Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bookshelves and saving trees...

I often put whatever book I'm reading on a shelf in our downstairs bathroom. When we had company recently, he came out of that little room hysterically laughing. This is the photo that caught his eye and produced the laughter. I will leave it to the reader to see the humor in the two dominant titles.

I suppose one way of looking at it would be to imagine the wife is praying for "tight lines" for her fisherman husband. Not found within the covers of Stormie O'Martian's book is the following "Fisherman's Prayer" borrowed from a site called "Positive Thoughts".
"I pray that I may live to fish,
Until my dying day.
And when it comes to my last cast,
I then most humbly pray:
When in the Lord's great landing net
And peacefully asleep
That in His mercy I be judged
Big enough to keep."
There are several other possibilities that could be attributed to the photograph, but the truth is that when the oversize book on fly-tying arrived, Joe put it in one of the few places that wasn't piled high with papers, etc. (Not that funny, but it gave our guest a chuckle and provided me with a few blogger lines.)

While on the subject of bookshelves, ours are soon to join the ranks of the dynasaur. For Christmas I got an Kindle. WOW! I love, love, love it. When we cruise, I would use half of a small suitcase to pack enough reading material to last the two weeks. They have libraries on all cruise ships, but I'm always afraid I won't finish the "loaner" before we dock. When we are on vacation I like to do what I call "fluff" reading. I got my degree in Literature & Writing, but I don't take the classics on a cruise. I read a lot of serial books. Among my favorite authors is Debbie Macomber. I started out reading her Blossom Street series because I love to knit and crochet and the stories not only followed the lives of the shop owners on the little street in Washington, they had patterns included. I moved from that group to "The Cedar Cove" series. These books are kind of like soap operas in print. The characters' lives intertwine in convoluted ways, but they are quick reads and thus the need for half a suitcase.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Piling and Pedaling

I’m getting my posts back to life as a retired couple. There was one thing that drove me to distraction during the year I didn’t ask Joe to do anything around the house. It was the “elephant in the room”…the conversation that we never had. It was the cause of my tongue-biting on many occasions. It was the condition of our garage!

About fifteen years ago, Joe bought a book called “File Don’t Pile”. Out of it he created a new way of filing. It doesn’t use alphabetizing like normal people do. Every file has an upper-case letter followed by a number (example: T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.). At the front of all the “T” files is a green folder. Inside the green folder is a list of what all of the files contain. Do you see an inherent problem? Yes. That’s right. Only the person who created the files has the ability to find anything ever again. The “T” files are the only ones I am privy to: they are our taxes based on the year of filing.

However, the book didn’t teach any tricks about not “piling” things in the garage…and any other flat surface in the house. Several years later he also had custom cabinets made for the garage to solve that problem. He gave Closet World a call and they installed six large cabinets, a counter next to the sink and a desk that was supposed to be for my crafts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Birthday blues, Beatles, and Blogger-block.

This is my birthday week…in two days I will move into the second half of my sixties. I’m conflicted over whether or not that is cause for celebration. I know…I know…not getting to the second half of my sixties is a not-so-good alternative, but I have always had trouble with the second half of decades. They are reminders of the impending birthday that ends with a “0”. Somehow those second halves seem to go faster as the first digit of that birthday number gets larger. Folks talk about mid-life crises...I have mid-decade crises...26, 36, 46,  and 56 did it to me too. 

While in that state of mind, I heard a story on TV about Ringo Starr turning 70! Yikes! It doesn’t help that Ringo was the oldest of the Beatles…70! I remember what my life was like when they arrived in the U.S. It was 1964 and the year I turned 20. I wasn’t an instant fan. It seemed almost like being unfaithful to all of the great groups I danced to and was a fan of during my teen years. They were so different! They looked different, they talked different, and a lot of folks thought they’d be a “one hit wonder” (who knew?).

When I think of that time, I also remember Twiggy and Carnaby Street and the many other British imports of that decade. It was the decade when I embraced my own British roots so it is fitting that it was a time when everything British was "in". I remember with a smile the exit of “beehive” teased hairdos and the entrance of the Sassoon cut. Everyone was straightening their curls and seeking the perfect wedge haircut. That look has endured as long as the Beatles’ music. I got my hair cut short to try to achieve that look while I was in Scotland in 1966.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Family, Frogs, Feathered Friends, and the Fourth

One thing that gets in the way of writing a blog about retirement is going back to work. Three times a year I return to the college I retired from and enter application data for all the new and returning students. It gives me a chance to see old friends and to earn a little "fun" money.

