Archive for August, 2008

Last week when Bruce and I were out, we waited for a line of traffic to turn left past us. Bruce counted 4 out of 7 drivers on cell phones as they came around the corner. Only 3 had their turn signals flashing.  One hand holding a phone, one hand driving — and, I assume, only half of their attention being focused on the traffic and lane changes, etc.  People — I’m here to say, I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s safe.  Period.  Now — why do other drivers think it is safe?

Of course, this comes from someone whose cell phone calls last under a minute, usually about 30 seconds. “Are you on your way home? Did you remember the loaf of bread?” Important stuff like that. I can assume that other people’s conversations are about as earth-shaking as mine. Theirs just seem to drone on longer.

Once I was in a store, waiting in line to check out when the phone rang belonging to a young lady in front of me. “Hello. Who is this? (No name given apparently.) Oh, come on, tell me who this is.” And on and on and on it went, in the same vein for the next three minutes. She pleaded coquettishly for whomever to tell her his name. Good grief!! Can it get any more stupid and boring and inane than that? It was all I could do not to grab the phone and yell, “This is dumb! Speak up or hang up! Better yet, she’s not wasting her time on the likes of you!” And snap the phone shut and hand it back. Sometimes silly young girls just need to be saved.

Bruce has started joining in on conversations. When people walk down the aisle of a store, talking loudly — and they’re alone — he joins in on the conversation, adding comments here and there.

I’m on a one woman crusade to remind people of that little lever on the left side of the steering column. It’s called a TURN SIGNAL! Since other people can’t read your mind, its function is to inform the other drivers of your intentions. Apparently there are lots of folks who can read minds, since they use their signals so seldom.

Once, when I was driving in Atlanta, (which I did a lot more than I wanted to when David and Jim attended college there) I encountered two drivers with their mind probes turned off. I was in a middle lane, one driver was on my left at the 10 o’clock position, the other on my right at 2 o’clock. They each decided to change lanes, right in front of me, without letting anyone know. Fortunately, they did remember a physics lesson and realized that two cars can’t occupy the same space at the same time and retreated. By the way, if you’ve never experienced the joy and serenity of Atlanta traffic — that means doing at least 80 packed in a mass of other cars — I wish you blessings. May you only imagine it.

But on an average day, people zip around corners and switch lanes (even in the middle of an intersection, which I always thought was a no-no) oblivious to their safety and the safety of others. So I’m starting a campaign for Turn Signal Safety. Bumpers stickers for TSS will be available soon. Our motto is: Turn it on or we’ll turn you in! Oops, that won’t work. The cop in front of me isn’t using his signal either.


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Wrists and Knees

In 1999 I had surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome. It was the least invasive method available, with a tiny cut along the crease on the inside of my wrist. After the incision healed, you could barely see a scar. The surgeon said it might not last forever, it was worth a try. It lasted for nine years. However, this year, suddenly my wrist aches, gets tingly and easily loses its grip. CTS — here we go again. I go to the orthopedic clinic at Eisenhower Medical Center in two days for tests.

When I had my left knee replaced two years ago I was told the right knee needed a partial replacement. “When?” I asked the surgeon. “When it bothers you enough to change the way you live,” was the answer. The old knee actually improved after the first surgery, probably because I didn’t have to favor the other leg anymore. Now I favor it. It’s getting checked at the orthopedist too. I used a civilian doctor the first time, of course, since I was still on the school insurance. Now that I’m on military insurance, I’ll go out to the post. However, if any place ought to understand bones and joints, it’s the Army. I see young soldiers out there all the time on crutches and canes, looking like they are on the mend. I trust I’ll be in good hands. Hopefully, the surgeon won’t have CTS!

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Oh, Happy Day!

The day of the Hubble reunion dawned bright and cool. A beautiful day, unlike the sweltering, humid days of the two past years we have attended. I believe the reunion has been going on annually on the second Sunday of August since the 1930s. My first recollection dates back to the 1950s. My family attended faithfully until we moved away from Southern Illinois in 1960. Mom and Dad planned part of their summer vacations around it for years. I came with them once when David was little and another time when both boys were still small. Then my immediate family lived too far away with summers way too busy with jobs and baseball and swimming lessons, and college classes for me. My sister, Christine, and I started attending again in 1995 and 1996. Then my school started having teachers return to work early in August so I was no longer able to go at all. Couldn’t attend the event on Sunday with the first day of school the following day. I missed it. Now that Bruce and I are retired we get to plan our own summers around it again.

