Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Not the Usual Drill

Yesterday I had my six month cleaning/check-up with my dentist. Because he used to live down the street from me and still has his practice in Webster Groves, we always find something to chat about once he removes his hands from my mouth. The topic yesterday was my street construction, finally completed eight months late and who knows how much over budget. I was very happy to get a good report from the dentist in light of my friend's recent news of a recession, not with the economy or her husband's hairline, but with her gums.

So yesterday's visit was pretty normal, except for how it began. I was in the waiting room, well....waiting.... for my hygienist to call my name. A nicely dressed older gentleman came from the back, apparently finished with his appointment. After chatting with the gals behind the reception desk, he came into the waiting room and told me to get fully undressed and put on a paper gown, and that he would be right with me. I stared at him a moment, and he said, "I'm Dr. Weisenfels." I replied, "I know you are. You look just like your picture in the ads." (NOT - Dr. Weisenfels is in his 50's with black hair.) He began to laugh and then went out the front door. The one lady behind the desk said she couldn't believe I had gone along with "Don". I explained that I knew he was joking around, but that he is lucky because at his age he can get away with it. A younger man would be in big trouble with those lines. She went on to tell the story about how one day he came into the office and went right up to a patient in the waiting area, introducing himself as Dr. Weisenfels. He also told her to take off her clothes and put on a gown. But this was the patients first time at the office, so she didn't know it really wasn't the dentist. The staff had to do a quick intervention!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Night the Lights Went Out in Webster

When the sirens went off yesterday afternoon, Jim, Kirby and I headed for the basement, flashlights and a crank generated radio in tow. At 4:30 the power went off. We were cautiously optimistic that the wind had only knocked the power out, but when the storm passed we headed outside. Two doors down a 150 year old oak had fallen across Swon Avenue, taking the power lines down with it. We have been in this situation before, and because only a couple dozen houses are impacted we are waaaaay down on the priority list. What makes it more annoying is that the people across the street never lose power. Apparently they are hooked into the transformer that takes care of the courthouse and police/fire station. Whether it is buried or what, I don't know. But I can tell you that as time crawls by with no power for us and their houses blaze with light, nasty thoughts enter my head. Our basement fills with water and our food spoils, and they watch television and play on their computers. At that point in time, they don't care if we are in the National Historic District and they aren't. They have the power!

Fortunately we have a gas stove, so I was able to make pancakes and eggs for supper. Then I showered early to take advantage of what little light was coming through the bathroom window in the gloomy evening. By 8:30 I was in bed attempting to read by the light of candles and a portable book light. At 9:30 I gave up and went to sleep. Jim in the meantime was worried about the water in the basement, and he and the next door neighbor located a generator to power up our respective sump pumps. (We have a generator but Jim couldn't get it to work. That's helpful, right?) A lady around the corner had the balls to come over later and tell them to turn it off because she and her husband couldn't sleep. She didn't care that our possessions were being destroyed by the water.

Since I had gone to sleep so early, I woke up at 5:30 to complete silence. No hum of electricity in the air. Nor any sound of the generator going next door. Uh, oh... The basement wasn't too flooded, fortunately, so Jim waited until 7:30 to purchase more gas for the generator so he could fire it up again. In the meantime, he was down in the basement attempting again to start ours. He got it going for a bit, and before long the gas fumes permeated the main floor of the house. If his beloved dog wasn't by my side, I would have suspected he was going after my life insurance policy! Even I know you aren't supposed to run those things inside a building. "Well, I had it by the back door and the door was open," he said. Yeah, tell it to the coroner, I was thinking. Honestly, the house still smells like gasoline, despite burning candles and opening windows to let in the 55 degree cool air.

I had enough light coming in the windows to cut fabric for the wall quilt I am making for the remodeled bathroom. At least the whole morning wasn't a waste. The power finally was restored at 12:30 this afternoon. You just don't appreciate how much we rely on electricity until you don't have it. So here's a tip of the bonnet to Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can have your little house on the prairie. I'll keep my house on Maple with its electricity. Except when it storms...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Killer Kirby - Don't Let the Face Fool You

You have heard my rabbit tales before. We are cursed with a plethora of the cute little beasts now that the owls have moved on to furrier pastures. And since spring brings thought of love (or at least lust) to the male bunnies, there's all kinds of hoppin' going on around here. Yesterday as I was planting some portulaca out front, a big, bold bunny sat in the middle of the yard and watched. No doubt wondering what I was putting out for supper.

