The new fence

The new fence before completion.

The new fence before completion.

During the winter, the fence between Mr. Delaney’s house and ours started coming down, just another victim of old age and the elements. Richie came by and shored it up and got us through the winter. Originally we were going to have the one panel replaced pretty quickly but the shoring up, although ugly from our side of the fence, was working way too well.

Then it was decided we would do it pretty much first thing once the weather got better. We put that aside since again, it was hanging in there all too well. Not that it was in good condition, because it wasn’t, but it was not threatening to fall down in the near future. It was also decided that we would ‘bite the bullet’ and replace the entire fence between our yards. This time it was our turn.

Mr. Delaney had put it in with his son many years ago and this time we were going to pay for the fence and put in something that fits in more with the other fencing surrounding our yard, none of which we had put in or had even contributed monetarily to. In the back, we had had a short fence that came apart and we pieced together just to keep the dog from escaping. Our first dog had an electric fence, the second (a border collie) was able to stay in the yard on her own, once trained, and Stewart, well, is a border collie boy and still loses focus at the age of almost three. The neighbors behind us had a fence put in without even talking to us and without taking care to not kill any of our plantings. The six foot fence there has cut off communication completely. To the south, the neighbors have informed us that they will no longer maintain their fence, so it is up to us. For right now, it has been repaired here and there but I don’t think there is great risk of it falling. There are parts of it that will not be replaced, which may kill the neighbors as they value their privacy, so I am curious to see how that will play out.

Neighbors and fences make for interesting conversation.

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Posted in Household and yard tasks, Life in general, Neighbors, People and their characteristics, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Toys for kids

IMG_5221Why is it that sometimes the most ridiculous object becomes the favorite play toy of children?

We always save boxes or give the kids spoons or whatever to play with. When they were older, my sons would get broken appliances that were beyond repair or pieces of technology and I let them take a screwdriver to them.

At the risk of looking like an abusive person, I chose not to post a photo of my granddaughter today. She decided that her favorite play toy of the day was the dog’s crate.

Luckily, the dog crate was very clean (obviously, otherwise, she would not have been allowed to go near it). She dragged everything out and then proceeded to climb in. Stewart looked on in amusement. He loves the crate as well and thoroughly enjoys spending time there.

She played with it for a good half hour. Go figure!

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Monopoly and Family Dysfunction?


Once upon a time we had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. It was picture perfect and perhaps that is the key to the whole situation. Nothing is ever picture perfect.

After the meal, after the main attendees had left, the two older boys were playing Monopoly. I will never forget how idyllic everything seemed.

Then, all of a sudden, there was an eruption.

The two boys were literally caught in a rough and tumble fistfight. MK and I looked at each other in total shock. We did our best to intervene. It ended up being a very unpleasant situation and a major shock after a tranquil Thanksgiving Day.

I remember looking at MK as we wondered if our family was dysfunctional and perhaps needed counseling; it was that bad.

The boys quickly got over it, the parents not so fast.

Not long after that I found a cartoon in the paper. I had it framed and gave it to the boys for Christmas, in memory of that very strange, typical family moment. Recently I found it and made them promise to never get rid of it.

Posted in Life in general, Odd occurrences, People and their characteristics, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Family characters


Our family is notorious for the various characters. We have had our share of them. One supposedly left a wife and child in Europe and came to the U.S. and married my paternal grandmother. Another supposedly could never go back to South Bend, Indiana after a dalliance with a girl that may have ended up (that is the rumor) in a half-uncle for me. In more recent years, the characters are way less colorful, and that is a good thing.

Years ago, we spent a lot of time playing a game called ‘Balderdash’ where you played with words and tried to fool people with the meanings of words by coming up with interesting and plausible explanations. There was one major time where the entire family was in Eagle River for about a week or so and we played the game.

Richie managed to totally fool us with the word he made up, ‘pocupod.’ I do not even remember what sort of goofy definition he gave for it but for whatever reason, no one questioned him on it or called him on it. He was apparently quite convincing. Perhaps one of the reasons is that Richie was reading from Time Magazine at about the age of seven or eight. Perhaps it is because he has, what we now realize to be, a pretty much photographic memory when he chooses to use it. Perhaps it was and is the vocabulary he has in his brain matter. No matter what, he had us all fooled and I cannot remember if we even figured it out right away or perhaps found out later.

It was one of those great times, a great family moment, and one we remember fondly.

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Grandma’s bananas


My mom had a lot of crazy ideas.

One of them was that using her car brakes too much, as if for stopping for a stop sign, would wear them out. Another was her turn signals, using them too often would wear them out as well. When she got whole house air conditioning, she still kept her bedroom windows open at night since she would ‘suffocate’ without fresh air.

Her ideas moved into every area of her life. Her medical situation was one in which she would modify what the doctors suggested with her prescriptions to control her issues and ailments. She would not throw away plastic bags, she would wash them even though we told her that they might well be harboring the germs she so feared. She so feared them that she moved her toothbrush out of the bathroom. Perhaps she was on the cusp with that one of knowing and reacting more to the reality of the bathroom germs, but nonetheless, this was the mantra of her life, how to use her ideas, silly or not, to control what we have so little control over. A bit OCD she was as she would spend lots of time washing her hands.

My mom was to be feared when in the vicinity of any plants whatsoever, be it a store or a botanic garden, as she would remove bits and pieces of plants and later use her green thumb to grow a beautiful copies. I recall being with her in Kew Gardens in 1972 and realizing that she fully intended to take something home with her. Despite my lack of real memory about it, I am sure that she actually did. That was in the days before the TSA and even with them, my mom might have done the impossible.

So when my mother actually had a good idea or two, and she did, it was almost not possible to believe that it might be true.

Hence, Grandma’s bananas, as Mary Kay says it. My mother always said that when buying bananas, that it was the best idea to buy the smaller ones, so as to avoid waste. We kind of poo-pooed the idea but you know what, she was right. It is nice to take a banana and be able to eat the whole thing and avoid letting a portion go brown.

So, to this day, we buy the small bananas when we are in banana-purchase mode. It is the best, and I always think of my Mom and her sometimes loony ways.

Posted in Consumerism, Cuisine and Food, Family, Horticulture, Life in general, People and their characteristics, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment