Tag Archives: Friends

Blah, blah, blah…

In the past, I have commented on people who are non-stop talkers.  I saw this card recently and laughed.

If

When I was around 18 years old, I ran across the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It really rang a bell for me and it has stuck with me ever since. At times, certain lines seemed to sum up whatever difficulty I was facing at the time. From the very first line —

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”

“…If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools…”

“If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you…”

A few days ago, I ran across this video, which is an interesting interpretation of one of my favorite poems.

Livin’ the green in Savannah

The weekend was a whirlwind here at Casa Poolman. St Patrick’s Day is a major holiday in Savannah, roughly a one-day equivalent to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, without the nudity. (Green beads don’t get you a show here.)

Our weekend started on Thursday, when my sister and brother-in-law arrived for a visit from California. They have retired and are taking their time, moving across the country, stopping to visit everyone they know from Redondo Beach to Maine. They picked a Savannah’s most interesting weekend to stop here.

For the past ten years, Mrs. Poolman and I have hosted a party of sorts on St. Patrick’s Day. We stake out a piece of one of the downtown squares on the parade route and set up a parade version of a football tailgate party. We have food. We have drink. And we have lots of people. I think we are going to have to reevaluate our plan before next year. The event in general and our little piece of it have grown so large and crowded that it wasn’t that much fun.

In the past, Mrs. Poolman has rented a porta-potty, mounted it on the back of a pick-up truck and reserved it for the use of our group.

The 2010 version of Mrs. Poolman's Personal Pick Up Porta-Potty

This year, our problems started on Thursday, when Mrs. P got a call from the porta-potty company saying that the city was going to enforce an ordinance against the placement of the potties, either on trucks, or on public property. Mrs. P was extremely upset and began plotting a scheme for next year.

Saturday morning started nice and early, 3 am to be exact. Mrs. Poolman and I were downtown by 4 am to lay a claim to a precious piece of real estate. There were already quite a few people standing around the perimeter of the square awaiting the go-ahead to actually move in and set up a party spot. We negotiated with some of the earlier arrivals, and discouraged some later arrivals from poaching on our claim.  When the police finally allowed people into the square at 6 am, we ended up with a plot that included about 15 feet of parade frontage on the perimeter of the square. We had only one minor hassle, when a woman with the group next to us tried to push my friend, Birdie (of our Europe trip last year), out of the way. Pushing Birdie is not a good idea. He stood his ground and they exchanged a few words, but no one came to blows.

Here is the "early crew" around 7 am.

As the sun started to come up between 7:30 and 8 am, other people, invited and not, started to show up. By the time the parade started around 10:30 am, we had entirely too many people squeezed into a relatively small area.

It turned out the problem was not really in the number of people we had invited. Our real issue was that many of our invitees had turned around and invited a goodly number of their friends too. A couple of extras would not have been a problem. But when some of our guests showed up with an additional five or six of their family or friends, it added up quickly. I found myself standing in the middle of our extremely crowded picnic site and asking, “Who the heck are all these people?”

Our site before it got totally crazy.

We did have a nice street-side plot to watch the parade.

It was a very good time.  One bright side was the appearance of our friends Sam and Lynn and their two 19-month old twins, Helen and Brittany. Very cute!

Brittany and Helen

It was still a lot of work, mostly for people who I don’t even know. If we do it again next year, we are going to have to seriously cut back on the “extra guests.” If you have a group of five or six people, then you are welcome to come on down at 0-dark-30 and get a site of your own next to ours.

The issue of the crowds that seem to grow geometrically ever year is a more difficult problem. There is talk about changing the rules for claiming a party site, maybe even doing a lottery or an auction. I don’t have a good answer. Next year’s party will also be on a Saturday, which means it will be as crazy as this year was. (March 17 will be a Sunday, but the parade will be held on Saturday.) If the rules remain the same, we may have to start posting people on the street adjacent to the square the evening before and work in shifts. At the very least, it now appears that 2 or 3 am will be the latest one can show up and get a good site.

This is going to require some thought and discussion.

A Friday evening flashback

Life has been both busy and slow at the same time. How can that happen?

