Thursday, June 25, 2009

1943



One of the local libraries recently held a book sale, which I attended late on a Saturday afternoon. Even though my hopes of finding an interesting book were slim after the morning crowds, I found a parking space and went inside.

The long tables were lined with rows of modern romance and common fiction, neither of which interested me. All the memoirs, crafting, and books on rural skills were gone, so I looked through the books from the 20’s – 50’s on the table by the front door. There were books about Grant and Lee, Shakespeare’s plays and other literary works, none of which would fill my needs for summer reading. I casually picked up a small red book lettered “1943” on its spine. It was a diary written in small, precise penmanship. I put it back and circled the room, looking at the music CDs this time.

Once again I found my way to the front table and picked up “1943”. Once again I set it back. I checked one more table just in case I missed something but nothing struck my fancy. On my way toward the door I walked over and picked up “1943”. This time I noticed “1944” nearby. I decided that if no one had purchased these during the early rush of the book sale, then they must be there for me. I purchased them and drove home.

After settling myself into a comfortable chair, I thought I’d read a few pages and perhaps catch forty winks. However, once I became accustomed to the early cursive style, I found myself riveted to the story unfolding before me.

The narrative is unique because it was written by a sixteen-year-old boy. In January he cross-country skis with his best friend, carries firewood for an elderly neighbor-woman, sings in a church choir, and gets excellent grades in school. In one entry he mentioned rationing and having only enough fuel oil to last until the next day. That’s when it all clicked – 1943 – The War! He does not dwell on it at length in any particular entry, but I can see how life was affected by it. He attends school assemblies which address civilian preparedness and he watches some military movies at the cinema. There are a few air raids during this year and he helps his mother plant a Victory Garden.

Here are some entries:

Sunday, February 14
When I awoke this morning every thing was coated with snow. It hung from all the trees and bushes and so I took a lot of pictures. I shot 4 rolls. Went to church and sang in the choir. After church I came home and developed two rolls. Then after a roast beef dinner I went skiing with Doug over in back of Parkers. It was good. I developed two more rolls and then went to Young Peoples. After young peoples we played ping pong. We had Mrs. Plumb to visit. Only enough oil left for tomorrow. Temp now 6°. Clear

Monday, February 15
It was -15° this morning and I had to wait 15 minutes for the bus. It was cold at school too and an icy wind was blowing. There was no gym. Pupils had frostbitten ears this morning. In the afternoon (-1°) I spent my time doing homework down by the fire. In the evening Dad and I played rummy. We each won a game. He stayed in on account of the cold and we are going to bed early. Nothing else particularly happened. Just cold!


He writes for college catalogs and wants to attend Harvard. Since his name is written inside the front of the book, I was able to do some research and discovered that he did attend Harvard, became a successful lawyer in this area, and passed away earlier this year.

Coincidentally, this past Sunday I came across a Collier’s Year Book for 1943 at a second hand store. This book is filled with information about what was going on in the world at that time.

I am hoping to find out much more by making this my project for the winter. A trip to the Historical Society will be on my agenda, to peruse town maps and school records. If I’m lucky I may be able to find a class picture.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No change!

I was actually excited to find the electric bill in today's mail however upon opening it my happy face turned down. The billing cycle ran from 5/22 through 6/21 and my usage averaged 4 kwh per day, which was the same as my usage during the previous billing period.

Please keep in mind that I unplugged the television on June 1st. Before that it was plugged into a power cord which was turned off when the TV was not in use. (I wrote about my power consumption in a previous post.)

Conclusion: Even though this was not a money-saving measure, I've actually been happier by reading and listening to the radio rather than sitting in front of the tube. I keep up with the news online. I don't feel deprived so it's staying unplugged for now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

That's Pepe le Pew, JUNIOR, thank you!


This little guy (and I do mean LITTLE!) was near our back decks at the condo this afternoon around 6pm. My understanding was that skunks are nocturnal, so is he out because it's been overcast today? Or maybe his mom hasn't taught him to tell time yet? Does his mom even know he's out wandering on his own?
I hope I don't meet up with him (or any of his family) by surprise......

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Different Set of Numbers

Money; it comes and goes

While condo living certainly has its downfalls, the utility bills are definitely sweet. I took out all my past bills for natural gas, water, and electric usage. These are my monthly averages for the past year:

  • Natural gas: 31 CCF per month

  • Water: less than 2 hundred cu ft per month

  • Electric: 147 kwh per month

The breakdown of my conservative measures are as follows:

  • Natural gas: I have a split furnace - heat and a/c. Heat is set around 68 in winter when I am home and awake, 64 when I'm asleep or out. I don't use the air conditioning in summer, just fans. I live in southern New England, so winters do get cold and summers can get hot and humid.

  • Water: 2 trips to laundromat each month, using 1 small machine each trip. I hand-wash lightly soiled clothing nightly. I try to take 3 minute showers, or will turn water off while soaping up then on to rinse off, and shampoo daily.

