House guests provide inspiration

If there is one thing that will get you off your duff, whether or not you feel like it, it is the impending arrival of out-of-town guests.

Suddenly, your reasonably clean house and reasonably tidy barn look filthy, your just-mowed lawn seems to have turned into a hay field, your adequate supply of food and beverage for one resembles Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, and you just know that the old pump will collapse, a wind storm will wreak havoc with all the trees — and the list goes on and on.

By the time you read this, Joey and Marilyn Mick of South Matick, Mass., my late sister’s son and daughter-in-law, will have come and gone and hopefully none of the above catastrophes will have interrupted what I hope is a great visit.

Only because I’ve known him since before he was born am I allowed to still address him as “Joey.” He is a fine grown man, an attorney serving as assistant regional director with the Securities Exchange Commission in Boston, is a fine husband married to a fine lady, and best of all they both love Winnie!

Indeed, they so love their own basset hound, Lydia, they wouldn’t think of boarding her when they leave town for more than a day; they have a regular pet sitter who comes and stays 24/7.

Lydia was just a puppy when Barbara’s terminal travail began and so did not have the ideal puppyhood as Joey and Marilyn had to spend so much time tending to more important things than potty-training their puppy and other necessary supervisory training.

Hence, dear little Lydia more or less took over the household and she was no longer “little.” Finally, it was time to teach her she was not the owner of the house, and she went for serious schooling.

It worked! Now Lydia is completely socialized and is almost as much of a lady as was her greatly loved predecessor, Gertrude. And by the time Joey and Marilyn leave here, my Winnie will be even more spoiled rotten than she is!

Incidentally, I finally learned Winnie’s registered name: “Zdars Intuition of Wnspkee.” No wonder the tongue-twister, which is an abbreviation of Winnipesaukee, a New Hampshire lake, was shortened to Winnie!

“Zdars” is the name of a village in the European area where Dalmatians are believed to have originated as early as the 17th century.

* * *

Yes, my towering sycamore was afflicted with the fungus that develops after a cold and rainy spring. It started out in fine fettle, with hundreds of little seed balls visible against the sky. But before long, the new little leaves were brown and falling, and a general malaise was evident.

Another such spring several years ago saw the same condition and I called Davey Tree Co. for help, which came in the form of a deep-root feeding, and even though they say the tree will recover on its own, I didn’t want to take a chance.

So it has been fed and already looks better.

My two mulberry trees certainly don’t need fed. Their fruit is almost paving my driveway, and the birds are delirious, especially the robins whose fledglings are everywhere, crying plaintively, “We’re starving — feed us!”

* * *

We older folks — I like that better than “senior citizens” — who have lived through both good and bad times, can’t help but be amused at the “tips” on saving money that are being presented in all the media.

We knew all of them long ago, and I’d guess that those of us of that generation still adhere to our early teaching. I know I do and always have.

As a Depression child, I wore hand-me-downs and guess what: I am today probably the best consignment store customer in the tri-county area. And in my pre-retirement days I was well-dressed in designer duds — from a special consignment store.

In those pre-credit cards days, you didn’t get something unless you could pay for it then, or if you couldn’t, you would put it in “lay-away.” When it was paid for, you took it home.

Speaking of saving money, have you noticed that the coupons in the daily paper are rarely for food these days? And if they are for food, you have to buy two.

* * *

With the frightful flooding in the nation’s mid-section, the tribulations for people are unbelievable, but I can’t help also mourning for the farm animals and family pets and the wildlife. Their lives will never be the same, even if they survive.

Humans will somehow pick up what is left of their lives and continue, devastating as their losses have been. We in this area have much for which to be thankful.

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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