This past weekend started out busy but then coasted to through to a quiet couple of days. On Friday evening, I helped out serving at the Knights of Columbus fish fry. Our daughter’s best friend, Norma, invited us to go over to her house afterwards for a small get-together and to eat some of those fish dinners. We’ve known Norma and her family since the girls were all middle-school age. Early on, our families had discovered an amazing coincidence. Both of our families had five children; we all grew up in the same town (Wheeling, West Virginia) at the same time; and we all attended the same parochial school, St. Vincent de Paul, in Elm Grove.

On Friday evening, I sat down with Norma’s mother and aunt and played “Do you remember…?” It was incredible what we both recalled. In addition to sharing the same school, we played in the same parks, went to the same movie theaters and swimming pools, attended the same church and shopped at the same stores. We even shared the same family physicians. It’s amazing that none of us can remember knowing one another back in the mid-60s when we were all at the same school together. The best we can figure out is that we must have alternated grades. Despite each family having five children, spread across roughly the same time frame, none of us were in the same class. As the evening wore down, I remembered one last detail of those years.

“Did your mom ever cook city chicken?”

“Oh my God! I haven’t thought about that in years! We had it all the time.”

City Chicken

City chicken is a dish apparently indigenous to western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. It is simply cubed pork and veal, arranged on a wooden skewer and cooked like chicken. My recollection is my mom browned it in butter, made gravy and then finished the cooking by simmering the pieces in gravy. It was served with noodles. What a flashback! Now Mrs. Poolman is hot to trot to cook some city chicken and have the other families over for a 1960s dinner. Should be fun.

“Hello! Who’s there?”

Much has been written regarding the sharp decline in the art of writing notes in this age of text messages, email, Facebook and Twitter. Recently, I realized another decline in the art of communication – telephone etiquette.

Obviously, I date myself by evening bringing up the subject.  When we were younger, we were taught how to properly make a telephone call, answer the phone, and so on. The parents of one of my friends were so strict about the proper way to answer the phone in their house that she persists with it today.

“Hello, Smith residence, this is Mary speaking.”

And she is single – the only person living there!

This came up when we recently received a phone call from one of our 11-year old relatives.

“Hello”

Silence….finally “Hi”

“Hello. Who is this?”

Silence…finally, in a baby-like voice “This is Mallory!”

“Hi, Mallory. What can I do for you today?”

More silence….finally, “Oh, nuthin.”

And so it went on. Like trying to dig a splinter out of my thumb.

When I mentioned this to Mrs. Poolman, she said, “Why are you surprised? Have you talked with her parents lately? Who do you think is supposed to teach her?”

I realized that Mrs. P was right. We have received frequent calls from relatives in their 20s who call and simply say, “Hey!” and apparently wait for the recipient of the call to guess who they are and why they are calling.

You would think someone of our generation (50s) would know better, but they don’t. We have several friends who almost never identify themselves when they call. And some of them show annoyance when I ask, “And who is calling, please?”

I would recognize the voices of Mrs. Poolman, my two children and my father. After that, it’s a crap shoot. Caller ID works some of the time. I only look at it part of the time anyway. And if just shows a number and not a name, it’s not much help.

That last part is courtesy of the contact list built into my cell phone. I don’t even know Mrs. P’s cell number without looking it up. All I know is that it’s in my cell phone contact list under “Mrs. Poolman.

Recently, I received a call from the middle of my three sisters,  Margaret. I recognized her voice, but I thought I’d “zing” here anway.”

Margaret: “Hi Poolman! This is your favorite sister.”

Me: “Oh, hi, Kathy! I’m glad you called. I really want to hear more about what you were saying about Margaret yesterday.”

As they say on “The Big Bang Theory”…Bazinga!

And Mrs. Poolman says I still don’t understand why people don’t call me.

So how ya doin’? Don’t ask.

My fellow blogger “Hubby Diaries” wrote a post this week totally abusing her husband for having a “man cold” or “man flu.”

I know that stories are legendary among our female companions of men turning into total babies at the first hint of a sniffle or cough. I hope I’m not one of those. I typically come down with one cold a year, which usually degenerates into bronchitis. I try to ignore it for several weeks in the expectation my immune system will do what it is supposed to do and just make it go away. (What’s the point of all those little antibodies if they’re not doing their job?) Eventually, I end up at the doctor’s office to get a prescription for an antibiotic.  When I do run a fever and feel lousy, I just snuggle down on the couch and apologize to Mrs. Poolman for being such poor company.

