Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Now?

Wow.  I've said that a lot in the last two days.  Wow.  I'm out of work.  Laid off.  Dismissed.  I've worked most of my life since 1969, off an on until 1981. I've worked steadily since then.  OK, there was that year I took off for school, but it was full-time school, so I count that as work.

I'm at loose ends.  When I come out of shock, I'm going to feel awful. 

I started what I hope is a new job yesterday.  Learning something new at my age worries me a lot, but hey! I don't have a boss!  I'll be doing something I've never done before in my whole 58 years.  I'll be taking care of the house, and maybe part of the yard. 

Yesterday I cleaned the front room like it has never been cleaned before, starting on the south wall and working clockwise.  Curtains, windows, and woodwork were washed. Furniture was vacuumed, edges minutely plucked of dust and hairs, and the furniture polished.  This room holds approximately 27 square acres of wood surface that requires dusting.

Poor Honey started the day off by taking his life in his hands.  He was drinking his coffee watching to see what I was about.  I pulled the couch out, took the curtains down and put them in the washer (cheap lace) and stood back to evaluate my next step.  That's how I work. I complete a step, stand back and evaluate, move on to the next step.  

While I was in evaluation mode, Honey said, "Do you know what you ought to do while you have the curtains down?"

Pause, two, three, four -- CRAZY MODE!

I chewed my tongue, closed my eyes so he wouldn't see them roll back in my head, tucked the fangs into my shirt collar, and said, "Honey, we need to talk."

With visions of Mom on a bad day that certainly weren't worth emulating, I used all my super powers not to go that direction.

"Honey, I'm really not myself today.  I may not be for a while.  The kindest thing you can do for me is NEVER offer suggestions.  I don't do things the way you do, but they turn out all right in the end anyway.  Please, if the words While You're At It come to your lips, bite them and run away."

He's never in 21 years given up on making me a better person. He's organized, methodical, and probably just a little OCD.  I hurt his feelings, but he was a good sport.  He lightened up enough to tease me about missing a spot.

So the day passed.  It was a long day, and another just like it rolled around this morning.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Meet my Grandma Stokes.  Do you see that full head of beautiful, white hair? She used a bit of bluing when she washed it to keep it from looking dingy.

Grandma Fronk was younger in this picture than Grandma Stokes was in hers.  Still, do you see the distinguished looking gray hair?  

When I was five years old, I spent a week with Grandma Fronk in her little tiny apartment in Ogden.  The quiet, the immaculate little home, the canary, the morning sun shining through the front room window, and the solitude was a driving force in my life.  By the end of that week, I had formed by life's ambition: to be old.  More specifically, my ambition was to be old like Grandma.  Now I can be even more specific than that and say I want to be old like the ideal I formed of Grandma.

It has been a long time since I was five years old. That life-altering week happened in 1957.  The life I have lived in the interim is a case study of bad choices.  If anyone has earned gray hair, it is I.  Really.

Eldest sister is quite gray.  She has ten years on me, so even though I'm envious, I accept it.  

Next sister is only three years ahead of me.  We have always done everything together, but she has very callously grown a head of salt and pepper hair with no consideration to my feelings at all.  In retaliation (retaliation is called for here) I am posting a most charming photo of her and her dratted gray hair.

Baby sister, however, chaps my arse.  Seven, count em!, seven years YOUNGER than I am, and she has as much gray as Elder Sister who is 18 years older!  Again, this deserves a good photo to display her charms.

Then there's me.  I started life as a blondy, and I think it was my downfall.  Sisters all had very dark hair like The Mother.  I have gray hairs, and actually, there are quite a few.  My hair color (never adjusted in my life, except once 25 years ago for highlights) camouflage the white onesHmph.

It could be worse, I suppose.  I could be bald.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Each year we grade all the dirt lanes in town, roll them nice and flat, then have magnesium chloride applied for dust control.  It's a good plan.  This year I took pictures.

 Boyd dropped me off on the narrow lane to wait for the mag chloride truck.  There was no place to turn around, so he had to drive to the other end, wait for the mag truck to pass, then come back to pick me up.  That was OK.  It was a very short lane.  I didn't factor in the mile long train moving two miles per hour. Let's just say I had time to take in my surroundings.

