Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Midsummer

Such problems. I won't bore you with what happened but I am getting tired of Mid summer and of my computer. Martha, my plot daugher helped me ovecome some of my computer problems and now it is full seed ahead. Or full speed back again.

Just the word Midsummer promised so much. Special food, the first new potatoes dug up out of the garden that morning. For the first time that year. Then the promise that maybe we could go swimming if the temperature was above 50*. Wearing new clothes. Probably the dress that was made for our last day of school. Probably out of town visitors for dinner. The potatoes were the best part of that meal but the fish or the meat would be special too. And a fabulous cake for desert. And then the dance around the Maj Stong ( May Pole ) Why was it called the May Pole when midsummer was in June?

There was a lot of work to be done that day. We had to help get the house ready for celebrating. Some important member had to dig up the potatoes. Maybe that's why I had a great collection of pitchforks that were sold when we moved from our Diablo house. And that's why I have said I am going to be a potato farmer in my next life. I was never important enough to dig up the spuds. ( I never put this together before ) Then around ten we had to gather in the park to get the May Pole dressed and put together.

Teenagers and adults would gather the greenery. There were tools too big for the smaller children. We had to go out on the heath to gather white Daisies, blue Bachelor Buttons and Red Clover. And then there was a group of grown ups who would raid the gardens of big red Peonies. Some years the May Pole would be a truly magnificent work of art. Depending on who was in charge. I wish I had pictures of the good ones.

The pole consisted of what looked like a telephone pole with a shorter thinner cross bar, two rings that looked like the wheels
without spokes from a bicycle. The main pole was the first to be dressed. Then grownups would raise it in the middle of a big circle in the middle of the park.The cross piece was dressed and in stalled about 31/4 of the way up the pole. The Swedish flag flew from the top. The rings attached to the crosspiece were the most colorful parts of our labor.It was a beautiful sight standing in the center of a green lawn.

And when that was done there would be dinner and an hour later swimming in the Sound between Sweden and Denmark, Oresund. And then the dance. There was an adult who played the accordion. Only ring dances were offered and we all knew all the words to all the songs and there were some that were more fun than others. The words to one for example said.. I step so close to you, I take you in my arms, And so we circle away... well what a thrill.

There was a morning after. We would go to see the pole again and there it stood in a circle of dirt. Not a blade of grass was left. All danced away. One thing that was true then. There were no candy wrappers and nothing but a dead lawn.


Please hang on for a while Something's wrong with the computer In the middle of a sentence it flicks to this message 'your post was successfully published. As soon as I can trust this machine I will tell you about Midsummer in Sweden when I was growingg up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

A house

Our Washington house by the beach has been sitting empty for more than a year. It has been difficult to go there and feel the house crying for attention. We had many happy years of retirement, and made many good friends while living there. And then ten sad years, with Sam gone. Before Sam died we sold the house to our son with the proviso that we would live there till we died. Last year I moved away because it was too much work to maintain and too much money to maintain, and I felt the neighborhood was suffering because of the obvious neglect.

Now the house is being re-vitalized and it will be great to see it lived in again and maintained. The one thing that never could be spoiled is the view. And the spectacle of all the cruise ships passing by on the week-ends continues as before. The ships enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca early in the morning for the trip to Seattle and return in the evening, ablaze with lights. They stop directly in front of the house to let the pilot leave the ship, as it continues on its way to the Pacific Ocean. It is great theater and we would try each week-end evening to plan our entertaining with dinner around the the time the cruise ships passed by. Last night I brought spare-rib dinner to my son and Chris, his wife, and Sam, their son, who were exhausted from moving in. I quickly grabbed the seat with the view., instead of my usual, 'nearest to the kitchen' seat. Sadly it was thursday and no 'theater' night.

It was nice to see the family again. And we had 'theater' of a different sort. Cap's father, Rusty, was there and a new little nine week old puppy whose name I forget, entertained us all evening with their shenanigans. It was a happy evening.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A great day

Yesterday a good friend who moved away from here a couple of years ago, called and said she had to sell a book she co-wrote with Helen Radke at the local Historical Museum and could they come by to say hello. She and her husband came and stayed for half an hour. It was great seeing them. I decided to go to the museum and if there were any moments when she was not busy with her public we could continue our reminiscing. As we were saying good bye again, she said have you read THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY book be sure you get it . it is wonderful reading. I stopped at the local book store, bought it and also the first of the twilight books. The first one I mentioned is a Dial Press Paperback. I came home, sat down to read and except for taking care of my animals and making my bed , I have done nothing but read.

The book is amusing, and historically educational. Written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. If you have read it or if you do in the near future let me know how you feel about this book.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Book

I just finished reading a book by Mary Higgins Clark. In Acknowledgments she said "Perhaps the question I am most frequently asked is," Where do you get your ideas?" she answered that "She may read a short article in the news paper or magazine, and for some reason it sticks in my mind." And when I read that while looking for something to read while waiting in the Dr.'s waiting room, I bought the book WHERE ARE YOU NOW? It sounded as if there might be a serious lesson in that book. If there was, it eluded me. But I was transported into another world that held me tightly for several hours.

My daughter number three has asked me repeatedly to get my act together and to make a PLOT CHART and to seriously plan to write a book about my past. This Blog is probably the most serious attempt so far. What I found while reading Mary Higgins Book is that I do not like to read a book that has too many jumps from one season to another. I like books that have a beginning and a middle and an end. I like people to appear as they happen to fit into the time schedule. If they need to be introduced, do it there. I you need to tell why they are important to the story, let it develop. (Blockbuster Plots)

Now, why have I jumped from 1938 to 1970 and back to 1945 ? And why have I gone back historically to my relatives lives. Because I run out of memories of my own? Or because there are times I can not talk about because they are too difficult to get into.

