Tuesday, March 27, 2012


A TRUE STORY, WITH apologies to any Mormons reading this...
About a month ago, a group of us, Board members from SPOTS (http://onley-spots.blogspot.com/), went across the Bay to a Train Show at the VA Beach Convention Center. I was the only female with 4 of our male Directors. I was excited as it would be my first train show and I was anxious to see and learn. I don’t even pretend to know anything about model trains, so several of the men who have extensive train layouts of their own were going to teach me, as I really need to know about model trains in order to help get our education program up and running.
As some of you know, I cannot walk very far – I am lucky to be walking at all having been told many years ago I would never walk again after a really bad car accident. So, I took my wheel chair. The guys were more than wonderful, helping to push me thru the huge parking lot and into the building. That convention center is enormous! I never could have walked it. One guy or the other stayed with me almost all the time, gladly explaining the differences in the engines, types of track, names of the different cars, what they would have been used for in a real train… it was like being with a couple of train professors! It was GREAT!
I knew I wanted to buy some N scale cars, maybe an engine if I could find a blue one that vaguely resembled what runs here on the shore, and I was happy to see so many N scale trains at the show. (Check the SPOTS blog for the size of N scale and what I bought.) For example, the N scale engine I bought is no longer than a ball point pen. One or another of the men advised me and actually made the decisions for me when we had several things to choose from, after explaining the differences. They were extremely kind and attentive. One section of the show had some cool N scale kits. Dennis looked the kits over and we found something we thought would be just perfect. He explained everything to me; I put the kit aside, and continued to look for some box cars that were plain and of good color that we could put our station logo on. See, I don’t mind shopping like a woman – “What do you want, dear?” “Oh, something in blue…” I even use that when I buy cars! Tho’ today, I say “a van in blue.” But the logic in multiple bright colors in train cars (yeah, there IS some logic here) is because it will attract the kids better than a bunch of cars all the same, same color, same shape – which might be more authentic, I admit, but is also atheistically very boring. And we will be looking to keep kids interested in what we are doing, even if it is only learning shapes and colors with the littlest kids. “Can you find a car that is like a cylinder?” There are ‘shape ID’ SOLs for several grade levels. I also needed stuff for the scenery (my department) and buying stuff on line just wasn't working out real well.
Anyway, I digress, as usual… after I picked out what I wanted, it was time to pay the girl who was working the table with her husband. They were young, under 30, I am sure, but at this point in my ancient life, they all look like high school kids just as when I was in my teens and 20s, anyone over 50 was ancient! I pulled out the checkbook, made out the check, and looked around for Niall to co-sign the check as the group would be buying the train set, and the checks require 2 signatures. The girl saw me looking around and, seeing Dennis at the end of the aisle said, “Your husband is over there.”
“Oh, no,” I said – the word husband having not registered in my brain yet – “I need the one in the yellow jacket. Be right back…” as I rolled off in search of Niall. I found Niall and brought him back to look at what Dennis and I had picked out, he thought it was a good purchase, and co-signed the check. If we were getting funny looks from the kids selling the stuff, I did not notice. Not yet.
Time went by, we all split and rejoined each other here and there throughout the show, but I usually had someone by my side or nearby to explain things to me, suggest that I needed this one, not that one, and why. Like I said, I felt like a kid in school with the experts teaching Model Trains, 101. After a while, I went back to the table where I had found the N train kit and looked for some more box cars. This time Tom was with me. We picked out a few more cars, but rather than try to chase Niall down, I just put them on my credit card. Tom was also very attentive, enjoying teaching the rookie and watching someone get bitten by the Train bug. It was at this time the girl really took notice that I was with 3 different men. But when I showed up with Pat to show him an HO car I wanted and to pick up some stuff for the scenery, she really began looking at me kind of funny. I mean, here I was, an old lady in a wheel chair, with 4 men acting like what she was doing or buying was actually important to them. Of course, it did not keep her from taking my money.
We left the show at 2 PM, meeting each other at the entrance, maybe 30 feet away from the kids where I had made several purchases. As I rolled down their aisle on my way to meet the guys, the devil whispered in my ear. I rolled up to the young woman who definitely recognized me at this time – I might have been her best customer that day, who knows? She might have thought I was going to buy yet another couple cars or more track, so she greeted me with a smile, then looked around to see which man was in attendance. But I was alone, just passing by to get to the guys and go home. However, I stopped and quietly said to her, “Ya know, those Mormons have it all wrong. I mean, if a man can have several wives, why can’t a woman have several husbands?” Her eyes looked shocked but her face lit up in a big grin as she contemplated the idea. Her husband, having overheard my comment stepped in closer and started telling her in a slightly louder than usual voice, “Don’t listen to her, don’t listen to her!”