My first cousins, the Pucketts, the children of my beloved Aunt Wanda are custodians and caretakers of the Hubble Home Place, lovingly called “The Farm.” Located between Enterprise (where Grandpa Ora Hubble was raised) and Mt. Erie (where Grandma Grace Galbreath Hubble was raised); it’s about 5 miles north of Fairfield. It’s been fun to tell Bruce about the days, and people, now gone, surprising me how much I remember. This year we discovered Zif Cemetery together. Ar our age, visiting cemeteries is part of life. Someone has to check. When I mentioned to two different cousins that we’d been up to Zif, their first question was, “Is it being cared for?” The old burial grounds are not covered by perpetual care clauses, are they? They rely on the memories of descendants who live close enough and care enough to come and mow and pull weeds. I had always thought I wanted to be cremated, but now I’m rethinking that position.

Zif Cemetery

Zif Cemetery- 2008

The home place dates back to 1880. It was a basic three room house at first, added on to several times through the years, eventually becoming a four bedroom, eight room house with two stories and a very steep staircase. A man would come and step off the size of the new addition and stick a wooden stake in the ground. So much for tape measures and levels and building codes. Consequently, nothing was plumb or level, so the intervening years simply adds to the original design.

I remember when one porch, located off the back of the dining room, was enclosed and made into a bathroom. Thus ended the treks to the outhouse. Thank heavens it was a two-holer. You needed a companion to watch for bugs and other critters while you concentrated on your business. A rite of passage was when you finally got old enough, and brave enough, to go there on your own.

Although we eat outside, now under tents, the dining room contains a large table. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it without all the leaves, which are needed for all the food. (Truth is, the leaves probably wouldn’t separate anyway.) Meat is placed on the south side, salads and vegetables in the middle, desserts on the north end. One obligatory meat dish is ham loaf. This year it was baked by Carolyn, wife of cousin Jim Puckett, and quite delicious. Hers was less spicy than the one I make, and I liked hers better.

After the blessing, we all dug in. At least two trips to the table are required for everyone. It’s a reunion rule. This year, following dinner, we played a trivia game. The questions pertained to the Hubble family history. We divided up the under-the-tent-people, the porch-people and the under-the-tree-people to make two teams. What started as light-hearted fun rapidly got quite competitive! I was surprised by what I knew AND what I didn’t know. I’m going to bone up next year. My side lost by one stinkin’ point. We’re not called the hard-headed Hubbles for nothin’!

Bruce and Kathy - Hubble reunion 2006

Bruce and Kathy - Hubble reunion 2006

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Happy Bones

Bruce and I recently returned from the Hubble Family Reunion in southern Illinois. This was our third annual trek. It gets more fun each year.

We had amazing weather for August. When I checked weather.com and found out the weather was predicted to be in the low 80s, I thought they had made a mistake. Checked it twice more to be sure. What luck!

We arrived on Saturday and made a visit to Zif Cemetery, which is about a mile down the road from the home place, the family farm house. (It’s remarkable what you can find on mapquest.) It’s a charming little country cemetery, on a hill, overlooking farm land and woods. The grass had recently been cut so it was neat. Armed with the camera, Bruce and I wandered all over the small cemetery looking for the gravestones of Sullivan and Sarah Hubble, my great great grandparents. I picked up any sticks and fallen petals of the artificial flowers as I wandered around. Lots and lots of Hubbles were there. Lots of Hosseltons were buried there too. We couldn’t find the graves for Sullivan and Sarah. We took pictures anyway and I vowed to check with my cousins the next day at the reunion for the exact location of their stones. It was a lovely place for my ancestors’ bones to rest.

On the way out, we stopped at the nearby corner where a propane site was burning off its excess. Bruce thought it unique that a high gas flame was burning so visibly. He wanted a picture. A blue pickup turned the corner and the driver gave the obligatory country wave. Then he backed up and stuck his head out the window. “I have to ask. What’s a car from Georgia doing taking pictures out here?” Bruce answered, “We’ve been to the cemetery. My wife has family buried there.” “Oh.” I got out and walked around to the driver and introduced myself and explained what we had been doing. “My name is Fred Hosselton,” he said. “Well,” I said, “I have to ask, are there more Hubbles or Hosseltons buried over there?” “Oh, there’s more Hubbles. Hubble women tended to marry Hosselton men,” he said with a grin. We laughed. I resisted the urge to ask him his wife’s maiden name and where his burial plot was located.

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Have you ever encountered someone so full of baloney that you’re astonished? This happened to me last week.

We were out at the mall getting athletic shoes at our favorite sporting goods store. I don’t like the mall very much. Too big and often too crowded with young girls in skimpy clothes posturing for pimply boys with their underwear showing. Not my idea of a fun time. Thank heavens for stores that have entrances straight out to the parking lot. Anyway, knowing there was a jewelry store nearby, I’d brought along two of my watches, each needing a new battery. Since jewelry stores carry a jillion different sizes of batteries, I always go there to get a new one. We drove over to Jared’s. It’s a new chain to us that opened only about six months ago. I’d never been in it.