However, for those members of the gentle sex who like to make fun of their ailing partners, I have a question. Which is worse – the occasional “man flu baby” or the chronic “I’m always feeling bad” whiner?

None of my male-friends ever complains about the way they feel.

“Hey, man, what happened to you?”

“Well, I coughed up a lung and left it in the passenger seat of my car, but I still have one left so I’m cool. So, what d’ya think about the game last night?”

On the other hand, I know any number of women for whom complaining about aches, pains and discomforts is a way of life.

“Hey, Mary, how are you?”

“Oh, I haven’t slept well in a week. My back aches. My neck hurts. I may be coming down with a migraine. And I think my uterus fell out last night. You know my doctor says I have a very sensitive disposition.”

I have several friends with whom I am very careful to never ask how they are. It’s not that I don’t care. Well, maybe it is. It’s just that, unless someone really is seriously ill or injured, the expression, “How are you?” is just a casual greeting, not a request for a health inventory.

Whatever you do, you must never react or respond to the complaints. To do so would only encourage them and subject you to a lengthy health history and prognosis.

“I really think these are all symptoms of dengue fever. I may have only days to live.”

“So, do you guys want to catch a movie tonight, or what?”

Here’s to hoping your 2012 is a healthy one! To quote another blog-friend, Terri, “Life is good!”

I’m back

It has been a busy three weeks and I sort-of dropped out of the blogosphere for a while. I’m back after the break and, hopefully, have some new wind.

We had a house full of family company over the Labor Day weekend. Then we capped it off with a 60thbirthday party for Mrs. Poolman with roughly 60 guests.

Mrs. Poolman opening some gifts

Actually, we called it a second 40th birthday party since Mrs. P decided when she turned 50 that she would start counting backwards. She is looking forward to her experiencing her 30s once again. We had small children the first time around. In any case, a good time was had by all and, most importantly, Mrs. P was happy with the celebration.

Last weekend, the whole family, less Girlfriend, traveled to Delaware for a family (nephew’s) wedding. The wedding was in Lewes, Delaware, an historic town on the shore of Delaware Bay – most well known as the southern terminus of the Cape May – Lewes Ferry.

The waterfront on the canal in Lewes

We rented a five bedroom house about a block from the beach and shared it with two of my sisters and their families.

"Whaler Cottage" in Lewes

It was great to get most of the family together. However, our children are all now of the age when it is nearly impossible to get everyone in one place at the same time. School schedules and jobs always seem to get in the way. We enjoyed those who did make it to Lewes. Actually, with the number of nieces and nephews on my side of the family, I suspect weddings will be the reason for quite a few family gatherings over the next decade.

The drive to Lewes was a bit longer (Mrs. P would say “a lot longer.”) than we originally anticipated. It was roughly 12 hours door-to-door. The surprising part is that when traveling north, you would think “We’re almost there!” when you got off of I-95 near Norfolk. Heck no! You’re actually just past the half-way point. Mrs. P held off getting antsy until we were well into Maryland on the Delmarva Peninsula. At that point I could honestly say, “We’re almost there!”

We ran into a major traffic jam in the booming metropolis of Millsboro, Delaware. There must be a local ordinance that at 5:20 on every weekday afternoon, everyone must get in their car and drive around town. How a town with less than 4,000 residents and, maybe, three traffic lights could experience that kind of gridlock is beyond me.

Overall, we had a very enjoyable time. The family of the bride did a great job. The best part was being able to get together with all of our widely-spread family and reconnect with each other.

The bride’s uncle hosted brunch on Sunday morning. He has an old and large house in Lewes’s historic section with a lighthouse attached to the back. The bought it and had it transported from somewhere else in Delaware. Now that is different.

CCD classes started up again earlier this month. I’m teaching 5th grade for the seventh year. Our first session was a Mass, followed by a quick “meet the parents” session. Last week’s class was mostly organizational. So last night we had our first real lesson. My friend, Sherry, is helping me again this year. We have a large class – 22 students at full attendance. We are in a classroom with only 15 desks, so we are using every stool, chair, table, etc. that is available.

At first glance, this class looks to be significantly easier to work with than last year’s group.  Actually, one of the more rambunctious kids in the class is Sherry’s son, which totally mortifies Sherry. It will work out.

