Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mom's Beautiful Redbud Tree

So I've had a little writer's block lately and haven't really had too much to write about. I'm not sure if it's because of lack of time or just laziness. I have been busy with Easter, travel to WVA and work but the main reason I haven't written is because nothing really jumped out at me to write about.

As many of you may know, I love to work in the yard and garden.
I have started mowing the lawn and I can already tell that the grass this year is going to be tough to keep up with. I got a little carried away with the grass seed last year. My yard has pretty thick, nice, green grass.... for the most part. There are still a few "problem" areas but they will have to continue to be a work in progress for a while yet.

I love the spring with all the spring bulb flowers and all the blooming trees. Living near DC gives you a special dose of "Cherry blossom trees". The tulips around the White House at this time are also especially beautiful. Even though I have lived in this area for many years, I have only offically gone downtown to see the Washington Cherry Blossoms only once. The traffic makes it a miserable trip in most cases.

One of my best days in DC was when my friend and I got to go on the spring White House garden tour to the see flora and fauna there. They only open the gardens up twice a year in the spring and the fall. I really enjoyed seeing the gardens but I think part of the charm of that day was that it was a spur of the moment decision to even go to the White House. It was a real fluke that we got in, didn't have to fight the masses of people, and that the weather that day was perfect. (My friend, Mary Ann, was not as enthusiastic about that tour because she had to listen to me go on and on about all the different, wonderful types of flowers. She managed to enjoy herself by being fortified from the Guiness she had been sampling at the "Taste Of DC"! I still give her big "friend points" for doing that with me. I can only hope that she gave me a few "friend points" because I went to the taste of DC with her! )

Anyway, I digress, as usual....

As I was enjoying all the wonders of nature in the springtime, it's hard to miss my beautiful redbud tree that is in our backyard. I say "my" redbud because it seems most of my family are not fans of the tree.

The reason that my boys all dislike my beautiful redbud tree is shown below:
When we first moved into our house 20 years ago, we had a cement patio poured out back and the above basketball hoop installed at the same time. The idea was to have an area for our outdoor table AND to give the boys someplace to practice basketball. Well, the outdoor table was always pushed off to the side, out of the way, and was rarely used for the purpose it was intended. The brand new patio soon had the required foul line painted on the concrete and it was rarely not in use. We always had a group of kids out back on "the basketball court", now never called the patio.
All the kids who used to play here knew that the number one goal when playing basketball out back was to prevent the ball from hitting the back of the house and/or windows. ( On vinyl siding that basketball sounded like thunder when it hit!) If too many occurrences of the ball hitting the back of the house meant that Dad would come out and end the game.
When we used to live in Texas, I used to love the redbud trees down there. I told Tom when we first moved in that I wanted to get one for this house. He was not unsupportive but his advice was that it not be out in the middle of the yard "so he had another obstacle to mow around." ( This was way back before I was doing the yard work.)
Since there was this small indentation at the edge of the patio, he suggested I plant it there for the above reason. **Now in a little aside here, he will deny that this conversation ever took place...especially since all the boys hated the placement of that tree!****
As the tree started growing, it became a real problem for the three point shot. The branches made a few of the shots almost impossible. It was always an argument with the boys regarding pruning that tree. If I turned my back too long, there would be branches mysteriously gone. They always were fussing about how much they hate that tree and how it is in the way of their game!
If I had a dollar for everytime they complained about my tree, I would be rich today.
The basketball hoop finally bit the dust, due to rust. Thank God no one was hurt when it fell because a game was in progress when it finally gave way.
I think the boys all miss the basketball hoop but now that the tree is so much bigger, it really would have made the basketball area very small. There definitely is no place to shoot a three point shot.
I think they are a little stubborn to admit that my redbud tree is a beautiful tree now. They still can't help but complain about the "basketball days" and how the tree was so annoying.
I should remind them that that beautiful tree provides a good bit of shade for the OBB and for keeping the kegs in the shade for the OBB!
I will always call it my beautiful redbud tree and they will always refer to it as that @#*$ tree- but it is definitely all a matter of perspective!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

2 Minutes Until the Movie

Tom & I were watching Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood today and one of their stories was about a new Drive-In Movie theater opening in Texas. (By the way, Sunday Morning is a great show if you have never watched it.)

This brought back a host of memories about drive-in theaters because my paternal grandparents owned "The West Drive-in" in Buckhannon, WV, for many years.