There stood the guys innocently waiting at the entrance, not having any idea what was being said 30 feet away… “I mean, look, 4 paychecks instead of one. Think of the shopping you can do! Always someone handy to fix things around the house…”
“DON’T LISTEN TO HER! SHUT YOUR EARS!” her husband was shouting and hitting (not hard) her arm. “DON’T LISTEN TO ANY OF THAT, ITS JUST WRONG!” Shoot, I thought the boy was going to cry! He did not tell me to go away, after all, I had spent a couple hundred dollars there that day, he had not lost sight of that, but he was getting worried! And his wife was grinning… in shock with what the old lady in the wheelchair was telling her, but her fantasies were running away with her, nonetheless, I could tell. Ah, youth...
“Don’t knock it until you try it, honey,” I said as I winked and rolled away. “Hey guys! Sorry, just wanted to say goodbye to (I forget her name). I’m coming!” I could hear him still carrying on back behind us as one of the men took over pushing my chair over the carpet and out into the sunlight, out to the Yukon. I smiled all the way home.
I bet she still thinks about it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012


WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES! This was taken this time last year... remember what a cold winter we had last year? Record snow fall for the Eastern Shore. Froze our butts off! This year, I am grateful to say, winter passed us by! I know my friends in Vermont are saying the same thing, as some of them spent the winter in tipis while rebuilding their homes, bridges, barns, and shops. Even they have had very little snow and quite mild temps. Our mild temps hit an extreme this past week. It was 83 here on Thursday. Tank top weather! Red Emperor is in full bloom. This bush is over 10 feet tall and has a diameter of 8 feet. It is so loaded with blooms this year. Isn't it beautiful? The daisies have put out their leaves, but they won't bloom until Oct... But the azaleas will bloom soon.Punk could be found sleeping in the morning sun... by afternoon, he was in a shady spot under a bush. Pink Perfection blooms this time of year. Last year we had snow on the camellias, this year the only white on the ground IS the camellias! (or daffodils, or pansies...). I actually cut some grass (and a lot of weeds) this past week. The forsythia is in bloom as are the fruit trees. The peas are up and I have onions up about an inch! How has your winter been?

