Tag Archives: life

Why Do We Do This?

We are adamant about picking up our dog’s poop and throwing it away in a sanitary manner in eco-safe bags. People look at us as if we’re crazy, especially if there’s a bit of snow. Why bother? Why? Spring is coming, the snow will melt and there will be tons of poop. We always carry extra bags for an errant dog owner. “Hi, would you like to use this?”

That is what my father did, my brother and I do, and my husband does. Clean up after messes with businesses and non-profit organizations. We pick up the junk everyone else doesn’t look after.

We come in when an organization, big or small, cannot handle day-to-day business anymore. We are the problem solvers, organizers, big thinkers and detail-oriented pro’s. Dad died recently and I didn’t have time to give him the “poop” analogy, but that’s what he did for over 60 years, God rest his soul.

Do clients thank us for this? No. Do they pay us? Sometimes. When an organization does not want change, the entrenched employees will just say no. If the higher-ups agree with them we’re gone and they lose. We go on.

Why do we do this? There is a problem and like a plumbing leak, we want to fix it. We want organizations to be healthy and not leaking like a sieve.

I am retired now but yesterday I contacted the city attorney’s office stating that a new crosswalk sign (no painted crosswalk) they put up last week is not attached correctly and will fly off and kill someone. They hung up on me after 30 seconds. I called the city and they gave me a transaction number which I gave to several interested parties for follow-up. I get things done. We are a neighborhood and all of us live here so why not work together. Teamwork, that’s how it goes.

With arthritis for 30 years I no longer walk about with 100 bags and pick up after every errant dog owner who will not pick dog poop up for him or herself. I can give a helpful suggestion and a bag. What they do with that information is up to them, I’m only a consultant. Cheers! Dee

The Best Things

in life are not free. Especially when it comes to taking care of a dog while you’re away from home and can’t take her with you. Heads and tails above the others and affordable was Dog Boys Dog Ranch. She had cattle, horses, and as a pup with excised hips she was placed with older, sedate dogs.

Don’t listen to that. Those dogs did not chase our Zoe around the pasture. They whispered in her ears. She learned so many bad habits it was actually funny. “Tell them you can’t get up to the kitchen counter then eat their steak.” We’re smarter than her but she has messed with our minds for 13 years now. Yes, she did that. She also stole a croissant and needed to bring it to her special place to eat it so it looked like a mustache and she took it right by our guests at brunch and we couldn’t stop laughing. There was no way she would be reprimanded!

We thank Dog Boys for not only taking care of her, but shaping her character through allowing her to interact with other dogs and people. Everyone knew her, she was sometimes in the office. Now she is an erstwhile friend to many in the neighborhood and a mascot around town. Thank you. Dee & Z

When I think of the people we allowed to take care of her over her many years, as a pup she went to Dog Boys and they still remember her 12 years later. Sorry to give this away. I’m writing a piece because I think many dog boarding facilities are sub-standard and our Zoe has been in several. Others charge a fortune for sub-standard care at home. Dee

I Missed a Lot

I get up in the morning to walk the dog, of course, but before I do that I put down the shades.

Why? To protect art. In our living room I’ve a story that will keep you going for weeks. It is a quilt by my dear mother-in-law. After years we’ve made it into a seasons quilt. I only helped a little bit with the concept as I failed my Girl Scout sewing badge at age seven.

In our “den” we’ve a 100 year-old quilt from my husband’s family with many stories to be told. I close the blinds to prevent the sun from shining too brightly on these cherished works of art.

Don’t worry, I leave them up to the bottom window so our old dog Zoe can watch squirrels out the window. It won’t hurt the quilts, or squirrels.

Our neighbor is a Swedish architect, retired now. He liked one work I picked out at the University of Glasgow. When James McNeill Whistler died he left everything to his sister. When she died, she left everything to the University. I got to see his entire studio as it was the day he died. Going out, I found a print I really liked, a nude (not really because her legs were crossed and she had a book over her upper parts) that was not Whistler’s mother. It’s dainty and I framed it well and not expensively.

I’ve had over thirty years to travel, have not used much of it but Fr. John would be proud. A cook, not an artist, I may make my teachers proud. I did learn history! Dee

Note: Try Video Later

I got a great history in art from Fr. John, then a lesson in Renaissance and Reformation in history from said priest.

When my father turned 80 he took up art. As you walk into our home we’ve a Tuscan landscape on one wall and Maori art on the other. Plus a charcoal drawing of dancers from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, from a student about thirty years ago. Dad painted two, and bought me the drawing.

There is a print to the left and more photos to the right in the kitchen. Not all food-related. Directly in front I framed the Brooklyn Bridge in b/w for my husband. Down the hall there are two framed photos I took on an historic tour, one of a mill in Vermont and another of Concord grapes near where I grew up.

I call these three “the greens” because they each have a different frame and matte color but our focus is on the Creek. I’ve loved that creek for many years and the photographer was much better than I, though I do hope my framing choices do it justice.