I presented Christine’s old Timex and my new Tissot. After a gushy, overly friendly greeting, like we’d just been rescued from a deserted island, an employee went to replace the battery in the Timex but gave my good Tissot to a guy in a gray suit who I assumed was the manager. He came over to the counter and told me that this watch was sealed in a vacuum and needed to be sent to Atlanta for the battery replacement so not to invalidate its warranty. It would take two, or three, perhaps four weeks for replacement and cost $35. After all, he said, it wasn’t a top end watch like a Rolex. Even Windsor Jewelers (their local rival, where Bruce bought the watch at Christmas) he said, had to come to them. ???What??? Since when? They’d only been there a few months. Windsor’s has been in Augusta for years and years.

Absolutely nothing this fool said made sense. Tissot are expensive watches. If its price is three digits and the first two digits are neither 1 nor 2, then it’s expensive! I worked in a jewelry store in Norton, Kansas for three years while I finished college. I know a bit about watches. I had my Seiko for almost 30 years. Windsor Jewelers faithfully repaired it until they could no longer get the parts to fix it. I’ve changed lots of batteries in watches. Some watches need a special tool to open the back. Mine did not need the special tool. It needed someone with a brain, who was not a fool or a pathological liar or just plain crazy! The vacuum he mentioned was obviously in his head.

I was so flabbergasted, I was speechless. That doesn’t happen to me very often. I took my beautiful watch back from that stupid slimeball, wiped it off, and backed out of the store, almost afraid to turn my back on the idiot. Outside I said to Bruce, “That’s the biggest load of b***s**t I’ve ever heard in my life!” We promptly drove straight to Windsor’s where in four minutes they changed my watch battery for $16.95.

Never, ever will I again darken the door of Jared’s Jewelry. Nothing that man said was correct. He was actually scary. He must have come out of a pod or something. But I’m sure not going to find out.

Later — a PS. I spoke to a second cousin last weekend who is a jeweler, who said, yes, watches can be placed in vacuum chambers, but it is not necessary and most people do not bother with it. So, on that point, Gray Suit was not totally wrong. However, I’m still not going back.

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If I blogged as often as I think about blogging, I’d do little else. I started this blog because, most of my life, I’ve chided myself for not keeping a journal. I always felt somewhat deficient. I was an English major, for heavens sake. English majors are supposed to read and write. A lot. And I have — just not as much as I think I’m capable of doing. Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion even has a “sponsor” called POEM — the Professional Organization of English Majors. I should be a dues paying member. (smile.) In the early 90s I wrote poetry rather regularly. Then I went back to graduate school for my specialist degree and that seemed to stifle any creative energies. That degree was in education, not English. (gag . . . gag) At least my BA and MA required me to read a great deal. It was legitimate. State sponsored, if you will.

I still don’t think I read enough. Somehow I think I should read a book a week. I could — if I spent half of my days with a book under my nose. Reading still seems like a wonderful luxury to me and my Puritan work ethic says anything you enjoy that much is probably not nice. Maybe even illegal. As a child I used to sneak books after “lights out.” Just hide the flashlight I’d take from the kitchen drawer. Stash it under the pillow. Make the sheets into a tent and I was all set. Mother will never find the flashlight when she makes the bed the next morning, I hoped. Dad will never notice the glow of light under the bedroom door. I also went through a phase when I snuck candy into my illicit late night reading sessions. Boy, Mother did notice the chocolate stains on the sheets, and I got into trouble. (This is the woman who kept a bag of chocolate stars next to her murder mysteries which were all stashed in her bedside table. Years later when I would borrow a book from her, I’d often find a chocolate stain on the corner of a page.) Finally, though, I wised up and switched to Maple Nut Goodies and Circus Peanuts. They didn’t melt. However, Dad often complained about the flashlight. The batteries always seemed to be dead.

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Bread and Butter Pickles

Our little garden is giving us tomatoes at a steady pace and cucumbers for the table and a pepper here and there. However, a couple of weeks ago we stopped at the Farmer’s Market and bought 20 pounds of cucumber and a 5 pound bag of sweet Vidalia onions. In anticipation of pickles, I had on hand celery and mustard seed. We sliced and sliced — and then sliced some more. I doubled the recipe I had which made a huge pot of pickles. The recipe called for them to be cooked for 10 minutes before being put in the jars and processed in a water bath. That was the most difficult part. It was a bit tricky to stir well such a giant mass. Mr. Muscles came to my aid. He finds all this “country-style-self-sufficiency stuff” quite intriguing. They were supposed to sit for several weeks to mellow out. However, thanks to a mustard seed under a lid so that one jar didn’t seal we got to sample them ahead of time. Mother would have been proud! For lunch a big forkful graced a cheese sandwich. Yep, just like God intended.

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