Saturday, August 16, 2008

An Almost Perfect Summer Saturday

I had an almost perfect Saturday. Almost perfect because of only two downers. I fear this post will be quite long and so I will break it up into Chapters.

Chapter One: The first Downer
I woke up early, which was nice. I usually go for a bike ride early in the morning and so off I went - until I passed the Art Museum. They've been doing a ton of construction in that area, making streets "safer" and revamping bike accessibility. Which is great but for the debris, (rocks) which I promptly rode over. The puncture was so thorough that I could actually hear the air whizzing out of the hole. I had a nice walk back home with my bike, about a mile. Met a sweet orange and white stripped kitty and decided that Jacques needs a friend like that. Now, while I can install a ceiling fan, I loath changing the tube in my bicycle tires. I had every intention of changing it today. Didn't happen.

Chapter Two: The Morning
Got home, made peach pancakes; coffee and two pieces of bacon = perfect breakfast.
Went to Amish farmer to pick up, eggplant, yellow squash, more peaches, collard greens, tomatoes, and pasteurized but not homogenized, whole milk. oh yum. Amish farmer is three blocks away on Saturday mornings. Used to have to drive to pick up provisions, now I walk! I love it. Oh, I forgot, I also get flowers; sunflowers today.

Chapter Three: Find Fred (see previous post)

Chapter Four: Laundry and Yard
After dealing with finding Fred and armed with "ode de anti-bug", I tackled my yard. Time to mow the lawn and see what else I could do. Halfway through mowing, Mr. El poked his head out of his doorway and told me: 1.He'd made a lot of money as a kid pushing a push lawn mower. 2. it was time for me to trim my hedges in the front. and 3. (he'd disappeared for a few minutes)"Here, I don't need these for a while", and he passed me the hedge trimmers over the fence (hint hint?).
So I mowed, raked, watered the zinnias, and then on a whim, decided to attack the weeds surrounding the pine tree. Maybe because I was avoiding doing the front hedges. . . because at 2pm, 40th St is a hip-happenin' place, and I didn't want an audience while I did my hedges. I think it's because there is a subway stop less than 1/2 a block from me. I wouldn't mind doing my hedges at 9am, but at 2pm,…hmm. Even as I was mowing a guy stuck his head over the hedge and offered to do my yard for me for "a little cash", and "are you married? - how come your husband ain't out here mowin' for ya?"
I also did laundry and pulled some weeds from the other end of my bricks. Decided it was high time for me to pull the weeds from around the tree, before it became a real ordeal. Also, there is a pile of bricks hidden somewhere behind all of these weeds, and I'd like to get to them so that I can replace the missing part of the walkway.

Chapter 5: Pulling Weeds
There are the before pictures. I don't know why I decided today was the day to do this. I had plenty of other things I needed to do on my list. But I was sort of on autopilot. I've know for a while that I needed to attack these "weeds". Maybe I was avoiding the hedgeing, who knows? At any rate I started on the weeds. Now, understand that "weeds" out here, in the lush, humid, northeast summer means, things above your head. This is no small job. I started outside at 1:30 and I didn't get back in until 6pm. 6 garbage bags later, I was not even partway through. Here's an after shot - note the satellite dish on the pile of debris I found under the tree (!?)

It was such a beautiful afternoon. I did two loads of laundry and hung that up on the line. (Mr. El stuck his head out the door again and said, "Sun-dried laundry is the best, ain't it?" Oh yeah.) The temperature was really nice, mid-80's and not too humid, really pleasant. Half way through the afternoon someone behind me started a bbq, including soft, retro r&b music on a radio. The kind where you can just barely hear the melody. I love that. When I would stand up to take a break I could see the kids across the street play double-dutch jump rope as I smelled the burning scent of bbq sauce from behind me. It was the kind of day one doesn't want to end. Really perfect.
The thing is, when one is pulling weeds, one's muscles have a different opinion…