  • Electric: I use power cords on every possible appliance, but not the stove, fridge, or built-in light fixtures. (The electric company replaced my meter last year when they noticed the low usage compared to the other meters in the condominium. They must have thought it was defective!)
This has been my "status quo" for over a year, and is unlikely to change. Also, for the month of June I have unplugged the television, so although it was previously on a power cord I have decided not to watch it at all this month. I'm curious to see if this has any effect on the electric bill.

My focus is now turning towards building my nest egg for my future "nest". I need to squirrel away every spare penny. My thoughts are to cut back on my spending during July and August and try a "Not Buying It" style of September and October. (Based on the book from Judith Levine)

Places where I can certainly improve:
  • I fluctuate between brown-bagging my lunch and buying it. Same for coffee, snacks, and sometimes even dinner. (I can easily rationalize eating out to keep my kitchen clean.)

  • Addictive-style spending at second hand stores for vintage items and books. I must have been born in the wrong era. I love anything from the 1920's - 1960's. (Yes, even double-knits.)

  • Unnecessary driving. I make quick trips to the beach or the store, instead of going for a walk. Since gas is getting very close to $3/gallon here, it's time to stop the drain.
At this time I cannot fit a second job in my schedule, but I don't rule that out in the future. My job pays well enough to live, so I need to focus on capturing every spare cent towards the little piece of real estate that I desire.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Numbers


I have a fascination for the dates on structures. There were some workers in 1918 who set this stone in place; a fact they they were here at that time. And yes, it is shameful that a tree has been allowed to take root out of this arch. The roots will surely cause the arch to weaken, and ultimately it will need to be replaced.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thank you!

Thank you to Lisa at www.thehemline.blogspot.com/ for mentioning me in her blog! She was very thoughtful to look for newly started blogs, and give us a nudge.
And best wishes to Emily at
www.sewingsister.blogspot.com, who was also mentioned by Lisa!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Score!


It was busy at the Farmers' Market on Saturday morning. I was there early and found these beautiful squash blossoms. Finding this is so exciting when I can't grow my own, being in a condo. Most of these were stuffed for last night's dinner.

A few years back when I had a large garden, I enjoyed being able to scramble squash blossoms in an egg for breakfast. My middle son, the chef, told me how to cook these stuffed with herbed goat cheese, which is how they cook them at the restaurant. I dipped them in egg wash and flour and fried them in a little oil, and plated them with just a little marinara sauce. Holy moley! Where were these all my life??!! I cooked them for my youngest son, the student. We tried them with ricotta, chopped onion and parsley, and used salsa as the condiment. Excellent! Then I made some for my oldest son, the landscaper, and his family. This time I used cream cheese with chopped onion and bread crumbs, marinara on the side. They loved it.

Things like this are why I really miss my garden. There is nothing like fresh herbs and veggies. And there's nothing like the feeling you get after tending your garden, tired and drained, but happy.

Oh, yes - I had the last blossom this morning (Sunday), in my scrambled egg. Hopefully, next year I'll be growing my own. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Reunited

One sunny day in 1971 I walked into a music shop. After putting down approximately 85 of my hard-earned dollars I proudly left, carrying a black case which held a new guitar. I started taking lessons but life was busy between work and friends and school. I just didn’t want to sit still long enough to learn while I could be out having fun. So I stopped the lessons, and kept the guitar carefully packed in the black case.

Five years later I read about guitar lessons to be given at the local YWCA. Yes! I signed up and went to all 8 lessons. Nothing stuck. I didn’t really learn anything. Once again the guitar was relegated to the black case.

Over the years I moved a few times, toting the guitar along with the boxes and furniture. I married and gave birth to three boys. Somewhere around 1986 my first son wanted to take guitar lessons, having seen the case and the guitar many times. His lessons lasted about 2 years and he played quite well. The guitar was his to use. As a teenager, he added an amplifier and a shoulder strap.

This past winter I asked if he still had the instrument, and if I could borrow it for a while. Yes, it was in the storage room in the barn, he said. No one was using it so I could take it. When he brought it out I wasn’t sure if I would have the same feeling for it that I did 38 years ago. The case was slightly warped from the dampness in the barn and its handle is broken. The guitar hole was greasy from the amplifier. I took it home and removed the amp. Then I used a very mild soapy cloth to clean the wood. It looked almost as new as when I first held it, except for the strap buttons. With new strings and a book, I started at the beginning. I’m going slowly and I repeat the same pages until I get the notes right, but I feel so good about it. Maybe I’ve learned the patience that I need for an endeavor like this.



Now my guitar sits in the black case, but this time it is in my living room and comes out most evenings to sit on my knee and practice. It may not be fancy but it’s special to me. It’s been with me for most of my life.

P.S. I’ve just ordered a child-size guitar for my grandchildren and will be buying a full-size guitar for my son. I think I’ll keep mine for a while and make some music.