In the bedroom the piece de resistance is over our bed, another raw Tuscan countryside. I went to a consignment shop in Houston perhaps ten years ago and was looking for a nice piece to store china. Checking out the drawers I found two Tuscan, signed and numbered lithos and scurried out of the store. Forget the dresser/server, I paid $4 for them and then $150 to double-mat them years later.

There are three Tuscan artist-made paintings of local towns from a guy I really liked. They’re all double or triple-matted in wood frames. My framer also helped me do a tryptich of my long shots of the Greek seas. And, for my husband, a crayon drawing of The Wizard of Oz. It’s his favorite.

I’ve others to put up, but one is newly important. I took care of a dog for a friend and she brought back a Japanese wood block print for me. It is key because in the 1700’s he was the first artist in the world to make full-color  wood prints. It is of a courtesan receiving an invitation and I look forward to meeting with Ms. K. to frame it. Let’s see what shows up below from former work. That’s my Dad’s Tuscan work.

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Too dark to do photos. New phone so no experience except not answering wrong numbers from gang members and just making a few calls. Kindergarten level. Framing art to make it look as good as it can be is fun. Also expensive. As to my mentor’s photo below, I will be buried there. Not there but miles away. She always made my and many others’ days. Cheers! Dee

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Houses

We live a block from a large body of water. When the automobile was invented rich people started to build huge vacation homes along the coast. behind them were carriage houses for staff, horses or cars.

I look at these homes from the 15th floor of an apartment overlooking said body of water and wonder about floor plans and rooms. My husband is a physicist and learned to be a software engineer by technical books. I have many cookbooks but he has Numerical Recipes.

When it comes to life, not work, he wants to read about white water rafting, I want to do it in a huge rush of water with a guide and learn in real time. When it comes to a place to live, he needs to see it. I need a floor plan and to find out places and amenities, parking and moving truck and reserving an elevator. He wants to see security (for my and our old dog’s sake) and trim level. He’s a consummate “shopper” researching everything from guitar humidors, headphones to cell providers. He wants to spend time checking them out so we partner as my goal is to weed places out so he has to spend less time looking for a place to live.

So, I look down at these homes by the sea and see two huge places, one French, one English, ten feet away from each other. I imagine 100 years ago that two family members purchased them as beach get-aways. Now, they are student housing.

There’s a place my mother-in-law walked by a few years ago and said “I love this house! It must be 1910.” The owner was mowing the lawn and said, “yes, it’s 1910.” It’s a Tudor with attic space, smaller but gorgeous and beautifully maintained.

I look down and see huge places built like Dutch barns or Colonials or modern condos and wonder why they live here. I figure out in my head the floor plan and how many bedrooms and know where the kitchen, dining and living rooms are, and the master bedroom. Of course the trees have grown over the years so they have proximity to water but not a view.

There’s the “castle” a quarter mile away that must have had some parties back in the day. Round drive, porte cochere, many fireplaces. The top floor has plywood in the windows. The woman who lives there (my husband has met her while walking Zoe) drives an inexpensive car and I opine that she lives on the first floor and keeps the pipes working but was left the place by grandparents and doesn’t have a million dollars to fix it up.

The carriage houses are another thing, built on a back street behind the home. I’ve only been in one. The main floor was gorgeous. Basement tolerable but needed updating. The carriage garage was lovely, big enough for a car and motorcycle.

Since we do and have had new snow I get to notice which homes have snow on the roof and which do not. My mother-in-law, a nurse, home builder and renovator, liked that. If it still has snow it has good insulation and a good roof. One would not wish to purchase the reverse.

We’re having a cold week but it may turn to Spring soon. I’ve got a welcoming sign with bluebirds and leaves on our door. Last week it was warmer and I heard birds chirping and saw squirrels (luckily Zoe didn’t see them, though she’d never catch one).

When I look at a floor plan, I consider if we can live there, if our needs are met and if our furniture fits. Unless we are buying all we can do is set up and put up some artwork. I enjoy a five-piece master en-suite. Spoiled. I know. Two sinks, toilette, shower and tub.

Most 70’s and plans before that have closed off areas where the maid made dinner. I make dinner and we prefer to interact with family and friends. We live in a small, open (2 br) space with floor to ceiling windows in every room. A while ago we had a MYOP (make your own pizza) party for a family with two kids, six and two. I made all the dough and toppings in advance and let them roll out their dough and choose. Then they made dough to take home and let rise. They liked it (except the smoke alarm going off for the pizza) because there were hand prints all over our windows!

That is the kind of home I’d like. View, safe, secure, parking, dog-friendly, friend and family ready with space for guests and an office for me. And no plywood covering the windows. What, is that too much to ask? Dee

It’s About Everything

Yes, that’s life, as Frank Sinatra sang it. Many people concentrate on one facet, whether it be sports, math or English literature.

