Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Credit where Credit is Due

Remember my flat tire? I took that piece of reinforcing wire to the Municipal Building. They took a picture of it, contacted PennDot who said that they would fill out a 430 Claim.

In the meantime, I couldn't keep drive back and forth to work on a 'donut' so we replaced the tire. We actually ended up getting two tires replaced so they matched. We hung on to that bill. We hung on to that wire. I'm still driving that trashed tire around in my trunk.

After 3 weeks, I called PennDot. The nice woman said that the college intern must have submitted the paperwork to the contractor incorrectly. She'd do it again.

After another 2 weeks, I called back. I try hard to be a nice person, but I was getting irritated.

The nice lady at PennDot told me that I should talk directly to the man in charge of the contractors. She gave me a number.

That man said that I needed to be speaking with the contractors. I said, "Well, a 430 claim has been filed twice. Seems like they should be speaking to ME!"

He explained that 430 Claims are filed when a car is damaged by PennDot road work. Contractors do not receive 430 claims.

By the time that I finally got a hold of the person that I needed to be speaking with, I was prepared for battle. I explained my situation, the fact that this had happened on August 15th, that I had the wire, the tire, and the bill. I said that I didn't want to be nasty about it, but I was a little grumpy about the fact that something so straight forward should take so long to sort out.

He agreed. He said, "Do you have an estimate?"

"No. I've got a bill. We had to get a new tire. We actually ended up getting two tires because the damaged one was an expensive tire, and we didn't want to pay for two of them. So we opted to replace both tires." I told him that while the bill would be for two tires, we only expected payment for one.

I was a little gobsmacked when he said, "No. We'll pay for both of them. It's only fair. You wouldn't have had to buy two tires if our roadwork had not damaged the one. E-mail me the bills and I'll have payment on its way to you within two days."

I e-mailed him the bill along with the proof that we had paid it. He replied back that he'd received it and that it would be taken care of for us.

Nicest surprise I've had in a while.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Autumn, take two.

There's a quiet guy at church. Don't get me wrong. He's pleasant, but he's just a quiet person.

This past week, he posted that his partner of 17 years was very ill. I messaged my condolences and prayers to him.

At church this morning, he was talking to the priest. I was talking nearby with Diane and our ears pricked up. He was talking about driving over an hour to get to the hospital every night after work. Since he had already posted the facts on facebook, we felt comfortable to approach and ask to listen in, saving him the necessity of repeating himself when we asked him later.

So we listened to him talk in his quiet way, giving us all updates and much to our shock, he said, "It's not likely he's going to recover this time." And one tear slid down his cheek.

Yesterday, I was thinking about life, with all its seasons, about the sweetness of a ripened, rich life. Today, I realize again that the season can be all too short.

I need to savor it. Every day of it.

Monday, September 16, 2019


This morning, I got up and headed for the coffee pot as usual. Paddington PawCat waited at the heavy oak door to be let out. I let her out and was amazed at all the colored leaves on the ground.

We noticed that the weather changed abruptly about the same time that we changed the page on Bush Babe's calendar.  They are moving into spring there as we are moving into autumn, but here, the nights got cool very suddenly and when we set on the deck of our camper in the evening, the little fire is nice. The surrounding hills show wispy shades of yellow and orange and red.

We are also in the midst of a dragon fly invasion which is also pretty mesmerizing. At any given time, you can stop and almost be guaranteed of seeing them around you.

Tim is buttoning up the Wayne St house for winter. It's been a productive year. New windows, partially sided, most of the rewiring done, wall paper stripped. There will be a break for hunting season, and then, once the heating system is installed, Tim will continue to work on the house later in winter after the freezer is stocked. The exciting part begins: we restore the interior of that lovely, lovely home. We see our ideas becoming reality.

Yesterday, we went up to his parents' home to remove the three furniture pieces that Tim had requested. We wrestled them onto the pick up, and took them to store down in the house on the retirement property.  We've got one more trip back to that old house, to pick up two sets of very old stacking barrister bookshelves.