Speaking of supper, we grilled burgers and were sitting out back enjoying the evening when Kirby made a mad dash off the patio. Since it usually takes a stick of dynamite to remove him from Jim's side when he is eating, I glanced up to see what had captured his attention. He ran right up to a rabbit and head-butted it. Seriously...If I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn't have believed it. The rabbit finally took off with Kirby in hot pursuit until it slipped through the fence. He trotted back to the spot where the rabbit had been laying down, and all of a sudden I saw something dangling from his mouth. Thinking it was just fur, I walked over to him and it became apparent why the bunny hadn't run from Kirby at first. She had been giving birth. He literally had a newborn in his mouth. Yuck!

Now, trying to get something out of his mouth is like trying to get Sarah Palin to stop talking when a microphone is in front of her. I did my best to distract him by acting like the kitties were outside next door. It actually worked, so when he dropped the bunny to see what I was doing, Jim scooped up its now lifeless body and disposed of it. This morning Kirby had another baby in his mouth, fortunately while Jim was still at the house. We are not sure where he found this one. While I don't like the rabbits in my yard destroying hundreds of dollars of plant material, I also don't want Kirby to rid the world of them one baby at a time. If I could come up with a true rabbit repellent, I could be a millionaire!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I'm Glad My Nest is Empty

We went back to the botanical garden this morning as we knew the azaleas would be in their full glory. Things started off a little dicey when I went to take my first picture and discovered I had no memory card in the camera. Jim borrowed my camera yesterday as he had gone to southern Missouri to help a client place bronze geese on his property. Was I ticked? Oh, you might say that. I was definitely thinking "point and shoot" and not in a photography kind of way. Luckily I had brought my pocket digital camera along as well, so I was going to settle for using it. Then Jim reminded me that the memory card for my little camera would also work in my DSLR. Ahhh...the marriage was safe for another day.

As we headed down the main path towards the Japanese Garden, a woman with three kids in tow was headed our way. Twin girls around 8 years of age and a boy around 9 or so were getting a scolding from their mom. The one girl folded her arms defiantly across her chest and made amazing facial expressions at her brother. Jim and I busted out laughing. The mother glared at us and shouted, "Sure, laugh it up!" It was shaping up to be another fun family day at the garden. Would we find Lorenzo running through the oceans of sand in the Japanese Garden again?

The beauty of the azaleas took our minds off of other people and their whiny children. The place was just amazing today, as the colors popped around every corner. We even found a duck busy padding its nest to cushion the eggs laying there. Hopefully they will be long gone before Lorenzo makes another appearance at the garden. They won't stand a chance with him.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Conversations From the Garden

The botanical garden was packed on Sunday, as everyone wanted to enjoy the beautiful day in an equally beautiful setting. For a while on the path we were closely followed by an oriental family, dad with a huge camera, mom pushing a baby in a stroller, and a little girl around 3 years of age walking along with them. "Hold me, daddy", came the plaintive cry. Dad keeps shooting pictures. "Hold me, daddy!", a little more emphatic. Still shooting... "Hold me, mommy?", gazing hopefully at her mother. Mom shakes her head. So the rest of the way down the path we were serenaded with "hold mees" until they took the alternative path to the Japanese Garden. Thank you, God. Why didn't they have an additional stroller for the little gal? There is a lot of walking in the garden.

But on our path we met up with Lorenzo. Lorenzo was probably about 5 or 6, and his family of four also included parents and a sister. No stroller in this family, though Lorenzo should have been on a leash. The Japanese Garden has immaculately maintained crushed gravel in the planting beds, raked into patterns representing waves on the ocean. At any rate, the signs warning guests to keep on the path are numerous. In the past I have wondered about footprints appearing in the gravel. Now I know - Lorenzo has been there. New Age mom and dad were not going to reprimand him, lest they hurt his delicate feelings. Thus he made numerous forages over the arched fencing before being distracted by the zig-zag walkway which extends over the lakes edge. There the family proceeded to block all traffic as they shot the equivalent of two rolls of film. As the woman behind us commented, " What Lorenzo needs is a swift pat on the butt." Amen, sister.

We decided to forgo our normal walk on the zig-zag bridge, and hopefully leave the Lorenzo troop behind. On the other side of the lake we met up again with "hold me" girl. She was surprisingly quiet, no doubt enthralled with the super-sized fish in the lake, but her brother was in full mode screaming phase. Ah, yes, what a fun family outing at the garden. I love being an empty-nester!

