Noise Pollution

Mowers, power saws and motorcycles have all begun to roar into action with the absence of snow.  So much noise pollution from the perspective of someone trying to focus on morning prayers or quiet reading time. 

It is easier to play free bejeweled video game, so I often slip into that mode, which is fun, but leaves the more contemplative tasks pushed back on the agenda.

One neighbor thoroughly mows front and back lawns and as he is putting his equipment back into the garage or shed, it seems to be a signal for the next one to begin and so on down both the main street my house faces but also the cul de sac  off to the side of my home. Thus the constant drone of motorized equipment rumbles throughout the neighborhood from what is after breakfast for some through all remaining daylight.

Perish the thought that two or three neighbors should be running their machines at the same time. That might cause the planet to shake.  

Of course I too, have a lawn which requires attention and trimming, lest the city threaten to do it at outrageous cost. My lawncare father and son team arrive here as their schedules allow, anytime from eight a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday to some weekday that suits them.  I never complain because they are dependable and that is very important to me.  They do a good job and their prices are acceptable. 

Sometimes when there is a storm, or even just a downpour, not only is there the pleasant summer scent of after rain, there is a brief silence of mowers, saws and motorcycles. 

Green Fluffiness

From May the 6th through the 8th, the community of writers who gather at the Idlewyld Bed and Breakfast in Lakeside in early spring and late fall convened again after the years of Covid 19 kept us apart.  Claudia gathered folks last fall too, but I was not convinced that it was safe yet and some folks that I hoped to see did not come this time either.  

I signed up and paid but was a little concerned about the somewhat strenuous drive on the wildly busy highway 90 as it leads into highway 2.  As if in answer to an unspoken prayer, Claudia asked if I was sure I wanted to make that drive myself, or did I want to go with her.  Without hesitation I said I think I better go with you.  

The directions to her house were good and though the day was cold and very rainy, we set off at the time she said she wanted to leave as Paul, her husband, handed her bags of food for the dinner and breakfasts we would enjoy at the house.  

We chatted all the way and I was able to take many pictures as we crossed over Sandusky Bay, which I have never been able to do when my white knuckles grasped the wheel and my eyes stayed on the road in previous years.

We pulled into the short drive behind the house and she found the key and unlocked the door so we could settle in.  No one else arrived yet and the house felt comfortable and dry after dodging raindrops.  There is an interesting sense of emptiness and quiet in the house we’ve all been to so many times.

Claudia did a walk around check of the house before heading off to the local grocery store.  I settled into my room and laid down to get a nap.

Later as others began to arrive we visited and caught up each others lives.  Beth, Claudia’s sister came to help with cooking and kitchen chores.  She brought her box of beads and made some bracelets and sold a few.

The dinner, chicken marsala, was wonderful and I think most of us qualified for the clean plate club.  

Friday nights are usually our late nights as we sit in the gathering room drinking wine, laughing and talking until we file off one by one to the beds.

I remembered to bring and take a tylenol p.m. as my first night away from home usually finds me tossing and turning most of the night.  So, while I zonked out, others were spooked by the strong winds whistling, causing creaking and groaning noises outside the century house.

Thankfully morning brought sunshine and a quieter day, not warmer, but at least dry. We arranged ourselves, notebooks or laptops set as our guest speaker, Abby, from the South Euclid Library, did two consecutive presentations. 

There is always a little spare time to do what we like, some head straight out and up the street to a group of shops, mainly Marilyn’s to select one treasure or another.  Lisa bought a very lovely elegant white wrap that she wore to dinner.

There is always a discussion about where to go for dinner, but we usually end up at the Canoe Club, which is very nice.  There is actually a full sized canoe mounted on a wall.  There are always a handful of folks who go elsewhere.

After dinner we settle back in the gathering room where we usually do a reading where we take turns reading from our current works.  Then there is more talking and laughing and an earlier bed time.

After another great breakfast on Sunday some take early leave of the group while other’s stay tuned for last minute sharing of words of wisdom and promises to keep in touch.

It always feels like I have absorbed much new information and touched base with great people I do not see elsewhere.  I am content for the time being.

What is a Journalist

In my junior year of high school I studied Journalism and wrote a bit for the school paper “Lumen”. Lumen in Latin means light and that is what the journalist does, or tries to do, to seek to throw light on the goings on in our world. To bring to light the who, what, when, where and why of events that are too clouded by chaos of the times for everyday folks to have a clear idea of what has happened. 