My dad and his siblings all worked at the drive-in, in some capacity, while they were growing up. My dad actually ran the projector to support his growing family all through his college years. Most everyone in the family, at one time or other, worked in the snack bar, sold tickets, or did upkeep on the grounds. (I won't go into the fact that some in the family were never allowed to work in the snack bar...that is another story all by itself.)

I thought it was really cool back then that we were allowed to go into the snack bar and eat just about anything we wanted, but we always had to "mark down" what we ate so my grandfather would be able "to do his books."

I always thought I was so special as a kid because my grandparents owned the drive-in, the only indoor theater in town, AND the town public swimming pool. My dad used to tell stories about the indoor theater and how "Shirley Temple kept my dad in business during the depression" and how "we used to have a Christmas show where Santa Claus came to distribute toys on the stage in front of the screen at the theater." (Sorry, I digress ....back to the drive-in story....)

Anyway, my grandfather was pretty forward thinking and had his house built up on the hill behind the drive-in movie screen. He actually had those horrible speakerphones in his bedroom with a huge window so anyone in the house could watch the movie from the porch, his bedroom, and a family room that was located on that side of the house. I guess at the time it was what you would call his own "surround home movie theater." Granted, the sound really sucked in those speakers but still pretty ahead of his time.

I remember that as kids we were not allowed to go in the projectionist's area while the movie was running because my grandmother was afraid the projectionist would get sidetracked and miss the correct time to "change reels." When this happened, it was a white screen and most of the cars would honk their horns until the movie started again.

When I look back now, I think of all the hard work it took to run the drive-in. My grandparents always started working early in the evening to get ready for the nightly movie/s. The phone at their house was also the business phone so it would start ringing early afternoon so people could listen to the nightly features for the week and see what was playing. There was always a double feature on the weekends and they held special events on holidays.

On July 4th, they always had fireworks and my grandfather, dad, and other friends and family would "set off the fireworks". It was a tradition that the last big finale firework would have a little parachute guy in it and anyone who found the parachute got a free admission to the drive-in.

When I think of my grandmother, I always remember her in her little ticket booth. She was the main ticket seller for as long as I can remember. I can't even imagine how many tickets she sold over her lifetime but she continued running the drive-in for many years even after my grandfather died.

One of her jobs was at the end of the night when she had to drive around the movie yard and wake up patrons that had fallen asleep in their cars. I would be dosing in her car and can remember the stops and window knocks. At the time, I didn't realize the significance that most of her window knocks were for cars in the last two rows of the movie yard. Thinking back on that, I later understood the "fogged windows" and why she never let any of the grandkids do the window knocking.

After my grandmother died, my aunt ran the drive-in. When drive-ins slowly went out of fashion and she stopped running the drive-in completely, she let the locals hold flea markets on the property.

When my kids were younger, there was a drive-in located in the town where my parents lived in WVa. We always tried to have a drive-in movie night when we went to visit. All the aunts and uncles and cousins that lived in the area, would go. I forget how much it cost to get in, but it was usually by the carload. We would take stuff to sit on, blankets to wrap up in, snacks to eat, and bug spray. The kids would usually run around and play at the playground until it turned dark. Most of the kids would be asleep before the movies were over. It was always fun and very nostalgic for me. That drive-in has been out of business for many years now.

I was surprised about the number of drive-ins during their peak. 4,000 in the nation, with 388 located in Texas. I thought it might have been more nationwide but Texas dropped down to 11 drive-ins in 2000. That number is now 21 drive-ins in Texas. I have such fond memories of drive-ins that I wish everyone had the opportunity to give them a try.If you get a chance don't pass it up to go to a drive-in!

As they say: Come to the snack bar for delicious snacks...and 2 minutes until the movie!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cleaning the Garage

NEW is possible to get your husband to clean out the garage, in 45 minutes no less, if you have "possible large hail and tornado watch" in the weather forecast.
Having a clean garage is the bane of our existence and for the last 20 years we have intermittently gotten the bug to clean stuff out of no avail most of the time.
Tom's goal when he bought his new car (about 3 years ago) was to park it in the garage during the "snow season".
He has threatened to make me park outside so he didn't have to scrape his windows on cold mornings.
We actually had both cars in the garage sometime last test it out to see if they both fit...and before you know it...there were tables from the OBB, car seats removed from the van, golf clubs and other junk that slowly made their way to HIS side...
Should have a lottery as to how long it will be before HIS side is again a mess...but for today...BOTH CARS ARE IN THE GARAGE!
I need to take a picture....
And so far if our luck holds tornados or hail!