one. Todd's puttering in the garage and I'm puttering in my study. We had a late night out last night with a bunch of Todd's former and current co-workers, to say good-bye to one of them who's moving away. So it actually feels pretty good to take it easy today!

I thought I'd show off a few of the things I came home with last weekend, from Ohio.

I have a little collection of china planters. I found the white bowl and the green rectangular planter on the bottom in my grandparents' cellar, absolutely filthy. They cleaned up nice. The top rectangular planter, and the two round green planters, came from the big flea market in Rogers, Ohio, which I know I've mentioned before. Todd planned our trip so that we'd be home two Fridays and thus be able to go twice. It's all about priorities, you know.

I think I mentioned that my grandparents moved into assisted living this spring. Their property has been sold, and now the family is working on emptying out the house. I brought a few little odds and ends home with me. The little yellow pitcher below is from their house.

The sugar bowl and creamer are from the Rogers sale. People were in bargaining moods, and kept making me offers I couldn't refuse! They were made by Shenango China in Pennsylvania, which is near where I grew up.

These are Rogers sale treasures, too:

The teapot is in absolutely perfect condition, and I'd bet it's at least 50 years old. The bowl is Hull, but the teapot and vase are unmarked.

I found this box of wooden spools at a garage sale, and the apron underneath is from Grandma's house.

I like old Coats and Clark spools because of my last's just fun to see your name on things like that. I'll probably pile these into an old Mason jar.

One of these readers in the middle is from a huge pile of old books at Grandma's house, and all the other books came from the Rogers sale. Haven't you always wanted to know 51 ways to save eggs and 101 ways to cook macaroni? I got all of these for almost nothing. Have I mentioned I love the Rogers sale?

I'd never heard of the Rawleigh company, but my mother and mother-in-law were both familiar with them. And it looks like they're still in business, but I doubt they put out booklets this cute anymore.

The one book has a hole punched in the upper left corner so you can put a string through it and hang it from a nail for handy use.

This was the absolute best thing I found at the Rogers sale:

Here's a close-up of the little birdies:

This little picture (it's in its original frame) is quite old and needed some cleaning up. I just love it. I was going to hang it in the little pass-through from the kitchen to the downstairs bath, but now I think I need to find a place where I can sit and look at it all the time, not just in passing!

I don't need more stuff, but old stuff just makes me happy.

I also came home with a big box of old greeting cards that my grandma saved for years and years. I'm scanning them a few at a time and sharing them on a new blog I started. Please do check it out! Greetings, Love and Thoughts of You.

I think I'll stir up some sweet-and-sour chicken for dinner and then we'll probably settle down and watch another DVD of "The Tudors." It's well-acted, but everybody looks way cleaner and buffer than I imagine they actually were 500 years ago. Their teeth are too white and their skin is too un-smallpocked!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thanks, Lester.

I met a guy online last fall and developed a tiny crush on him. His name was Lester, he hung out at the PaperbackSwap forums, and, oh yeah, he was 81 years old.

Lester is hands-down THE coolest person I've ever come into contact with on the Internet, and maybe in my whole life. Smart, articulate, wise, kind, hip. He was a huge favorite at PBS. Grant Wood's American Gothic was his avatar picture, as he was a proud Iowan.

When I came home from vacation on Sunday night, I was dismayed to read a post from Lester's wife stating that he had had a very serious stroke at the end of June. His daughter updated briefly to say that he'd been moved to a skilled nursing facility. Tonight the family seems to have closed his account at PBS, and there's no way of knowing what that means. They did not sound optimistic about his recovery, though.

Lester was a wonderful and genuine conversationalist, but he also had a knack for rolling just the right thought off his fingers at just the right time. Some of the folks at PBS have been gathering some of their favorite Lester quotes from the past few years, and I wanted to share some of my faves here. He is a gem, and he's very much in my thoughts and prayers right now.

If there's nothing else to do, and my eyes are too tired to read, I watch the Weather Channel. Yup, old people's MTV."

"What on earth makes you think that I have started to feel like a grownup? I know that I have to act like a grownup, but it's an act. Sure, there's some wisdom that comes along with growing older, one hopes, and some perspective, and there ain't much that life can throw at me that it hasn't already thrown at me once already, but if you mean 'grownup' to be the person who always knows the right thing to do, the one who can always be in charge, the automatic authority for all matters spiritual and temporal... ...then I guess my certificate of grownupness got lost in the mail."