In the volatile world of the last few decades a number of journalists who were just trying to bring the truth to the people of the world have paid a terrible price for their bravery. 

For some reason these diligent truth seekers have been vilified and seen as the enemy to high level criminals.  Some journalists have been murdered, others jailed, beaten and brutalized. 

Just yesterday the Palestinian-American Al Jazerra journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head in Israel.   

While there is some public outcry against these quite high profile crimes, no one seems to be called to account for them.

There are so many vast protests screaming for justice for any number of issues. Masses of people crowd city streets all over the world to raise awareness about everything from gender issues to political preferences, yet no one demands justice for the deaths of the people who have dedicated their lives to keeping truth alive for all the world. 

Easter 2022

All of the local churches pushed the Easter vigil services way back to 8:30 p.m. from the normal 4:00 p.m.  I drove over to St. Monica’s as my parish wasn’t even having the vigil service.

There were very few people in the church and they began with handing everyone a long taper and turning all the church lights out as he flame for the tapers was passed from person to person until the church was lit up. I normally associate this part of the Easter program on Holy Thursday, but maybe they were condensing rituals.  

They did a blessing of a great container of water followed by sprinkling the holy water on all the people. I got quite a splash and there was a puddle on the floor, which I carefully avoided when I stepped into the aisle to go toHoly Communion and again when I was leaving, two hours later.  This was all very lovely but would have been easier on me had it been at 4:00 p.m. instead of 8:30 p.m.  Live and learn.  I will not be doing this next year.  

When I got back home and settled in, I heated up a tv dinner and sat down to eat and watch the late news and one of the British mystery shows that I enjoy. It seemed chilly but I thought I had not warmed up yet from being outdoors. When I finally decided to look at the thermostat in the front room it showed the temp set for 69 degrees while the actual temperature was 66.  Oh no.  

At dawn I lit some candles in both bathrooms and on the stovetop. At about nine I placed a call to my furnace repair people, but not expecting to get a call back on Easter Sunday.

By late afternoon I drove out to join my cousin Maryann and her daughter for the holiday dinner and to thaw out. 

When I got back home it was even colder than it had been and I lit candles again and noticed that there was no return call from the furnace people.

Easter Monday it was 57 degrees indoors and I called the furnace people again and got the receptionist, who said Tony was over on the west side but she would have him come over.  Thank heavens! 

When Tony arrived I said I was disappointed in this furnace as this was the second time this happened, the first was about three years ago. Unfortunately, the furnace was one year out of warranty. He managed to get it to kick on though he had no way of knowing if it would stay on for one hour or a day or what.  He said the motor had to be replaced. Now the motor is five hundred dollars more than the new furnace was eleven years ago.

The new motor should arrive at the furnace repair office by Wednesday.  

Although I did not hear the furnace kick on as I sat in front of the tv eating the wonderful leftovers Maryann sent home with me, when I headed back to the kitchen all my fretting eased up and heat was indeed on.  

Cup Shards

On a snowy winter day in 1966 I moved to Washington, D.C. to live with my late friend, Edna and to socialize with her friends, who became my friends. 

During my first year there my paternal grandfather had not been doing well with his health and  I suppose to be sure he covered all the bases he was supposed to he asked my father if he should get me a set of dishes and my father retorted, “What for? She’s not married!”  

Hearing that from the family, I was so irritated that I marched off to one of the department stores downtown and selected a twelve piece place setting of Mikasa dinnerware.  Twelve piece so that if any pieces were lost over the years ahead I would still have at least a place setting for eight.  The pattern was black and white and I thought I could mix either black or white pieces of other dinnerware with it. I was pleased with this start of my own household belongings.

As it happened most of the friends I spent time with all enjoyed having dinner parties so I did get a lot of use out of the dishes. I felt like a chemist in my kitchen, exploring new meals and trying them out on my unsuspecting friends. They kept coming back, so I guess nothing was too bad.

I then moved the dishes with me to California for fifteen years before making a U turn and settling for four years in Illinois before deciding it was time to bring my children and myself back into the family fold and headed back to Ohio.  But I did not permanently unpack for another thirteen years, still in Ohio but a little further east of the Cuyahoga River.

