Fluff and Stuff.

04-26-15

I decided I had moved the dust around enough for Spring cleaning to be deemed done for 2015, so therefore I hightailed it out the door for a walk at Council Point Park.

Since my last visit, a week ago today, the trees were having a “coming out” party.  Although the event did not garner as much attention as it did for Bruce Jenner, the greening of the Park was a welcome sight after the blah landscape of late.

It was a beautiful morning – the sky was blue, the sun was shining and everything was right with the world.

As I wended my way back and forth to the Park, it was the flowering trees and bushes that stole the show.

Pretty purple azaleas and rhododendrons were in full bloom and the forsythia bushes added a golden glow to an already golden morn.

Though it may sound silly, I was imagining the many flowering trees, if they could speak to one another, saying “who are you wearing?”

Some weeping cherry trees were spilling over with dainty pink blooms and the crabapples were resplendent in their frilly-looking white petticoats.  Those magnificent magnolias were cloaked in pinky tones, blushing with their pale, poufy blooms and tall pear trees looked regal as they rustled with millions of showy, snowy-looking blossoms.  The flowering trees were all so girly-looking, seemingly competing with one another, as if they were headed en masse to a debutante ball.

How quickly we forget the rigors of our wicked Winter when the beauty of Spring is presented to us in such a pleasant panorama.

The Spring came suddenly,

bursting upon the world,

as a child burst into a room,

with a laugh and a shout and hands full of flowers.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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It’s terrible being such a scaredy cat.

Scaredy cat word cloud shape

Work, the wind … and weather in general, wreaked havoc with my walking schedule this week.

And, I needed to get some groceries, and give the car a run, so I planned to set off just as soon as it was light, hoping to get a few walking miles in around the store and schlepping bags into the house.

But before I left, I opened the cellarway door and my eyes, long-trained to zoom in on any critter skittering up and down the wall, honed right in on that spider.

As spiders go, it was not one of those ugly brown or black buggers that spin a thick web and dart out on the sticky threads to catch unsuspecting flying insects.

But, it was the first indoor spider of the year, and it was invading my territory.

It was not unexpected, of course, given all the rain we’ve had recently, but it sure did put a hitch in my plans to zoom out the door, because I am terrified of spiders and centipedes.  And, to make matters worse, he was on the door, near the handle.  The audacity!

I stared at him, and I suppose he stared back at me too.  Who could tell?  My mother, who often grew impatient with my inability to swat or stomp critters with more legs than mine, would say “he’s more afraid of you, than you are of him” … but, alas – I’d stand there petrified, staring at him, transfixed until he moved, or I could position myself properly to wield my weapon – my electric bug sucker.

My little machine sucks bugs up into a trap door from which there is no escape.  It works fine, except I had to walk past this beast to get downstairs to retrieve it.

So, I had to come up with a Plan “B”.

Well, this morning I was in a hurry, so, in desperation, I took a Kleenex out of my coat pocket.

No, not to cry.

And, no, not to squash him – Heavens no!  I can’t kill a spider with half a roll of paper towel, let alone one measly Kleenex.

I bravely threw the wadded-up Kleenex at him and stepped back quickly.

Well, that Kleenex fell right to the floor and I imagined him laughing at me thinking “come and get me if you can” … but I had no other “ammunition” and I wasn’t going to unlace my walking shoes.  Besides, the uneven treads wouldn’t kill him either.

So I told him “wait a minute – stay right here” and I ran like greased lightning and got a loafer.  Loafers have great swatability for bugs and I usually try to keep one handy once Spring arrives.

I, of course, forgot to be loafer-ready since it really didn’t feel much like Spring.

The loafers I keep near the door aren’t for wearing –  they’re just for swatting, because if a spider or centipede crawled inside and I put my foot there, I’d surely have a heart attack.

With much bravado, I swatted.  Hard.  And guts went onto the cream-colored steel door and the bottom of my shoe, where, of course, I had to look twice to ensure he was indeed a goner and could not “get me”, as if the guts sprayed on the door weren’t enough to convince me of that fact.