Friday, March 09, 2012


THINK YOU HAVE A SERIOUS RAKE? Well, I sure do. This rake has been in my family ever since I have known my family and then some! I know this rake is MUCH older than I (and I am glad something is!) A couple years ago, the old handle pretty much just disintegrated. It finally turned to dust, and I was, quite honestly, heartbroken. As you can see, this is no ordinary rake. Nope. It may have a different name in other parts of the country, but around here, this is known as a shatters rake. Guess that is because it is used for raking shatters! Ordinary rakes just don’t do the job like these rakes once did. I don’t know if they can even be found anymore, but back in the days when the strawberry was king, shatter rakes were most useful. An "ordinary" yard rake would do a lot of damage, and not be able to handle as many shatters. You see, farmers covered their strawberry plants with shatters over the winter. They didn’t dump chemicals in the soil, they didn’t buy fancy ph gauges, no fertilizers, they just wintered their berries under a cover of shatters. Now some parts of the Shore call them shatts. “Fereigners” call them pine needles… the long pine needles like those from the loblolly pine. Here is one of those pine trees in the winter - this is a baby, just about 5 feet tall at this point. See how long those needles are? When they fall to the ground, we call them shatters. I don't know why fereigners can't get a handle on that name. Fereigners? That’s what the old folks called folks from further away than the “come here” states (MD, Del, PA, NC, SC). Come here’s were tolerated... fereigners, not as much. Most ‘come here’s’ eventually learn the local names of things and how to pronounce them, fereigners have a harder time, and some fereigners spend all their time trying to correct the locals on what they have called things for generations. Sigh. Most of those folks come from one particular state, but I won’t mention that. (Reminds me of a favorite bumper sticker that says, “We’re RURAL, not stupid.”
Anyway, back to the rake… I have tried to survive without it, but after cleaning up a big chunk of the East 40 here, I decided to get a new handle for my old friend. I looked in a number of places, from Lowes to Tractor Supply (the most expensive of all,) knowing our local building supply place would be outrageous. I never did see one for less than $28. That’s just a dumb old handle, folks! Then, I thought of Jaxons – an old timey hardware store where much of their stock is made in America, and they actually help fix things! What a novel idea! I called them on the phone and not only did they agree to help me out, they actually KNEW what a shatters rake was! The man that fixed it actually appreciated its age and spent an hour (and 2 drill bits) getting the new handle to work with the ancient rake. Yep, it can be called ancient, we know it is well over 100 years old. Best of all, the new handle cost just over $10. Well, no... the best part was to see someone caress the old steel and treat it with reverence.
The newer rakes might be as wide from side to side, but there is a lot of difference in the length of the tines and the space between them. Then there is the flimsy metal thing that holds the rake to the handle. This thing from China (that cost nearly $30) will come apart in a couple more years with its one size fits all skimpy little sleeve that the handle fits into. Well, you can see the difference. The old rake will last as long as I need it to, and when I am gone whoever inherits it or buys it will probably consider it a piece of junk – but I bet it will outlive them, too. Maybe the Smithsonian would like it? A piece of Americana!

A SERIOUS RAKE comparison of my newest rake, made in China, no doubt, and my old friend. We were trying to figure out if this rake got twisted somehow, or if it is made this way. The guys concluded it was made this way as the steel in it is so strong, it burned up a drill bit trying to get the nail out and they could not imagine any way it could have gotten twisted unless it was made this way. All I can say is I can't wait to get outside and use it!

Monday, March 05, 2012


THE RECENT STORMS that have done so much damage to so many people have once again blessedly missed us. But, last night we did have a little excitement, a frozen precip event that lasted about an hour. I was told there was some thunder with it, but we were watching Northern Exposure, so I missed that. The snow/ice piled up on a few surfaces and is still on the roof tops. You can see the size of the ice crystals best on the adirondack. Snow/ice and a camellia... We are now waiting for a little snow storm. Yep, that is what the radio is saying, I can see it on the radar... but back in the 60s by Wednesday. But, for now, the boys are tucked in their heated box toasting their toes and cat-napping, as usual. The heat is on in the greenhouse... Hmmmm, I just saw something white pass by the window. Oh, my. I hope you all are warm and safe.
Pray for those poor folks who were not so lucky and lost their homes to all those tornadoes.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


WELL FOLKS, the garden is started. The peas ( first planting) are in the ground and their climbing strings are up. Most of the onions are in the ground... got a few left, but ran out of space. So I will figure out another place next week. I wanted to buy some new potting soil, but it was raining so hard yesterday, I gave up on that idea. We got an inch and a half. Like most garden centers, even WalMart, the potting soil is kept outside. If it rains, that entire area is getting wet. Seems rather stupid to me. It's during a good rain that folks want to go shopping, but all the tools, bags of soil, fertilizers, etc are out in the rain. dumb. Good thing the cat food is under the roof! LOL! The daffodils are beautiful, the forsythia has started to open. Today was not only a T-shirt day, it was a sleeveless T-shirt day! Temps in the 70s again. The house smells so nice with fresh air from open windows and vases of daffodils. The feeders are filled as the little guys are arriving here in droves on their way north. And I can barely walk. sigh. The carport is clean... as my little neighbor would say, I "blow dried" it. Potting bench is cleaned off and ready for use. Garden tools are cleaned and ready to go. John (Deere) is gassed up. Covers are off the Adirondacks. Watch and see it snow!
OK, heading to the recliner and I am not moving for a while.