Thursday, June 22, 2017

The "Y" of Gore

I've always been grateful that I was born inquisitive. I assume there is a part of my brain which makes me so, but I don't know where it is located.

I get inquisitive when I read about a place. I want to go there; see it for myself. I get inquisitive about words when I don't know their meaning. That happened this morning.

I read a story about a car accident: "The Patrol says they were traveling north on Interstate 29 at around 4-p.m. near the Whiting exit (mile marker 120), when for reasons unknown, the car drove off the road and into a gore, rolling over several times before coming to a rest on its top in the gore."

Gore? What do they mean? Did they mean to say gorge?

To me gore meant something a bull did like during the Running of the Bulls in Pamploma - or the blood and such as a result of being gored.

Or maybe Al Gore or Lesley Gore (It's My Party).

Maybe if I had remembered my sewing lessons I might have figured it out. A gore is "a triangular tract of land, especially one lying between larger divisions."

So if you come to a Y intersection, like the one of my youth South of the river bridge where US Hwy 34 and State Hwy 148 split near Spring Lake, the triangle of land in between was a gore. 

The gore referred to in the news story in the upper left corner - triangle formed by I-29 and K42.

I love learning new words and as perplexed as I was by this gore and its definition, it is one I will probably remember.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hullo Summer

Another Solstice, another Summer and while this post is about neither, the poem does make me think of the summers of my youth.

Summer was all about freedom and fun.

This is today's poem from The Writer's Almanac. It's another one that speaks to me which I wish to archive here.

The Arrival of the Past
    By Scott Owens

You wake wanting the dream
you left behind in sleep,
water washing through everything,
clearing away sediment
of years, uncovering the lost
and forgotten. You hear the sun
breaking on cold grass,
on eaves, on stone steps,
outside. You see light
igniting sparks of dust
in the air. You feel for the first
time in years the world
electrified with morning.

You know something has changed
in the night, something you thought
gone from the world has come back:
shooting stars in the pasture,
sleeping beneath a field
of daisies, wisteria climbing
over fences, houses, trees.

This is a place that smells
like childhood and old age.
It is a limb you swung from,
a field you go back to.
It is a part of whatever you do.

Summer was a
barefoot adventure.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Early Morning Marauder

I've been casing the place for some time, coveting what's there, justifying the pillaging in my mind, plotting how and when I would act, timing my purloining for the least chance of discovery.
Very early in the morning seemed like the best idea, especially as I am usually awake by five a.m. - light enough to see, dim enough I might not be recognized. Just in case, I'd wear my black hoodie.

Along the south side of our little bungalow on 4th Street in West Des Moines, clear on the back corner, barely visible in this photo, grew some orange and yellow, daisy like flowers with a brown center. My neighbor across the drive way, Bernice, told me they were gaillardias.  I'd never heard of them. I did not care for them at all.

But tastes change over the years. I learned that the more common name for gaillardia was blanket flower. I would see them growing wild when we traveled in the western states. The common name was said to refer to the colorful blankets woven by Native Americans. I began wishing I had some growing in my yard and even tried planting them when we were still on the farm. They didn't grow.

In  the last two or three years there have been many trailers moved out of the leased-land park where I live. Near where those homes were are all kinds of perennials, including, in one spot, some gaillardia. Last year the park owner sprayed to kill weeds growing where some of the trailers had been. I thought for sure he had killed all the blanket flowers. But a couple weeks ago I noticed some still blooming along the sidewalk.

It was then I started thinking about liberating a few plants. Today was the day. I awoke around five and decided I would walk down there with my trowel. All was quiet, no one out and about although there were lights on in the house across the street from my plunder spot. Then I saw that homeowner a ways down the street walking her little puff ball. What should I do? Her back was to me, but she might turn around at any moment. Once I bent down to dig the flowers I would be behind a dumpster. What the heck? I'd go for it. If she saw me, she saw me.

I dug a few plants and left, wondering the whole time if she was watching me walk away. Chances are she didn't even care. I've set them out near the sundial - they are a sun-loving species - and am hoping they will thrive. And if they don't, do I have the nerve to go back for more? The way I look at it, I'm saving them from being sprayed with weed killer again. (Justifying my pilfering.)

The last time I referred to myself as a marauder I was a preteen and my sister and I were the Midnight Marauders sneaking into the cellar for a bottle of grape juice to go with our crackers for a midnight snack. Now I am a septuagenarian Dawn Marauder. They do go easier on old folks in lock up, don't they?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Newbies At The Pond

Yesterday afternoon I was so surprised to look out the window and see this family - another pair of Canadian Geese with two goslings. They hadn't been there the day before, nor the week before, nor the month before.

Here are the babies we've been watching the past six weeks, almost grown and ready to fly away.

