Saturday, June 27, 2015

return to reality

Things are back to usual after spending 10 days at the beach with Someone for his annual full-family vacation.  His parents, siblings, and all their kids come every summer and stay in the same beach house.   The girls have jobs at the mall this summer and did not come along.  It’s easier for me that they did not come.  They stayed home and took care of the pets, flowers and garden, and the house.  No doubt they had much (MUCH) more fun here with us out of the way and their friends over every night than they would have had with family in their faces all day and evening long.
Someone is still a bit miffed that our girls did not come on this vacation last year or this year.  My thinking is that thank heavens they have jobs and want to earn their own money.  Someone’s siblings’ kids are the same age or older than ours.  They are all still living with their parents and not working at all.  Perhaps they will wind up as permanent residents living off their parents forever.
The beach weather was unseasonably hot this year.  Every day except for the last one was completely cloudless and about 95F; the heat index was well over 100F every day.  Such heat is too much for Someone’s parents who are now 80 years old.  The ocean water was warm, but I didn’t get out in it much this year.  There were numerous shark sightings while we were there.  A few miles north, two teens had arms bitten off in separate incidents about an hour apart.  Sharks were not what kept me off the beach, it was the intense sun.  Bright sun is a migraine trigger for me, and having already been treated for skin cancer twice, I decided to just avoid the beach between 10AM to 6PM.
Every morning and evening, I went for long walks on the beach.  It’s a nice time to go when there are fewer people out.  Someone went with me sometimes.  We picked up many sharks’ teeth.  Everyone picks up shark teeth.  Sometimes they are tiny things, but sometimes they are big and scary.  It’s a thrill to find a big scary one.  When I look out over that gigantic expanse of ocean water, I feel entirely insignificant – like I am only a speck on this huge planet.  Well, let’s be real, I am.

Some stuff I picked up one morning
I missed Gracie every time I saw paw prints
Even in the very early morning, people are always on the beach

As soon as we stepped through the door from our long drive home from the beach, the girls informed me that the clothes dryer was no longer functioning.  It’s old and has had several repairs already, so it was time to buy a new one ASAP.  I decided to replace the washer too.  I saved money by bundling the purchases.  It seems wasteful to replace a washer that is still working, but it had been repaired once, had a sensor going bad, and I’ve never been all that pleased with it.  Even though it’s a large capacity \ high efficiency washer, it never did a great job with very dirty or heavy items like rugs and muddy jeans.  We hadto run heavy things through twice to get them clean.  The new appliances were delivered today and I’m already using them.  THEY ARE WONDERFUL!!

Another big expense - I had the paint on my van touched up while we were gone.  The old van had some big major rust patches over and on the doors, on the roof, and especially on the hood.  The body shop exceeded my expectations.  It looks brand new - for $1200.  I was hesitant to invest that much into it (a 2004 model with 148K miles on it), but it got a new transmission 18 months ago and it has been very reliable since that was put in.  I’m living in style now – nice ride and cleaner clothes. 
I’m grateful to have a good-paying job.  Even though I’m completely burnt out and miserable, it pays the bills.  Money solves problems.  Well, usually.  Going back to work after 10 days off was a real bitch slap.

The highlight of last weekend was watching and hearing Sarah perform in Maysville Saturday night.  One of my favorite things about attending her performances has always been that I can mingle with the audience (where few people know me) and listen to what people are saying about her and her music.  The group last Saturday sounded the best I’ve ever heard them…perhaps it was the acoustics in the old theater that enhanced the sound so much.  Sarah and Thomas are releasing a new CD next month.  I can’t wait to hear it!! 

Sarah and Thomas (and Jesse and Ruth)

Monday, June 1, 2015

catalpa massacre

I went back to the Little Sandy River yesterday morning with my kayak.  It was early morning (well, early for me), on a breezy day with big puffy white clouds floating around.  Paddling up river was a bit hard because I was headed into the wind and against the current.  Once I got away from the mouth of the river where the water is wider and shallower, the hills blocked the wind somewhat and it was easier going. 

The black locust trees along the river have shed their blooms, and now the honeysuckle, blackberries, and catalpa trees make the river smell as magical as it looks.  Thick patches of honeysuckle and blackberry briars grow all along the shoreline.  The blackberries are thick with blooms.  The catalpa trees are also blooming.  Branches that overhang the water drop their blossoms into the water.  The current carries them downstream.  I began seeing blossoms scattered all across the water at least a half mile before I saw the first tree.  The blossoms are waxy and look fresh on the water, but when you pull one out, it wilts in a matter of minutes. 

Single bloom of catalpa tree

Branch of catalpa tree
Blackberries in bloom

My great grandfather kept several catalpa trees on his farm.  He cut them back severely every fall so that the main trunk was only about 5 feet tall.  In the spring, the trees would grow branches straight out from the top edge of the trunk.  It was really an abomination of nature to see these poor trees, but he had his reasons for doing this.  The branches were very straight and sturdy, and they rotted slowly.  He used them for bean poles.  Kentucky Wonder are the pole beans he always grew: they are prolific producers and you can still buy the seeds even today.  I liked picking pole beans much more than bush beans because I didn’t have to bend over to harvest them.  My older brother picked the ones I couldn’t reach, so we worked together as a team.  Actually, we were supposed to be a team of three, but little brother was always too busy catching bugs, toads, garter snakes, and other such creepy-crawlies.

When the blooms drop off a catalpa tree, long beans develop.  Sometimes people call these bean trees.  Some of the kids at school called them cigar trees.  

catalpa with "beans"

What I remember most about catalpa trees is that they attract catalpa worms, which are really large, fat, green caterpillars.  My older brother had a Daisy BB rifle.  Although we were forbidden to shoot at living things (like birds and squirrels) or trains and cars with it, nobody objected to us shooting catalpa worms.  We shot them, execution style, for the ones on the lower part of the tree.  Sometimes we shot the worms clean off the leaves, but usually part would hang onto the leaf and its guts would drip to the grass below.  It’s really gross to think about, but we took turns doing it without any regard for the poor worms or to the moths they might have become.

catalpa caterpillar becomes a drab, furry brown moth 

I can hardly bring myself to kill anything anymore, other than wasps and flies that get into the house, or mosquitos.  I don’t like being the terminator.