Success – he was as dead as a doornail!

Feeling brave and oh so worldly, I headed out the door after mopping up his guts.

I gave no more thought to that spider, or the family he left behind, and I drove to Meijer.  Since I’m big on the five-fruits-and-veggies-a- day-regimen, my first stop was at the produce department, where the regular crew and I chatted it up while I perused leafy greens, apples, broccoli and probably the last clementines of the season.  Then I headed for the bananas.

My usual ritual for years when buying bananas is to grab a couple of plastic produce bags for each hand, whereupon I examine each banana to ensure there are no banana spiders tucked in the bunch.  While you may think that’s crazy, a few years back I was standing doing that very exercise when one of the produce clerks came over to uncrate a load of bananas.  She was wearing gloves.  I pointed to her heavy white leather gloves and politely asked if the bananas had just been removed from the fridge.  She said “no, I was unpacking a crate of bananas one day and a huge spider was in between the bunches so now I wear gloves”… I am sure the look on my face was one of horror, and she, obviously another person afflicted with arachnophobia, felt an instant kinship toward me.

After our conversation, I tripled up on the plastic bags and pulled those bananas apart and flyspecked them even more intensely.

But this morning, I was running late due to the creature on the door, and I was preoccupied visiting with Donna, one of the produce clerks – she was unpacking bananas as I walked up.  She said “here’s a good bunch” and handed them over and I already had bags in my hand and she slipped them in.  I never gave it a second thought.  We chit-chatted a few more minutes, and I left to go to the U-scan.

Driving home, I suddenly remembered … I forgot to check the bananas for spiders.

My heart started pounding.

I glanced out of the corner of my eye to the grocery bag on the floor on the passenger side.  It was darkish over there.  I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the bag, imagining that while I was driving that 1 ½ miles home, the imagined banana spider would morph into some type of monster arachnid and run out of the bag, across the hump and up my pant leg.

I drove faster.

My heart beat faster too.

I am sure I lost five years of my life on the trip home.

I arrived and checked that bunch of bananas out before I took them in the house so I’d not be contending with a humungous spider, the likes of the one featured in a long ago “Twilight Zone” episode.

Well, the bananas were fine – me … not so much.

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It’s Earth Day 2015.

Background for earth day with globe and hand illustration

Happy Earth Day Earthlings!

I would like to have written that my morning stroll took in Mother Earth’s finest offerings, but instead I am writing this post between sneezes and eyes and nose running from Spring allergies.  The gusty winds these past few days have scattered the pollen here, there and everywhere.  I have had to endure the wrath of the pollen onslaught  for the brief time periods I’ve spent outside, this despite some 40 years of allergy shots.

Those who read my posts regularly, know I normally excel at reducing my carbon footprint.  I walk as much as I can and don’t fill my gas tank on ozone action days … well, actually I only fill my gas tank once a season (whether it needs it or not), so Mother Nature usually gives me a gold star at the end of the year.  Since I got my new car battery I’ve been trying to drive the car a wee bit more and am now becoming precariously close to being neck-in-neck with my walking miles.  Well, that’s a first!

I’m no tree hugger but I embrace nature on my walks to the Park and I try to enjoy and befriend Buddy’s brethren, a/k/a  those *&^% robins who have already built three nests this year, one in each of their usual places (the two coach light elbows and the platform for the side/backyard floodlight).  I hung up the “no vacancy” sign, but unfortunately I don’t speak “robinese” and I guess they don’t understand English.  I am trying to be tolerant with them, but the last nest, which I dragged down yesterday with my corn broom, was quite the work of art.  It was fashioned with tinsel, twigs, bellybutton lint and molded with mud – lots of mud, that sprayed all over me and the sidewalk when I yanked it down from its snug and cozy hidey hole in the bend of the coach light under the awning, much to the chagrin of the robin who watched me, his mouth full of nest materials.  While I grumbled to myself, he dropped his nest fixin’s to chatter back at me.