By this time both of my children had grown and gone away and with the persistence of arthritis, giving dinner parties became harder and harder for me and I finally announced that I would no longer be hosting the gatherings I used to enjoy so much. 

This of course meant the lovely dinnerware would get less use and in time. My son chose the black Fiestaware I bought in Illinois so I wouldn’t  have to unpack the Mikasaware while were “in-between” there.  Later I also acquired the last set of dishes my parents had bought, a lovely flowery set highlighted with pink. 

My daughter didn’t care for my parents’china and said she preferred the Mikasaware.  I asked if she had shelves for it and she said yes, so a few pieces at a time I began to ship them to her after her recent visit. 

What I packed depended on the box I found in the garage or basement and for the last shipment one box was a sturdy one, better than most, I thought, and there was room enough so I packed all of the cups, the creamer and sugar bowl and made sure the shipping clerk put fragile stickers all over the box.  I always sprinkle a few grains of blessed salt for safe passage from my St. Pio prayer group before sealing the box.

Just yesterday my daughter advised me that almost everything in that box had been broken.  So heartbreaking, after a fifty-four year history of serving friends and family and moving from address to address to end as a pile of pieces of no use.  

A Girl Named Kateri

When I was ten years old,  my Camp Fire Girls group began a project. We each kept a notebook with pictures cut out from magazines that became parts of our individual stories  I’ve long forgotten the details of those stories, but I do remember the day we had to present our notebooks to a lady in an office of our Cathedral downtown in the diocese of Cleveland.  

If our projects were deemed acceptable we would each be awarded a beautiful silver medal depicting Blessed Kateri, a young Native American girl in line for canonization in the Catholic Church.  She was chosen for our projects because she is the patroness of Catholic Campfire Girls.

We lined up in the Cathedral each receiving our medal. I remember the awe I felt in that very large and old Neo-Gothic church where the stone steps were worn deep from many years and many feet.

As an adult I still treasured that medal and bought a long silver chain for it.

Any time I had an opportunity to be in the cathedral, my awe of the holy place just deepened.  

Many years later when I had married and had a daughter of my own, I decided that Kateri would go well with our last name and would be her middle name once we chose her first name from a list of potential good name suggestions from a paternal Uncle.

For all her early years we all used that first name only for her, but when she got older and moved away she stopped using her first name and asked all of her friends and acquaintances to call her by a short version of her middle name.

Meanwhile Blessed Kateri was canonized and became Saint Kateri and one of my friends gave me a copy of the St.Anthony magazine with the whole story in it.

With my daughter living far from me, I never knew what her middle name meant to her until she came to visit me recently.  She took the medal and it’s chain in the box I handed it to her in and quickly added to her belongings and told me a brief incident in which she saw a church dedicated to St. Kateri and she announced to whomever she was with, “That’s my church!!” She was so pleased to see some acknowledgement of her patron saint. 

Sending Home to Her

After a lovely visit with my daughter earlier this year, I walked into a front room heaped with the clothing she brought that didn’t fit back into her bags for the return trip.

Every inch of space was crammed with newly acquired items that I had been wanting to pass on to her and some things I had long forgotten about from boxes in the basement. 

As we walked around the house I explained assorted items like the small picture in a fine little metal frame that had been sitting on a bookcase for decades.  It is a likeness of her father’s great grandparents and may actually be a daguerreotype, but I have no way of knowing.  Immediately that got put into her bag. 

I was very tickled when she pulled a jersey that was hanging on a hanger on my bedroom doorknob.  It was there because I knew I would never fit into it again but couldn’t let it go.  She said with excitement, “You wore this when I was a child!”  Woosh, into her bag.   

And so it went.  I was so happy to hand over a small box filled with tortise shell hair ornaments that came to me from her father’s family over forty years ago.  That box caused the TSA clerk to say her bag had to be opened because the X-Ray instruments could not see through wood.  She explained that her now 80 year old mother wanted her to have the family heirlooms.  The next time he pulled his hand out of the bag it was clutching a handful of pretty lacey slips.  He dropped them back into the bag saying, “I’m done.”  

She was so happy to claim about a dozen slips because she had been looking for them in stores and couldn’t find them anywhere and had discovered that without a slip, standing in sunshine, a dress can be seen through.  She tried a few on to be sure they’d fit and then the whole bunch was added to the bag.