We've also been hosting Joe's cousin from Vermont, his wife, and their son and daughter (14 and 15 respectively). In addition to the usual sights (i.e., Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Missions) they made some wonderful memories: Joe's cousin gave his daughter a para-sailing flight as an early birthday gift...she was thrilled. Son, Mom, and Joe went horseback riding out at Camp Pendleton, and on another day a close friend of Joe's gave them an up-close personal tour of the USS Midway. Mom and Dad had their picture taken in front of the "Sailor Kissing the Girl" Statue at the waterfront (at their daughter's encouragement, they struck the same pose much to the delight of onlookers, including a tour boat going by).

On to the "saga of the frogs". Since they arrived at our house after midnight on the first night, they weren't introduced to a unique feature of their temporary quarters. In California, if you put a water feature in your yard, within hours the tree frogs will discover it. The photo here shows one of these critters sitting on a leaf...not a very big leaf...they are about an inch-and-a-half long and very hard to see. However, what they lack in size they more than make up for in croaking volume. At precisely 8:30 pm every night we have to close the sliding door if we want to hear the tv. The males try to attract a mate with their high-volume croaking. Once they've found a willing female, they get quiet....for a little while. Then it starts again, louder than the time before. (Did I mention that the pond is right below the bedrooms where our company is sleeping?)
As a preface to the end of this post, I want to tell you about my Dr. Doolittle-like effect on creatures. Whenever I would accompany our daughters on field trips to the zoo or to Sea World or any other environment where animals or birds were present, inevitably there would be mating. From ducks on our vacation in Kauai to walruses at Sea World (they could be heard all over the park...think "When Sally Meets Harry" times about 5000) and I can't omit the lowland gorillas at the Wild Animal Park...there were many times when I had to be creative when a 7-year-old girl asked, "What are they doing Mrs. Sarnecky?"

The most unique time was on a whale watching voyage out of our local harbor. Several Girl Scout and Brownie troops combined together for the afternoon outing so both of our daughters were there. We had been told that the whales NEVER mate before they get to the warm waters of Baja California. That was before I was on a boat in their vicinity. For those who might be unfamiliar with the California grey whale, they are huge animals. Because of their size it takes "three to tango" adult male, one adult female, and one immature male. The latter acts as a "guide"...helping the adult male find the target. Enough about the "how"...the result is a churning and splashing as they do barrel rolls over and over...the tour guides were positively apoplectic! (I just thought, "not again"...perhaps I should have added the word "feranomes" to the title of this blog.)

I also had a semi-domesticated roadrunner for three years in a row. This funny little bird would catch a mouse or a lizard and come to my sliding glass door and tap-tap-tap with his beak to get my attention. If I didn't respond right away, he would tap louder and longer until I would go to the door. I would look at whatever he had caught and say, "what a nice mouse" or "wow, you got a great lizard"...then he'd do a little bounce up and down and run off to his mate. I swear! Our son-in-law, Mike, thought I had made it fact, he thought the roadrunner was created just for Wylie Coyote...until I showed him this photo. (That's him just beyond the rocker with a mouse in his beak.)

That same summer we also had "honeymooning ducks" in our pond. (The female is the dull grey one; the male has the pretty feathers.) After their tryst, the mama duck came back about three months later with her brood....they swam a little in the pond and then took off through the vegetable garden. It was almost like she took them on a field trip to show them where Mommy and Daddy created them!

Getting back to this week...Joe was in the kitchen and looking out into the backyard and he called me over to the door...there was a Mama Duck and seven adorable ducklings. They couldn't have been more than a couple of weeks old. They spent half an hour just swimming around the pond. At one point four of the ducklings got out and started walking away. Mama Duck quacked a command and they did an about-face and went back in the pool. We took many photos but here are a couple of my favorites. Unfortunately our guests were in Los Angeles and didn't witness the transformation of our small pond into a duck water park. (I wonder if this Mama Duck is one of the offspring of the earlier honeymoon couple.)

Having company visit us always makes us see our little corner of the world through other eyes. It reminds us of how much we love it here and how we couldn't imagine living anywhere else!

To all the veterans out there, including the one I share a life with, "Thank you for your service." As you light the barbeque or head to the beach for fireworks, say a prayer for the men and women who continue to risk their lives so that we are free to enjoy the wonders of this beautiful country...wonders like frogs and whales, walruses and roadrunners, and baby ducks.