Our last stop before leaving the garden was checking out the hundreds of tulips next to the rose garden. As we walked through the roses, dormant now in the early spring, I picked up on a conversation behind me. Her: "Did you see that wheelchair? I'd like to get one like that for mom." Him: "What?" Her: "I would like all of us to chip in so we can get mom a chair like that so she'd be more comfortable." Him: "And what if she dies right away?" Wow, that was pretty thoughtless. Her: "Then we can just store it for the next person who needs it." Him: "Well, I won't go for that. I ain't chipping in on it." Yes, a fun family outing at the garden.

If you go to the garden and see the footprints in the sand? God didn't make them - Lorenzo did.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out, Monet

Jim and I went to the Missouri Botanical Garden this morning, assuming if we went early we could beat the crowds we knew such a nice day would draw. Well, you know what they say about assuming... The place was packed at 10:00, and we parked on the street a couple blocks away. But oh, was it worth it! The place is a kaleidoscope of color, with Mother Nature definitely at her best. This is the time of year when you really need to go to the garden every week to see the landscape evolve.

It was sensory overload with the brilliant flowers and array of scents in the air. I shot a bunch of photos with the new camera Jim gave me for Christmas, giving a heartfelt shout-out to whomever invented digital cameras so I could experiment without guilt. I cannot draw or paint worth a darn, so photography enables me to be an artist in another form. I only wish I had the poetic words to describe what my eyes were seeing.

I should perhaps mention that Jim got me a digital SLR in anticipation of the book I hope to do on the barn quilts of Iowa. pressure to get on with that book now. Just because I'm still marketing my first book, and trying to finish up my worries.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Twenty-Five Years Ago

At this time 25 years ago I was about to give birth to our son, Andrew. He arrived 10 days past my due date at 9 pounds, 5 ounces, and has grown into a remarkable young man. It is unbelievable to think that he is now 25, married and settling into his career as an engineer. In a lot of ways it does not seem like that much time has passed by. His life has mirrored ours in some ways, meeting his wife in college, getting married following graduation, and then taking a job far away from the families. Patterns...

We spent the weekend with Katie in Chicago to look at apartments for next school year. Saturday morning it was pouring, in the horizontal format customary for Chicago with its high winds. No sense attempting the use of an umbrella unless you wantedto end up like Mary Poppins. But we managed to see 5 different apartment complexes on Saturday and one on Sunday. I can sum up the experience in 2 words - sticker shock! Having said that, the apartments are gorgeous with stainless appliances, granite counter tops and nicely appointed bathrooms. They each have a 24 hour door man, fitness centers on site, outdoor lounging areas with nice views of the city, business centers, and other amenities. Because we are only looking on the near south side, the construction is all fairly new and up to date. Hence the pricing. A lot of the decision-making process hinges on whether or not the 2 other girls who claim they want to be in the apartment actually sign on the dotted line. If it ends up that we just need a one bedroom unit for Katie, then we can go with a 9 month lease somewhere and be done with it. From what we learned, signing a lease effective 9/1 will pretty much guarantee that the rates will be lower. The big moving date in Chicago appears to be in April, for whatever reason.

When we weren't looking at apartments, we enjoyed just hanging out with Katie. She has matured so much since she has been in college this year, and it is fun to listen to her discuss her plans and dreams. I'm so happy that it seems she picked the right college in the right city.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Day

Remember when you were a kid and you couldn't wait to make up tales to tell your friends and parents, barely containing yourself until you could shout "April Fools!" I miss those days...The only thing that came close today was a post on Facebook from Pudd'nhead Books stating that they had been bought out by a conglomerate, and then listing all the changes they would be making. It was pretty funny, once my internal "April Fool" gave a shout-out.

I'm really happy to say goodbye to March and all the crappy weather it brought this year. Let alone being depressing with all the cold, gray days, it was a hideous month for our composting business. Every year I forget how stressful it is to get through the lean months, hoping that we don't have to lay off any employees. It's disconcerting to be responsible for feeding other people's mouths. April is off to a glorious start, weather-wise and business-wise, so I feel we have turned the corner. Hope that doesn't make me an April Fool after all.

We are heading out tomorrow to Chicago to be with Katie for Easter. We need to begin looking at apartments for her to live in next school year, and this weekend worked out for all of us. It is a happy coincidence that I will be able to deliver her Easter basket in person. I have a couple of fun items in there this year.

Our wonderful house/dog sitter will keep Kirby company at the house while we are gone. He loves Kaya, and the feeling is mutual. Everyone should have a good weekend. Happy Easter!