I will ask my Plot Daughter what my problem is. And I will tell you exactly what she answers. And maybe we will all learn together how to do it. See what happens next.

Friday, June 5, 2009

And then the kitchen

What a horrible surprise. Ugly floor with holes through to the under-flooring. The walls were lath and plaster and many places you could see this material. The ceiling was lath and plaster also and there were spots where it was also evident. Immediately to the left of entering there stood an old Wedgwood range. It had a section on the left where you could burn your trash. It was connected to a flue into what must be a way into a chimney. That made me happy for this had been used, obviously for years,, I could take the stove out and replace it with a small fire place land we could have breakfast in the cold mornings with a comforting small fire. We would have school-age children before long. ( You can tell I jump into impossible situations without too much thought )

Back to reality, the sink was under the windows sitting in a horrible counter to the right. At the end of the counter was a door and when you opened it you found a small room with one item, the refrigerator. Open the door and you found yourself in the laundry room and that was the outer limit in that direction. I went out the door onto a rickety wooden porch, to the left was a slanting cellar door.

So back to the kitchen. In the opposite corner from the door I already mentioned was a little breakfast nook with built in benches. What made this so tight and cluttered was the fact that there was the door leading out to a large beautiful back-porch About three stairs down and if you walked this route to the left you would find yourself in the garage.

But we have not seen any bed rooms yet. Back to the dining-room. Walking away from the windows you left the dining-room and entered a LARGE hall. Again beautiful hardwood floors and big arched windows. One bedroom on the left with no window except the little one that we talked about in the first room. The next was a much smaller hall leading to one small bedroom to the right, and one large bathroom to the left. It was very old-fashioned but regal sort of. Small porcelain tiles in the shower and with a huge built in wooden chest of drawers between two windows facing out unto the driveway. We return to the large hall and continue to the end. One door on each side. To the left the master bed-room. Long wooden counter to the right and a sink at the end. Windows in the opposite corner. Back to the large hall and then into the last bedroom Big enough to hold the three girls provided we could have a bunk-bed at one end. In the closet that was ample there was a small built in sink. Big enough to brush teeth. It might keep the mornings less phrenetic.

The house with all its faults oozed of summer happiness and with lots of guests. And we had noticed all the out-buildings which probably were there as guesthouses. All of them had water in them, we discovered later, and in the olden days there was a lake connected to the settlement. More news about the history of Diablo later.

The place cost $24.000 and we made an offer of $22.000 and it really was more than we could afford. And we were too stupid to ask about termites and about the condition of the roof. And we and the termites lived together in peace and happiness until the time came to sell the place and the buyers were smart enough to ask about silly thinks that we tried to ignore.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More about the house

Most of you remember how we happened to buy the house in Diablo. I had gone with Sam across the Bay, to Danville, where he had to deliver a sample of some kind to a furniture store. There were so many interruptions at home, four to be exact, that it was a treat to be alone with Sam even if it was only a business trip. We had taken this route before on our way to a Big Game at Berkley. The San Mateo Bridge, through Hayward and then through San Ramon Canyon to Danville. I remembered the well kept, orderly Walnut groves before we came into Danville.

The Diablo road was the way to Mount Diablo. It went through farm land and passed Twin Pine Nursery half way to Diablo. From down town Danville I think it was about twelve miles to Diablo. There was a US Post Office and a Country Club and a long history of people using this beautiful spot for summer homes. The trees, mostly elms, lining the road into Diablo were huge and stately, with branches meeting overhead, making you think you were driving through a tunnel. The houses along the way were modest and intriguing. When we came to the first fork in the road, we stopped. Mr Imrey, our realtor, drove across the bridge to the Hockenbeamer's house, which quickly became the Stockton house but was never called that until we left twenty years later. I remember how the boards on the bridge made a loud click-y-clack sound when a car drove over the creek. That was a wonderful sound later in our lives because it meant that Sam was home.

Renee asked me if I had pictures to show the house. When I moved here a year ago I gave all the photo albums to one of my children. So I will try to describe it. When you crossed the bridge the driveway was long and curvy and ended up in the two car tandem garage. So now we will imagine we stopped in front of the house and go in the front door. There were two large Holly trees on either side of the stairs going up up to the front deck. And if you were observant, you would see to totem poles in the greenery. The house was gray with white trim. Three windows, the middle one larger than the two flanking it. If you peered in you could see the fire place in the living room.

When the front door was opened you walked into a strange room We realized later that it had at one time been an outdoor porch. It had beautiful arched windows and its non square corners made it unique. One other oddity in that room. There was a little window into the adjacent bedroom. The hardwood floor was perfectly beautiful. We turned to our right and there was the living-room with the big fireplace. the three window design was repeated on the far wall and you could easily see the neighbor's house. Again beautiful floor, but you could see children had been playing there for there were cigarette buts and slide marks in the dust.

When you walked past the fire place and turned left you were in the dining room. Same three window plan. On the opposite wall was a built in china cabinet. Glassed doors above and drawers and cupboards below. All woodwork was painted white. I think there was ugly wallpaper above the dado. It had such a classical peaceful architecture. I did not have to see any more. I had fallen in love with the house. But there was so much more to see. And this is getting too long. This house and its setting will have to follow. Next room will be the kitchen.