“We are all God’s creatures” will have to be my mantra going forward, and I shall keep repeating it to myself, or else I will surely swat those robin redbreasts with that broom the next time I see them lined up on the fence scowling at me.

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It looks like Spring has taken a hike again.

04-19-15

Well, I took a hike too … down to Council Point Park. It was a chilly one at best.

Although the last two warm and sunny days were perfect in every way, today was blustery and cold, so I was back in a hat, heavy coat and gloves. Since yesterday, I noticed that the lackluster landscape at the Park is very slowly coming to life. The trees are full of pale green buds but no leaves yet. The grass is even greening up. Those straw-colored reeds in the marshy area of the Creek have withstood the Winter and were waving wildly in the wind. I saw some splish-splashing going on in the Creek, though no geese or ducks were present, so I walked slowly down the embankment. I thought I might see some frogs or turtles nipping at the surface of the water, but all I saw were the rings remaining where they had come up for air, then quickly submerged again.

There were a few new dabs of color here and there in the neighborhood besides just those orange and white construction barrels. The kids pulled out the pastel chalks that had been buried beneath the goodies in their Easter baskets and they took to the sidewalks. The handiwork of those budding chalk artists was everywhere, including hopscotch squares on uneven sidewalks, where a hop, step and a jump should be taken at your own risk

All those multi-colored chalk flowers and squiggles and doodles paired nicely with the turquoise lawn patch that was everywhere. It appears that alot of homeowners are hopeful that magic mixture will take root during our two days of rain they are forecasting.

So, as to those Facebook computer funnies about Spring loading slowly – it’s true. Mother Nature is doing one step forward, two steps back.

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I must admit I had zoom envy.

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And, it was not that I coveted a fancy-schmancy sports car like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.

Nope, not at all.

What I did want though was a new digital camera with 12X zoom.

There … I said it out loud.

My friend and neighbor Marge and I have taken multiple excursions to Bishop Park in Wyandotte, or beautiful Elizabeth Park in Trenton, for the sole purpose of taking in the scenery and snapping countless photos while we were there.

When we returned home, after uploading the pictures to our respective computers, we exchanged our photos taken of the same scenery.  Sadly, the subjects in my photos looked like specks, but Marge’s subjects were up close and personal.

Because inquiring minds want to know, I asked about her secret for her stunning photos.

“It’s my 12X zoom” she whispered in a hushed tone.

“Oh, I get it” I said.

So, I often used her pictures instead for my posts, and decided along the way that I had zoom envy.

Yesterday, I watched a video on the “Today Show” Facebook site how age 60 is the new 50.  Well, that’s cool, especially since I’m headed in that direction.  I figured with all the vim and vigor coming down the pipeline, surely this ol’ gal needed a treat for herself and her blog readers.

I had originally intended to be part of a walkathon late morning at Council Point Park.  A few weeks ago the marquis at Memorial Park caught my eye when the word “walkathon” flashed on the digital display.  I had to stand there patiently, while I waited for all the upcoming events and a picture of Mr. Sun proclaiming the current temperature and date and time, to find out the specifics.

But, there were no specifics, save for the date: April 18th at 11:00 a.m. at Council Point Park.  Well, that message really piqued my interest since it was at my regular stomping grounds, so I thought I’d see what charity I could benefit and participate in a marathon, even if I could only finish part of it.

Last year I toyed with the idea of walking in a 5K marathon in Wyandotte but it was way too early in the season and I was not ready to walk 6+ miles in early May.

When I got online later, I started noodling around the City website, and their Facebook counterpart, in an effort to glean more info, but could find nothing.  I felt like a reporter wanting to know the facts and details like  “who, what, where, when, why and how?”