She looked into the drawers of her brother’s dresser and found the encased little stone from St. Michael’s cave in Italy that I bought at the St. Pio Prayer Group, saying “What’s this?”  I explained, saying I had bought one for each of us and her’s was in front of her high school picture on my dresser which she then went to get. I am amused that she looks in her brother’s dresser as if she might find him there.

She said she worked for awhile in a nursing home and that was an eye opener for her, that if those people were having so much trouble doing things, probably her mother did as well and suddenly she was on a mission to get here and when we sat for awhile recollecting, she came to tears saying, “I never expected you to get old.”   

She said her father sent her a current photo of himself and she cried when she saw it, saying “He looks 80.”

Now that she and two friends have managed to purchase a house, I have had to accept that she will not end up taking over my household when I am gone, so I have been shipping her things that came to us from her father’s family as well as other things she liked but could not carry with her this trip.     

When I close my eyes I imagine the large bed sized blanket knitted by my late long time friend Camilla, as it may be draped across their couch and the purple loop crocheted throw rug I made for her years ago, on one of their floors with their cat Moonking relaxing on it.

She selected my Mikasa dinner ware as her preference for which set of china she would like and I imagine the dishes and bowls and cups on shelves in their places.

These imaginings of mine please me to feel that somehow bits and pieces of our home are now a part of her home.

Lentil Soup Sans Lentils

In order to make lentil soup, one needs lentils.  Otherwise it is a would be lentil soup sans the lentils.  I had been planing to make lentil soup with the ham bone from the spiral cut ham that my daughter and I feasted on during her visit, since I bought the ham.  On the day I re-stocked provisions I did buy nice potatoes and thought I had all the other ingredients at home.  So imagine my frustration when I found about six lentils in the bottom of the bag of lentils.

Oh brother!  By this time I had no choice but to proceed with the soup.  I had never put carrots into lentil soup before, but the recipes I checked on line all called for them, so after dicing onions and celery, I added carrots and then potatoes.  Then the chicken stock and finally the ham bone.

As the soup simmered I was hoping for a fine fragrance but it seemed very mild and after a few hours I turned the gas off and ate a tv dinner as I was not convinced that the soup was ready for consumption.  The next day, I felt I had to face the music as I ladled out a cup full and microwaved it.  To my great relief, I found the taste agreeable and had a second portion.

The job of packing things to send to my daughter, that she could not fit into the bags she had with her, is in process.  Three small boxes are packed, sealed and addressed and waiting near the door to the garage for their trip to the parcel shipping store.  Two more slightly larger boxes are filled and waiting to be sealed and addressed.  I think I will wait until she receives the first group before sending the next few.  Then I need a couple more boxes.  In the next couple of days I may phone the manager of the local McDonald’s to see if I can get some unbroken down fry boxes, which I used last time I was sending her things.  The boxes are clean and sturdy.  

Friday I tried cancelling my Tuesday podiatry appointment, but the receptionist said I should see how the weather looks and call her Monday if I still want to reset the appointment.  Although there has been no additional snow in the last two days, it is still pretty cold.  

There has been no mail delivery since last Tuesday.  In other winters, when I didn’t even have a path cleared to the door, the postal delivery people wore big heavy boots and walked right through the snow to get mail delivered.  I’m guessing all of those carriers have retired.  With yesterday being sunny and clear I was foolishly hopeful, but nothing.

Nettie, a friend of my daughter, and her younger son, Phoenix, have arrived and got snow shovels from the garage and are now shoveling my driveway.  It is a great help for me since my lawn care man is not plowing this winter.  Maybe he is at a more professional/dependable level.  I don’t know since he did not respond the couple of times I said I was interested in the winter service.

I would just drive through the accumulation but probably get stuck in the deep mounds the plows have filled the aprons of the drives with.

Nettie and Phoenix have also lopped down the massive icicles that grew from the rain gutter along the side of the porch.  I had already whacked them down twice with my cane.  I asked if they would like a cup of cocoa or soup when they are done but they said they have others to dig out after clearing my drive.  They have also done others before arriving here. Thankfully there is no snow expected for the next few days. 

Poonchkeys – Paczki

The weather man advised everyone in his viewing area to go to the store Monday or Tuesday for provisions before the storm heading in Wednesday beginning with rain.  When I arrived at the corner store I was lucky enough to pull into a parking slot just as the previous driver left.  Otherwise the lot was very crowded and once I found a cart and drove it into the store I could see that all the local residents obeyed the weatherman.