Chapter 6: Clean Up
You know you're in trouble when you can actually hear your muscles talking to your brain and they are saying: "uh, excuse us, but you can't really be serious about this much work?"
Even thought the job was not done, I knew it was time to clean up. I started shoving all of the weeds into garbage bags when the little white kitty appeared.
This kitty has no fear. I have watched this kitty from the second floor as it comes and plops itself on the lawn and starts to clean itself in front of the dogs next door. The dogs, of course, go crazy. Here is poor Little Boy who would desperately like to chew on this little white kitty. Mr. El told me the kitty lives behind me and that its owner often comes to look for it. And of course, I had to make an effort to bond with the kitty, and we did. We'll see what sort of issues this creates.
I got all of the weeds into six garbage bags. I also found the possible cesspool of mosquito spawn under the tree. There was an upright bucket under the tree with stagnant water. Ugh. It made me run back into the house for another layer of ode de anti-bug. I also found enough plastic bottles under the tree for their own recycling bag. For those of you (fortunate people in California), not from Philadelphia…we've finally been granted the privilege of putting all of our recycling together into one bag - every other week. Yipee! This is a big step for us!

Chapter Seven: Back up stairs
Well, at 6pm as it happened, I was beat. I climbed the stairs to be greeted by a hungry Jacques. Fed him and decided I needed a bath. Thank goodness the bathtub is in working order, too bad the water heater isn't. I think I need to turn the heat up so that I get a full tub of hot water.
Before I landed in the bath, however, I checked my phone messages… the other downer of the day was waiting for me.

Chapter Eight: Aunt Martha
I received a message from my high school friend's wife. Aunt Martha had died that morning.
To sum up: My friend Eric and I were in Band together. Go Whittier High School Band, the Pride of Whittier High. And as it goes with band geeks, we somehow stay in touch with each other. We understand each other, maybe because we had a great experience of sucess in high school? I don't know. At any rate - I googled Eric a few years ago. Turns out he went to UPenn, (three blocks south of me) and his great Aunt Martha was living in Bryn Mawr, which is not far from Philadelphia. So the long and short of it is, the next time Eric and his wife Heidi were visiting her, they looked me up. It was great to see them, get to know Heidi better and to meet Aunt Martha. Great Aunt Martha's husband had been in the oil business and so Aunt Martha lived in China in the late '30s and '40s. (This is what I remember of the stories). Aunt Martha was a delightful lady, she had great stories to tell and I really enjoyed getting to know her. The second time Eric and Heidi came out to PA, was to show off their new daughter. I offered to show them the collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and they brought Aunt Martha. She was thrilled. The highlight was definitely when I showed them Martha Washington's Cookbook. I said, "…and this is Martha Washington's cook book." There was a moment of silence, and then Aunt Martha said, "No it's not! " in a tone of voice where if she had been 20-years-old she would have said, "Shut -Up!" Priceless. Eric and Heidi told me that when she got back home, and after she had bragged about her grand niece, she couldn't stop talking about what she had seen at HSP. I feel honored to have met her, and am sad that she came to the end of her life. She was 97, if I am correct, and although that is a proud age to achieve, I would have liked to have encountered her one more time. She was a grand lady.
In her honor, I decided to cook dinner from Martha Washington's cook book. I made Chicken Fricassee, or Frykecy. This should be an entire other blog entry. Suffice it to say that, yes, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, my place of employment, does indeed have THE cookbook of Martha Washington. My interns and I, and a few other people from different departments, had a potluck from the cookbook this summer. I made the frykecy and it was delicious. A transcribed version of the cookbook is available from Amazon by Karen Hess. The "Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery" is something I would recommend every proud American amateur cook to own. It is a fascinating part of our history and the recipes are still really good.

Yes, it was an almost perfect day. After eating the frickasee and collard greens I sat down to do this blog. It has taken me the better part of two and a half hours. And still, it was a good day.

1 comment:

McD said...

Tell Chris I am sorry about his loss. 97 years is an amazing about of life! I am firm about checking out at 75.

I don't know how you have not blogged all this time, you do a great job! Keep feeding my appetite.