A few phone calls later, I spoke with our brand-new councilman in Lincoln Park who told about the fundraiser and he gave me a website to go to.   Money is tight for the City of Lincoln Park and we have an emergency manager.  A few years ago they cut the Memorial Day Parade, but reinstated it after residents complained.  The fundraiser stems from a desire to build a permanent float for the parade.  The walkathon distance was 1½ miles … one loop around the entire Park.  They wanted participants to get 10 pledges at $5.00 apiece.  I don’t like to solicit people, so that was that.  I decided to just wait until later in the year and participate in a marathon for a charity and just make a donation on my own behalf.

So, instead I arrived at Council Point Park before the rest of the crowd got there.  It was a beautiful morning, warm and sunny, and there was only one walker and a couple riding their bikes, so it was quiet and peaceful – just like I like it.

I hadn’t been there in a few days, and had a different coat on, thus, I hadn’t toted along treats for the squirrels.  So, I found myself apologizing for my inconsiderate behavior, when a passel of peanut pals followed me for nearly a half-loop, despite no handouts.  They were persistent and I kept stealing a glance behind me, hoping they’d give up, but no such luck.  Note to self:  don’t forget to take double peanuts tomorrow since that’s what you said you’d bring and they’ll be there waiting on you – waiting and remembering.

I got my 3 ½ miles in and arrived home to grab a quick swig of chocolate milk and be on my way to Best Buy.

I was a woman with a purpose and the purpose was maximum zoom.  My sales girl heard me out, nodded sagely and said she understood completely about my zoom envy.  I told her “I want my readers to see the whites of those squirrels’ eyes when I post a picture with my blog” and she totally recognized the importance of that statement.  She then steered me in the right direction toward the big guns in the digital camera department.

So, ten minutes later I was a happy camper.  I have 12X zoom, I can make a mini movie and I got it on sale.  It’s all good.  Now to sit and read the manual and absorb it.  That will have to wait ‘til after Spring cleaning is done because otherwise I’ll just have a one-track mind in the meantime.  So I’ll dangle that zoom-enhanced digital camera, like a carrot, before me ‘til I finish up my chores.

Stay tuned to see how I do on my self-imposed first assignment, which will occur after all the pesky April showers have given us the beautiful May flowers and the baby goslings and ducklings are running footloose and fancy free through the dandelions at Council Point Park.

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A cast-off–your-coat-and-cast-your-cares-away-kind of day.

04-17-15

Today was like a breath of fresh air in this Spring which has dragged its feet … that is, until today.

It was a perfect Spring day – the kind that poets crow about and painters pick to feature on their canvas.

When I left in the early morn there was heavy dew on the grass and there were puddles galore in the street from last night’s rain.

The air was still except for the twittering of the songbirds hidden high in the trees.  A few sparrows escaped the clan and instead gathered to bathe in the pools of rainwater.

It was peaceful as I walked past the stately homes on Emmons Boulevard.

I saw a man packing the trunk of his car with golf clubs.  He saw me and gave me a sheepish grin, so I asked if he was playing hooky and he simply said “yup” flashing a mouthful of gleaming teeth.  I thought it would be pretty soggy out there on the golf course, but kept that comment to myself.

A pair of squirrels were playing hide-and-seek on a neighboring lawn, and their fur was wet and matted down from romping in the now-tallish and sopping wet grass.

There were countless iridescent trails left behind by slugs or snails and I crossed the path of at least a half-dozen worms that wiggled across still-damp sidewalks, traversing the pavement to reach the dew-laden grass.

I resisted the urge to scoop up one longish worm which I actually stepped over.  It was taking its good old sweet time crossing my path and I saw a pair of robins licking their chops in anticipation of their breakfast.

I was mindful of the huge magnolia tree that I’ve been watching the past week.  The first hint of pale pink buds was evident.  They have not yet unfurled.  When they do, I must take a picture before a gusty wind scatters them hither and yon.

The twitters and tweets intensified as I walked underneath the canopy of trees which line the Boulevard.  I wondered how long before the leaves would come out and obliterate all the birds and their nests.  Then it will seem like the trees are singing on their own.