It seemed a little sad to me coming down that hill knowing that we had little reason to ever drive back up. I asked Tim if it made him sad too. "No, he answered. "I never felt like it was my home."

As a son of a Methodist preacher, they moved a lot. We didn't move a lot, but my family was a pretty volatile one. When I left it, I did not look back. I never really thought much about that fact until I was coming down that hill with my husband in his beloved 37 year old Chevy truck with a load of old furniture.

Autumn comes every year to our little corner of the world, but Tim and I are in the autumn of our lives. With any luck it will last a good long time. We've carved out our own comfortable place.  and discovered that home is not where we have been. Home is where we are.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Break up.

It was a Friday the final day of a week of 10 hour days. Everyone was about done in. On top of tired, my knee is now making a grinding noise. So yeah. Long week.

We were all standing at morning meeting. The question came at the end of the meeting, as it always does: "Anyone got anything for us?" Usually nobody has anything, but this time, a voice rose up: "Yeah. If anyone wants to buy wedding stuff, I have a lot."

Everyone looked. The comment came from a girl who's been joyously planning a wedding for quite a while now. She wanted it perfect. She works two jobs, and she works every bit of overtime that she can get at work. She is trained in virtually every job, so she just signs up for the overtime no matter what department it is in.

I felt terrible for her standing there with her red eyes.

Walking back to the room we work out of, I said, "I'm so sorry..." and she answered, "His drugs meant a lot more to him than I did.."

I tossed an arm over her shoulder and said, "Well, if he had a drug problem, he was certainly someone you didn't want to be married to anyway. It will take your heart a while to come in line with what your brain already knows."

"Yeah," she said.

What I noticed is that during the course of the day, she came to me several times to discuss the matter.
I'm guessing that it is because she worked such long hours that he was able to fly under her radar for the length of time that he did, but she found out that he was trafficking, and it scared her. Visions of ruthless drug lords from a thousand scary television shows danced in her head. She demanded he stop. He decided he wouldn't.

I told her again, "You dodged a bullet, really. If you had not discovered this until after you were married, you would have had a choice: turn a blind eye to it, or not to turn a blind eye to it. Either way, you would have been paying a lot of money to a lawyer. If you ignored it, you would have been at some point considered an accomplice and you would have to hire a lawyer to defend yourself. If you didn't turn a blind eye to it, you'd have been hiring a lawyer for your divorce. You dodged a bullet."

Every time she came to me, I repeated some version of the same thing.

Every time, she looked grateful for the words.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


My husband's mother was known for her elderberries. She took them to the farmer's market. A friend of mine was a regular customer, turning them into jam.

When Tim's mom entered a nursing home, Karen asked me about those elderberries. By then the property belonged to his brother and it is a strange family dynamic. His sister once told me that they liked Tim's first wife better. (What a strange thing to say!) His father had dementia at the end, and Tim and I wondered, once he was in the nursing home, if he hadn't been suffering from it for years, which would account for a lot of his angry  and irrational behavior.

Tim and I have been together for 20 years now and we've done that by simply making a pact to keep the chaos outside our home, not inside. People are what they are. So no. I wasn't asking anyone for elderberries.

Tim's parents are gone now and his sister contacted him. The siblings were all getting together to go through the old family home. I told Tim to get himself something that reminded him of his mom and something that reminded him of his dad. I also reminded him that it might well be the last time that the six of the kids were all together.

So he went up there yesterday. He thought that the only thing he really wanted was his father's tool box full of hand tools. He really didn't know what he wanted to remember his mother by, but he felt like it would come to him.

They sorted through the house and his brother brought over his skid steer to pull some cars out of some out-buildings. He had to plow a way through to them, going right directly through the elderberry patch. Tim set the bushes carefully aside and went up with his dump truck today to get a truck load of them to take to our retirement property and plant.

Hopefully they will produce for us just as prolifically as they produced for her.

He got that toolbox he hoped for and with any luck, those elderberries will remind him of his mother for years to come.