Monday, July 31, 2006

It's August!!!

Well, it is officially August, 2006. My oldest child will be off to college in three weeks. Am I sad? No, actually I am envious. He's going to start a great chapter in his life. I am going to miss him. A lot. The house will be a bit quieter. My grocery bill will be a little smaller. But I just got the first statement from the university and I think it's a good thing I'll be spending less on groceries!

We went up to Lubbock two weeks ago for New Student Orientation. The boy is already completely at home on campus, already knows many people, and didn't need me at all! I was amazed at the young people at orientation - I have never seen so many attractive young men and women in one place in all my life! Seriously, Texas grows some good-looking kids!

I remember what it was like to be eighteen years old. I guess that's why I have been spending so much time thinking about my youth lately. It's probably normal. If I could go back and do it all over again? I probably wouldn't change a thing. Seriously. What needs to be changed isn't the past, it's the present. I have to start thinking about the rest of my life! I still have a 16 year old at home, who doesn't need me quite as much as he used to, but 'the rest of my life' is starting already and life is too short not to take advantage of every minute. So, time for the second chapter, I think.

So what's next?

Early Summer Morning

It is 7:00 AM and it is 79 degrees out. There is a big dark cloud covering part of the sky, but I can see the sun trying to burn it off. Since my backporch faces east, I usually share my morning tea with the rising sun.

I love the very early morning. The hummingbirds are fighting with each other over the feeder (they do not like to share). Four of them dodge and dive at each other, while their high-pitched chirping fills the morning silence. But it is not completely silent, I can hear some lawn sprinklers somewhere on the block. My dogs are stretched out on the grass, not even noticing the tiny hummers battling above their heads.

I know that the sun is going to win the battle with that cloud. There will be no rain today. It will be another hot, sunny Texas summer day. Sometimes I long for a dark, gray rainy day. When I lived up north, we had lots of those. And they used to depress me. But when you have been living for ten years in a place where 60% of the year is constant sun, you actually look forward to those rare gray days.

When we get storms, they tend to be violent. The rain sweeps down in torrents, and the thunder is loud. Very rarely do we get those soft rains. I would love to wake up in the morning to the sound of a gentle rain and a dark day. The kind of rain that lasts all day and encourages you to curl up with a book and a cup of tea.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Summer of '76

The first real job I ever had was at the Philadelphia International Airport in 1976. My dad worked for Eastern Airlines, and he basically got me the job. I worked in the gift shop on concourse B. The shops were run by Aero, which was a subsidiary of ARA. They had a contract with the city to run the shops and the food service in the airport. This was back in the day when airports didn't look like shopping malls or food courts. There was limited choice when you travelled.

It was the bicentennial summer, and we had to wear these ugly red, white and blue nylon smocks. It was actually a great job for a seventeen-year old. It was so much better than working at Burger King or something. This girl was a child of the suburbs, and the airport was a dynamic place with all manner of fascinating people.

Obviously, airport security was a joke back in 1976. In other words, there wasn't much security at all. There were a few homeless people that pretty much lived there. One little old man was known as "Birdman" because he was always whistling. He usually slept across the terminal chairs at night.

And whatever happened to the Hare Krishna freaks? We used to have so much fun tormenting them. I remember a customer rushed into the gift shop one day and was just pacing around. I asked him if he was looking for something. He said that he was trying to avoid a Hare Krishna guy (who was standing outside the door looking in). They used to have these books that they would hand to people to look at, and then shake them down for a contribution. The implication was, if you don't donate, you give the book back. Well, this customer took the book, didn't donate, and came into the shop before the Krishna could stop him. The Krishna's weren't allowed to set foot in the shops. So there was this angry guy outside the shop waiting for my customer to come back out. My customer looked at him, handed me the book and said "Here, you keep it". I looked up at the Krishna guy and made a point of dropping it into my trash can where he could see it. Oh well..... get a real job, loser. He turned a few pretty shades of red over that. When did the Krishna's disappear from airports anyway? That's one positive thing about air travel in this century.

It was really a fun job. Our shop had two cashiers, and my partner was Linda Takacs. We owned concourse B! Linda was a couple years older than me, but damn, we had some fun. Whatever happened to Linda? And we always had a lot of laughs with the stockboys.... John Franzini, Dennis Hardy, John Hardy, Bill Coughlin, and the boy who would become my husband a few years later, Jim. And 30 years later, we are still together. Who says that summer romance doesn't last?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Immersed in Old Stuff

My mother left today to visit my brothers back in Pennsylvania. For the past two weeks, I have been wading through boxes of old pictures, plus all my genealogical research, to put together a package of our family history for them. Now that it's all organized, I can take a deep breath and review all the things that I've unearthed in the last few weeks.

First, back in my Odds and Ends review, I posted a picture of a Strong Fire Truck that I found on Coalregion.Com. At that time, I wrote
My mom thinks this is the firetruck that she and my dad rode on their wedding day (my grandfather was a volunteer fireman)

Well, I found a picture of that event, and I think my mom was correct! Sure looks like the same truck to me!