Just as I was musing over that thought, I heard a sharp yelp and it took me aback.  It pierced the air amidst the symphony of whistles and birdsong and sounded like a dog in distress.  I stopped in my tracks and looked around, but could see nothing.  I started walking again, and there was another sharp yelp.  It was close – in fact the noise seemed to come from the other side of the worn stockade-type fence.  Hoping the animal was not in dire straits, I searched for and found a narrow space to peer through.  What I saw next gave me my smile for the day.

A tan-colored puppy was chasing its tail.  It was going round-and-round at a dizzying speed, and every time he was lucky enough to catch that long tail, he’d nip at the tip.  He must have bitten  down too hard, thinking it was a Milk Bone biscuit perhaps, and he let out a yelp.  Of course, his outburst caused him to lose the grip on his tail.  He looked surprised … like “where did it go?” and soon he began his relentless chase once again.  You couldn’t help but smile at his antics.  Was the weather making him feel giddy like me?

I crossed the bridge into Wyandotte, walked a short piece and double-backed to start walking home.  I chose another route, just as scenic, in a different neighborhood.  I often pass a corner house with a double lot that is filled to capacity with ground cover and different lawn ornaments and garden benches.  While it is a little early for the display, all year-round this house has a flip-top aluminum bin with doggie treats inside.  The sign says “For our friends – please help yourself” – there stood a toy poodle and his pet parent right next to the bin when I rounded the bend.  That little dog’s short and stubby pom-pommed tail was wagging and it was wiggling its whole body in anticipation of the treat.  Its owner fished him out one biscuit and he took it from her palm and it was gone in an instant.  All done; they were ready to move on.

I thought of the children’s’ nursery rhyme about “snips and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails” as that had been some of the items I saw as I wended my way through Wyandotte.

It was a morning filled with simple pleasures … for each and every one of us.

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Turning 59 … the tooth, er … truth hurts!

04-14-15

Today I turned 59 years old – well, boo hoo to that.

I celebrated by having my semi-annual visit to the hygienist and dentist – how’s that for fun stuff to do on your birthday?

When I scheduled the appointment last year, the hygienist said “will April 14th at 9:00 a.m. work for you?”  I said “sure enough”, so after a few mouse clicks I was scheduled and she went to write out an appointment card.  I waved her off saying “nope, I can remember – it’s my birthday” to which she replied “and you want to spend it at the dentist?”

So, this morning I recalled our conversation as I moseyed along on the mile and half trip to the dentist’s office.

And, then I must admit I got a little sentimental when I remembered a similar conversation I had with my mom on the occasion of my 7th birthday.

I was bemoaning the fact that I got eyeglasses that very morning – the first pair of many and they were downright ugly.  They were that ghastly cat-eye style in a putrid shell pink that was so popular back in the day.  I remember peering at my “new look” in the  mirror with tears streaming down my face and dripping onto the lenses.

I hated those glasses!  I’d push them this way and that, wanting for all the world to push them right off my face so they’d break and I’d be free of them.  I was a tad vain, I must admit.  Those new glasses surely did not help the sorry status of my bangs that were always cut too short or too crooked thanks to the joint effort by my parents when trimming them between regular hair appointments.  I’ve had Facebook dialogue with others whose parents cut their bangs and we all came away with the same question … how could you let us go into the world looking like that?  But I digress.

In retrospect, I don’t know which was worse – those ugly glasses which covered most of my small face, or the fact that I got them on such a hallowed event as my 7th birthday.   My mom, always a fountain of wisdom, told her whining daughter that “over the years, your birthday will become just another day – oh sure, it is fun and games now because you’re seven years old, but you’ll find out what I’m talking about one day” – clearly she didn’t sympathize with me one iota.

Well, her statement made me miffed for sure, and, since I was never permitted to “mouth back” to my parents, I am sure that I just silently stalked off to my room, with a thought bubble over my head like “no way Mommy … that will never be me” … so, fast forward over a half-century later (and cringing while I write the words “a half-century later”), and I was going to the dentist on my birthday, then back home to work.  Yup, a humdrum day at best..

So, again Mom was right.