If you live your life with zest and continue to be curious about things, if you have something or someone that you care about, if you have passion about something - even if it's collecting... I don't know ... matchbook covers or something - but have a passion, you will likely never feel old."

"I don't think you have to be able to recite a recipe from memory, or name all the Presidents in order, or be able to describe the Krebs cycle on demand. But I do think a certain ... awareness of the culture in which you (generic you) live is required in order to live life fully and to understand and put into appropriate context the things you see and hear daily. I think anything else is mental poverty, and sad."

I'm willing to judge a person by their actions, I guess, but not by what they read, neither do I define myself by what I read. Books are like friends to us readers, and not every friend has to be an attorney or a brain surgeon or some "worthy" person. Some friends you just kick around with and have a brewski and bask in the warmth of friendship. Life is long, and tastes in friends change. Tastes in reading do, too."

Oh, man, there is no feeling in the world like holding that grandbaby. When my kids were born, fathers weren't allowed anywhere near the delivery room, so the first time I'd held a minutes-old baby was when my first grandchild was born. Oh, I still get a little bit misty just thinking about it. The intensity and fierceness of the love is beyond anything. I mean, I would die for my children, even now. But I would kill for my grandkids. I think you understand the distinction."

"Brownies should always be frosted and have walnuts in them. Amend the Constitution now."

M&Ms, preferably with peanuts, are eaten one at a time, after sufficient cooking time in the hand to ensure the proper melty-ness of the interior."

We men are simple folk at base. We're driven by food and lust."

"You know what's scary, and that's when you open your mouth and your mother - or father - talks. The first time I said (or hollered) to my kids, 'Don't you make me come upstairs and take care of this fight for you' it was my father's words and my father's voice. That, along with, 'Well, what in the world did you think was going to happen when you stuck your hand in there?' It's as if it's in your DNA or something."

It's good for kids, I think, to be exposed to things outside their comfortable little world. And adults, come to that."

"Learning to entertain yourself is part of growing up healthy. Some of the best talks I ever had with my siblings happened as we were just watching clouds drift by."

"Living a life of peace and joy, letting the love of God shine out from you and be manifest in your life, without saying a single word about religion, will bring more people to Christ than all the Bible shouting, pamphlets, slogans, threats, and condescending 'Jesus loves you' in the world."

Half of parenting is learning to keep a straight face."

"Knowing who the VP is has had me praying, sincerely, for the health and well-being of George W. Bush for almost 8 years now."

"I admire people who have -- what's the opposite of a sense of entitlement, anyway? I value people who don't think the world owes them a damn thing, who don't see themselves as victims of something or other."

"I genuinely believe that love does not die. Our energy changes forms, but the love goes on."

"Shakespeare is right when he says that troubles come not as single spies, but in battalions. It's so hard to lose good friends, old companions, people you've known forever even if you aren't close friends. Your world changes a bit, gets a little colder for awhile, with each one. Sometimes you just have to wallow in it, you know? Sometimes you just have to feel bad and cry a little or mope around some, and didn't they deserve that, a little sorrow and some sadness for a little time?"

"I'm about to turn 81. Life just keeps getting better. I don't recall having difficulty with turning 30, 40, 50, although perhaps the cult of youth was not so strong then as it is now. I do remember when I turned 60 realizing that most of my life was behind me, and making a new resolution to make the best of every day, to find the good in every day. Since then I have been more mindful of my life, more aware of the seasons, nature, the small pleasures life brings, or can bring if you're alert for them."

"I like to watch my wife put on makeup. I love the faces she makes at herself in the mirror. I like the way she rejects three lipsticks that all look the same to me and then selects a 4th one that also looks the same to me. It's only fun if she doesn't know I'm watching, though."

"Omigosh, has anyone else seen this? Is it a new form of teenage speak? Text speak? LOLspeak? They're putting an apostrophe before a d. Examples: My wireless router die'd. I got divorce'd. Pre-cooke'd ham. He think's you campe'd in the wood's. If this continues, we will have tomatoe's for sal'e and no parkin'g. Every sign will look like a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem."

"Never give an old man an excuse to talk. :-)"

More pics.

It's been so rainy here the past couple of days! Unusual for this time of year, but really nice.

