Friday, March 27, 2015

Fleeting Ambition

The skies are a cloudless expanse of cerulean. After a week of rain, the weather is an unexpected reward, like discovering money in an old jacket.
   The weather reflects my mood or perhaps my mood is influenced by the weather. Either way, I feel a resurgence of energy and the desire to tackle some nagging chores, if only I can decide where to begin.
   Should I start with the easiest and work my way up? Maybe the most difficult would be a better plan of attack. That way, if I run out of steam quickly, the other chores might be easier handled on a day when I feel less ambitious.
   I decide to make a list of the chores in their order of magnitude.
1. Clean and organize the basement. Well, that would require a consultation with my husband regarding what he was willing to throw away. Almost everything in the basement belongs to him and he is a pack-rat. It’s too nice a day to be stuck in the basement anyway.
2. Clear out the two downstairs bedrooms AKA junk rooms. We have been using them for my husband’s hobbies. Well that’s not going to work, since the only place to put the contents is in the already overflowing basement.
3. Paint the blue bedroom. Not going to happen until it is cleared out. (See number 2).
4. Paint the main floor hallway. That should be easy. I don’t have to move anything to get to the walls. I go down to the basement to get some paint only to discover husband’s junk is piled up in front of the paint cabinet. I can’t move that junk without creating an avalanche of the surrounding junk.

   By now, I’m feeling a waning of my energy. The sky is turning cloudy and threatening to rain. Perhaps, I’ll check out the pockets of our old jackets. Maybe I’ll find some money.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Private Investigators, Flickertail & Paint in Ireland

To celebrate St. Patty's Day: A repost of a story I wrote several years ago

After they visited Scotland, Flickertail, the llama and Paint, the horse took a detour to Ireland before going home.
As they were touring the Guinness Storehouse and Brewery in Dublin they met Lochlann, the Leprechaun who was crying in his beer about a stolen pot.
“When did you discover it was missing?”
“Around the same time that the Brewery was robbed. It was the biggest robbery in the history of the brewery.“
“What was taken from the Brewery?”
“450 kegs of Guinness.”
“Could the same person or people who stole the Guinness have stolen your pot?”
“Possibly, but the Garda Siochana Police Force didn’t find my pot.”
“Where did you last see the pot?”
“At the end of the rainbow of course. Everyone knows that. Are you sure you can help me?” he asked doubtfully.
Flickertail looked at Paint and whispered, “I think this guy’s had one too many Guinness.”
“Just go along with him,” said Paint.
“Show us,” Flickertail said to Lochlann.
“We’ll have to wait until it rains. While we’re waiting for it to rain lets have another Guinness all around.”
By mid afternoon it started raining while they were singing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.” Several songs later a rainbow appeared.
“Follow that rainbow,” Lochlann shouted.
When they reached the end of the rainbow, there was no pot. All that they found was an empty pint of Guinness with a note inside.  It said I’m holding your pot for ransom. If you want to see it again, bring more Guinness to the next rainbow and no cops. You’re being watched.
“Hmm, sounds like he might be nearby,” said Flickertail.
“Isn’t there supposed to be gold in the pot?” Paint asked
“That’s a bunch of blarney.”
 “What is in the pot then? Surely no one would bother to steal an empty pot?”
“Guinness, of course.”
“What good is the pot once it’s empty?”
“It refills itself but only if you are Irish.”
“So we know the pot thief isn’t Irish.”
“Everybody’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day.”
“Well that’s not until the 17th. Today’s only the 15th.”
“I don’t think that Lochlann should go alone,” said Paint. “The thief may just try to kidnap him so that the pot keeps refilling.”
“What do you suggest?”
“I think you should dress like a leprechaun and go in his place.”
“Why me?”
“You’re smaller than I am. I’m as big as a horse. No one is going to believe I’m a leprechaun.”
“He’s going to be awfully upset when he finds out I’m not Irish.”
“I’ll be within ear shot.”
“Me too; I want my pot back and I can help. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, if we need them,” said Lochlann.
So the trio went to the end of the next rainbow where they encountered Hamish the Coo. “What are you doing in Ireland?” the detectives asked in unison.
“I followed you from Scotland. The only thing that comes close to Guinness in Scotland is Tennent's Stout.”
“YOU’RE the thief!”
“No one is going to believe that a Scottish cow stole a leprechaun’s pot for Irish beer.”
“Well, this is certainly one for the Guinness Book of Records.”