I have lots to write about, but for now, I'm going to finish watching Trading Spaces and go to bed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

History of Grocery Stores

I'm kind of weird. Well, I'm sure anyone who has read any of this blog can figure that out by themselves, but I'm just warning you.

In my 47 years, I have lived in 7 different houses, and a few apartments. Four different states. Many different towns. And since grocery shopping bores me, I tend to let my mind wander when I'm forced to do it (which is at least once a week). This past Sunday, while pushing the cart with the unruly wheels, I was thinking about how I can relate all of the places I've lived to the grocery store chains that I've patronized.

My earliest recollection is of Secane, Pennsylvania. There was an A&P directly across the street from our house. But mom didn't really shop there except when we ran out of milk or bread. No, her preferred grocery store was the Acme on Baltimore Pike near the Bazaar. You didn't buy your meats there though. For meats, you had to go to Roy Tweedy's butcher shop on MacDade Blvd. And for cold cuts, there was a deli across the street that had the best. Everything else came from the Acme. I'm not sure when butcher shops and deli's stopped being so important. I don't even know when I was last in a butcher shop. But in the 60's and 70's, mom always made a special trip to Tweedy's for her meats.

When we moved to Aston, we shopped at a different Acme, closer to our house. Cold cuts were gotten from the local Wawa, though. My mom never bought cold cuts at a grocery store (back then). She would still make the longer drive to Tweedy's now and again, but she had learned to tolerate the meats from the Acme.

I moved to New York in 1980 when I got married. There were two big grocery stores there. ShopRite and Grand Union. I always shopped at Grand Union. For everything, including cold cuts. I don't think I ever went to a deli or a butcher shop.

On to Florida, which was an interesting experience. I have never lived in a place that had so many grocery stores! You couldn't drive four blocks without coming to another one. But there were really only two: Publix and WinnDixie. And wherever there was a Publix, there would be a WinnDixie across the street or at least in the same block. It amazed me that you never had to drive more than five miles to find a grocery store. How could one area support so many stores?

When I lived in Florida, though, I always shopped at Publix. Just liked it better. And it was amazing how much cheaper my grocery bill was in Florida! I never realized how expensive things were in New York. Now, there were two Publix stores that I liked. One was a bigass store at Glades and 441. Really nice - but I learned to avoid it between January and April. Why? Snowbirds. The population would double in the winter. So I would go to the Publix on Sandlefoot during those times. Now, there was an excellent deli near my house and I did get cold cuts there on occasion, but not too often.

In Texas, we have a few choices - Albertsons, Randalls, and HEB. That would be H*E*B. It's initials, not a word. The guy who founded the chain was named H.E. Butts. I think it was a wise move to just go with HEB. At any rate, I shop at HEB now. For everything.

Sometimes, I find myself saying "I'm going to Grand Union", which really puzzles me. I haven't shopped at Grand Union since I left New York in 1994. It must be senility setting in.

Oh, and of course Walmart is everywhere..... but I HATE to shop at Walmart. I don't want to buy my food where people are buying tires and sneakers and toilet seats, okay? I just want a grocery store. In and out, without having to deal with all the rest. They opened a HEB Plus store here recently and I hate it. I think they are trying to Walmarticize it. NO NO NO. Just groceries, okay?

But, I do hate grocery shopping. So why did I just spend so much time writing about it? I already told you that I'm weird.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Incredibly Beautiful Morning

It's 81 degrees out right now, and there is a nice breeze. Seems like the soggy weather we had last week is finally gone.

I just hung out some wash on my 'illegal' clothesline. Damn fascist homeowners association doesn't allow clotheslines. So mine is just below the fence so that no one can see it from the street. I don't understand their thinking. With energy prices high, it only makes sense to hang out as much wash as you can instead of burning up the meter with the clothes dryer, right? And I'm kind of old-fashioned - I just like hanging my clothes outside. No, I don't hang everything out, but some things just get beat up in the dryer.

The good thing about Texas, if you get the wash out early it usually dries within two hours. The bad thing about Texas, if you don't bring it in quickly, the sun will fade it....

Time to take the dogs for a walk before it gets scorching hot.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

White towels only, Mom!

So the boys just left to go to the gym, again. Greg just got off work, came home, changed his clothes, packed his gym bag, grabbed his brother, and they're off.

In my younger years, I probably would have enjoyed the gym at 11:00 at night. Now? Not so much. I'm sitting here with my glass of wine, barely motivated to type up this post.

But Chris, he was complaining. Tells me that we need white towels. I believe he is suffering from that rare teenage disease called "Hue-phobia". Believe me, my towels are not all yellow, pink and orange. I have some green and some blue. But I really don't have any white. I do have a few beige towels, but that's still too much color for 'the gym'. I am told that I must invest in some white towels. Never in my life have I seen a kid so distressed by the fact that he has to drag a steel blue bathtowel to the gym.

I know where his allowance is going to be spent next week. If he wants white towels, I'm sure he can stock up at Big Lots or something.