Youth is, indeed, wasted on the young. Older doesn’t necessarily mean wiser but in my case, it works. I had a great family and was taught so much.

When every experience from being bullied to volunteering for a soup kitchen line to cooking school, helping feral cats and adopting four rescues over the past twenty years, I had an education that rivaled my formal education and career. Yes, I also credit my two favorite priests, Fr. Cap and Fr. John, both gone now.

They wove meaning into the fabric of my life. I learned about how history and traditions make us who we are, to accept people we don’t know and, above all, respect, appreciation and honesty.

Through my parents, relatives, teachers and friends I’ve learned much. And my husband teaches me physics lessons while listening to country music on the car radio on long drives. Do you know what’s coming out of that smokestack? No, dear. I can tell by the color……….

Also, having a pet can make a difference. There’s a real responsibility and I’m shirking mine now as I’ve taken her out for “last chance” and she is not by my side. She wants me to lift her up to the bed for her beauty sleep. She’s gorgeous and just turned 84 in people years. She has no hips so cannot jump up by herself. If I slept 20 hours a day I might look that good.

A pet is a grounding experience, especially without a child. So is music, the written word, writing a blog or Haiku or poems.

My husband’s gone for work but I still read cookbooks and make my own recipes and wish for him to come home soon to try them. Yes, my hobbies are cooking, writing and shelter pets/feral cats (spay/neuter). I have had perhaps my last shelter pet, hopefully not, because a dog gets me out to walk and meet people and other dogs. Zoe is old but fine.

Life is about everything and how playing touch football on a dead-end street or softball in our back yard was so special as a kid. The neighborhood kids called on us early and asked for Dad. Mom said they had to wait until the end of dinner. Dad’s only rule was that everyone got to play and play fair. I remember one kid picking up his little brother and running him from first to second base, a tree, and home (we didn’t have that much space) and everybody won because were all the home team. Even toddlers got to play on Dad’s team.

Honesty, integrity, a sense of fairness for everyone, life is about everything. Cheers to you and your family, Dee

A Woman’s Touch

Set designers do it all the time. Read the play or screenplay. Set the scene. An older couple might be in an original craftsman-style place with wallpaper and draperies. Young hipsters might be on the beach in an avant-garde window-filled home with modern art.

When one looks for a home, rural, suburbia, city living one generally knows the difference between a “man cave” and even an apartment lived in by a couple.

There is framed art on the walls, whether it be photographs or quilts or whatever. There is kitchen equipment. The place looks “lived in” in a good way, like a couple or a family enjoyed life there and got a new job and has to move, or need a bigger place for family.

There is also the question of location. When I met my husband he was on the first floor and his windows looked out on the back of the mailboxes and a parking lot. He kept black shades closed all the time, built a computer (dual-brained, no-one did that back in the day) and worked in his underwear. He drank Dr. Pepper and ate individually wrapped string cheese. I know because the wrappers went from the frig to the computer, dual huge (for the time) monitors as well.

In the frig was said cheese and one 72 oz. Dr. Pepper from a convenience store and the freezer contained one box of lasagna purchased by his mother, visiting from afar, three months earlier.

Aside from the computer, resting on file cabinets on an old door, he had a used barcalounger chair. The bedroom hosted a mattress on the floor, and his only towel was a thin beach towel with Scooby Doo on it. Laundry method was clean pile, dirty pile. I organized everything as he moved away three weeks later. After he left I even paid to get a maid in so he could get his security deposit back. He came back after giving the barcalounger to his neighbor. Neighbor asked why he came back after two weeks? Her.

It’s a little different now. I moved in a partial kitchen and an office to the new place I found him while dog-walking. Years, cities, countries later we have a dining room, living room and lovely bedroom. I’ve had nearly everything we enjoy framed, great photos, art my father started painting at age 80, and one of mine in crayon (Wizard of Oz) at age five that is his favorite. Great choices, single, double and triple matting. Quilts, one from his mother, after a few visits we finally agreed on a seasonal quilt. There’s also a beautiful quilt a few feet behind me from a great great great grandma (his) of flowers in a hexagonal pattern.

Viewers of the old quilt ask where it came from. Apparently the quilter began suffering from dementia. Whereas everything was pristine, beautifully sewn and orchestrated, there are two unusual “flowers” on the edges. That’s what I tell people about how we met. We had to work our individual ways through perfection, to be together.

There is no longer a man cave, we always have a view, a fully-appointed home and precious (at least to us) things on the walls. No more string cheese. Hubby now chooses between four-year and five-year cheddar. I’m a great cook and he critiques my recipes! This from a guy who ate burgers every day….. Dee

p.s. We even have matching towels for each bath, including a set for the dog! And somehow laundry/drycleaning magically shows up in his dresser and closet daily. No more clean/dirty piles. I match our socks and even wash them in cold water and hang them to dry. D