I saw clouds.

I saw trees.

 I saw cows.  I realized I was in a tiny Kelso-sized country community.  Hey, girls!  What's new?

They were certainly interested in whatever it was I was doing, and they ambled on over towards me making the quickest progress possible when pausing every step or two to yank up a mouthful of grass, whip it once across their backs, munch and swallow, and on again. The whipping thing kind of threw me.

These were some pretty bold gals with some slightly less bold children.  They kept up a running conversation all the way and it had my mono hearing system pretty confused.  There was a lot of mooing going on and it seemed to come from everywhere.

Oh, now I see. The teenagers in the apartment across the hall wanted to get in on the party too. You know how teenagers are.  Their noise was turned up loud, and they were running around acting like, well, like teenagers.

The horses in the manor house next door didn't even deign to acknowledge a one of us.  We were beneath their notice and although they are forced to live in such a neighborhood, they did not have to participate in the foolishness.

The grand dame was especially aloof.

The cows are just plain people, and were very friendly.  Cautious, but friendly.

I particularly liked #16, even though she was very stand-offish.  She reminded me of Mad-Eye Moody of Harry Potter fame.  She kept mooing "Constant vigilance!" to the younger cows.  You know how kids are, and they paid her no attention.

Oh. Remember the whipping their food thing earlier?  This could be the reason.  Damned freeloaders!  The rotten things stay just out of reach of flailing tails, so they get whipped with long grass. 

Today's safety meeting is brought to you by Mrs. Mad-Eye.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Evil is all around us, and it is up to us to defeat it.  Even if you only have one horn.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

War Surplus

Yesterday took me out of the house with the sisters and a niece for a photo shoot with their photo club.  We went to Smith & Edwards which was originally a war surplus store.  Their motto is "We've Got It If You Can Find It".  In the late 50s and early 60s, it was an accurate statement.  Besides acres of yard, they had a huge warehouse of a store. Stuff was piled on shelves helter skelter, and the only organization was when occasionally a pile would be pushed up a little more firmly in a spot - any spot. It was really war surplus too.  Now it is a big department store, all organized and everything.

 We were taking pictures for what was, in our vernacular, artsy-fartsy results.  It is low on my hit parade, but I haven't even officially joined the club, and I wasn't going to whine on a guest visit.  I figured on taking pictures of the girls taking their pictures. Seriously, the place would have to be upgraded to be called a garbage dump.   

What could this bin full of old insulators be called but artsy-fartsy?  I mean, they were way cool and everything, but . . .

OK.  I couldn't pass up a signs that says "Don't bonk". That was almost as good as the bunk cars in Kelso that say "No humping".  I asked our road master one night what the hell else there is to do in the middle of the desert.  It made him laugh.  I was 27.

This is a super example of the yard.  Keep in mind that the yard is a good 20 acres and more.  I don't know what it was that was stacked up on these pallets, but they were each one of them tipping a different direction.  Yeah.  Don't get too close.

Would you look at that. It's a roll of concertina wire.  We used to have a factory in town in the late 60s, early 70s that made concertina wire to send to Viet Nam.  The boys just out of high school usually worked there until they were drafted, then they worked with it again.

Hey, cool!  Smith & Eddie's has a junkyard dog. They also have a sign that said "Mines Danger"  A junkyard dog would make one cautious.  A serious warning of mines puts one into a whole different sphere.

Being as close to Hill Field as we were, we saw plenty of planes going over. They were prop planes too, which have a very different sound than jets.  Dang. How would it be to have that sound and sight strike fear for your life into your heart and mind?  

Niece's 17 year old son wanted a helmet if we could find one.  The first one we saw was so rusted it was falling apart.  Further on we saw another.  An empty helmet lying forlornly in a heap of trash is very unsettling.  A little beyond that were a hundred or so in piles and spread around.  It was unsettling.  My mind knew they were outdated and replaced by more modern equipment.  In my heart I saw all the helmets that no longer needed to be used by men who gave their all and followed the light.

The war surplus materials come from WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam.  I don't know if someone posed these helmets or if they just fell this way.  They are probably buddies.  They probably fell together.

Today is June 6, 2010.  66 years ago today, D-Day, the Allies invaded Normandy.  Thanks fellas.