Monday’s Blog; Socks and Rocks

This week, I offer you a Dr. Seussian style tale;

The 9 year old grandkid snuffled a complaint to his grandma, “Socks and undies, Undies and socks. That’s what I get for Christmas. Socks and undies, undies and socks. It’s not fair.

The 10 year old grandkid snuffled again in complaint to his grandma. She thought she heard him utter “Year after year, it’s not fair, every year, socks and undies. Undies and socks.  I ‘m just a kid. Toys and stuff are what I want.” So she reminded him, “hey you get those things from others. How would it feel to go outside in the cold with no warm and funky socks to hug your feet?”

An epiphany she had, the very next year. How about packaging the socks as a fooler. So, into the box went the socks and undies in a BIG box with old toy blocks to give it some weight and mystery. 

The 11 year old grandkid picked up each package giving it a shake. Sure enough, grandma’s was the first he opened. Well trained by his Ma, he uttered a polite and requisite thanks. But, his dark eyes stood wide open in disbelief. He was fooled, there were the socks and undies in the box with old toy blocks.

The 12 year old found rocks in the box. Socks and undies, undies and socks tied together to blocks in the box. 

The 13 year old pulled out hand weights wrapped in the socks and undies.  “Hey not bad. I can add these to my weight set, but I still have socks and undies, undies and socks. 

In his 14 year he was sure he felt books in the box. No deal, socks and undies, undies and socks. No books found, but no more rocks. 

Now the grandkid is older, savvy to the world, grateful for what he has. Memories of his loving grandma. Warm feet and a parade of socks and undies to take him through life and just maybe he will give his grandkids foolers for the holidays. 

About this Seussian flavored offering. It is based on a tale related to me by my loving niece. A story told to her by a faithful customer in a big box store before this year’s holiday. It is in honor of the timely review of books 2015 celebrating the lost and recovered story of Dr. Seuss; What Pet Should I Get?.  It also honors another lost and found story; Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee, most famous for her classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Have a good year to come.

Monday’s Blog; Meet Ruby and Rubyette

The topic this Monday lies in the realm of “Things I never thought I would own.” Somehow when new “super hyped, must have” items come on the market, I grow a resistance to running out and acquiring them.  My inclination is to hesitate, hem and haw and rationalize ownership from every excuse or angle. Some cases in point, microwaves, food processors, the incessant upgrading of computers and accessories, digital cameras. Heck, I never thought I’d own a honkin down the road motor home. Now we live in one most of the time. But acquire them I did.  Often they were a gift, for instance, from the art world, a silver necklace with uncut ruby from my loving husband, my first Cuisinart from my beloved mother in law and two additions to the ruby theme. This theme continues. 

Our next few months will be spent in the west, the far west, southwestern California. Gee Whiz, as we fondly call our motor home is set up in a beautiful campground near Temecula, CA and nestled in breathtaking mountain landscapes. Our tow vehicle, lovingly called our Toad in RV lingo, is a Ruby red Jeep Rubicon.  Back to the realm of I never thought I would own; on our second day on this site we purchased a golf cart to maneuver the steep hills, especially when we need to haul some type of cargo or people. I haven’t played golf since my college days, and that was before any of us knew about golf carts, if indeed they existed. I enjoyed golf and was always told I was quite good. But it never fit into my scheme of life after that time. 

Yes, you guessed it, our golf cart is Ruby red as well and a close cousin to the Jeep.

Why own a black, brown or otherwise utilitarian looking cart when it can be shiny red and a match to our life style and yes, my recently added touch of hair coloring. My philosophy is as one ages to continue to engage in self discovery and self interpretation, keep up with younger generations as best as possible, think and therefore feel young, allowing wants not just needs when possible and to keep on trekking. So we are the proud owners of Ruby the Jeep and Rubyette, the golf cart our donkey of choice. 

As for our western location, we will view the country from the left coast, time wise behind our east coast “home base” by 3 hours.  We will hear news later rather than sooner, speak California-ease, such as calling the expressways freeways and referring to them as THE-10 or THE 405.  We will navigate the mountainous off-road trails in Ruby and we will navigate the hills of Jojoba hills SKP RV Resort via Rubyette. Watch out all of you critters along the road, here we come.

Monday’s Blog: Road Home

The mind is a powerful thing, often beyond our control or understanding. Suddenly, an image flashed into my mind taking me back to my high school days in the late 1950s. The trigger leading to this image must have stemmed from the shadowy recesses of memory; the day was sunny, the fall leaves in their full glory before they cascaded to the ground and before the inevitable calluses of hand raking the leaves into piles at the curb.  

My house was too close to the school to be eligible for the school bus. I have no regrets about having to walk. Even then I held the camaraderie of walking home with friends and the joy of exercise a decided benefit over the travails of the rumored school bus experience.  I had to endure some teasing upon leaving the school through the back door short cut (past the smokers and testosterone-laden boys) lighting up on the slab waiting for vulnerable teen girls trying to avoid their nasty glances. 

The walk home took about 20 minutes if taken at a directed fast pace without stops and starts such as a stop at Don and Bob’s restaurant for chips and gravy (served in a boat shaped paper dish,) not the rolled cone of newspaper that I enjoyed while visiting my mother’s family in Hamilton, Ontario or walking and talking to best friends Ellie or Marjorie  en-route, bidding them goodbye as we reached their streets before I reached mine.  