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Rich History: Loving Our Old House

We moved here in 1976. The longer we are here and the more I learn about this house, the more I fall in love with it. 
   Several years ago, we put it up for sale as we looked for a home to fit with our dreams of a Bed and Breakfast. I think, we were both somewhat relieved when it didn’t sell.
   Looking toward the ceiling of the basement, we can see that hardwood floors were used throughout the first floor. The main floor flooring was completely covered when we moved here by carpeting or linoleum, but the living room and downstairs bedrooms were uncovered at one time because they were stained and varnished. The upstairs bedrooms were uncovered hardwood when we moved here. The kids had apparently been experimenting with cigarettes because there are round burn marks in the wood. I'm sure the upstairs hallway is also hardwood but we haven't removed the carpeting from the stairs and hall, although I would like to do that some day.
   The man who built the house around 1945 is living across the street. He was a firefighter and built a few homes in this neighborhood on his days off. He lived in four of them over the years. If I remember the sequence correctly, this house was built first and the family lived in it for a few years while he built the one next door. They lived in that one briefly, while he built one on a street behind ours. Apparently, the fourth house he built to live in, was the charm because he has been living there since the 60s.
   He planted roses along our driveway that still thrive today. When he retired, he volunteered as a gardener for the Galloway House, a local historical residence and attraction.
   A few years ago, I met his daughter while she was visiting with my next-door neighbor and I invited her to relive her childhood memories of the house. Her two brothers shared the upstairs bedroom that is now our second bath. She and her sister shared the bedroom, currently used as our master bedroom. The outside door in the "boys' bedroom" leads to a flat roof covering the downstairs sun-room. She told me the boys were jumping off the roof one day when their mother, who was working in the kitchen, saw them. She was understandably upset and put an immediate halt to their fun. She also told me about a storage area that runs along the back of the "girls' bedroom." We didn't realize it was there because it is closed off. If we opened it up, it would make the bedroom about three feet larger.
   When we replaced the windows in the basement, we decided to keep the one glass block window because not only do I like glass block but also because one of the boys had been playing with a BB gun and there is a BB hole in one of the blocks. Fortunately, it doesn't go all of the way through. The recreation room, once used for square dancing, has a wood burning red brick fireplace.
   The smallest downstairs bedroom, originally the nursery, became a guest bedroom. The largest downstairs bedroom, designed as the master bedroom, has two closets.
   The original knotty pine paneling still graces the walls of the dining area, sunroom, and stairwells.
   Although we have done considerable interior remodeling, we have kept the original touches of those things we love most. We believe the tangible proof of the previous residents’ lives lends to the home’s charm and colorful history.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Arizona 1968 vs Florida 1970

I liked Florida better than Arizona. I'm not a big fan of desert creepy crawlies. Our Tucson apartment had a gap under the door that let in sand and small desert creatures. Stink bugs were especially populous. The commissary sold floor wax with built in insecticide. 
   Of course, Florida had the prolific love bugs that turned our burgundy car black every time we parked it.
   Being in the military, we couldn't afford to buy much off base. Those were the days of gas price wars. We could fill the gas tank for $5 even off base. In Tucson, waitresses often worked for tips only, so service was good. A small zoo near the apartment in Tucson had free admission. We visited several times a month to feed the prairie dogs for a quarter. The habitat featured see through glass so we could watch them underground. When we got homesick for snow, we went to Mount Lemon or A mountain. Thanks to my husband's sergeant's wedding gift, we spent our honeymoon at Mount Lemon Lodge.
   We washed our clothes at the laundromat and, to save money, brought the wet clothes back to the apartment to hang them on the clothes line. About two o' clock, we could plan on gully washers so we had to get the clothes off the line by then.
   Our Florida apartment was a bit nicer and newer. It had central air. We had access to washers and dryers in a breezeway. Unfortunately, we also had a stubborn mold growing in a corner of the bedroom. I tried bleach and Lysol to remove it but it kept coming back. Florida was also humid and hot, damn hot, making central air more of a necessity than a luxury. We went to Lithia
Springs often, to swim year round. The water was crystal clear and surrounded by palm trees. Thanksgiving weekend, it was in the 60s and we had the place to ourselves. 
   My favorite memories are of Arizona but I still prefer water over sand.