Sunday, March 26, 2006

Remembering a Clothesline

The clothesline stood in our backyard for over half a century. About as long as I've been around. Day after day in the bright desert sun it stood doing its basic function of drying clothes. We never had an electric or gas dryer. The clothesline must have done its job well since I don't ever recall wearing damp clothes. My father built it when I was a tot. The five heavy gauge steel lines spanned 50 feet supported on either end by steel poles seated in a heavy concrete base.

As a child, I recall running between cool wet sheets on hot summer's day and my mother yelling at me not to knock clothes of the line. As I grew a little more, I was able to jump up and grab the line and hang. My father would tell me to quit it because the line would sag. The T poles were fair game though, and I considered it an accomplishment to shinny up the pole, sit on top, and survey the world from my clothesline perch. One Sunday afternoon I was on my way to the top and fell on my back. I then understood the phrase "getting the wind knocked out of you" since I couldn't breathe. My father had been watching and ran out of the house when I fell. By the time he reached me I was regaining respiratory function so he went back into the house to finish reading the paper. I stayed close to the ground the rest of the day. Before Velcro was invented, one task every kid had learn was to tie their shoes. If your shoe came untied and you hadn't learned, you just walked around the rest of the day with your laces dragging behind. One day my mother took out a short length of white cotton rope and took me over to the clothesline pole. There she worked with me until I was able to tie a bow knot by myself. It wasn't shoe laces but I was on my way.

As I grew, the clothesline became more of a hazard than an amusement. Since it nearly spanned the entire yard, I often found my head snapped back as walked into the line which was about face high then. I guess my father was right about the line sagging from me hanging on it.

The years passed and the clothesline stood. After my parents passed away, we rented the house. Steve and Carol ended up being the last residents. They didn't use the line and preferred a dryer. The lines were removed at some point. I assume Steve did this because he was tired of walking into them. We finally sold the house six months ago.

Recently I was next door at our other rental house cleaning up. I noticed that the new owners had removed the poles. They lay in the corner of the yard awaiting disposal. I'm sure the new owners saw them as unsightly obstacles that needed to go, but then again, they didn't spend half a century with them

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wild Blue Yonder

Ann seems to have been bitten by the same aviation bug that got me back when I was her age. She wants to fly. She's been pushing me to get my license re-certified for some time now. She also wants lessons for herself. She also wants me to pay for them. With no commitment to either of our aviation futures, I agreed to get a plane and an instructor for at least one time.

It was a breezy day at Stellar Air Park as Ann, Jason, our instructor, and I taxied to the runway. Ann was in the pilot's seat. In the air over the desert south of Chandler, Jason showed Ann how to recover from a stall. This maneuver is a little spooky for the novice pilot. We proceeded to Phoenix Regional Airport. This is basically a strip of pavement in the middle of nowhere. Jason guided Ann into the landing pattern and on to the runway. Jason took control just before touchdown since any contact between an aircraft and the ground should be a gentle one.

Ann Lands

On the ground, Ann and I swapped seats. It's been 25 years since I piloted a plane. Although flying a plane is a lot like riding a bicycle except for the wings, rudder, engine, propeller, radios, and complex avionic instrumentation, I figured I could still do it. I wanted to do some "touch and go's" to get back in the groove. Although there was a cross wind which makes landing a lot like walking onto a running treadmill at a 45 degree angle without falling over, I did OK. Any landing you walk away from is OK.

I piloted the plane back to the air park and made another OK landing. Ann and I were a little woozy since I had done a couple of steep banks and accelerated turns on the way back that tended to pull the blood out your head and throw your equilibrium out of whack. It's all part of the fun.

All in all it was good to be back in the wild blue yonder. We'll do it again.

Teradachtyls and Goldfish

Yesterday I went out to feed the goldfish. Huddled together at the bottom of the pond, they made no attempt to chow down. A couple of glistening gold scales at the bottom caught my eye. On closer examination, I noticed two vertical scrapes on both sides of one fish. It looked like another hit on the pond by creatures unknown. I went in and told Marilyn it appeared there had been another attack on our golden pets and they were traumatized. Within ten minutes I heard Marilyn screaming "it's back, it's back"! As we both ran to the patio, a giant bird like creature perched atop our pool umbrella but took off again as we emerged from the house waving our arms. This has happened before, but only one other time have I seen the culprit. It's big, it's gray, and it's a waterfowl. It might be a Pelican, Crane, or a Heron but to me it looks a lot like a Teradactyl. These avian terrors seem to show up in March or April. I usually put a screen over the pond but hadn't this year. It's in place now.

But here's the thing, We live in a desert. My house is in a sea of similar houses. Waterfowl should be where the water is, a lake or river. That's why God called them waterfowl. On the other hand, I guess the reason Teradactyls survived and evolved into big gray birds soaring over my house was that over millions of years they could always find food no matter where they were. I know it's not due to opposable thumbs.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Living with nature

With months of balmy weather ahead, we moved our funiture to the driveway to commune with nature. Living in the great outdoors, we felt a kinship to the pioneers and Indians of yesteryear who also lounged on their sofas with only the sky for a ceiling. God, I hope it doesn't rain.
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