Now, I like my dentist and his staff.  They are a congenial bunch who always welcome you just as soon as you walk through the door.  I always arrive early to visit and catch up with that crowd and chat about the photos of the staff outings that Dr. Kelly has posted on their office’ Facebook page.  Besides it is alot easier to chitchat before everyone starts hovering over your mouth with their instruments.

Before Dr. Kelly and his crew can even say “open wide”, you must go through a mini physical which takes about 15 minutes.  The final question that is always asked is if anything is wrong with any of your teeth?  This morning they forgot to ask.

For the past four or five weeks I have had a tooth that was bothering me.  Cold milk or clementines straight from the fridge caused me to nearly hit the ceiling.  Grrrrrr!  I’ve been hoping it was not another crumbling cavity which needed a crown as the fix-it to relieve the pain.  I wanted to beat myself up for all those extra-crispy Stouffers pizza breads I ate regularly years ago, that is until Little Caesars “Hot and Ready” $5.00 pizza was introduced.  Woo hoo – you drove up to the window, put down a five-spot, and it was ready for you.  Hot and instant gratification just about five minutes after you decided pizza might be a nice dinner treat.  Good thing because there might have been more cavities crumbling which necessitated new crowns from crunching down on all that French bread pizza.

I really don’t know how I ever got cavities anyway – I rarely, if ever, got to eat candy and I had that nasty fluoride varnish applied every year.  I hated that procedure … the horrible smell and the cotton that propped your mouth open so they could paint your teeth – Ugh!

Well, I passed their mini physical with flying colors and after the teeth cleaning, Dr. Kelly’s quick inspection of my teeth indicated I was A-OK.

So I thought to myself “well should I mention the tooth if they didn’t notice it?”  Hmmmmm.  Finally I just blurted out “the tooth hurts” and gestured which one with my index finger.

Then I held my breath.

They both honed in for a closer look.

“So” said Dr. Kelly, “there’s nothing there – nothing is amiss.  The enamel is eroding a little and that comes with age.  You’re good to go; just use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.  I’ll give you some samples, okay?”

I wanted to give him a kiss but figured I still had that bubblegum-flavored tooth polish smeared around my lips and he wouldn’t appreciate my gesture.

I fairly flew out of the seat with exuberance.  I didn’t care if he said my teeth were old – I personally didn’t feel any older.  What’s a calendar date anyway?

So, with that dreaded dental visit over, my brain could now focus on the present as I made the return trip home, this time with a spring in my step I might add.

As to thoughts on growing older … well, now there’s only one more year to go ‘til the big 6-0.

Actually, I had been feeling rather smug since my former high school classmates, who convened for our 40-year reunion in 2013, have kept in touch via a Facebook group since that gathering.  They are in the planning stages for a mass birthday party on Thanksgiving weekend since everyone will turn 60 this calendar year.  I responded to the invitation by saying that I would not be turning 60 for many more months and I am still the youngest one in our class of 613 students.  So, let them eat cake (and ice cream too) and I’ll pass on that gathering.

Now, I’ve always been up front about my age, and my mom would chide me and say “a lady never tells her age” or “why do you want to divulge your age to everyone?”  I concede now that perhaps she had a point and maybe I’ll not be as forthcoming going forward now that this Baby Boomer found out just how many minutes old she really is.  It sure burst my bubble when I hopped onto this site:  http://playback.fm/birthday-song

Okay, Mom … you win this round too.

Above is a picture of yours truly gummin’ it before that very first tooth.  Back then, there were no worries about cavities, crowns, bite splints or braces.  Braces and their trappings, like headgear, rubber bands and a monthly trip to the orthodontist to have your braces pulled tighter …  just another indignity to suffer for the sake of having pretty and perfectly aligned teeth.  I could write volumes about braces, but I’ll save it for another time.  It looks  like my hair didn’t require much maintenance , just a curly-Q on top, fashioned perfectly with a little spit, then a twist and a whole lot of love courtesy of Mom.

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