My mother loves Harry Truman…

This morning I was speaking with my mother on the telephone, explaining to her what I had done to help her manage what will soon be her stock portfolio.  With the exception of percentages left to me and my brothers, my mother will take over my grandmother’s rather extensive stock portfolio.  My mother has owned shares of five companies since the 1970’s but has never really been interested in stocks or financial things.  Now she is going to have to be.

Anyway, I told my mother that because she already owns shares of Haliburton and will soon be getting shares of Diebold from my grandmother, she is going to have to become a Republican.  She scoffed at my joke but stopped laughing when I explained that with the Diebold voting machines, she is now a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy.  It amused me to no end.

Then we got to talking a bit about politics.  My mother voted in the Democrat primary for West Virginia last night during her poll worker training.  My mother loves being a poll worker.  She’s done it for years.  Election days are like holidays to her.  And she makes $125 for the day which isn’t too shabby for a retired woman.  Anway, she told me that she didn’t realize until last night just how conservative she is on a range of issues.  For example, she is pro-life.  But she still identifies as a good Democrat.  I told her that she was a good Democrat but that today’s Democrats are not.  She seemed to agree with me.  And then I whipped out the old Ronad Reagan line “I didn’t leave the Democratic party… The Democratic party left me,” and she really identified with it.

My mother is a Harry Truman Democrat.  In fact, most of our conversations of late have been about good old Harry.  She loves him and loves talking about him.  Today we discussed the Harry episode when he went ballastic on a newspaper reviewer who gave a horrible review of his daughter, Margaret’s singing.  Good story.  Once the post-death work is done, I intend to loan my mother my copy of the Truman biography by Davd McCullough.  I think everyone should read it.

But don’t worry, Democrats, my mother will not leave the party.  She voted for Hillary last night and hopes to do so in the general election.  However, I think she might just swing the McCain way if Hillary is not the Democratic nominee.


The end of April…

How can this possibly be the last day of April?  I totally got ripped off on the whole birthday month thing.  I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset about the end of April since the past few days have been so cold.  I actually broke down and turned the heat back on when it got down to 38 degrees.  Bastards.  Perhaps May will be warmer.  Of course, the first year that we lived here, we got a snow storm on May 28th, so I no longer get my hopes too high that May means warmer weather.

The day that my grandmother died, after I went to the funeral home to make arrangements, my mother and I went out to lunch together.  It was our first meal out, alone, without my grandmother in my life.  And it was kind of nice.  I made a vow to her that day that we would start to spend more time together, not just because there were so many post-death things to be done, but because I wanted to have a better relationship with her.  We’re close, I guess.  But when I was growing up in a house with her and my grandmother, my grandmother took charge.  She was the parent to both of us.  At first I think my mother was releived to not have to parent me.  But by the time I was in high school and she wanted to be the parent, I dismissed her and turned to my grandmother during the times when I needed parental advice/help/guidance/permission slip/etc.

So, even though April has left me in a flash and I have lost weekend to my grandmother’s illness, her death and then S’s grandparents, I am heading back to West Virginia tomorrow.  I hate having to do it because I am seriously missing alone time with S and Rummy has only recently forgiven me for being away the last time.  I really, really just want to stay home and hang with my little family.  But I told my mother that I would be there to advise her on some financial issues that she now has to deal with.  And I promised her that we would spend more time together.  So I have to go. 

And I have been having pangs of guilt since the moment we drive away from her after the funeral.  She is all alone now in that big house.  Thankfully she has been busy trying to take stock of all of my grandmother’s things.  And there have been lots of relatives and friends stopping by the help her out and visit with her.  But I do feel guilty for not being able to be there more.  When I lived in Pittsburgh, I was just an hour away and I could visit with relative ease.  But now all visits have to be over-nighters because it’s a longer drive.  I have to put more effort into being there.


The need for more shelves…

This is why I really need to get to work on the built-in bookshelves for our office:


This is not a stack of books that I haven’t read…  I’ve read a handful of them so far, but I really don’t have any room on our current bookshelves to put them away.  I need more shelves.  I need more storage.  But, I need to put ceramic tile in my kitchen and laundry room.  One project must come before the other and I have no idea how to prioritize them.