I was pleased to find that the store was prepared for the onslaught of shoppers and the shelves were well-stocked.  The prescription drug counter was busy so I went along filling the basket with all the things I had run out of and plenty of fresh fruit.  

Over the personal address system a managerial voice announced that they were out of carts and anyone who needed one should go to the door and get one from an exiting patron.  

Having crossed the floor once I was getting a bit weary and doubled back to the prescription drug counter and asked a man if I could park my basket behind him. At least two other voices piped up that they were in line before him and I said I just wanted to sit down for awhile.  They went quiet and I sat on the bench reserved for covid shot reciepients.  If anyone advised me to move I would advise them that over the years I had spent enough money in this store to be able to sit for a few minutes when I needed to.   That turned out to be about fifteen minutes before the traffic cleared and I was able to pick up my refill.  

In the pastry section I added two boxes of “poonchkeys” a great yellow cake heavily powdered sugar jelly filled donut which is a celebrated pre-lenten treat everyear at this time.  Once I just bought one box, (four in a box), and when I looked for more the following week the supply was gone.  That was a disappointment.  I guess I was not the only one because last year they had them right up to Easter.  I took 2 boxes (just in case) and at home put one box into the freezer. I picked the raspberry jelly ones, but other choices were lemon and custard.  

On my way back to the car a young lady named Deidre offered to help and she pushed the cart to my car which happened to be next to hers, then unloaded all the stuff into the trunk for me.  This is a big help.  

Back at home I left the garage door up so I could take the garbage and plastics and deposit them into the tubs parked up close to the garage.  As I was doing that I got a peripheral glance at a figure coming up the driveway and in greeting I said “You are missing an appendage!” Her baby daughter, usually in a stroller before her mother’s skirts.and laughing she said her father came home early so she is at home with him.  Then she asked if she could help unload the groceries.  Gladly I accepted and in about two trips she carried what would have been many trips for me up into the hallway in the house.  We chatted for a few minutes before she resumed her walk and turned back to head home.

With the garage door closed and myself pulling the bags of groceries into the kitchen and putting what needing refrigerating away I headed off for a nap and was out to the world for just under two hours.

This morning as the storm layered this part of Northeast Ohio with many inches of snow and promised another six to eight inches of the fine powdered sugar flakes, I looked outside, so very grateful not to have to go out for any reason,  Coffee was brewing and a nice fat “poonchkey”  (the word on the box is:Paczki) on a plate as I hunkered down for this day.

The Little Car That Could

As I was pushing the grocery cart out of the store a gentleman offered to help me load things into my car.  I said okay and left the cart with him and headed off to the car.  He must have decided that would take too long as I was barely across the road and he was pushing the cart along side me and offering me his arm.  

Thankfully, I accepted, saying that I do get tired walking around in the store and we toddled off together toward my vehicle.  When I guided us to the little car behind a larger SUV, he said, “Oh, it’s a car.”  He must have thought I meant the SUV in front of it when I first pointed it out to him.

Thinking that sometimes the humble little Chevy Cobalt 2007 might fancy itself a luxurious coach, I said, yes,  just a little car.

I opened the trunk and Ryan took the groceries after asking if I had a preference to the order they should be put into the trunk, I said I only put the heavier things closer to the edge and all else further into the trunk. I thanked him and blessed him for helping me and with a puzzled look, he pushed the cart away and headed back to the store where his sister was probably wondering where he wandered off to. 

On leaving the water exercise class one evening before the onslaught of Covid 19, I was putting my things into the car when a fellow I did not recognize stepped up to the car and clapped his hand on the trunk saying this was a very good car, he had just bought one for his daughter because nothing ever goes wrong with it. He then let me know he was the boxing instructor at this rec center and I listened to his thoughts and thanked him for his good opinion.  

Aunt Elizabeth bought the car after Uncle John died and she could not manage his bigger car.  When she turned ninety years old and was still driving off to Church or the grocery store, her elder son advised her that if she didn’t stop driving that car, he would come over and take the wheels off of it.

The cousins were after me to buy the car, relieving them of the worry. In time I did buy it from her and while it is not a car I would have picked out from a lot or showroom, and it is a pain in the neck to get into and out of because it is too close to the ground, I have to admit it has been a serviceable little car and I am thankful to have it.