Some more vacation pics:

My in-laws live in a mobile home at a small lake/state park. They've tricked out the trailer beautifully with a screened in porch and multi-level deck. When the whole family gets together for the Fourth of July, which is our annual "get-together" holiday, sleeping space is at a premium. Todd and I, or sometimes just I, sleep at my parents' house. Todd's sisters and their families sleep in two pop-up campers. It's quite a nice little arrangement:

That's my sister-in-law Lisa and my mother-in-law relaxing in front, and my brother-in-law Tony is the blurry guy passing through. Todd took this at dusk without the flash.

Some nights we have a campfire and roast marshmallows:

In the daytime the kids mill around and sometimes we have chats:

The girls and I did a lot of drawing and coloring at the kitchen table:

On the Fourth, I went in swimming with the kids and we lasted about ten minutes. It was coooooold!

My nephew has about 2% body fat and had to get out pretty quickly and wrap up and sit with his mom!

Off we go to sit on the pontoon boat and watch the annual Fourth of July boat parade.

You wave at the boats as they go by, and this year my niece found four old American flags at the flea market, so we had flags to wave, too.

My father-in-law has this little boat that all the womenfolk of the family secretly shake their heads looks barely seaworthy and a little ridiculous as well. Here he and Todd and Tony try it out. I think it looks like something out of a Popeye cartoon.

Apparently the Midwest is being swept by a new yard game called "cornhole," where you toss beanbags at boards with holes in them. This is a word that has a different and unsavory connotation to me, but I managed to keep my giggles quiet as we held a cornhole tournament for the adults on the Fourth.

My father-in-law made the boards and my mother-in-law made the beanbags...then we saw the boards selling for $95 at the flea market, while a set of beanbags was going for $25. I think my in-laws could become cornhole tycoons!

A communal meal on the porch. The kids get set up on the deck when it's clear, or in the kitchen, when it's not, so the grown-ups can have a semi-quiet meal.

When we're not out on the pontoon boat, kayaks are in use:

Believe it or not, I have a family, too, and I did spend quite a lot of time with them this weekend, but you'd never know it apart from the fishing pictures I shared the other day. I'm going home again in September, and I promise to do better by them all then!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Holiday pics.

Here are a few of the things we did on our Ohio holiday...

...went out on my father-in-law's pontoon boat with our nephew and nieces, and each one got to "drive" the boat, with some steering directions from Pop-pop.

...took our niece and nephew from my side of the family down to the lake one day for some fishing off the pontoon boat:

(Kylie caught seven fish, Tanner ten--which happens to be their ages as well, so we had a chuckle over that. They caught bluegill and perch, and Tanner caught a bass, too.)

...took the kids from Todd's side of the family out for a little blueberry picking:

(Five adults and four kids managed to pick about ten pounds of blueberries in 15 minutes or so. The kids had blueberry pancakes for breakfast the next day, and I made blueberry muffins. We also had blueberries over ice cream for dessert a few nights.)

That's enough for one post. As you can tell, we spent a lot of time outside in the cool weather!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Book talk.

Last load of laundry's done, blueberry muffins are baking (more about that later) and I am catching up with a couple of my favorite blogs. RedMolly has this book meme at her blog...100 books you should have read, according to the people at The Big Read. The list seems to have lost a couple of books in bouncing around the Internet, so I'll try to think of two of my own beloveds to add at the bottom.

The idea is to bold the books you've read, underline the books you've read and loved, and italicize the books you intend to read one day.
These lists are always arbitrary, but fun.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
37. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
38. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
39. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
40. Animal Farm - George Orwell
41. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
42. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
43. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
44. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
45. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
46. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
47. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
48. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
49. Atonement - Ian McEwan
50. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
51. Dune - Frank Herbert
52. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
53. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
54. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
55. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
56. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
57. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
59. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
60. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
61. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
62. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
63. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
64. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
65. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
66. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
67. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
68. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
69. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
70. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
71. Dracula - Bram Stoker
72. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
73. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
74. Ulysses - James Joyce
75. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
76. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
77. Germinal - Emile Zola
78. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
79. Possession - AS Byatt
80. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
81. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
82. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
83. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
84. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
85. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
86. Charlotte's Web - EB White
87. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
88. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
89. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
90. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
91. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
92. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
93. Watership Down - Richard Adams
94. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
95. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
96. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
97. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
98. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

My contributions:
99. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
100. Year of Wonder - Geraldine Brooks
We're home! I'm working on a pile of laundry and nursing a sore throat.

I have lots of pictures...once the laundry's done, I'll get onto sharing some.

Hope everybody had a great Fourth!