More appeal…

While I have been excited by having everything turn green again, I have been lamenting that we don’t have a lot of spring color in our yard.  By mid summer we’re going to have some color.  A good start anyway.  But right now we are mostly green.  Last year we put some bush roses in pots on either side of our front steps.  We also had some red fountain grass on either side too, but it was an annual so we needed to replace it for this year.  We went with gallon sized pots of Salvia from the Home Despot.  Now we’ll have bursts of purple every spring, which will be nice.

We also bought a white rhododendron for right in front of the house, under our living room windows.  I planted it right between our blueberry bush and our ginormous pine tree.  Perfect soil for the rhododendron.  We went with white thinking that it would looking good against the red paint on the house.  It’s another purchase that is going to take several years to fully appreciate, but we had to start somewhere.



Curb appeal..

In an effort to improve the curb appeal of our home, we are going to replace the hedges in front of the house.  It is something I have been wanting to do since the day we moved in, but S insisted that we couldn’t rip out the existing hedges until we had something to put in their place.

These are the current, ugly hedges:

They are only green during the spring and summer.  The rest of the year they are ugly, brown sticks.  They are unruly, not matter how many times I have tried to trim them.  I’ve had neighbors stop by to offer me the use of their hedge trimmers mere hours after I have already trimmed them.  It is impossible to make them look good.  I don’t know what they are called, but they have wicked little thorns and it really hurts to accidentally bump into them.

This is what we will be replacing the hedges with.  They are called Arborvitae and they are the first hedge replacement candidates that S and I have agreed on, so we bought them.  We bought the quart sized pots but now we are wondering if we should have bought the large ones since these little ones will take a couple of years before they are hedge-like.  We may still do that and then put these little ones someplace else.

Next Saturday is projected to be somewhat warm and somewhat dry, so that is the day of hedge removal.  I am going to put the special tree blade on the reciprocating saw and go to town on the hedges.  I cannot wait to drag them up to the curb.

Spring stuff…

Spring comes late to northeast Ohio.  We finally had a week of warm weather last week.  But today is cold and tomorrow will be cold and Wednesday will be cold.  There is even some talk of a rain/snow mix over the next few days.  And when I say cold, I don’t mean 50 degrees.  I mean 38 degrees.  I swore that when I turned off the furnace last week that I would not turn it on again until next November.  I will stick to that.  S won’t.  She’ll turn it back on tonight, I bet.  And she’ll turn it up to 70 because that is the only way she will feel warm.

Because it hasn’t really been spring here, we haven’t done much work in the yard yet.  Some of our neighbors have cleaned up their yards and started cutting their grass, but they were wearing down-filled coats  while they worked.  I’m just not that kind of person.  I waited for warm weather.  And time.  April 19th was a warm day here, but I wasn’t here.  I was burying my grandmother.  I’ve really not had any time to do anything other than think about working in the yard.

But yesterday was kind of sunny and kind of warm.  And S’s grandparents left before noon, so we ended up having more of the day than we thought we would.  The yard and garden beds were so neglected…

This is the neglected back yard.  See those big, brown circles?  Last October somebody (not me) decided to rake the leaves and she went out to do it with a full head of steam.  She raked well and there were a ton of leaves.  But she woked so dilligently that it didn’t take long for her to get worn out.  And so she raked the leaves into big piles, put the rake away and vowed to finish the job the next day.  But then she didn’t finish the job and the leaves sat in their piles all winter long.  And the leaves killed the grass.  Which wouldn’t be so bad if the dogs and their need for urination weren’t already destroying large sections of the yard.  The dead grass in the front yard is not her fault, nor is it the fault of the dogs.  Grubs killed my grass.  Bastards.  I will get revenge.

All of our flower beds showed signs of neglect as well.  We have a bed that runs the length of the house, down the driveway that contains decorative plants (Phlox and Yarrow) as well as my herb garden, a strawberry plant and last year it was where we planted our tomatoes.  It’s the only part of our yard that gets full sun from dawn to dusk.  But it gets gravel spilled into it from the driveway and was also buried under leaves.  In addition, the weeds have run rampant.  Thankfully, S worked on that area, getting the leaves removed and doing some of the “cutting back” that we were supposed to have done last fall.  Now it looks much better than it does in the above picture.