The crossing guard, there during my 5 years at Brighton HS stopped traffic at the busy intersection (1950’s traffic mind you) became our friend. She was short and dark haired like me, friendly and not very much older. We know she had two young children and lived on the block where we crossed. Her husband worked at Kodak, not a rarity for Rochester. Sometimes John, (a neighbor on my street) accompanied me home. After the fear of the teasing boys, the smells of the restaurant, the street crossing, the intense conversation with friends, it was quieting to reach the corner of Sunset Dr and the gentle downhill grade to my house. John was in my Spanish Advanced placement conversation class. I called him Juan, he called me Anna. We practiced our Spanish as we walked and were proud of our fluency. Both of us dreamed of visiting Spanish speaking countries and immersing our selves in this beautiful language. 

The houses on Sunset Dr were a mix of style, very blue and white collar middle class. Some stand out in my memory–at the top of the street a seemingly large, tired looking two story house boasting aging Greek-style columns stood close to the street. I did not know the occupants. Across the way stood the small, dark brown, mysterious and non descript one story house that never seemed to change. I don’t recall any of the inhabitants being outside, a small dark brown car came and went but otherwise there was no activity during the times I walked to or from school. Next to them was an active family, the Smileys, with 3-4 under-10 children living in a bright white house with a screened front porch.  We maintained a waving hello relationship and I gave them some of my hand me downs through the years.

John’s house was across the street. He lived with his parents and younger sister in a beige two story rectangular house with a windowed enclosed front porch.  We bid each other Adios as I continued alone to the end of the street and my house. Other houses of memory were square colonials like mine and a two story gray house housing families that were my regular baby sitting “clients;” even then a lucrative enterprise even at 50 cents an hour. 

The Goldstein’s lived across the street in a charcoal toned house with a porch but deeply recessed into the lot with bushy trees across the front. My brother had dated the woman of the house years before. Our western neighbor, Leila Mason, was a thin and seemingly frail widow and quite elderly (in my eyes but most likely in her early 60’s.)  She was an active and inveterate gardener and always astonished me in how long she could weed and dig in a deep squatting position without any sign of physical discomfort or strain. She and my mother visited each other often for coffee and chat.

Our easterly neighbors were friendly and a bit seclusive. The brother and sister were close to my age but we mostly greeted each other not having much in common I guess. The son’s friends played basketball in a hoop hung over the separate, backyard garage that reflected the style of the street and of the era.  The parents were of interest in that the mom was one of the ugliest woman I remember having seen and the dad, a very handsome dark haired man. The children resembled their respective parents. 

My Brother Arthur on leave from his Army duties photographed on Sunset Drive backyard overlooking the eastern neighbors’ back porch

On better weather days I would drop my books on our front stoop and wander to the very end of the street. The first 2 years this was swamp land, the remains of the old trolley bed. With my trusty eye dropper, I would gather water samples from the puddles to investigate under my beloved microscope, reveling in the exposed amoeba and one celled critters living in the drops. That joy was erased in the construction of the expressway that I drive today when in town. 

What wonderful memories are inspired by my road home and the saga of neighbors’ lives, neighbors’ pets, life cycle events, folks moving in and out and my life as a typical teenager, courted by my beloved bike riding future husband.  Visiting the street recently, the trees loom large, the houses loom smaller than in my imagination but my memories are vivid and alive. 

Monday’s Blog; Big City, Seeking Quiet

Contrast and surprise are a bonus when living our nomad lifestyle on-board the motor home. At present, it is dusk and the sun is about to set. Yes it does so every night but I am sitting at my computer in front of a window facing due west:  Location-perched in a lovely and very quiet campsite in Seminole State Park, Texas. I only have to raise my eyes a bit to follow the setting blaze. Just yesterday, our vista was very different. Our perch was in a San Antonio, TX campground facing at other rigs, a busy road and an elusive sunset from my window on the world and sound buzzing in our ears. Yet, we had a spectacular day highlighted by a return visit to the McNay Art Gallery in downtown San Antonio.

The lure to visit the McNay was to view yet another Miro exhibit, a lifetime favorite artist. The day before we arrived at the McNay not realizing that they would close in an hour and fifteen minutes. Foolish us, we believed that we could view all of the offerings in that time frame. Were we wrong. Most of our time was spent in the Miro exhibit, covering his later work, a brilliantly curated show featuring large oils, watercolor, gauche and pencil or charcoal and several dozen exquisite bronze sculptures. 

Image from the McNay website
If one did not know the medium was bronze you would guess stone or ceramic. They are fetching and fantastical as would be expected by Miro.

The time flew by and at closing time was fast upon us-determined to return the next day with plenty of time before closing. The very friendly and informative docents (and well informed guards as well had greeted us with promises of many more wonders to view and the story of Marion McNay and her amazing life story. And what a return visit it turned out to be. For more info, visit the web site or better yet, when near San Antonio plan a visit. 

The contrast: after 5 intense and wonderful days visiting San Antonio and friends from the area, we were ready for a quiet, no noise, no traffic, rural setting. Hence our drive to Seminole Texas State Park, another favorite destination with beautiful big sky, desert scenery, lovely sunsets and a road runner or two. There were a total of 4 campers and a tent on the sites. What a relief. The quiet is so intense, you forget there is a world out there.

Web access and phone contact are very limited and the air is fresh and clear. What could be more welcome after traffic jams and constant noise. 

We set up, (water and electric only) and took a long open air walk, spoke to neighbors and felt the joy of freedom and calm.
Big Sky     

December wild flowers

I have written past blogs about night symphony. The night symphony on this campsite was very Steve Reich, minimalist, reductive, with un-orthodox rhythm, musical patterns, hypnotic and often requiring patience and endurance for the listener. On to more adventures and destinations, with calm and peace in our hearts.