We’re on a roll this week

One of my brother’s and my fun summer activities when we were growing up was picking black rasberries or blackberries.  Actually, what we really liked was eating the pies and sundaes that were the result of our harvest.

During most of our childhood, our family lived in a hill-top neighborhood, in suburban Wheeling, West Virginia.  The area was called Bethlehem.  Our neighborhood consisted of a single road that winded up a wooded hillside from the main highway and then threaded itself along the ridge of a series of tall hills. We called them “mountains” but I’m not sure that was totally accurate. While some of the surrounding countryside was steep and heavily wooded, there were large areas of grassy fields, probably land cleared for old farms. Many of those fields were full of raspberry and blackberry bushes.

We would set out with our bowls and pitchers in search of the ripe berries. The black rasberries ripened in June. The larger-kernel blackberries didn’t sweeten until mid-July.

On a good day we would return home with a gallon or more of berries, more than my mother could ever hope to use.

All of that is just background to explain my impulse-purchase of a quart of blackberries at the produce stand last week. On Sunday, we had some friends over to swim, so I tried my hand a pie. It didn’t turn out too bad although I seriously under estimated the amount of corn starch needed. Even cool, it was still fairly “runny.” So I served it in bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I didn’t hear any complaints.

I’ll hold off posting a recipe until I try it again and get a better handle on the amount of thickener needed. Stay tuned.

Our Sunday guests included our friends Sam and Lynn and their now 11-month old twin daughters, Helen and Brittany. The girls are very even tempered, playful and, as you can see from the pictures, extremely cute.

Brittany

Helen

We had a great time.

Random annoyances

Things have been slow here this summer, and I haven’t felt very inspired. But I do feel an obligation to “feed the monster” as we used to say in my TV news days.

There has been good news and bad news sitting in front of me at work these past two days. The good news is that my laptop computer has finally reached its well-deserved retirement age and has been replaced by a younger model. The bad news is that the new laptop came with Windows 7 and Office 2010.

New and better? Perhaps.

Different from what I have been using for years? Definitely.

I have spent some frustrating times searching for a missing button “…that used to be right HERE!”

It will smooth out, but in the meanwhile I’m getting a headache.

*    *   *   *

What is it with people who need to talk all the time?

We have several friends who have this compulsion, so I have seen (heard?) a lot of it. A couple of weeks ago we visited some family and ran into a serious contender for the world championship.

After a child-relative’s birthday party, many of us retired to our niece’s house. We had a small group of extended family sitting around the table on the patio, exchanging news and catching up. However, the flow of conversation was almost entirely one-sided. The girlfriend of one of the family members grabbed the imaginary microphone and just would not let go. She was energetic; she was opinionated; and she was argumentative. That’s not always a problem, but  this woman wouldn’t let anyone else get a word in edgewise.

I enjoy a good discussion, even a debate. I think of a non-personal argument as a good sport. But I hate to try to out-shout someone just to participate. At one point, she was ranting about some political issue and asking questions like, “Why does this make sense?”

I tried to inject myself several times, but I don’t even think she could hear me over the sound of her own voice. Finally, I raised my voice (for which I am still ashamed) and said, “Hey! You are asking some questions. I’d be happy to provide some answers if you would stop talking along enough to listen.”

She looked at me like I had just landed in a space ship and was speaking Martian.

It was just a short while later she went looking for her boyfriend and announced it was time for them to go home.

Oh well. It was nice to hear what some of the other guests had to say.

Is it summer yet?

It was another quiet weekend around Casa Poolman.

Saturday was a little rainy, which quashed our plans to do yard work. We ran a few errands and puttered around the house. We planned a “double feature” of DVD watching in the afternoon and evening. However, our friend, Susan, called saying she was bored and was looking for playmates. We invited her to join us for dinner. So we spent the evening “visiting” rather than watching movies.

We had a few friends over for an “open pool” on Sunday afternoon. The weather cooled down a little and so did the pool water, so there was not a lot of splashing around — more sitting around the deck drinking beer.

Our friends Steven and Liz dropped by with their two nine-month old twin daughters. The girls were great. They were very happy to sit with and socialize with whoever was holding them at the time. Too cute!

Evelyn

Bridget