Another great joy is the poison ivy that is all over tha place.  It is in the flower beds.  It is all along our fence and driveway.  And it is all over the grass like land mines.  S gets poison ivy by merely looking in its directions.  Knock on wood, but I don’t know that I have ever really had it.  I thought I might have last summer, but it was a tiny patch, about the size of a dime, on my wrist and it didn’t spread and it didn’t itch.  All of which is to say that it is my job to eradicate the poison ivy again this year.

So, I need some things from the local garden center: poison ivy killer, grass seed and mushroom compost.  I also need some product to help keep the rabbits from eating my plants and trees and something to keep the squirrels away from my eventual tomato plants.

The grandparents…

It was a good visit.  They seemed to like the house a lot.  Probably more than S’s parents because her grandparents liked the fact that the house is 108 years old, while that was off putting to the parents.  The thing is, we really didn’t get to give them the big impressive tour of the house because as soon as they got here they unloaded their car and went up to the guest room to unpack.  I don’t really know that they got to experience all of the really cool things about the house.

Speaking of unpacking…  They brought a memory foam bed topper for Grandma’s back.  Totally understandable because she has a long, painful history with her back.  But they also brought their own pillows, sheets and blanket.  They aso brought their own towels and washcloths.  This is not something that I am familiar with, but maybe people of the older generation just do that sort of thing.  I don’t know.  But it was strange.

When they got here were bought some pizza for lunch and then we took them on a driving tour of our neighborhood and where S works.  They were impressed.  They also remarked several times on how “diverse” our area is.  After the tour we returned to the house and all took a nap.  I’m not much of a napper, but I did doze off a bit while watching the NFL DraftS was excited about the whole napping business.  She loves naps and is actually a 70 year old trapped in the body of a 29 year old.  The napping ran longer than the half hour it was supposed to and after we all got freshened up we headed out to Olive Garden.

Olive Garden during the seven o’clock hour on a weekend night kind of sucks.  We had to sit and wait for an hour before we got a table.  A couple of times the grandparents offered that we could go somewhere else for dinner but when we mentioned other restaurants, they vetoed them.  Apparently they only like Italian food and American food.  Understandable, as I am loathe to try new things.  The service was horrible at Olive Garden once we got our table.  There was also a screaming child in the next table over who was not being parented very well.

After dinner we returned to the house and played cards while listening to Billie Holiday.  Yeah, I like hanging with the older generation.  We talked and laughed and had a very good time.  Well, all good except for that time when S and her grandma left the room to go get some more music.  You see, they left me alone with Grandpa and he thought it was a good time for us to talk about subjects I would rather not ever discuss.

Grandpa: Meg, I don’t want to get into your personal business…

I thought we were about to start an inappropriate discussion of money and finances, but no.

Grandpa:… but how old are you now?

Me:  Um, 35.

Grandpa:  Have you been thinking about your risk for diabetes?

And then he launched into a long diatribe about my health and diabetes and the dangers of gastric bypass and how the stomach band would be a better choice for me and it just got more uncomfortable with every word.  I interjected that my cholesterol, triglycerideds, blood pressure and last EKG were all good, so I don’t worry too much.  Besides (I didn’t say out loud) I am not morbidly obese or anything close to being so.  I am no Carnie Wilson.  If anything I might need to eat more vegetables and less bread, but hey, he just took me to Olive Garden so the blood is on his hands.  I would also like to mention that he was giving me this embarassing medical advice because of an article he had read in Prevention magazine and he is not, in any way shape or form, a doctor.

So, that was really quite unconfortable but we went back to playing cards and telling stories.  We even stayed up until midnight.  Which I hope S’s parents doen’t find out about because when they are visiting, S and I always want to go to bed at ten o’clock.  When we got up on Sunday morning we hit the nearby IHOP (hey, that can’t be good for my diabetes risk) for breakfast.  Again, remarks on how “diverse” our area is.  And after breakfast they packed up and left.  I thought they might linger a little longer, but no.

Apparently they had a great time, which is good.  And with the exception of about ten minutes I will never be able to erase from my brain, I had a good time too.  S always has a great time with her grandparents.