Just like last year, the 'resident' family has been joined well into the season by another family. Where does the second family come from? The pond up on the hill above this one?

I watched the new ones this morning. Mom and little ones were eating as Dad kept watch. Then Mom's head came up, too. Suddenly they were all on alert.

I never saw what they saw, or heard, but they went quickly onto the water and swam away. Something spooked them.

Also new this morning, this Asiatic Lily, one of several that came with the house. The Heuchera growing along with it is Mom's Coral Bells I moved here with us.

There is always something new going on in Mother Nature's world. I never tire of discovering "What is it today?"

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Reading Five Star Books

For close on to seventy years I have been a reader. Fairy tales, fables, Mother Goose rhymes, those were some of my earliest favorites. Then mysteries, adventure, historical novels and eventually, romance. I was never too fond of comic books or magazines or even books of short stories, though I did read those, too.
Reading was my escape. I read for pleasure, but from every novel I ever read, I learned something new - a new place, a new word, a new way of seeing something, best of all, a new understanding of my world.
From the time I became proficient in reading, probably aged nine or ten, I was never without a book to read. My diaries from those years records "finished my book", "got books from the library", "took my book back" "really enjoyed the book", etc. But I didn't always record what book I had read or why I liked it.

Looking through the diaries of my senior year a few days ago for mentions of when I worked in the high school library, I did find a reference to a book I had just finished reading and how much I loved it. The title was The Sherwood Ring (published in 1958).
Curious what it was about and why I liked it so much, I searched for it on the internet. Even after reading that it was about "a newly orphaned girl taken in by her uncle, but left to fend for herself in a house full of mysteries and ghosts", I had no recollection of the book.
Apparently the heroine "becomes involved with the spirits of her own Colonial ancestors and witnesses the unfolding of a centuries-old romance against a backdrop of spies and intrigue and of battles plotted and foiled".
Well, I can see why I like it! Historical novel, romance, mystery, paranormal phenomena - all the things I love reading about in one book!
Elizabeth Marie Pope only wrote two books, both for Young Adults. Her other title The Perilous Gard was published in 1974 and was awarded a Newbery Honor in 1975. I doubt if I ever read it, but it sounds good, I'm certain I would have enjoyed it. (And most likely, still would.)

What pleases me is that both of these books garner four to five stars on the reviews currently on Amazon and Goodreads. I was reading good books even as a youngster.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Better With Butter

Opening a new tub of margarine, I admire
the swan-like necks shaped as the fill was
completed; hesitant to spoil the design.

A half-minute, no more, passes before my
thoughts turn to butter. Butter as it was made
by my mother. What she went through...

First, milking the cows, separating the
cream, turning, turning, turning the handle
of the Dazey Churn, looking for the first

Hint the butter was beginning to form.
Butter I grew up on before leaving home
Learning "butter isn't good for you".

Choosing, then preferring margarine
over Mom's home churned butter with
the sometimes off-putting taste

When the cows had eaten some weed
or other and the taste came through in
the butter.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Grandpa, We Hardly Knew Ye

This is how I remember my Grandpa Ridnour, in his signature striped overalls and brown fedora. He died when I was just sixteen. He was sixty-three. He was the Yang to Grandma's Yin. Grandpa was kind to small children; a sounding board for older ones. I wish he had stayed longer. I wish I had known him as an adult.

And I really wish he could tell me just who this mystery woman is having her picture taken with him!
A couple days ago the widow of one of Mom's cousins and I got together to exchange some family history. She brought along the above photo and asked, "Isn't this your Grandpa Joe?" At first I wasn't sure. She said, "Well, isn't that Delphia in the picture with him?" "No. No way is that Grandma."

I still wasn't certain it was Grandpa until I compared that photo with this one, also a picture I hadn't seen before and one she had with her in a book. Joe is between his sisters, Lottie on the left and Florence on the right with parents Katherine (Kate) and Rufus (Rufe), seated.
The photo of mystery woman with Grandpa was among the pictures left by Great Aunt Florence. There are none left who could possibly tell me, or even give me a suggestion about who the young woman is. And there's no name written on the back with which I can begin a search. Nor does she have any 'family features' that would give me a clue.

Perhaps there are some mysteries that are meant to remain just that, but that doesn't mean I won't be trying to figure this one out, speculating here and there about who she is. A girlfriend? I don't think so, unless they were serious, and it was an engagement photo. A hundred years ago, a couple didn't have photos together unless they were "serious". And I have never heard that Grandpa was involved with anyone before marrying Grandma.

But relatives did have photos taken together. I'm thinking the woman is one of Grandpa's cousins, possibly one of the Gray's from Illinois. If I could just find some descendant who might have old photos of them......

Oh, Grandpa, we did hardly know you.